Now, more than ever before, your next fan is more likely to discover you and your music online than they are to find out about you at a show.
So how do you make sure that you’ve built a strong music brand platform online so that discovery leaves a positive impression?
How do you make sure that potential fans who discover you online stick around, listen to your music, and check in with you for updates?
But before we get into how to keep fans coming back for more, there’s something else that’s worth mentioning.
It isn’t just artist discovery that’s primarily online.
Album launches and marketing are also mostly on the web now.
Many performers are opting to go the indie route, releasing their music on their own. But even if you’re hoping to one day get signed, labels are now more likely to take a chance with an artist that already comes with a built-in and engaged audience.
Whichever road you’re planning to take, however, your online brand platform needs to be strong because it serves as your main channel to promote and distribute your music.
Let’s make your brand platform give you the most bang for the time you invest into developing it.
Don’t rely on third-party platforms to promote your business.
Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter aren’t enough. Even if you have a huge following on one of those social media sites, you need to use it to send people back to your website. They shouldn’t be the main vehicle for your promotion.
Social media platforms rise and fall quickly (read: Myspace) and if you build your audience via social media, you’re likely to lose them when it loses popularity.
Your website, on the other hand, will forever be yours to update and control. Unless you neglect updating it, it’s impossible for it to become obsolete, and as your career progresses, the amount of content and usefulness of your site only grows with it.
Bonus Tip: Your website should have an about page, photos, video and audio clips, your concert schedule, and a contact page at the very least. If you have albums or projects out, they should also have their own pages (and you should also have a discography page). I also personally suggest having a tour blog up on your site so that your fans can get to know you. It also gives them a reason to keep visiting you in between album releases.
Build an Email List
Even if you don’t have an album out or you’re not on tour, you should constantly work at building your email list. If you’re planning on launching an album or a tour at any point in your career, it’s never to early to start building up your email list. And when you finally launch your album, that list will be a great tool to help you ensure the success of the release.
As an incentive to get fans to sign up, you can offer a free mp3 download to those who sign up or even a link to an unlisted video on your Youtube channel.
As far as the content of your newsletters, offer your subscribers something that they won’t get on your website or blog. Every so often, you should send them exclusive information and offers, links to videos or new music before any one else, and maybe even links to other artists that they might enjoy.
Bonus Tip: Using your email list for constant self-promotion is a no-no. You want your newsletters to be something your fans look forward to, not something they’re likely to get annoyed by. Create something useful and entertaining for your audience.
Ask for Reviews
Use the email list you’re building above to offer fans a free advance copy of your new single or album in exchange for reviews on Amazon. Those reviews will go a long way to getting your music discovered on Amazon by new listeners.
Bonus Tip: Do this right before you’re getting ready to release an album so that your album launch gets started with a bang.
When you do use social media, focus on a few channels rather than, well, all of them.
It’s impossible to manage a consistent and strong brand image across an infinite number of social sites, so pick 3-5 of your favorites and focus on them. Focus on the platforms where your audience can be found and work on building a strong presence.
It will take time to build up your music brand platform, but once you start to get some momentum, you’ll find it was worth the effort and time. Even if you don’t yet have anything to promote, it’s never too early to start. Once fans start to find you, you’ll have a built in audience ready to hear about your new project. Don’t wait until you’re trying to release an album to launch your artist platform. It will be too much at once.
Bonus Tip: In addition to providing useful and entertaining content to your fans through your various social media channels, make sure that you give them incentive to head over to your website. Save certain photos, content, and clips for your website only and link back to it from the social media sites you’re using.
For more tips like this, check out our Album Checklist and Music Branding bundle here.