Tuesday, 14 June 2011

How to promote yourself online.....

This article was first posted @ No Dough Music

Promote Yourself

In this blog I want to talk about a few of the pitfalls of the internet when it comes to getting your music heard. The world is changing very fast with new technology, websites and new ways of interaction popping up at every moment. The choices and opportunities to get your music out there seem endless. The reality of the situation is actually very different to what it seems to be, and in some ways getting your 5 minutes of fame in front of possible fans of your music may actually be very challenging. In a world where everyone has a voice, those who can shout the loudest (read: those with more marketing money) have more of a voice than the little man. Having said that, all is not lost! In these next few paragraphs I intend to discuss some of the big wastes of time and pitfalls when it comes to promoting yourself, your label or your music and hopefully point out some of the most productive ways of investing your time and efforts.

DJ Promo Comments v True Support

We have all seen them, the reams of big DJ names rolled out with every new release, with a short sometimes two word comment... maybe one word: "support", "full support" and "will play" are some of the busy globe-trotting DJ's favourites. Now this seems all well and good but what does it really mean? You can learn a lot from the comments posted, and the public have already learned to ignore meaningless comments using this knowledge. If a DJ can only manage to write one word of feedback on this record, what are the chances he is going to be inspired by it enough to play it out at all? Never mind regularly enough to be considered a supporter of that record. Now don‘t get me wrong I am not calling DJs dishonest, but as an artist you must realise that the true value in support, in feedback, is genuine support. When Luciano plays your record at every gig over the summer, and drops it on an album or charts it... that‘s support, and that‘s the kind of support you are going to need to aim for and work towards if you want true value from bigger DJs. This can be one of the best ways to get your music out there, if an established performer loves your vibe and is actually playing it, get all your new stuff sent to them, get in contact. Not only can that solid support benefit you but their feedback can help you greatly as you‘re both in tune to the same vibe. It comes down to the old saying: "It's not what you know but who you know." Naturally like-minded people come and work together.

Chasing friends or followers.

Often in this new on-line world you see people who work social networks like machines, gathering thousands of friends or followers through various inventive means. Sometimes you see people actually buy loads of friends from certain sources in a bid to increase their music's reach. Frankly this is utter insanity and for 2 reasons: although having a strong following is the most important factor to your career, it’s your real fans that will ultimately make you successful. Social networks are no measure of your true fans especially if you have bought the followers or spent all weekend adding people and asking them to add you back. Don‘t worry about the number of your fans, just concentrate on making great music and making it available in the way that best fits your art. That way you will avoid the pitfalls that are most common when you blindly collect or pay for followers, and your following who do find you will be of a high quality and have relevance when it comes to what you share with them. The quality of your fans and their interaction with you on-line is the most important thing; you want to have 100 fans that you get messages from every day and who buy your records, rather than 100,000 fans that ignore your every move. Treat your true fans well, and they will sell you to others. Treat them well.

Spam Filters

Some people are just the flavour of the month.

In the scene, there are always people who are “flavour of the month”, often having hit the tone of the time with their music. It‘s good to keep in touch with what these people are doing and try to ensure they have some of your music available to play. Being “flavour of the month” they are in perfect tune with the people in your scene so any interaction you have can be very helpful. Get them charting your music, get them playing it - the hottest person of the moment will get you more new fans than any big DJ of yesteryear.

The SPAM Filter in your head.

This is the area of the modern internet that is changing and developing the fastest. SPAM... people know it and can almost sense it now. Adverts, banners and emails have for years been pouring into the collective consciousness of the planet and we are starting to have an almost automatic mental SPAM filter when we are online. This has mostly been caused by business and the more unscrupulous types of advertising hammering away at us all the time. SPAM has ruined advertising so much that people just ignore it on-line. When you are promoting yourself on-line you have to be very cautious as to how you go about it. If you cross the SPAM line, instantly people will ignore you; if you come across like you're selling, or desperate, or too brash, if your tone is just too uninteresting, people will instantly turn off. I would go as far to say, to the small guy, a banner ad or any type of commonly recognised advert is completely useless to you, so don‘t waste a single penny on it.. What you need to have nowadays is relevance so be inventive and know there are no short-cuts anymore to getting a lot of coverage. You need to make sure your music is good enough, it‘s interesting and that people would enjoy it. Not only that - you need to put it in front of the type of person that would enjoy it. So you can see, the 100,000 fans you have on Facebook that don‘t like your music, may as well not exist. We are in a time where the big successes arise from the more inventive approaches. The fact is you have to promote your work without it coming across as a promotion. There are many ways you can do this but always bear in mind you're walking a thin line, and think to yourself... is this too spam-like? Because people will make that judgement in a split second and once they have, your opportunity is lost with them. People want to see and hear things that are fresh and that they enjoy, so can you get a freaky, or innovative video done for your music? Or maybe put on a free night with a memorable twist at a local place and give away some CDs of your work? The more inventive you are here the more benefit you will see, and that very inventiveness will endear you to a great many people. This is the entertainment industry so you should be prepared for this task.

Money Talks

All that being said, it is still possible for those with bottomless pockets to bludgeon and buy their way to success. We see it every week with the major new artists suddenly appearing everywhere at once through TV shows, massive marketing campaigns and other targeted marketing events. But don‘t think like that, there aren’t many of us with the cash that is available to the major players and in reality... their way isn‘t necessarily the best way and somewhat old fashioned in the age of viral vids and so on. (In fact you will have seen the big guys often try to get involved with Viral Vids or Flash mobs and the other inventive marketing as it is just 100 times more powerful) We live in a time that has seen the democratisation of music making, which has in turn seen the lowering of the average level of quality and longevity of what is being produced. But even now the cream still rises to the top, so you will do well if you can get past the flood of also-rans...

More than ever it makes perfect sense to just concentrate on the art, and that’s what matters most. Good art, new art, exciting art... and presenting it in a way which is complementary to your work and in an inventive form.......

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