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Although a useful tool in its day its seems Myspace has got itself stuck between being a weak competitor to Facebook and a promotional service for bands that falls short of doing much more than being a cumbersome scrolling billboard for other peoples music.
With so many new and upcoming social media tools that they can make use of its no surprise that bands and artists no longer rely upon Myspace as a means of serious promotion. In this article I will address how musicians can reach out to their audiences and what the future holds for those willing to get experimental and creative with their music promotion.

What’s out there right now?

Twitter

Naturally Twitter is a great means of sharing short, sharp bursts of information about what’s going on and linking to other media such as blogs, pictures or videos – not to mention some witty banter or incendiary comments. Surprisingly however a lot of research points to the fact that teenagers, who are more likely to benefit from it when promoting their bands, are just not really that into Twitter – perhaps because its not as social as services like Facebook or Bebo.

I’m a firm believer that its only a matter of time more musicians  “get” Twitter and start to use it as a smart promotional tool – its offers far too many benefits in terms of communicating with and understanding your audiences to be dismissed.

Facebook

Since Facebook allows you to pull in a great many elements of social media onto one page its the natural choice for bands and artists looking for a simple means of sharing information with their fans. A Facebook page is the natural successor to Myspace since tight integration with the likes of YouTube and Soundcloud and a far more pleasant interface means it offers better streaming and sharing options coupled with a less weighty  user experience.

One very compelling Facebook app for bands and artists is Bandpage which offers a very audience friendly page with a music player and show schedule alongside your existing Facebook features.

YouTube

Despite a fairly rocky past with the music industry, YouTube remains the go to place for musicians looking to share videos with their fans and unsigned/indie artists are no exception to this. Helpfully, this year YouTube have reached to bands with their Musicians Wanted partner program and are offering to pay bands for plays of their videos, even embedded ones as well as offering more audience friendly artist channels as part of the package.

SoundCloud

Not merely a very useful means of music collaboration SoundCloud is geared towards artists sharing tracks directly with their fans, who in turn can leave comments on the player widget for the track. The Berlin based pioneers have made sure that their track player widgets can be embedded just about anywhere – essentially meaning that bands that artists and bands can create self perpetuating viral loop style campaigns around their music. At 2 million plus users and going strong Soundcloud is changing the way music is promoted online and possibly has become the most essential online tool for musicians.

…and what does the future hold?

Digital distribution

This past week has seen both Indaba Music and SoundCloud/Tunecore open up their subscribers to digital distribution via services like iTunes and Amazon,  effectively helping bands to completely bypass record companies and go the DIY route. Its a very encouraging sign that artists are embracing the freedom that the web offers especially with the music industry still moving at sloth like speeds when it comes to embracing the internet. With distribution covered it would be good to see some online services to help artists with synchronisation and publishing as well since its an area of revenue that’s still generally closed off to them.

Geo-marketing

Recently at Music Hack Day in London I experienced a fantastic hack for Soundcloud and Gowalla that allowed streaming of exclusive tracks to people that had “checked in” at a specific location. I had no doubt I was peeping into future when I saw that, mainly because so much about unsigned music promotion is about shows and creating a buzz around these.

With Foursquare now an established name and Facebook entering this space with their “places” feature its likely that over then next year or so geo-marketing is going to be commonplace and bands and artists that use it to incentivise attendance at shows and gigs, as well as collect valuable information on fans are probably going to benefit a great deal.

Mobile apps

For those willing to invest in them turnkey mobile applications such as Mobile Roadie and Fanbass allow you to connect with your audience in a portable and personal way by giving them easy access to your music, video, images and blogs. Additionally, rather than selling singles or albums you could in theory sell applications that deliver new music, videos and other content directly to their mobile devices. With the frankly massive rise in the use of smartphones in everyday life its an area all artists would be wise to consider.

DIY hacks

Although I appreciate that being a recording and gigging musician can be incredibly time (and energy) consuming it may be worthwhile spending some time on developing your coding skills so you can make use of all that useful open data out there. Creating your own web based services from open API’s such as those offered by Google Maps , Last FM and SoundCloud means you can offer information and content in new and engaging ways without having to spend a fortune doing so.

A superb recent example of this kind of service, and again from Music Hack Day would be the superb “We are the Earth Destroyers” which calculates how environmentally friendly bands are based on open data from Echonest and Bandsintown.

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4 Comments

  1. i am so interested about that subject. thanks for posting

  2. Great roundup and a nice look forward. I think twitter provides a great set of tools for music because a lot of it is about people going out to shows and sharing that, or sharing their listening habits.

    It’s so easy to post a photo and then @ the artist in your tweet. I think all musicians should have an active account to support that

    • Thanks for the feedback Mr Tunes!

      I’d agree that Twitter is indeed a useful tool for bands but it does need to be more popular with teenagers to really come into its own here – lets hope that happens eventually.


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