Posted tagged ‘website’

3 Big Mistakes That Artists Make

November 8, 2010

The below suggestions have probably appeared on Grassrootsy in various posts, but last week I thought I’d loosely keep tabs on artist emails and FB messages and tweets  just to see what people are still doing these days.  Here are a few…

1. Falling off the map
What!?  Who are you?  Oh…I almost forgot because I haven’t heard from you in 3 months!  This might be a pet peeve of mine.  Don’t send your fans an email every 3 months and expect them to remember who you are. In the age of over-saturation, you’ll have a much greater shelf-life if you communicate too often as opposed to not enough. Falling off the map after having a successful run is like going 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Granted, everyone needs a break at some point. But occasionally touch base with your fans to remind them you still exist. See: Setting the Record Straight: Reminding People You Still Exist for more thoughts on the matter.

2. Launch a website with nothing on it.
This is aonther personal pet peeve of mine.  If you want people to be interested in your music, don’t send them a Facebook invite to your band’s page if there’s no music on it. Duh. And don’t send people a link to your new website if it’s completely blank. What is it you want them to see when they get there?

This is also equivalent to inviting your friends to an event via Facebook. Let’s say you want your friends to come see you and “John Doe” perform at club “XYZ”.  Make sure the Facebook invite has links to both your websites.  That way, folks can actually check out your music and make an informed decision about attending the show. An informed fan is an involved one. People will eat the information you give them so make sure you give them something worth digesting. See: Perception is Reality for more on this.

2. No email address?
Yea, you probably have one but if you don’t put it on your website, no one would ever know!  Have you noticed that you can’t  send messages to the administrator of a Facebook Page. Annoying. So if you don’t have your email address in the “Info” section (or better yet, in the information box on the home page), how can anyone reach you? Some things aren’t meant for the Facebook wall.

And, believe it or not, folks still use MySpace to check out new artists.  But at this point, you should know you can’t email someone on MySpace unless you have an account…and people aren’t really creating MS accounts these days.  SO if you don’t have your email address in a very visible location, you’re potentially missing out on bookings…etc.

Even worse is having a website with no email address on the contact page. Contact forms are great, but an email address will travel further, faster.

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I Don’t Know html. How Do I Build a Website?

November 4, 2010

ARTIST: Eric Downs of Yours Truly (Pittsburgh, PA)
QUESTION: I was wondering if you could suggest a few things for me to research in regards to building a website. I’ve researched options like the cost of domain registration and hosting fees, but outside of that, I’m relatively oblivious. Do you think you could provide me with some guidance?

ANSWER: Hey Eric. Yea I think the biggest hangup preventing artists from owning their own website is not know html code.  Yea its easy to get someone to design a site for you, but you still need to be responsible for maintaining it.  Here are some great options.

1. Bandzoogle. I’ve heard really great things about Bandzoogle. Artists have told me its great because it helps you design a site without needing to have any html knowledge.  BZ handles all hosting and you can claim your desired domain name through them.  The minimum fee is $9.99/ month. This is more costly than registering a domain and buying annual hosting space on your own…but the ease and user-friendly approach of BZ is what sells the idea.

2. WordPress. Everyone uses WordPress. Believe it or not, many of the sites you visit today are created with WordPress. You have to register your own domain and hosting. And it’s definitely necessary to have some html and css knowledge to establish your site. But once everything is in place, updating your pages is easy.  Wordpress has thousands upon thousands of themes (i.e. designs) that you can pick for the layout of your website. Here are two ways to go about using WordPress.

  • Consider having someone do all the setup (if you can’t), then go in and do all the tweaking. My sister’s band,  The Peace Project,  just did this with their site, but you might never know it’s WordPress. She added and updates the content when she wants.
  • Consider having someone do the setup and design. Maybe you can’t find a WordPress theme that you like. Create one. This is a bit more work and would also require a third-party if you don’t know how to do this. I had someone custom make a design for my website, www.joyike.com. Css and html knowledge that I didn’t have was required. But it feels great not having to worry about using html when updating

Good luck with your website! I hope it goes well!
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First Impressions are Lasting Ones

February 22, 2010

Do you make a good first impression on the people you meet? On first time visitors to your website? Consider the following thoughts and determine whether you’re hitting the mark.

In a recent post I created for my friend, Ken Mueller’s, Inkling Media blog, I wrote:

“Social media is all about making information travel to a large number or people in a little amount of time. This  requires thinking ahead – being prepared. When you post information on your Facebook Page, what do you hope to accomplish? When you send people a link to your website, what will they find when they get there? Will the available information be what they’re looking for?  [read full article]

Tips for Creating a Good, Lasting, Fist Impression

  1. Content, Content, Content: Don’t invite people to join your Facebook Page unless there’s actually something on your page.
  2. Is your website really a website? Just because you have a domain name doesn’t mean you have a website. If the information hasn’t been updated, the site is useless.
  3. Be Patient: Wait till you’ve put up a handful of posts before you start spreading the word about your blog.
  4. Use Links: My biggest pet peeve is when an individual or a company sends me information about an event they’re having but doesn’t provide a link for more information.  If you have a link, people will click it.
  5. Remember: NO ONE wants to visit an empty website. That’s like going to the grocery store full of empty shelves.

More thoughts on making a good first impression

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Creating Content – Giving People Something to Talk About #1

February 4, 2009

Creating content can be hard to do when you’re just starting out.  How do you get people to visit your website or myspace if you have nothing to put on it?  How do you get your CD reveiwed if you don’t have any way to prove its worth listening to?  Here are some ideas…

Endorsements
Don’t have a review? Why not get a whole bunch of mini reviews…i.e. endorsements.  An endorsement is basically a short line or paragraph that gives credibility to a person, cause, or thing.  If you’re a local artist, why not ask some well-known personalities in your city to write a one-liner or short paragraph about your music.  If you know the Mayor, a Sports Figure, the CEO of a major corporation, or a relatively famous musician, ask them if they will take a few minutes to write  something brief and positive about your music.  Here’s an example:

  • “Blake is a budding performer who aspires to be more than simply another graduate with a Masters in Music. In years to come, I can really see him as a seasoned professional in the world of singer/songwriters. He not only sings, but he can play the violin, harmonica, piano and the guitar. (Just to name a few). Taking his songs to new heights, Blake ties in every instrument brilliantly with his Irish like crooning. (I swear listening to some of his songs whisks me away into a bar in the heart Ireland where folk music reigns). His debut album, Over and Over, personifies what Cameron Blake is all about. The songs tell stories and each one symbolizes something important the artist wants to share with listeners. (I personally love Where the Blossoms Fall. I think the song is a beautiful addition to my list of great folk music).”   –Megan Johnson (bmoretunes.com)

If you can’t get a magazine to review your CD, consider asking a writer to send you a comment about your music or use what someone has said in passing.  Here’s the play-by-play of an ideal situation:

  • Suppose you send an email to  Joe Smith (fictional name) of the popular Mojo Republik e-zine asking him to review your CD
  • Joe responds to your email and says, “Thanks for submitting to our magazine but we aren’t currently accepting independent music.  But I  gotta hand it to you, I’ve never heard anything as eclectic as this!”
  • Snatch that quote in bold and put it up on your website and myspace.  Joe said it so it counts. Put it on your myspace and make sure people know that you have a nice endorsement from someone who writes for a credibible magazine. That carries some weight. It would look something like this:

“I’ve never heard anything as eclectic as this!”
– Joe Smith (Mojo Republik)

Try to get as many solid endorsement as possible. Put them in a visible place.

Media
As I’ve mentioned in so many other blogs. Its so important to always have something fresh on your website that will keep people coming back for more.  Read the “Drawing Traffic to your Website(s)” post for a more thorough explanation.

It takes time to create hype around your name but if you keep creating content, you’ll soon get to a point where its less work to promote yourself because other people are doing the work for you. See “web presence” post for a better explanation of this.

More ideas to come tomorrow!
By the way, Cameron Blake’s music is innovate and excellent. Check him out.

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Sonicbids & Electronic Press Kits (EPKs): the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

January 26, 2009
Clare Reynolds

Clare Reynolds

 

Sonicbids more or less introduced the world (and independent artists) to EPKs – Electronic Press Kits. EPKs provide a cost effective way for musicians to submit their music to potential booking agents, venues, festivals, reviewers, radio stations…etc. 

An EPK allows artist to post, a bio, pictures, press, upcoming shows, audio, video, and even sound requirements for gigs.  You could easily use a sonicbids as your website. But keep in mind sonicsbids is not for fans. It exists to get you gigs and publicity.   Here’s a really excellent looking EPK by Australain artist Clare Reynolds.

Here are Sonicbids essential facts…

 

The Good
Sonicbids exposes artist to thousand of opportunities every year. Sonicbids sends opportunities straight to your mailbox, making you aware of…

  • Regional listings:  festivals and venues in your area that are currently accepting EPKs for upcoming concerts.
  • Music Licensing: agencies that line up music-for-tv, music-for- movies, music-for-commercials…etc
  • Labels/Agencies: looking for fresh talent to manage
  • New Magazines/Podcasts: accepting new music for possible review and radio play
  • the list goes on and on.

Sonicbids also makes information about opportunities available on its website. You can only try for these opportunities with a subscription.

 

The Bad
Sonicbids charges $5.95 per month for artists to subscribe (I think they charge you in 1-year incriments but I could be wrong).  Depending on who you are and how much $ you have, $5.95 might not be much. But keep this in mind, for every opportunity the Sonicbids emails you about…if you choose to submit your epk to it, Sonicbids will charge you an additional $5-$10 additional.  For example

  • 1.) Sonicbids sends an email saying ABC Magazine is accepting submissions from brand new irish-pop artists. You decide to submit to ABC Magazine. It cost $5 to submit.
  • 2.) Sonicbids sends another email saying the SXSW (South by Southwest) festival is also looking for irish-pop artists to play on their mainstage.  It costs $10 to submit.

In total, you have spent $15 submitting to these opportunities.  This does not gaurantee that you’ll get a review, or the opportunity to play on the mainstage. It simply means your EPK will be reviewed.  This is the #1 reason I am not a fan of Sonicbids.  Indie artists can end up spending hundreds of dollars a year on sonicbids submissions. This is the ugly part if you’re broke and don’t win out on any of the things you bid for (That’s why it’s called Sonicbids).

At the same time, you never know what will happen.  You might just get that SXSW gig and gain thousands of new fans instantly.  Sonicbids is great when it pays off, but realistically it does not always pay off considering that there are possibly hundreds/thousands of people submitting to the same event, podcast…etc. 

 

A Loophole that sometimes works
Just because an opportunity has been sent to your inbox via Sonicbids, does not mean you have to spend that $5 or $10 to submit through Sonicbids website.  Try this: if ABC Magazine is looking for new music to review, go to ABC Magazine’s website and try submitting on your own!  Some submission are exclusively through Sonicbids.  But you’d be surprised at how many gigs you can try to secure without having to pay extra $$$.  Think of Sonicbids emails simply as a way to make you aware of existing opportunities.

 

And Don’t Forget Hard Copies
Keep in mind that you can’t always use an EPK.  Some bookers (outside of the Sonicbids abyss) prefer  to have hard copies.  Why? Because its more tangible and it also shows that you are willing to make the extra effort…not just point someone to a link.  Don’t be afraid to spend money to mail an occasional hard copy of your press kit.  See the How to Score Reviews of Your CD post for more on this.

 

I’m interested in any additional comments you all have about Sonicbids. Have you had good/bad experiences?
If you’re interested in using Sonicbids, head to the website, and familiarize yourself with everything it has to offer.

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Email Marketing – Making Sure People Read What You Write

January 15, 2009

 

Anathallo - just great music

Anathallo - just great music

 

If you’ve read any other posts on this blog, you know I’m huge on always having an email list at each of your shows. Its important to keep it in a visible spot (merch table) or pass it around the room.  Every email matters! More on this in the post “Drawing Traffic To Your Website(s)“.

By the way, you should know that there is a statistic out there that says only 13-15% of your subscribers will open any given newsletter.  Its true.  Some people will just never open your email…no matter what you do.  And Wednesday is the best day to send an email.  Wednesday is the busiest email-opening day.  More stats at EmailLabs.com.  Here are a few things to keep in mind when sending out a blast to your subscribers.

Subject Line
Two years ago, I went to an email marketing seminar and learned that the Subject Line of your email only has one purpose: to get people to open your email. Keep in mind that if you try to cram the most pertinent information in your subject line that could discourage people from actually opening your email.  Why? Because they already know exactly what you’re gonna say.  Or at least they think they do.

Lets say your band has a  show on Friday with  two other bands at Joe Squared Pizza Bar (venue in Baltimore).  Here are two subject line options

  1. Subject 1: ” This Friday: Free Show at Joe Squared. 9pm”
  2. Subject 2: ” This Friday: We’ll Sounds As Good As the Pizza Tastes.  Believe me…”

Admittedly, Subject 2 is pretty cheesy (because I couldnt think of anything), but you get the point.  Subject 2 causes the reader to ask questions (whose pizza? who’s playing? what are they talking about?).  Chances are, you’ll get more people to open your email if you don’t give them all the info in the subject line.

 

Important Information at the top
Once you get them to open your email, make sure your most important information is at the top!  So Important!  People rarely read an email all the way through.  What is the most important piece(s) of information you want to convey?  Put that/those in the beginning of your email. Least important information goes lower down.

 

Use Hyperlinks!
Use hyperlinks!  Don’t know what a hyperlink is? Definition:

  • Hyperlink:
    a link from a hypertext file to another location or file;
    typically activated by clicking on a highlighted word or icon at a
    particular location on the screen 

Website addresses can be messy  most times.  Make your email as uncluttered as possible by including hyperlinks.  Examples:

  1. This is a hyperlink: Anathallo 

Both links go to the same article but the hyperlink is cleaner.  Using hyperlinks in your email makes it more readable and less confusing. Don’t know how to make hyperlinks.  Read this short tutorial or look for a video tutorial. 

 

Feel free to leave your own practical email suggestions

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The Things You’ll Hate To Do…But Should Do Anyways #1

December 22, 2008
Dana Alexandra

Dana Alexandra

No matter what job you’re doing…even if it’s your dream job, you’ll always have a few things you hate to do.  Here are a few of those:   (note:  no post this Wednesday or Thursday due to the Holiday)

 

Blog
Most artists don’t think blogs/journals are important.  Simply put, they are.  If I like an artist, the first thing I do after listening to their music is check out their blogs…to see who they really are, what they care about, and what new things are happening with their music.  If you have solid fans (or want to build solid fans), you should be writing to them.  Almost like a newsletter but much less informal.  Posts don’t need to be extra long or fake…just fairly consistent, amusing, contemplative and/or informative. Dana Alexandra is a good example.  Check out her blog posts.


The occasional phone call
There’s nothing I hate more than making phone calls.  Even worse is knowing that the person on the other end does not want to talk.  But call!  Don’t harass.  Here are a couple reasons to call…

  • ***Do you know who you should be sending your press kit to?  Call the magazine ahead of time to make sure you’re addressing the envelope to someone that’s still there!  Read more about this in the How to Score Reviews of Your CD post.
  • ***Call to follow-up.   Did ABCD.fm get your CD in the mail  2 weeks ago?  Are they putting it in rotation?  Call.  And even if you get a msg, just leave a voicemail mentioning you’ll also be following up via email.   (p.s. alot of radio stations have designated call-in hours for artists)
  • ***Call (or even stop into) a venue to learn about their booking process.  There’s nothing like a personal touch.

…and be polite, very brief, and straight to the point without sounding self-absorbed. (more on this in a future blog).

 

Spending Money
There are tons of things you can do for free but sometimes you need to spend money to make money. A few examples:

  • ***It’s hard to fork out money for signage, but If you have a major event, like a  CD release, choose color flyers over black and white.  You’ll catch more eyes and probably get more people out to your event.  The same goes for color posters.
  • ***Pay for a  “.com“.  Even though the “.us” or “.info” might be free, go with a domain that will get more traffic and is more intuitive.
  • ***And if you frequent this blog regulary…you’ll know that its important to invest in Business Cards.  More on this at Drawing Traffic to your Website(s) post.

 

Records & Receipts
Keep track of everything! You’d be surprised with how many of your purchases you can claim while doing your taxes…everything including…

  • the portion of your house that you use as an office, studio, and/or workspace.
  • music gear purchases
  • the money that you spent on those posters and flyers
  • clothing and haircuts  (i.e. keeping yourself presentable for performances)
  • music purchases and attended events  (be honest, if this is for your musical education/enrichment)
  • the list goes on and on…

MusicBizAcademy has an excellent write-up on  this.  (And don’t forget to keep track of what you’re paying your musicians)

 

Post your suggestions if you have any.  Thanks for reading.

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