Internet Promotion from Zero in 2011

Recently a friend of mine was asking where he should post up stuff for his brand new band (no web presence yet at all) given the decline in MySpace.  So I came up with this as my list in order of importance.

1)      YouTube – It seems like YouTube is the only place where non-musicians are excited about music & go to it & share things.  Making videos can obviously be a hassle, but plenty of bands have videos that are just a slide show or even a static image.  I have to admit it does seem like it’s getting to the point where having a “video guy” in your band is as important as having a “recording guy” in the band.

2)      Soundcloud – I sometimes look at webcharts on Alexa & the like.  Soundcloud seems to be the music service with the most upward momentum in traffic.  Also a lot of reviewers seem to like the Soundcloud dropbox service & the ability to embed tracks in their blogs.

3)      Reverbnation – The main reason to use Reverbnation is that they have somewhat teamed up with Facebook & they have a pretty decent free emailing list service & the ability to embed your player in reviews.  It also seems like this is where touring bands currently go to when looking for bands to play with in a city they’re headed to over any other sites right now.

4)      Facebook – I nor any of the bands I’ve worked with have had a lot of luck with Facebook as far as generating actual new fans or sales, however the events feature seems to be one of the main places where regular people find out about shows.

5)      MySpace – I know, people have been saying MySpace is dead for a couple of years now.  While it isn’t the socializing network it once was, it’s still a place people trust to go to & a place where other bands can find you if they want to get in touch about booking a show.

6)      Personal Website – Whether you want to get your own domain or a Blogger or WordPress or Tumblr thing going, I think it’s important to get your own site up more or less as soon as possible so that you have a homebase you have control over.  But with a new band it might be more trouble than it’s worth until you know things are really going.  I would suggest getting something that offers an RSS feed.

7)      Last FM – I’ll be honest, I’ve never really used Last FM; but I know a lot of people love it & so I assume it has some value as a way for people to somewhat passively stumble upon your music.

8)      Twitter – I love & hate Twitter.  I love it’s ability to be embedded everywhere & have whatever you post in it populate to your status on MySpace, Reverbnation, Facebook, & even a widget on your own website.  I hate that I have not yet figured out a way to really get people to interact on it & of course it doesn’t have anyway to play music within itself directly.

9)      Bandcamp – Everyone but me seems to love Bandcamp.  I’ve yet to meet a non-musician excited about it.  I’ve had some problems with emails for downloads going into spam boxes.  Their terms of agreement have thresholds for how many downloads a month you can have before you need to pay a fee (or at least they did last time I checked them).  But everyone but me seems to love them

10)  Obviously I could go on forever I suppose, but I think there’s a limit where your web presence gets too hard to keep up with, especially when you aren’t even sure how long your band will last.

So I asked my friend Kristel Jax of IT³ her opinion of the importance of things today & here’s her response:

The above list seems pretty good so I’m not going to get into that much, except I don’t know anybody who uses Reverbnation & I’d slide WordPress & Tumblr (Tumblr’s better) up higher. I’m disappointed by Bandcamp too – people get confused by the $0 minimum & the cut BC takes (15%) is pretty high. It’s okay, though. If you’re going to use MySpace, keep it simple, like a highway billboard. Link to the sites you’ll actually use.

My advice is more general. You started doing what you’re doing for a reason that wasn’t just amassing a lot of plays & listeners; so when you take your music online, keep focused on why you started making art in the first place. Instead of just setting up a few profiles & spamming them to your friends & local promoters, get connected to other artists you find interesting – & I don’t mean friending the ghost profiles of bands you like on MySpace. Creep blogs, check out labels, & look around the groups on Soundcloud, Facebook, & for stuff you think is killing it, then chat up musicians, bloggers, fans, & whoever. Don’t be annoying, just be real. Friend people who are doing what inspires you, or who are into the same niches. Figure out where you stand in the communities you think are relevant right now. Hang out.

Don’t only post your own stuff on your social networks, post the stuff you’re loving & post the stuff that’s on your mind. Write reviews if you feel like it. Make remixes. Trade art. Talk about stuff that makes you happy & stuff that pisses you off. You’ll create a community around yourself & your band that enriches you as people & as artists, as well as your fans. Then even if your band doesn’t last out the year, at least you had a good time.

Think of the internet as your band’s second home, but don’t think about it too much. Try to remember how green your band is & don’t expect everyone you link or friend to listen or check you out.

Whatever you do, stay away from Sonicbids. Nothing sucks shit like Sonicbids.

Brian John Mitchell has run Silber Records since 1996 & the zine gone webzine QRD since 1994.  He is perhaps best known for his music in the band Remora.  He runs a daily blog about running a label where this article originally appeared.

Kristel Jax has run IT³ (I’m Trying, I’m Trying, I’m Trying) since 2008. More than a label or zine publisher or live show promotions company, IT³ is all these things & more. She makes music in tweenoise duo Alpha Couple.

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4 Responses to Internet Promotion from Zero in 2011

  1. GoddakkAttack says:

    the bandcamp is good because of the control you have over the look and feel, the embed and sharing options. the fact that the money they take is minimal an not up front stuff like that and the ability to sell physical and digital and the digital comes in a variety of formats. the limit is bad i guess if you arent selling much but if you are i guess you shouldnt complain about the small fee. mostly its free and they take the 15% out of sales so you never really pay out of pocket which is nice too. i mean they have to make money somehow and with the amount of free dloads it makes sense

    also goodluck staying away from sonicbids i u want to do anything related to the big music fests showcases

    • Bandcamp has a free download limit where they start charging a fee. I’m not sure exactly where it lies, but I’m sure if you get a review on Pitchfork you’ll get screwed over it for a couple hundred bucks. Which I have no problem with, sure they deserve to make money. My bigger problem with them is the whole experience of the only album I tried to get from them (a Chris Olley download only thing a couple years ago) needing to try to have the link sent to three different email addresses before getting one to put it in my spam box instead of automatically deleting it.

      The thing with Sonic Bids & others like it are they are collecting a fee for a possible appearance on something where 90% of the line-up is pre-established & not associated with them at all. Plus there’s the whole thing of festivals these days usually being fairly useless if you want to play for more than 20 people as you end up playing head to head against Guided by Voices & The Flaming Lips.

  2. GoddakkAttack says:

    you don’t automatically get charged. you get to a limit and have to buy more “credits” or whatever they call it…power ups or some such. Your issue seems like it has more to do with your email rather than bandcamp.

    …the point is that every single one of these things are now exclusively sonicbids submission pretty much. So it’s not only a scam it’s a monopoly.

    • Yeah, I’d agree it was a problem with my email account if it only didn’t come through on my silbermedia email address (not even to the spam box), but it also got blocked on my juno address (not in the spam box) & then it was in my aol spam box for my third email attempt. Hopefully it works better now or they at least updated it so you don’t have to check your email & you go directly to a download page as that’s what makes sense anyway as I know so many people who’s Paypal email is essentially their spam non-checking email.

      I don’t think those things are exclusively Sonic Bids, just exclusively Sonic Bids for unsolicited stuff. If a label pays for a label showcase thing for SXSW/CMJ, they can pick the bands without them going through a submission process. At least it was like that two years ago. I kinda gave up on bothering looking into live stuff a while ago…..