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« Hometaping: Anyone can make music. Record yours this November! | Main | There is no money in the music industry: Are we all in it for the money though!? »
Tuesday
Nov022010

The Virtual Tour, Parts II and III (OR: Keep Your Studio Slippers On!)

To successfully promote your music you need to be able to influence potential listeners from all across the web. A new and potentially effective method of increasing the recognition of your music, influencing new listeners and spreading the awareness of you, as a band or musician, is to set up a virtual tour.

In this article we look at why you should be setting up a virtual music tour, how to find blogs to host your tour and how to get the most out of the experience. In the final paragraph I share a trick that has proved to be a very powerful way of encouraging listeners to interact and leave blog comments.

What Is A Virtual Tour?

The basic structure of a virtual tour is a collection of different types of web/blog posts, hosted on a number of different sites/blogs, all promoting your band and/or music. A simple example: the tour might be six different blogs to each post about your band/music, each posting on six consecutive days. Another example might be four different blogs, one standard website, and an announced and date specified new video post on your youtube channel, over a one week period.

The idea behind a virtual tour is that the musician/band has a chance to influence listeners that are probably not already visiting their (the band’s) website, blog, or are even aware of their music. If the blogs and sites hosting the tour are chosen with consideration, the musician has the ability to reach literally thousands of new listeners with just a few blog posts.

There are no strict rules stating the number of blogs used in a tour, the timing of the posts, the content of the posts, or the length of the tour. You could chose to organize your virtual tour using blogs in certain geographical areas, much like a “live” tour choosing venues, but this is not necessary. It is up to the organizer of the tour (normally the musician or their promoter) to be as creative as possible in producing a tour or series of posts that will be seen by the most number of blog readers.

A side note: The virtual tour can BE the tour for those musicians who do not like the physical act of touring and playing live. It gives them the freedom to create and produce music; then introduce it through the blog interviews, subsequent musician website visits, and hopefully inspired sales. On the other hand, for those who enjoy the live audience and energy of playing live, organizing a virtual tour through a certain geographical area will engage a previously unknown audience of blog readers into eager ticket buyers!

How To: Blog Choice and Approach 

Choice

The temptation, when looking for sites and blogs to host your virtual book tour, is to go for blogs with the largest number of readers. However, though readership numbers should be of some concern, other factors should be taken into consideration. (Note: I know a handy formula which I can share in the comments area, if anyone requests more insight or idea.)

The ideal blogger, for your virtual tour, is one that has a strong influence in their online community AND a readership who might be interested in your music. By strong influence, I mean that their readers are active and engaged with the site – they comment, they start discourse with the other readers within comment threads, etc. The aim of your virtual tour is, ultimately, to sell music, though in the initial stages you may be simply aiming to raise awareness. If you post to an active community who will go beyond the blog post itself, who will talk about your music and perhaps even write a post for their own site, then you can quickly spread the word about your band/music. Choosing a site with an active, engaged readership of 200-450 readers will bring you more potential listeners and music buyers than that site with 10,000 monthly click throughs…

200 readers too small? How many people showed up at your last gig? I went to a live last week that had an audience of 29…

Another factor to consider when choosing host bloggers is your target market. If your music is in the “pop” genre, then look for bloggers who blog about pop music or pop culture. This seems obvious but is worth repeating. A blog with a focus on death-metal, even if the readership is 100,000, will not truly be of benefit to you. (Although the writings would probably be amusing.) You might also find one avenue is to approach blogs who simply review music releases.

Also, do not discount non-music oriented blogs. Look at blogs that are interest focused as well. If two of your band members spend their free time volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, then an intriguing posting on a volunteer-ship focused blog could yield new listeners. You personally love playing Grand Theft Auto? Then look at gaming blogs. There are no set rules for booking success here.

Approach

I suggest that you come up with a list of bloggers who you would like to invite to be involved in your virtual tour. Assuming you are working on the ‘six posts in a week’ model, I would gather a list of about twelve bloggers.

Your first step is to find a direct email address for all the blogs on your list. Most blogs have an email listed or a contact form on the site. If neither of these is present, a simple comment in a Blog post asking for contact details might be enough.

Your introduction email should be concise but contain all the information needed for the host to decide if they are interested or not. Be as short as possible, and leave the blogger with a simple yes or no choice. The content of the email will vary for each blogger but in general you should introduce yourself with a brief bio. You should outline your music, style, and influence. You should explain why you are running a virtual tour, and include a link to your music online. You should also explain what the blogger would gain from getting involved. Give the blogger the potential dates of the tour (this is important) and outline exactly what you will need them to do (we will go into this in more detail). Finally, close by asking if it would be OK for you to email with more details.

Bloggers are always looking for posts. If you are able to give them an interesting post, that is of interest to their readers, that fits with their blog’s focus or theme, takes a minimum amount of work on their part, they will almost always want to be involved and say yes.

Preparing The Blog Posts

Not all blogs are the same; therefore not all blog posts in your virtual tour should be the same. The aim is to produce a post that will be adding value to the readers of the blog.

Regardless of the form the actual tour date post takes; it should aim to do the following:

  • Raise awareness of you/your band, your music and YOUR website/blog,
  • Fit into the host’s blogging style and voice,
  • Add value to the blog readers.

In addition each post should make the hosting blogger’s life as easy as possible. To do this each post should:

  • Not require the hosting blogger to do much work,
  • Contain all needed links: your site, link to music download/purchase
  • Have all pictures attached,
  • Be very clear as to when the post should be made live,

The most common, style of blog post for a virtual tour is the interview. There are others: music review, video posts, even streaming live interview/performance, but chances are that the partially pre-prepared interview post will form the usual “stop” on your blog tour, so let’s use this as an example of how to create the perfect virtual tour blog post.

The first step is the questions. My advice is that you do this by email. It can be done by Skype or some other platform, but I feel email is a great option. It gives you time to craft and then review your answers. Also, you can verify that the interview answers you provide are differently focused, worded, have different anecdotes, based on site.

The first step is to find the angle the interview will take to ensure it matches the reader of the blog. The more relevant the interview, the more chance the readers will share and spread the post, more chance they will click over to your site, buy your music, make comments. Bloggers or site masters are far more likely to say yes to hosting a stop on a virtual tour; if it is clear how your blog post is going to impresses their readers.

Having established the angle the interview will take; it is time to form the questions. My advice is that you give the host a few questions to start. For example, I would suggest:

Tell me something about your band…

Tell me how you came to decide your musical style…

Where can people find out more about you and your music?

Where can they buy your music?

These questions will allow you to say all the routine stuff without troubling the host.

The next step is for the host to pose a few questions that they feel will direct your answers to fit their reader’s needs. You need to let the host do this, but make it as easy as possible for them. Perhaps just suggest they email you 5 or 6 questions.

Now, answer the questions. Be concise and to the point, but interesting. Also make sure you check the spelling and grammar. Make it perfect and leave the host with as little work as possible. The next step is to let the host see your answers, pose any extra additional questions. Do this with plenty of time to spare; you should probably be taking care of this no later than 2-3 weeks prior to posting. Again it is all about making it as easy as possible for the host. This comes down to simple things like returning the questions in the body of an email, not in an attachment.

When the host is happy, it is time to send the final blog post. I would also suggest that you put the final post in html format. Include tags, links etc. Once again, this means the host can just cut and paste. Make it very clear when the post needs to go live. I suggest you send a separate email with the date the post needs to go live. Then, a few days before the post is due, follow up and make sure everything is OK. Don’t wait until the day of the post, give them time and plenty of warning to get things in place.

Finally, make sure the post has a link to the main blog/site URL of next blog in the tour, as well as your own site. This will give readers of one post the chance to jump across to the next.

Adding Value

Above is the blueprint for creating an interview style blog post. However, you may find that for some blogs a different style of post is better suited for their readers. All the time you should be looking to adding value to the host’s readership. This is, by far, the most important aspect of the blog posts. Make sure you target the post to fit the reader’s needs. If the blog is about song writing, then write about your creative process. If it is about pop culture, then talk about your ideas of your music’s place in and future of pop culture. Don’t be frightened of ignoring the interview format and just offering to write a guest post. Remember, you need to add value. You need readers to come to the post read it and be so intrigued they click the link to your site and, hopefully, buy your music.

This is just a surface level overview of organizing a virtual tour. I am sure you will find your own ‘best practice’, but I want to close with one ‘trick’ that can be used, and that is the give-away. The aim is to give-away one free download of your song/EP/album from each site/blog appearance. My advice is to ask readers of the post to simply leave a ‘pick me’ comment, or an answer to a simple question, in the comments section. Make this as easy as possible for them! Then, a week or so later, pick a winner at random and send them the download link. 

 Happy Touring; whether you keep the house shoes on…or need to run out to the van!

 ___________________________

Apryl Peredo is the owner of Inter Idoru

INTERIDORU was founded on the idea that living in cyberspace and a synthetic or virtual world is not in the future, but now. THE world and people are interconnected in ways both seen and unseen.

We can provide the following services:
l Virtual Touring
l Virtual Artist/Music Promotion
l Virtual Artist/Band Management

inter.idoru@gmail.com

Reader Comments (9)

This post isn't getting enough love!

I really dig this idea, and I'm def going to be doing this for our upcoming album! Especially when you broke down the part about the 200 dedicated readers versus 10,000 uncommitted readers. While it's not quite the same as a live tour, this allows a band to market to a much more target audience. For the metal I play, this is perfect.

Thanks for this!

November 4 | Registered CommenterDerek Miller

Derek,

Of course, I agree! Not enough love! Thank you for your feedback too.

While certainly not the same as a live tour, you can market to a wider audience (as you noted), but possibilities are endless. By marketing to a certain area - you can see if there are enough "fans" to make the monetary expense of going to...Japan or Germany or Wyoming...worthwhile, prior to going and playing to empty houses. You can announce video uploads, new song release dates, where to BUY your tunes and merchandise...

Also, once one has the hang of doing the usual blog post interviews, reviews, or guest writing - try moving in to a "Virtual Tour" with set up times for a live streaming interview and you respond to questions from a real-time chat box. Or playing an acoustic or full on mini-set.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions or are in need of guidance or cheer-leading

inter.idoru@gmail.com!

November 5 | Registered CommenterApryl Peredo

Sounds good. I need to learn how to search for blogs. There's any number of topics that could be spun toward just about any artist. How to find the bloggers in a way that's useful for the music artist?

November 6 | Unregistered CommenterMartin Blasick

@Martin Blasick

Head to a search engine and search keywords you have come up in a synonym generator which relate to your target. Add the word 'blog' and spend real time creating a nice spreadsheet/database column of targeted blogs for virtual tour.

You can take this a step further and start creating more columns in that spreadsheet for sites which you release press releases too. Sites to place backlinks on, to increase footfall to your own site, or backlink authority. These columns can go on forever, thankyou internet!

If you would like to see a step by step tutorial to setting up your bands backlinks, check out Autonomous Industry and the marketing section. We are even releasing lists of services for bands. Press Releases and many more services and tools are being released over the next few weeks.

November 8 | Unregistered CommenterMartinT

Thanks for the input MartinT!

Also, when looking for appropriate blogs, as I mentioned before, don't discount the non-music oriented blogs. Music buyers don't just read music blogs, in fact, some music fans never read music blogs.

Case in point: NASCAR fans buy a whole lot of a lot of stuff! If your band plays music that might appeal to a NASCAR fan, it's time to talk about your own deep appreciation for NASCAR and how that affects your creativity, and you want to share with your fellow racing fans...

November 9 | Registered CommenterApryl Peredo

Thanks for this very cool, practical advice on the Virtual Tour. As an indie artist locked in my studio, producing a new album every month, this idea really appeals to me! Gonna check out your tips.

wrightsea@gmail.com!

November 24 | Unregistered CommenterSean T Wright

WOW ... I just discovered MTT a couple of weeks ago, and stories like this are making me very happy I did. This is incredibly simple yet powerful advice that I can't wait to start implementing into my future marketing strategies. Would be interesting to see if this approach can actually prove beneficial to building and/or strengthening an artist/bands physical or "traditional" touring options in given markets.

Thank you Apryl Peredo & MTT for sharing your knowledge.

November 24 | Unregistered CommenterLG

Thanks for this, really informative as I'm just getting started with promoting online - seems like a vast mountain to climb, and the sheer volume of stuff out there is mind boggling. I've just started a band called Pink Monkeys and have earmarked this December as a time to become au fait with the ins and outs of online promotion. Your article is fascinating, hugely helpful, so than ks for that. will definitely be taking your advice.

November 26 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Kay

Really loved the post! Very practical--definitely want to try this in the future. Our theatre group just released a professional soundtrack of our last musical The Threshing. The marketing tips in this article are perfect for us as we wouldn't be able to do a "real" tour. Thanks!

December 6 | Unregistered CommenterScene&Hurd

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