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Friday
May292009

What artists should know about thesixtyone

thesixtyone

thesixtyone is quite simply my favorite music site, both as a listener and and artist. Billing itself as “a music adventure,” t61 is like a massively multiplayer game, complete with reputation points, levels, quests, and achievements. It’s a fun way to discover and be discovered. The rules are constantly in flux, so I’ll omit the fine details and walk you through the broad strokes of establishing yourself as an artist.

Create a listener account. You’re given the option to convert it into an artist account, but don’t do it. You’ll need separate listener and artist accounts to effectively promote your music, because some crucial functions are only available to listeners.

Learn the basics. Select your genre in the right hand column and listen to some of the music in top songs and hot right now, under the popular tab. If you like a song, heart it! You’re given a daily allowance of hearts based on your level. Once you reach level 5, you can heart the same song multiple times. When you “max heart” a song, you’re rewarded with a loud “holy shit!” (which made me jump out of my chair the first time I heard it). As the song grows in popularity, you’re rewarded with reputation points. The earlier you heart a song, the more points you stand to earn. At some point the song may “hit the home page,” moving it from the browse tab to the popular tab and providing a large point bonus to supporters.

Complete your profile. Click the save link on your favorite songs to create your radio, which anyone can play from your profile page. Access your profile by clicking your name at the top of the screen. Show off your taste by picking three of your saved songs to feature. Upload an avatar and write a short bio. Make it clear that it’s the listener account for your band, or for you as an artist.

Make some friends. Explore profiles to find listeners with similar tastes. You can find suggestions under social>invite friends>suggested users, or just look at who’s hearting and commenting on your favorite songs. Unlike most social networking sites, you don’t need to request an add. Just click subscribe on a listener’s profile page. Like Twitter, the connection is one-way. If you leave a comment to introduce yourself, they might subscribe back.

Join a group. Large groups have tremendous influence on t61. Explore them under social>listener groups and find a good fit. Make sure the group is active and motivated. If you’re into electronic music, consider joining Electro Freaks. You won’t find a more passionate group of electronic/dance fans anywhere on the net. I can say without reservation that I owe all my success on the site to them.

I suggest getting to know the site as a listener for a week or two before creating your artist account. Gain some levels, complete some quests, and find some great music to share with your friends and your group. It’s a lot of fun!

Color Theory at thesixtyone

Create an artist account. OK, you’ve had your fun. Now let’s get down to business! Remember, you want to create a new account. DO NOT convert your listener account to an artist account. Artists can’t join groups, and can’t comment on listeners’ profiles unless the listener hearts one of their songs.

Complete your profile. Upload photos and fill out your bio and maybe a news item or two, but DO NOT upload a song yet!

Tip off your group. Log in to your listener account. Go to your group page and let them know that you’re going to be uploading your first song in 10 minutes. Ask for their help and support, and link to your artist profile page (using standard HTML). Giving your friends a heads up allows them to reap the greatest rewards when the song succeeds.

Upload one song. Log in to your artist account. Upload one, and only one, song. Make it your best! Be sure to have a witty or interesting song “factoid” handy. If you choose to place the song in an album, use your profile pic as the album cover. You want everyone to see the same little icon next to all of your songs, so that they associate that image with you.

Get the word out. Log in to your listener account, go back to your group page, and link directly to your song. Hopefully group members have already found and hearted it. Soon it may appear on the group’s radio, generating more attention. Next, go to your artist profile (still logged in as a listener) and use the share link on your song to share it with friends that aren’t in your group.

Say thank you. After 24 hours, log back in to your artist account and go to your artist profile. Click on the commented x times link, then hearted by. Go to the profile pages of your biggest supporters and personally thank them. The site’s spam protection won’t allow you to copy and paste more than a couple times, so keep it fresh. Listeners like to see that the artist is personally involved, and some may even be starstruck.

Rinse and repeat. Wait until the initial hype dies down (at least a few days) to upload another song. You want to renew interest in your first song, but not compete with it. Everyone that hearted your first song will see the new one under artist uploads on the just for you tab. As you continue to upload new songs every week or two, you’ll gain more listeners to support your efforts. When one of your songs hits the home page, your listenership will grow even faster.

DON’T HEART YOUR OWN SONG. It’s bad form, and people will notice (though I’ve gotten away with hearting other artists’ remixes of my songs). Also, tone down the sales pitch. Listeners are there to enjoy the shared experience of music discovery. Blatant self-promotion pollutes the site and abuses the system.

Can’t I just create an artist account and upload my songs? You can, but you’ll reach more people in less time if you follow my advice. When someone hearts one of your songs, they bet on your success. If you don’t already have a track record of success, they’re less likely to bet on you. The best way to establish that track record is to build up support before you upload your first song, and hit the ground running!

This sounds like a lot of work. Why should I bother? If you have no interest in discovering new music, then you probably shouldn’t. If you do, t61 a great way to establish relationships with potential fans who share your tastes. I’ve made a lot of new Facebook friends, and yes, even a few sales. Last week I even got a request from a music publisher who heard my songs on t61. Just today t61 launched a patronage system, where I’ve already earned a couple bucks in tips. Your mileage may vary, so I suggest you give it a shot and see what happens!

Brian Hazard is a recording artist with fifteen years of experience promoting his seven Color Theory albums. His Passive Promotion blog emphasizes “set it and forget it” methods of music promotion. Brian is also the head mastering engineer and owner of Resonance Mastering in Huntington Beach, California.

References (1)

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Reader Comments (11)

This is a great intro to the Sixtyone Brian. I really enjoy the site as well, and I can attest to how fun it is interacting with other bands and listeners. There isn't really any other social network like it.

I will also urge artists who are considering joining the site to follow Brian's instructions...it is of paramount importance to build a foundation first, and then release your tracks very slowly. I did not have the benefit of his experience when I first joined as an artist, which would have really launched my songs more effectively.

May 29 | Unregistered CommenterJay

The Most Pit event was a success! After five and a half hours, we broke the 5,000 mark.

Great post, Brian. The Sixty One definitely has an edge over Pandora because it actively encourages users to pay attention to what they're listening to. If it's popularity continues to increase, it will have a definite edge over the competition and artists need to take advantage of that opportunity NOW.

Thanks Brian. I uploaded three songs before I read your post. Thank you for the tips! This will just give us incentive to finish some more songs and release them slowly from here on out. Will definitely follow your tips from now on. Cheers for the advice!

Eric - Agitprop

September 7 | Unregistered CommenterAgitprop

hey looks good BUT i have just signed up as an artist provided my email etc
and then tried to sign up as a listener
but they ask for a email address as well so i type mine in and then it says that that email address is already taken...(for my artist account)

i.e i seem to need 2 email addresses as you cant have the same one for each account.

so, how do you get round this?

cheers
bob

November 16 | Unregistered Commenterbob hillary

Might be time for an update...

January 25 | Unregistered CommenterMusicMissionary

Opss... this is no longher valid ;-)

February 2 | Unregistered Commentermarco

Sad but true. I don't suppose the new site justifies a new article on strategy, because there's not that much to it.

I still think it's wise to respond to comments and let your fans know about new songs. Most importantly, you still have to stagger your uploads! Don't force your songs to compete against each other for hearts, even if you place them in different genres.

As for groups, we've all moved to Uvumi.

February 3 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

T61 was one of my favorite music sites before their big overhaul. I've noticed that they've slowly started to add back a few features, but it doesn't look like it will ever have the same community that it did. Too bad really, it really was one of the best sites for artists and music lovers to converge. Hope another site fills the void. Trying out Uvumi, so far so good.

Good article, a lot of this stuff is still very relevant to marketing music in general. thanks!

February 7 | Unregistered Commenterstate shirt

I keep hearing veiled references to bad things that have happened to the sixtyone. Anyone care to quickly explain exactly what's changed there? Brian, would you no longer suggest that musicians spend any music promotion time or energy there? Did all the T61 cool kids move over to Uvumi? Would love to get the straight dope on this. Thanks!

March 6 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

Mike, t61 recently unveiled a new UI that discarded the vast majority of community features. It's still a great place for solo music discovery though. I recommend spacing out your uploads and seeing what happens. There's not much else you can do to actively promote. If your first couple songs don't get any nibbles, there's not much point in continuing to upload material.

Many t61 artists moved to Uvumi, but it's not the same. It's nice to keep in touch with old friends, but I don't think we're reaching the general listening public the way we were at t61. Unless you've already got connections through t61, I don't see a new artist getting much traction there.

March 7 | Registered CommenterBrian Hazard

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