I believe in sites like this one, like the Colorado Bluegrass Music
Society , like all sites that help their members get more exposure on the internet. As I wrote in last month's column, The Sum is Greater than the Parts. We can help each other by banding together and not competing. Here are my recommendations:
- Join as many online sites as you can, to get exposure for your business. Free sites abound. For recording artists, check out a Facebook band page, MySpace, Twitter, and ReverbNation. I have become a fan of ReverbNation. They offer a lot of options, including invitations to compete in songwriting contests and music events. ReverbNation will even update Facebook, MySpace and Twitter for you.
- Join as many organizations in your business area as you can. If you are a songwriter iand/or performer n many genres, join organizations that promote each of your genres. They may offer nothing more than a link to your website, that may help your web site do better in search engine rankings. You may get more exposure among the other members. They may offer opportunities to perform or get published—a way to share your work and build a bigger fan base. You may learn more about your craft, and meet people who inspire you or want to collaborate with you.
- Keep up your email lists with your fans. The more direct your communication with your fans, the more effective it is. Get out to gigs, even if they're not yours. Meet people. Talk to them. Smile, be friendly. Let them know what you do and ask what they do.
- Take the time to learn more about your craft: perfect that new lick you've been wanting to learn, explore some new techniques, learn to use a new tool, learn how to get better recordings.
- Advice that I heard recently: do one thing, just one thing, each day to help promote your business: find new outlets for your products, write press releases, search for new internet sites to join, upgrade your web site, contact DJs and thank them for airplay, etc. Check out the list below for more ideas:
Disc Makers and CDBaby* are joined, and are joining in with options for musicians to advertise more, like a CDBaby* "store" on Google Music, iTunes, Amazon, Facebook and more. CDBaby* and Disc Makers also send out monthy emails with ideas to help recording artists get more exposure for their work and sell more CDs. Following are suggestions from several months of emails from CDBaby* and Disc Makers:
- Disc Makers offers a number of free booklets and instructional DVDs on a variety of topics from better recordings to more airplay. Go to their web site and look for the "Free Catalog and More" button.
- Create a Wikipedia Page for Your Band/Music: Be worthy of being included, be unbiased—this isn't a sales pitch, have someone else write it, include all the details, include references.
- Practice describing your music: Ask your friends and fans to help. Gather all the best adjectives and descriptions and make them a part of your descriptive arsenal, so next time someone asks “what do you sound like?” you can describe your music in a way that makes people eager or excited to hear it.
- Use Twitter: Stick with it and be consistent. Follow people that tend to discuss topics you like. Take everyday events and make them sound interesting. Don’t say don’t say anything that you want kept private. Avoid shameless self promotion. Interaction is the key!
- Add links to your online music stores from your social media pages and websites.
- Check out Google+, Spotify, and be open to other new social media sites.
- Use QR codes: Put them on your concert posters.
- Do more for your shows: book yourself in a venue that is too small for you and your fans so you can say "SOLD OUT!", confirm gig details ahead of time, don’t overstay your welcome onstage if you're an opening act, book shows in a strange locations (including in-studio and in-store), tell your fans how easy it is to book you, play wherever there is a crowd of people who might like your music including outside a venue that books bands like yours, trade and share gigs.
- Look more professional: create a YouTube Channel, print up nice business cards, watch bands that sound like and and learn what they do.
- Write an effective one-sheet: Include band name, all contact info, band photo, album cover, album tracks with specific appropriate tracks highlighted, current bio and press info. Keep it simple, get to the point, Edit it so it fits on one side of one sheet of paper and looks good. Send it with you CD to the press, booking people, DJs.
- Increase your sales on CDBaby*: Use CDBaby*'s music store widget and link maker, analyze and understand your web traffic, set a quantity discount, offer a free track, run a limited-time sale, write a compelling description, tell us who you sound like, use download cards, accept credit cards at shows, let your fans earn money from every referred sale.
- Have a fan photo contest: Get your fans to take photos at your shows and post them on social media. Pick the best one from each show and post it on your web site.
- Get media coverage: First, you have to have something that's media-worthy. Create a press kit and send it out. Ask "What can I do to help you?" and then do it.
- Get into college markets: The college concert market is ruled by two entities: the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA) and the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (APCA). They have showcases. It's very competitive but an artist can do a showcase without an agent. A three-minute video is a must. It should be live, with crowd shots.
- Write a great band bio: Include the facts (names, noteworthiness, major accomplishments, 1-2 quotes from a notable media source, contact info, who/what you sound like, timeline/history), and your compelling story (a problem and a resolution). Don't reference old bands unless they're highly notable. Keep it current. Have others proofread it. Use hyperlinks. Add a photo. Keep it short and to the point. It's a combination of bio and press release. Start with the most current and exciting activity (a CD project, a significant award). A third into the bio, start with the chronological history. Then restate the project. Use quotes. Write catchy, engaging prose to grab the attention of the public. Include deep, thorough details for journalists. Be specific. Avoid superlatives. Ask for help from people who are good writing bios, even if you have to hire someone.
I think this is enough for now. I'll have more tips from CDBaby* and Disc Makers next month. I hope this helps you have a happy and prosperous 2012. Thanks for visiting AcousticByLines.
*As of April, 2020, CDBaby no longer offers CD sales or downloads.