Creating a successful online presence for your band should not seem like a mystical impossibility. We’re no longer in the “wild west” era of the internet. It’s not a crapshoot. We’ve actually figured out a ton of stuff about how to be successful online, so creating a successful web presence is no mystery. There are some really strong basic principles you can use to build your web presence, and there are literally millions of examples out there of how people have used social media and their websites to find success online.
And yet . . .
Many bands and artists are still getting it dead wrong. The biggest mistake that bands make over and over again is mistaking a social media presence for a hosted band website. It’s strange because I don’t see this mistake happening in any other industry. Pet stores, grocery stores, restaurants, doctors, magazines, TV shows–they all use social media in conjunction with their websites. They get it. They see how the traffic flows from social media platforms to their website and back again.
I guess one of the contributing factors to this blind spot is due to the close relationship social media and music have always shared. Musicians know that people use social media to listen to and discover music. And that’s great—social media is super important for musicians. But it’s not everything. Services like Myspace, Bandcamp, Facebook, and others have marketed themselves to musicians as all-in-one solutions, but no matter how many cool tools a social media website lures musicians with, musicians will always be subject to the inherently limiting nature of a website where they don’t have complete control. This is how social media websites work. You give them all your content and information, and they give you free tools. But their agenda is different than yours. They need to appease investors and advertisers: not bands.
Social networks come and go and transform at a breakneck pace. Because of this, a site like Myspace can fall out of favor and leave bands without a way to communicate with their fans. Not to mention Facebook’s recent updates which have negatively impacted many musician’s careers.
Having a great social media presence but no website (or neglecting the website you do have) is like marketing your music everywhere but your hometown (you know, the place where you play the most shows and sell the most albums). Your website is your home base. Not only should it be the center of your online activities, but you should also train your fans to go to your website for updates, news, concert dates, album releases, blog posts, and more.
Because social media websites limit how you can communicate with your fans.
Social media websites are great, but they are not reliable communication tools. Not every one of your fans are going to see your Facebook or Twitter updates. In fact, probably only a tiny percentage of your followers will see any update you send.
If your goal is to build a sustainable music career, you need a more solid foundation than a Facebook, Bandcamp, or (gulp) Myspace page.
Make your website your music hub. Publish all your best content there. Then use your social media websites to send traffic to your website. Once your fans are on your website, ask them to sign up to your email list. Building an email list is the most powerful and reliable way to keep in touch with your fans.
And that’s pretty much it. Drive traffic from social media websites to your website for the biggest benefit. This is what you see major brands like Coke, Nike, and the Huffington Post doing all day long. Don’t be afraid to take a page from their playbook. They’re doing it because it’s time-tested and it works.
Ask your social-media fans to comment on your blog posts, listen to your music, and buy your album on your website. Link to the pages on your website where you want them to visit and interact.
And the traffic can flow both ways. You can send people back to your social media profiles from your website by using social media follow buttons. A successful web presence is one that uses the reciprocal nature of social media in conjunction with a hosted band website to achieve maximum results.
What are your experiences marketing your music online? Are you using your website to the fullest?