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By John Moxey
Marketing and promotion of bands is something that, in the early stages of a band's life, tends to be put together very informally by band members and their friends. In the real world this tends to revolve around fliers and perhaps the odd promotional gig (shopping centers etc) being common ways that bands use. Online a whole new set of options arise. Band websites, blogs in all their flavors, band pages on Online Music Distribution (OMD) sites, video promo, YouTube channels, mailing lists, advertising, online radio, forums, chat rooms, newsgroups, social networking sites... the list goes on.
This article explains how planning can make a difference and it gives an overview of the tools available to most bands and how you can use them.
According to Wikipedia a marketing strategy is "...a process that can allow an organization to concentrate its limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. A marketing strategy should be centered around the key concept that customer satisfaction is the main goal."
Strategies include advertising, channel marketing, internet marketing, promotion and public relations.
Calling most bands an "organization" seems a bit unrealistic, and it is. Most bands have, realistically, very small budgets, little business skill, and a lack of manpower. As a result most bands use a guerilla marketing approach, relying instead on imagination and effort to create a buzz. This is the strategy of choice for bands, born of necessity, and it is a guerilla marketing approach that this article will explore.
What bands often fail to do is plan exactly how they are going to use promotional tools, and they usually fail to coordinate what happens across the breadth of those tools. Planning can really make a difference. Writing things down is simple and generally doesn't take long to do. The important bits are to write down clear goals and objectives, to be realistic, and agreed by those concerned.
This is in effect the creation of a "Marketing Plan" containing a set of specific actions required to successfully implement your marketing strategy. Write down target dates so that your efforts to promote your music work together. Working to a deadline is a great way to aid your motivation and help focus your efforts.
The idea of a "Campaign" really works. Campaigns serve to provide focus on specific goals. They help you to coordinate effort across a variety of different promotional tools, and they allow you to see exactly how those tools fit in to your planning. Write down how your campaigns will fit together.
By preparing a plan you will also gain a better understanding of what tools to use, how to use them, when to use them and what you need to learn in order to use them effectively.
Preparation is everything. Deciding what basic strategies you will use, and the tools you will use to help you achieve your goals makes a big difference in a competitive market place giving you a significant advantage.
Your Own Website and Domain
This is an essential. Sites come and go, but you can always depend on your own site being there.
Keep it active and interesting. Add new content and of course have a page that links to ALL your other pages. Try and have links out there in web land that point to ALL your main pages, not just the home page.
This is the HUB of your musical universe.
For promotion and marketing, this is the current buzz. Word of mouth is an important part of promoting your music. People exchange their likes and dislikes in a variety of ways, and one motivated person can pass recommendations on to countless others.
Music in itself creates groups of fans: we usually like to listen to the same kind of music our friends listen to. This connection between people with similar tastes is something that major labels have been exploiting for some time, relying on the word of mouth to spread interest and awareness. Social networking sites allow individuals to pass on comments about their tastes and views and they are ideal places for you to promote your music virally.
There are many ways to promote something virally. The basics are simple: you create something that people want to pass on to friends, and what you create is somehow linked to what you want to promote.
A good example from a non-music area is the promotion of Kylie Minogue's underwear collection a few years ago. She recorded a video of her wearing some of her underwear riding a bucking bronco. Released it on the internet and wham! Who would of thought men would want to see a video of Kylie in underwear. Pretty much everyone, and that is the point.
Start a mailing list. Growing a list of email addresses is vital to your success. Why? They allow you to easily stay in contact with your fans including the ability to set up a newsletter. Sending out notifications of new products to people who are already interested in what you do is the best way to get a reliable level of sales.
Set one up! Send out newsletters regularly if you can, every 2-4 weeks is ideal.
You may have newsletter facilities through some of the other sites mentioned in this topic. They all do the same job... allow you to push information to your fans.
There are many. First thing, follow the rules of a particular board, so make sure you read them before you go posting. Don't spam boards or you could find all your posts removed.
Many artist focus on musician boards. Great for feedback, crap for getting fans. Identify bands like yours, join those boards so you can post topics either as direct promo where allowed, or in your signature or board profile. Focus your effort on active communities from a promotion perspective. From a web presence perspective you want to have links on as many RELATED websites as possible.
Web presence wise, try and refresh links etc at least every 3 months.
Also include links to a variety of your pages for web presence but specific pages for web promo.
Spend some time on key active forums so your name gets known and respected as a member, not a self serving, self interested spam engine.
Most forums also allow you to set up a profile page, make sure you do. This is simply another portal to your band and you can reuse content that you use on artist pages so it doesn't need to take time.
These are something you need to use regularly so that the members respect you more and take more notice of your posts. Does little for web presence but it does help with promotion of specific items.
Yet again there are a multitude of newsgroups. If you don't invest the time, you don't get the gain.
A great tool. An online diary. You can run several (chose popular music sites to host one, but try and run your own on your own site too. Myspace gives you one, so do lots of big popular sites where you have the chance to make "friends" and gain blog subscribers.
These are great for crosslinking and for promotion, and fundamentally giving your latest news to your fans.
Almost all blogs (including Songstuff blogs) include RSS feeds. That means that people and other websites can take an RSS link to your blog and either display it in a desk top application (aggregator) or they can display it on their web page.
There are tools that will allow you to write one blog entry and that post is pushed onto your other blogs. i.e. write and post once update multiple blogs. Similarly some blogs will let you import another blog.
I would still suggest that you create several versions of the post and post each version to several different sites.
Register your blogs with services like technorati... more or less blog and social networking combined.
Great for web presence, generally crap for your image. It says amateur to most music fans. Ideally you want to move from being a big fish in a small pool, to at least swimming in the big pool. Can be worth using if you have no web presence or a small web presence. Yet again I'd suggest only one track and a catchy page (wish I followed my own advice on the look and feel!)
Yet again cross linking is essential.
Main benefit is to increase links and put you in contact with another web audience.
Social Networking Sites
These are great for building fans, and you don't necessarily need to do a myspace music page... create a normal one if you don't want your music up there.
Myspace of course does allow you to sell your music now.
Other social networking sites to set up a page on are:
Stumble Upon: Social bookmarking site. Can get you a lot of traffic. yet again takes a little time/effort to build but you can do this as you go along. www.stumbleupon.com
Facebook: Useful for news but harder to target people by topics. Good once you have a fan club of sorts. www.facebook.com
Del.icio.us: Social bookmarking site. Bookmark your favorite page (go on link your musical friends pages too, including Songstuff) del.icio.us
Twitter: Ok, but not great. Like Facebook it is good for connecting with people but building up a contact list and subscribers takes time. www.twitter.com
Also of interest are browsers like Flock, that incorporate support for multiple social network sites and features. Ideal in that yet again you can make a post and update many sites.
Concepts - Cross Linking
Across all your sites/blogs/accounts/posting use cross linking.
Try and cross link your pages, but when posting on other's sites make sure you follow their link guidelines. Post to appropriate topics, and don't swamp it with links to the same page.
In board signatures link to several of your pages if you can, and make sure those pages link with other pages of yours and so on.
Exchange links with your musical friends.
Ask other friends to link to you, but provide them with the link code. make sure your customized link code is available on your site for others to directly copy.
Each of these topics could easily require several articles to explore in detail. Meanwhile I hope this article has given you suitable overview of what you can do for free on the internet.
Discuss this article in our Music Forum.
About John Moxey
John Moxey started Songstuff in 2000 and is an active songwriter and musician as well as a regular Songstuff author of music and music technology related articles and member of the site crew.
John started playing his first instrument (piano) in 1971, and has been writing songs since 1979. He began playing his now main instrument, the guitar, in 1982. In 1986 he finished training as a studio engineer and in 1997 obtained an Honours Degree in Electronics and Music from the University of Glasgow.
John now plays several other instruments including mandolin, violin, bagpipes, didgeridoo, bodhran, and vocals.
John has a broad range of performance experience from choirs and orchestras to pipe bands. He has sung for, played in and written for various bands, and produced songs across a number of genres.