Creating an Online Internet Profile (OIP)
For a music band that isn’t connected to a record label, OIP is vital.
The notion that alternative music need not use social networking tools because of pop fads or trends is now outdated. Whether you produce folk music, death hip-hop or political punk rock or even opera, a credible internet presence can do nothing else than enhance your reputation.
Currently the internet is an inexpensive medium that reaches a mass audience of distinct ages and demographics. Being accessible to distant fans can take your success higher than what was possible ten years ago, and this is possible without much budget spent on advertising. Now let’s look at the tools available.
The above concept has changed the way we view networking and even critics cannot play down the influence and significance of this trend called web 2.0.
There are more than enough useful applications to use on the internet. While it is advisable to have several appearances or entrance points online, it isn’t necessary to use every one available as maintenance becomes time consuming. It’s best to stick with the most common ones as the audiences there are larger. Now let’s investigate the crucial applications you need to have to create that mass following.
This medium may be intimidating for musicians who have yet to shoot a video clip or record a performance. If you’re eager to find success in this industry you might as well start with what you have. Film a recital or jam session, play one of your songs in acoustic and film it. If you are prepared, create a video clip and upload it. There are some cases where regular youtube users become famous for the videos they produce. You could be the next story. Who wouldn’t want a million people watching and hearing what you have to say.
This is another obvious option for musicians. Maybe you think that mySpace isn’t part of your audience but if you tell young people that you create music and then cannot point them towards your mySpace account then you may lose credibility. The benefit of MySpace is that you can upload four sample songs to showcase. If you are worried about someone stealing or plagiarising your work then you can cut your sample song to a shorter length.
My Space allows you to interact with other bands in your genre or geographical area. Your following can grow farther than you can imagine. If we listen to Icelandic post-rock music here in Australia then why not?
Let’s be honest, I don’t like it and you don’t like it but you will need to use it. For most people who are too lazy to maintain meaningful relationships, facebook offers a one-stop-shop for them to interact with friends. One advantage facebook offers is a fan list to keep track of people interested in your music or other offerings. Once you grow a big enough following of 5000 people (facebook’s limit of friends), then if a gig comes up and only 1/4 of your list turns up then it’s a successful event.
Not as crucial as the others but a great way to publish an SMS sized message to the rest of the world. How you use it is up to you but it’s a good tool for announcements and once again you have a list of people following and reading what your band is up to and where you are touring.
Not really needed or recommended but a good place to post photos of the group. Maybe one of your members is a photographer. This site is like youtube for photographers and enthusiasts.
Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail are the most popular of the free email providers. All of them are important as they are necessary for access to instant messaging sessions and services. Gmail and Yahoo accounts qualify for OpenId registration so that might appeal to you however, hotmail is the number one service for instant messaging. This activity requires a lot if time so it might not factor in as a must have but at least one of these email addresses will be useful to have.
Never forget to create practical email signature. When you create an email list of fans, it’s important to include direct links to all of your internet entry points from your youtube channel to your website (more on this below).
Music-related Network sites
In the last five years, sites that are specific to the underground music industry have emerged to help artists get recognition. I will post a few of them as this is a more specific audience target.
This website is an ideal start when thinking of marketing your band. Here is an excerpt from their website:
We provide innovative marketing solutions that musicians need to compete, cooperate, and differentiate in an increasingly noisy online environment. Unlike typical “closed” communities, artists use ReverbNation as their home base for approaching marketing and promotion across the Internet as a whole — be it via social networks, blogs, or the artist’s homepage. Tools like TunePaks, FanReach, and Widgets give the artist the power to spread their music and information virtually anywhere. Real-time stats then provide a 360-degree view of how the music is spreading, who is listening, and which fans are actually passing it on to their friends and posting it on their pages.
It offers similar services to reverbnation above. Below is their about us passage.
… is a website for the discovery and promotion of new music and emerging artists. Each artist has a profile that typically contains basic info, updates, photos, shows and music for streaming. Artists have the option of making each of their songs available for free download. Listeners and fans can also create profiles to interact with artists and each other, as well as track and share music they like.
This is an interesting site. It revolves around music gig/events/concerts. The band needs to sign up and create a profile for event promoters to view. Then the band submits to gigs and connects to promoters who are looking for talent in your genre or area. It can also track your popularity through the latest internet applications such as myspace, last.fm etc.
Here is a extract from their mission statement section:
Our mission is to help create and empower an Artistic Middle Class through the use of innovative technology.
We see our website as a first step towards this mission. We want Sonicbids to be a place where any band from any genre anywhere in the world, can come to find and connect with any type of music promoter, licensor or broadcaster — easily, effectively, and quickly.
The Internet has forever changed the landscape of the music business – for the better. It has helped create a new class of artists we at Sonicbids call the Artistic Middle Class.
Free or inexpensive technologies like Apple’s Garageband (recording), and websites like CDBaby (distribution), iTunes (music retail), MySpace (promotion), and Sonicbids (professional connections) have helped give access and reach to artists that was once available only to a very small group of insiders.
Along with the explosion of blogs and podcasts and music discovery sites like Pandora and Last.fm, it’s now possible for just about any entrepreneurial artist (talent of course being a prerequisite) to meaningfully connect with an audience and build a music career without the traditional backing of a major recording label.
We see the future of our industry as being one where music is everywhere, but where the mass market of the broadcast era is replaced with a mass of profitable little ones.
We see the future as one where artists of all types, by leveraging the power of the Internet, can build careers from the ground up, on their own terms.
A great networking site for musicians, promoters and bands. Here is what they are about:
iLike is the Web’s leading social music discovery service and the dominant music application on the Facebook®, Orkut, hi5 and Bebo platforms. With more than 50 million registered users, iLike helps people share music recommendations, playlists, and personalized concert alerts. The iLike Sidebar for iTunes and Windows Media Player suggests new music, creates automatic playlists, and connects people through music. iLike offers musicians and labels a Universal Artist Dashboard™ from which to reach fans and manage their presence across multiple channels: Facebook, Orkut, hi5, Bebo, iLike.com, Ask.com, iLike Sidebar plugins for iTunes and Windows Media Player, and iLike’s iPhone application. By leveraging iLike’s “artist-fan graph,” a vast database of connections between consumers and their favorite artists, iLike helps artists reach their fans and cultivate the viral spread of their music. iLike, inc also runs indie music site GarageBand.com.
An Official Band Website
Now the most important aspect of an online internet profile, your own website and information hub. A self-hosted website is what you should aim to have if you want returns on your time and financial investment. All the tools mentioned above work well with a website and those entry points should all be directing people to your website.
The basic setup should be:
- One website with static information
- A link on the main menu to take you to the blog section of the site, where posts are added in reverse chronological order
- An about page including your band history and the genre you play
- A comment page for people to leave a message
- A contact page, this can be an email address and phone number posting or a contact form to protect your privacy and avoid getting spammed so much
- A community message forum may be useful to implement once enough interest is generated by fans
Having a blog on your website keeps it relevant and up to date. All blog posts published on your website can automatically appear as announcements on your facebook and twitter accounts. This is the benefit of having several entry points and having the applications intertwined.
Lastly, an example
While researching for this blog entry I came across a musician who had her internet presence well established. I was please to discover that she had started her career with no record label and little resources. It has taken her 6 years to become well notices but everything has paid off. Her name is Lisa Donnelly and here is her website: http://www.lisadonnelly.com/
Her myspace page is where she probably gets most of her traffic. It’s great because while you browse the page her music automatically starts playing in the background and after 120 seconds, you already know whether you like her music or not. http://www.myspace.com/lisadonnellymusic
She has incorporated most of the services I have mentioned above and with various entry points on the internet, her reach is always increasing. Lisa’s is a remarkable story of determination and hope. I think it’s worth a read: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2009/jun/04/l-woman-lawrence-native-lisa-donnelly-perfects-her/
In summary, not a lot is needed to create an online internet profile. It is necessary to create one in order to grow an audience and to keep current fans updated. You don’t need to subscribe to every social networking service out there, as a few solid ones may be more effective. Of course this isn’t the only aspect you need to work on but it sure helps. A credible and public identity can do nothing but help your journey so give it a go now and see what happens over the next 3 months. There’s a rave out there on the internet with music fans, get in on the action and supply the masses with the music they need. Good luck!