I follow a good number of music blogs. It seems that bad news comes out of L.A. or Nashville on a weekly basis. The record labels are scrambling for ways to monetize their artists and sales of physical media are plummeting. Strangely though, sales of vinyl LP’s rose 10% last year, but that’s another blog post.
As I’ve mentioned on previous posts, the tools available online to independent musicians are quickly making the labels obsolete in many areas. I wish I’d had these resources available when I worked in the industry. So, here’s a quick overview of some of those tools. This is not an exhaustive review, but it’s a good starting point.
If you are an artist or a member of a band and have not made use of at least a few of these resources, you are missing the boat my friend.
2. CD Baby. These guys have been around a long time and are very good at what they do, which is being your very own personal distribution system. You supply them with a few copies of your new CD and they will make it available all over the place. They will sell the CD’s for you as well as distribute them into all the major online sales forums like iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon, etc. They’ll also get your music inserted into the various streaming sites, e.g. Spotify and others. They offer other package deals and services as well. Highly recommended.
3. YouTube. On the surface this seems like a stretch, since not all bands can afford to shoot a music video. The #1 search engine in the world is Google. YouTube is #2. It has become one of the best ways to get your music and message out to the world. You need to make sure all of your music is on YouTube, even if it’s only a shot of the album cover with lyrics scrolling. That being said, the quality of your music video does not need to be Hollywood level. Some of the most popular videos on YouTube are the ones shot with a simple camera and edited together on an iPhone. Just get your stuff on there.
4. Facebook. This is another “duh” entry. If you don’t have a Page for your band, do it now. Open a new window and do it now. Go. A little further down this list are some tools that will make that Page pop.
5. Twitter. Don’t get Twitter? Read this previous entry. Twitter is all about the conversation, and conversation with your fans and friends keeps them involved. You definitely want them involved.
6. Kickstarter. Having a hard time pulling funds together to record that album? Kickstarter is the top of the heap in crowdfunding sites. If that’s a new term for you, think of it as a website that does pre-sales for releases. First, you set the level of funding you need, say $15,000. Then you set levels of rewards. If someone funds you with $10, they get your eternal thanks and a CD when it comes out. $20 gets you a signed CD and a shirt. $50 gets your name on the album credits. $100 gets you the chance to help co-write a song. $1000 gets you a house concert, and so on. No money is collected until your funding goal is met. In this case, if you only get $14,356.85 pledged in the set amount of time, nothing happens. If you get $15k or more, then everyone’s card gets dinged at the same time and you are funded. It has been highly successful for many artists, as well as other types of projects.
7. Hootsuite or Buffer. These two similar sites are a serious time saver for musicians, or anyone involved in social media for that matter. It’s a central hub for posting to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other similar sites. You can spend 30 minutes and enter all your tweets and status updates for the entire day. These sites will post your info for you at the schedule you set.
Hootsuite.com | Bufferapp.com
8. Bandpage. Same concept as Hootsuite, but on a different platform. Bandpage allows you to enter all your social stuff, including videos and items for sale. It then integrates with Facebook, your website and your blog and allows you to have a consistent store presence in all areas. One update, everything changes. This is the ultimate solution for your Facebook Page. Take a look, it’s amazing.
9. Bandcamp or Reverbnation. I list both as they seem to be pretty equivalent in their offerings (I might even throw PureVolume in there as well). These two are growing as a social media platform for musicians. Many, many artists are registered with these services and it’s a great place to discover new music. Thus, the reason you might want to consider having a presence on one or the other, or both. You basically get your own mini-website, replete with videos, streaming music, Twitter feed, etc. It’s the same thing you’d do on your own website, except that you’re in your niche community… sort of like Geocities used to be. And if you know about that, you are truly an old-timer.
Bandcamp.com | Reverbnation.com
10. Tunecore. This is a similar service to CD Baby, minus the physical medium. Do you have a single you want to get out quick? Tunecore will push it out to all the online services and streaming services. It’s a simple, straightforward website. Great for covers of quick-rising songs and YouTube integration.
11. Soundcloud. This is a fast rising social-oriented site that is similar in function to Bandcamp. Where this excels over others is their ability to host your music and make it available to whatever you wish. It’s great for embedding music into your site. Soundcloud.com
12. BandCentral. With all the ways to communicate these days, it’s easy to lose messages or important data. Band Central is designed as a management and promotion hub. It’s a great place to organize everything your band needs to do. Perfect for road managers (which I used to be).
13. Sonicbids. This is another music-oriented social platform. Sonicbids is geared for connecting bands, promoters, brands and fans. At its truest sense, this is a social music marketing platform.
14. Gigmasters. These guys are arguably the top of the heap for booking gigs. Set up your profile and you will be visible to scores of booking agents and event coordinators. Gigmasters has slots for everything from wedding singers to singing telegrams. Whatever your genre or style, they have a place for you. It can’t hurt… you never know who’s gonna be looking.
So, what did I miss? There are a plethora of music related websites and services out there. Chime in and let me know who else to consider!