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February, 2011

"Promoting Online"

by Webmaster

Last year at this time I wrote about about how far AcousticByLines and it's members has come since it's inception on January 1, 2004.

Last month I wrote about my new projects: another album of original and co-written work, starting with Western and Cowboy songs and poems, and a book of my father's WW II poems and letters.

New Year's Eve seems to be the day to look back and remember. "Should Oulde Acquaintance" and all that.

I'd rather look foward to the future than dwell on the past.

And, I do wonder about the future of things that we've come to take for granted in the last 10-15 years, especially the internet and CDs.

The future of the music industry is in doubt. CDs may go the way of LP's, 8-track tapes and cassettes. Downloads are becoming the way to purchase music. When people buy one song at a time, there's no future in theme albums. Digital music is improving. The old heavily-compressed files with digital artifacts have been replace by larger files with better sound quality. As memory and processing speed of digital music player improves, the size of the audio files will increase and the sound will continue to improve.

Music marketing is changing as well. There are sites for musicians to upload and share their music for free. The internet with all of its social networking and blogging sites is used to generate interest in new music. Download music sites are the future of music distribution. Internet radio offers a lot more choice in music. We're not stuck with the canned programming offered by a corporate office somewhere and played on the same channels in every city: we can take thousands of hours of our own music with us wherever we go, in a device the size of a pack of cigarettes. .

The internet is also used to add to the information about a CD. I saved money on the physical duplication of my CDs because I put a lot of the info about the songs, including the lyrics, on two web sites which complement each other. I didn't need to put all that info on paper in the CD package because it's so readily available.

And, the internet itself is changing. Web sites need to be redesigned for increasing access by cell phones rather than computers with large monitors. Web sites were redesigned to take advantage of the flat screen monitors with wide display screens. Bigger pages with more images were possible because people were migrating to faster internet access: dial-up to DSL to cable.

Now, we're going in the opposite direction: making web pages more compact and concise for use on cell phones / PDAs.

That make me think of Dick Tracy's watch which was also a walkie-talkie. Recently I listened to a show on NPR about technology. They said something that made me stop to think: people aren't buying watches anymore because they can get the time off their cell phones. One caller to the show wanted to know how to get his cell phone to "speak" the time into his Bluetooth receiver so he wouldn't have to take the cell phone out of his pocket to see what time it was. It's possible to do that: just speak the command "time" and hear it.

Magazines and newspapers: do you think they'll still be with us in another 10 years? Another 5 years? Can we justify killing trees and burning fossil fuel to distribute paper products when all the same content is available just by "inconveniencing" some electrons?

There are days when I feel excited about what the future will hold. There are days when I feel very old and don't want to be bothered learning a whole new technology / software package / whatever.

I wached my 4-year-old grand nepLast week I "attended" a webinar about promoting a business on line. It was not a music business, but the principles are the same. CD Baby, DiscMakers, and other music businesses s recommend the same things. Make use of the free online sites that are available to you.

An online presence is required these days. Even if you have — no, especially if you have your own web page, you want to be on the large sites that are available to you. They are places to advertise and because they do well in search engines, links from those sites to your site help your site do better in search engines.

  • Your own website that focuses on you, has your look and feel, displays what you want, and gives your fans a way to contact you. Use it to link to your presence on all the other online sites.
  • ReverbNation is a great site for musicians. It's free. You build a profile, you upload your music, you enter your gigs, and you contact your fans through ReverbNation. You can link to MySpace, FaceBook, and Twitter through ReverbNation so you only have to do your updates from one web site! And you can create widgets that will safely display your videos and upcoming gigs and allow streaming music on your web page, FaceBook and MySpace, as well as other web pages (widgets can be shared).
  • YouTube is great for videos. They keep the presentation format current and your videos are available through their search engines.
    • Know the purpose of your video. Promote your live act? Sell your CD?
    • Be sure your title and credits tell who you are and how to do what you want them to do.
    • If you hire someone to shoot a video, be sure you are prepared ahead of time
      • tune your instruments
      • make sure your gear works, including sound system and lights
      • know your material and equipment
    • CD Baby suggests you make better videos using the following techniques:
      1. get to the point / capture the viewers attention immediately
      2. keep them brief (less than 3 minutes)
      3. learn to edit - in the camera before you shoot
      4. look at and talk to the camera
      5. don't try to make it too fancy or overproduced
  • Facebook is not just for keeping up with your friends. You can create a page for your band and put a MyBand tab on it from ReverbNation. That will put all your uploaded music, gigs calendar, and videos for you.
    • You can also post videos directly to Facebook. If you post your videos to Facebook instead of a link to the same video on YouTube, when it is shared, it will include a "like button" so more people will find your band page on Facebook.
    • Even if you have your gigs updating Facebook from ReverbNation, you still might want to create a Facebook event and invite your friends--that gets you more attention.
    • Use @ to establish links between your profile and some one else's.
    • Get 25 people to "like" your band page and get your own url on Facebook.
  • Twitter is for real time information sharing. It's a great promo tool but if that's all you do or if you do it too much, you could send your fans away.
  • Animoto will let you create 30-second videos online using photos and music. Be sure to put links to your web site in the videos and upload them to YouTube.
  • MySpace. It was the industry standard, but it seems to be waning. Still use it. It's hard to stand out with so much competition, though.
  • Email is for keeping in touch with your fans and letting them forward to their friends so you'll get new fans.
    • Know the purpose of your email and go for a specific action. Don't tell them you have a new CD. Tell them to buy your new CD.
    • Give people info they need to do what you want. If you want them to buy a CD, tell them how. If you want them to come to a gig, give them enough info so they don't have to work at it.
    • CD Baby suggests ways to make your email effective:
      1. know who you're writing to and personalize it, if possible
      2. keep it brief
      3. make links simple and direct
      4. spell check, grammar check, and observe email protocol (DON'T SHOUT!)
  • Google tools:
    • Google search
    • Google music search
    • Google Analytics
    • Google Calendar - can be added to your web site
    • Google Reader
    • Picasa for photos
    • Google Blogsearch
    • Google Groups
  • Look for other ways to get your music and info out: CD Baby, iTunes, live web casts, ArtistShare for Songwriters, American Songspace, YouTube’s Partner Program, FanBridge, LastFM, Ping, blogging, podcasts, Pandora, Vimeo, online interactive music collaboration sites, Jango Airplay, mobile apps, Qriocity, Tunecore, Soundclick, Wikipedia, Sonicbids, CD Register, Gracenote CDDB.
  • Look for opportunities to do niche marketing: do you write a lot of songs about trains or boats or golf? Find sites that are about your favorite subject matter and establish a presence there.

Remember, your online presence is your advertising. Be careful to present yourself well and avoid annoying fans and potential fans.

Thanks for visiting AcousticByLines..

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