Technology is changing everything for the music industry and artists themselves. But while CD sales are falling, it’s also, conversely, a great time to be an artist. It's never been easier to create music, to collaborate, to find and engage directly with your own audience.
But here’s the problem - with so much music available, how do you cut through the noise and find that audience? Here are 5 quick tips from Dave Haynes, VP Business Development at SoundCloud (Our lovely downstairs neighbours), to get you thinking!
1. Create every day
In today's new music economy it's all about engaging with your fans and getting your ideas (not necessarily yourself) out there. And fans want content, not just marketing messages about that album you spent the last 6 months working on. With all the tools available today you can (and should) be creating and sharing something meaningful every single day. Some ideas are:
- Make a really nice Instagram photo from the studio, some backstage footage posted to Vimeo or Youtube.
- Use the SoundCloud app to record a dedication to some of your best fans or drop some hints about some secret shows you have coming up
- Run a fan contest to create ideas for your next record sleeve or throw a remix contest on SoundCloud
- Don’t be shy about creating a schedule. The best bloggers always have at least one or two blog posts in reserve for when they’re away. If you’re delighting your fans every day then you’re going to reap the rewards2. Network, network, network!
Gone are the days when you could just setup a Myspace page and point your fans there. You need to get your music in front of people no matter where they’re hanging out. This is where SoundCloud can help. Simply upload your audio, grab one of our good-looking players and make sure it’s everywhere. And by everywhere, I mean:
- Post a link to Twitter
- Post a player to your Facebook wall
- Create a rather nice looking Facebook tab with all your latest tracks. Rootmusic is a great tool for this
- Send out a SoundCloud link (or player embed code) to music bloggers and journalists. Here’s a handy guide on how to send out promos
- Think about building a mobile app – a good option is Mobile Roadie
3. Own and control your own website.
While your audience might be in lots of different places, you still need to own and control one URL that is the definitive place on the web where people should come and find out more about you - even if that URL just points to all the different places on the web where you are.
If you haven’t already bought a domain then it’s cheap and easy to do so via services like Go Daddy. And again, even if you’re not planning on using it immediately then it’s always a good idea to buy it so that no-one else can.
Not every musician knows how to build their own website from scratch (and nor should they be expected to) but nowadays there are a number of awesome services that can do that for you. Here’s just a few:
- Flavors.me makes it easy to create a great looking page which aggregates your other web presences (eg. SoundCloud, Flickr, Vimeo, Last.fm, Twitter, Facebook).
- Virb - gives you everything you need to build a great looking website that’s really simple to update.
- Tumblr - popular and very simple to use, Tumblr is a cross between blogging and tweeting, and it’s easy to post everything from photos to videos to music
If you’re going to cut through the noise, then you’re going to need some allies. Bands and musicians have always benefited from teaming up with other bands on the live circuit – it’s how you get your first audience. And the same principal applies in the digital world.
- Write about a blog post about a band that you love, embed some of their music instead of your own for a change. Chances are that your fans will like them too
If you’re already buddies with other bands, do an acoustic version of one of their tracks and get them to respond. If you have 2,000 twitter followers and the other band has 2,000 twitter followers then there’s a good chance you’ll double your money. Headliner.fm is a service that takes that concept even further, go check them out when you get a spare moment.
5. Stop wasting money on promo CD’s
Don’t hand someone a promo CD at an event – it will almost always end up in the bin. And not because the person doesn’t want to hear your music - but because these days, CDs are simply inconvenient.
Instead, spend that 2 minute window being interesting (and interested in the other person), getting their business card and sending them a link to your music via email later on. Better still, why not print off a bunch of fantastic little Moo Minicards with a link to your digital sampler on SoundCloud!
The same logic applies if you’ve got some music to give away to everyone who shows up for one of your gigs. Have someone walking around collecting email addresses. Anyone who signs up gets a nice little Moo card with that special link to download your music. And it’s better for the environment!
Dave Haynes is VP Business Development at SoundCloud, our lovely friends and downstairs neighbours at MOO HQ.
SoundCloud is a leading online audio platform, enabling over 3 million musicians and audio creators to share their sounds free from anywhere to everywhere.
For more information on online music sharing, Dave recommends reading Seth Godin, Derek Sivers, and HypeBot.