Internet for Bands: 101

how-to-use-the-internet

It still baffles me sometimes at how bands use or don’t use the internet. If you are in a band then it means you want to get your name out there. To be honest this could be for any artistic types but it seems that bands have shouted the loudest to get themselves heard.

The internet has made it so easy for artists to get their wares to the outside world but the technologies that have allowed us to do this also means anyone can do it.  But its important though, even before anything goes online to make sure that the material you are uploading is the best you can make.

1. Quality Control:

Ten, fifteen years ago , there is no way a band, even a small garage band would record something in the morning and release it that afternoon. Unfortunately that happens now and it means there is less Quality Control on what reaches cyberspace.. what do I mean?

Before hard disc recording a band would hear their music. The recording would have to be saved for and a lot of cash would be spent.  This meant a band couldn’t time waste, this knew which songs worked and which didn’t before they even got to the studio. Then when it was time for some demo tapes to be made, the band would only pick the best of what they had recorded. They had listened to their own music so much, they knew if something wasn’t working and got rid of it.

While recording costs may have come down it is crucial now, that your best material is only what is made available to the public. Its harder to wade through all the ‘crap’ so it is essential that you can rise above everything else. One last point on this, what happens if the first track someone finds is the ‘not up to par’ one ? You’ve lost a listener.

So if you have the tunes, now you need the tools.

2. Websites

Its important to use free music sites and the free web tools they provide as much as possible. However these are free. Websites can crash, they are under no obligation to fulfil a service to you for a free product. So it is essential that you have your own domain website.

A domain name plus simple basic hosting from Doteasy.com costs around 20 euro for a year. So even the brokest of us can afford it. If you can try to have a unique domain, what I mean is if your band called The Trees, try to have the domain thetrees.com Once you find this username try and keep it across all web and social media sites.

A band website doesn’t need to be a full flash site (I’d recommend that it wasn’t, especially as iPads and iPhones don’t support it), it needs to be an information point, where fans and promoters and others can contact you. Even perhaps a home page is enough if you link it to all your other music and social networking sites.

Just make you include

  • Short Biography
  • Picture of the band
  • Mailing List Sign up form
  • Contact Details
  • Links to other sites you have
  • Music Player (you can use a widget from Reverbnation, please DO NOT put it on autoplay)

So you have your homepage, what other sites are worth considering?

Use a band email address.

3. Social Networks

It’s important that the ‘Official’ band pages are separate from personal ones. Don’t be an arse, only say nice things on them.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace (It’s worth remembering that most of MySpace’s users have fled to Facebook, so its basically all musicians)
  • Reverbnation: ‘online music marketing platform’

4. Blogs

These can be incorporated into your website and your RSS feed, linked to your Reverbnation page. Great, usefulk and easy to use. These are a great way of keeping your fans and friends up to date with whats happening. Blogs can be following be receiving an email of the post or through something like Google reader.  If you’re in the process of getting a website set up or don’t own your domain yet, a blog is a great stepping stone.

Things to look out for:

  • Use your Categories and Tags Properly
  • Use Small images in your posts (big blocks of text are hard to read)
  • Use lists, like this one
  • Check your spelling
  • Use phrases that people will search e.g. The Trees, Dublin Indie band, music
  • Try to include links in your text, it makes the piece easier to read

Some sites where you can sign up for a Blog:

Again if this is a band page, try to keep the content only about the band. Update your blog regularly.

5. Videos

20 hours of video goes on youtube every minute. You’re never going to be able to watch all that so, again try to get professional looking videos together. You don’t have to pay lots of money for a video, just try and make it interesting.  A Flip Mino HD camera is relatively cheap, pocket-sized and perfect if you want to try and make videos on a regular basis.

Use your social networks to promote your videos.

Try video blogging, where you tell you fans directly through video about your latest news. Promote your latest video blog post in advance on your social networking sites, telling them it will be live at X o’clock.. This builds anticipation.

Remember there’s more than YouTube, try out:

Daily Motion
Vimeo

6. Free Tools

It’s important the you utilize the free tools available to you at all times, whether it be a new website or a widget for a mailing list. Keep looking for new ways of getting people to interact with you online. An example is signing up for a mailing list to receive a free download or Pay With A Tweet used by French band ‘The Teenagers’ to help promote their new single.

7. Bloggers & Independent Review Websites

This is a bit weird me saying this, seeing as this is what I’m doing.

We all know that traditional media journalism is changing rapidly and the changes brought around by technology has meant that there is a lot more immediacy about News stories. Same applies to music. If you are about to release new material ask music bloggers if you can put them on your mailing list or perhaps send them an mp3. DO NOT put them on a mailing list just because they work online. This is a really good way of getting yourself blacklisted.

All sites should have a policy on how they receive material, obey the rules. Remember these people owe you nothing, so be nice to them and appreciate the time they took in writing about YOUR music. Another point to to remember there are 3 w’s in www. World Wide Web, there are other places and sites outside your home territory that might love your music.

Keep an eye on The Hype Machine, a blog style site that aggregates what music has recently been played on about 1500 music blogs and posts them on their main page.

8. Be Open To Change

The Internet is a fast changing environment where you must be able to adapt and change. Keep Your Sites updated, interact with your fans, the more people that hear you, make you one step closer to achieving the dream.

Comments

comments

  • nessy

    Thanks for your input Craig,

    I totally agree with the quantity of friends and fans. Although it may look good on paper, I’d prefer to have 100/150 genuine fans than 20000 virtual ‘friends’ who couldn’t care less.

    nessy

  • Interesting blog Nessy, very informative and relevant. The quality control element is very important. Generally if I read on twitter or facebook “We’ve just recorded this today at home” I instantly think sh*t!. Another thing bands need to cop on to is using social media as a tool and not as a willywaving contest to see how many friends we can get. I’d much rather a small group of fans that I could relate to, interact with and get genuine feedback as opposed to spending my time adding 2000 random non interested people I don’t know who just ignore my updates etc.

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