Being a musician these days can be wonderful as well as a daunting - there are so many opportunities out there (especially on the web) to distribute your music, it can be very easy to forget what the ultimate goal is - to acquire new fans!
That being said, many musicians are not very business or tech savvy and can get lost in all the networks and tools everyone is raging about. Should I concentrate on MySpace? WTF is Twitter? How can I get on iTunes?
While all of those tools are wonderful opportunities for musicians to connect with their potential audience, they are just tools, and not a means to building something that’s long term; you need to use them, but your ultimate goal should be to use those tools to get new fans to come to YOUR own website.
Why is your site so important? Isn’t it just the same as a MySpace page?
The answer my friends is a big NO.
Can you sell Mp3’s direct from your MySpace page, without using a 3rd party service?
Do you own that “friends” list from MySpace? Do you have access to their emails?
No, and no. You don’t have any control over anything.
And control over these things is one of the most powerful things you need to have if you want to take this music career thing to the next level. And I’m here to show you how to do it, all for the measly price of around zero dollars.
Now don’t get me wrong - setting this up requires some serious technical knowledge, so you’re gonna have to get your hands dirty and learn it the hard way. Also, of course you’re going to have to pay for web hosting, but I pray you already new that!
Here is a list of the 6 free things that you can use to set up the ultimate web presence and build your career with.
1. Wordpress CMS (Content Management System)
A website used to be built by writing a bunch of html from scratch as “static” pages. Anyone who’s serious about the web knows this is retarded nowadays. What you need is something easy to update, and that’s where the Wordpress CMS comes in.
It’s open source (re: free), and can be installed in about an hour after you read through some very nerd and techy things. Don’t be afraid - there’s plenty of documentation that will walk you through it, and once it’s installed, building your website content will be a breeze.
Wordpress is essentially a blogging platform, but it’s capabilities are almost endless and you can also build regular pages; update the blog regularly and use it to connect with your fans.
2. Theme Design
You’ll notice when you install Wordpress that is has a default theme and design, and is rather boring. The great thing about using Wordpress is the community of wonderful designers who create FREE themes that are easy to install, and can quickly take your design from boring to snazzy with a click of the mouse. For those who want to get really dirty, you can hack and alter your theme with custom graphics (all ya need to do is learn a little PHP and CSS) and you’ll have a new custom site in no time.
3. Search & Social Optimization
Think it can’t get any better then this? It does. In addition to the wonderful theme building community, there’s also hundreds of plugins that you can install to make your new Wordpress site do different things. Want to be sure your tags are properly optimized for search engines? Need to add social meida buttons? How about a contact form or a site map? No matter what capabilities you want your website to have, chances are there’s a free plugin out there that can help make it happen.
4. Download Store
Speaking of plugins, what if you wanted to sell your music directly from your website without using any other service or sharing any of the profits? Why does a visitor need to go somewhere else to perform a simple task like downloading a song? Now worries, once you install the Instinct E-Commerce plugin, not only can you sell t-shirts and other merch, you can also set up a digital download store. Automate it so people can buy your Mp3’s while you sleep!
5. Music Player & Email List Management
So now we’ve got a state-of-the-art webiste built with a cool design and digital download store. What else could help provide for the ultimate user experience? That’s where ReverbNation comes in. Use their awesome music players to give new visitors a chance to listen to your tunes before purchasing - or give a track or two away in exchange for their email address. Then use their Fan Reach service to manage your list (one of your most important assets). Everything is tracked - every listen, every download, every fan acquisition, so you can see how you’re doing, what’s working, etc.
6. Site Analytics
In addition to those ReverbNation stats, you’re also going to need a basic stats package for you to see how your website is doing. While you hosting provider should have some, you’ll want to compare it to your Google Analytics account, which is obviously free and easy to set-up. After installation, you can see where your traffic is coming from, what people are looking at, and how any marketing efforts are affecting interaction.
Trust me, if you build a website using all these free tools and software, you’ll have a machine working for you; it doesn’t stop there though! Connect the site to all those other tools you’ve been using (links to Facebook & MySpace, iTunes buttons, Flickr & YouTube widgets) and you’ll have a one-stop shop for everything you (and your fans) need! Now just start generating great blog content, networking with others on the web to get some press, and keep making good music, and you’ll be able to see your steady growth using real business analytics along the way!
About the author:
Eric Hebert is a self-proclaimed online media “mogul”, having over 5 years experience marketing on the web. While maintaining and serving business clients in areas such as search engine and social media marketing, content development, blogging, and other marketing and branding techniques, Eric has built a name for himself using these methods to help artists and musicians grasp the web and the potential it has to build their careers.
In early 2007 Eric launched Evolvor.com, a site dedicated to providing tips on how to use the web to market music in addition to exploring the rock music scene and the “evolution of music discovery” in the new digital music industry.