It is no secret that the music industry has gone through a massive change in a very short period. With declining numbers for music downloads (pirated and legal) streaming seems to be the way people want to get their music. Streaming is great for distributing music to your audience, with services such as Spotify, Tidal, Pandora and the newcomer Apple music. The downside of streaming is that it generates a little revenue for the artist. Revenue is the biggest issue with the music industry; the income stream pre-internet era will never be reached again with music sales. The money is now in touring, and merchandise sales and social media is the right tool to help you with both.
Ready to get started on-line? This is what you will need:
First, you need a website and a blog, preferably both in one. Yes, you need to blog, and no, your Facebook Page is not a replacement website. So a legitimate site (blog included) is required and the perfect solution for this is Tumblr.
The benefits of Tumblr:
- It is free.
- It is a blogging platform.
- You can have your custom domain.
- Design options are endless - there are free templates you can select, and custom design is also possible.
The Benefits of Blogging:
- It helps with web traffic.
- Blogging improve search ranking.
- Blogs build reputation and awareness.
- Blogging helps you control the conversation.
Social media channels.
Facebook is a must, set up a Facebook Page and use it as a central hub for communicating with your Facebook following. Here is where you invite your fans to upcoming shows through Facebook events, post pictures, news about your music and share your latest blog posts. It is a Facebook page what you need, not a profile. With the page, you have no limits as to how many people can follow you, and you have access to stats and tools to create ads.
Twitter is ideal for conversing with your fans. The short messaging nature of it makes it great for answering questions and for quick updates from your music career. Post often and include proper hashtags, also, share the links to your latest blog posts.
LinkedIn is great if you are looking for session work or other paying music jobs. LinkedIn has many great groups that focus only on musicians.
SoundCloud and YouTube are for sharing your music and videos, with the help of Facebook and Twitter. Uploading frequently (or as frequent as possible) new content to both SoundCloud and YouTube is ideal. On the other hand, producing videos and new songs every week is next to impossible, but to keep your fans coming back keep sharing the old videos and songs on Facebook and Twitter. Make sure you space our your shares, so your fans have time to feel they are rediscovering your music.
One more tip on the frequency of sharing; not all your followers will see what you share the first time; you need to share the same thing multiple times for maximum exposure. How often? It depends on your following, start with twice a day every three days and adjust until you see the best engagement rate.
Once you get yourself out there and build a following, you are ready to start selling, and there are a few ways you can do that on-line. Below are a few of the more affordable (or nearly free) ways to sell your music and merchandise on-line.
Selling merchandise and CDs
Bandcamp: you can have a very personalized profile page with many widgets to help you reach your audience. It could be your website, but I still think having a separate site is best. Bandcamp's best feature is the store; sell your stuff here.
Artist accounts are free and Bandcamp takes a cut from the sales.
Bandpage: pretty similar business model as Bandcamp, but the profile page is not as customizable and for the store you need a PayPal account.
Reverbnation: Like the ones above Reverberation can sell music and merchandise, profile page and accounts starting at free. For a monthly fee, you can distribute your music to iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and others.
There is still money to be made as a musician. The internet with social media provides great opportunities to grow your fan base. Just like most things in life, it takes work and patience. If you are too busy with your music or feel overwhelmed with this social media stuff, there are people like me that can help you get started and even execute it on your behalf.