Monday, July 12, 2010

Digital Strategy Part Deux

Thinking about digital strategy makes most musicians want to go to the nearest corner of the room and curl up in the fetal position. We can really break this down into 3 parts which are gaining attention, connecting and monetization.

Part 1: Gaining attention.

First and foremost, as a band you must be good. I am not talking about how your buddies that come to rehearsal and tell you how much you rock and drink your beer. I am talking about doing something that can cut through the clutter. Let's face it. As we have talked about before. The supply side of music has been flooded with more shit that you can possibly sift through. Music is everywhere and is cheap or in most cases, free. Your music is the foundation for everything. With that said, the first place to start in marketing your band in the internet world is your website. I know everyone is saying, "Jeff, Gravity Kills doesn't even have a website so you are full of shit." At the moment we don't but those of you who have been with the band for a long time know that our website was the hub and piazza for our fans. Some bands simply put up their Myspace page and call it a day. Well, we know what happened here, fans moved away from Myspace. Some fans will still follow you there. Some fans will follow you on Facebook. Some will follow on Twitter. Others will check the band out on Youtube and check your photos out on Flickr. My point here is that you must create a presence everywhere but centralize your community. When you are on facebook, myspace, twitter, your blog, etc., make an effort to send people back to your site. DON'T FUCKING ASK THEM TO BUY STUFF AND COME TO YOUR SHOWS. That leads us to the second part...

Part 2: Connecting:

Here is where the time and the real investment from the artist or the band takes place. I pity the bands that only send me bulletins, emails or post on facebook and twitter about where to get their music or begging me to come to a show. There are so many levels of engagement but since we are talking about this in the context of a digital environment, I will keep it there. Because there are a million bands out there simply screaming at people and asking them for money, you can't be one of these bands. If you are in a bar and meet a hot girl, you don't want to ask her to come home and sleep with you right then if you want to have something more than a one night stand with her (not that one night stands with hot girls are bad but you get my point.) The same applies to fans. They want to know you. They want to see that you are willing to invest your time, your soul, your emotions in building a relationship with them.You need to let them into your process. You need to give them a look behind the curtain. If you are creating music that is real and that is honest, you won't need mystique.People want to connect to what they believe in and they respond to honesty. People say on the internet you can be whoever you want to be. Well, this does not apply to bands or artists. Take the time to show them what is behind the music. The more you give a person to connect to, the more likely they are to connect. With social media please remember that is essential you use it to bring people to where? That's right, your website. Now, what happens when you start really connecting to fans?

Part 3 Monetization: (I am imagining the voiceover from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life)

Imagine a place where fans actually come to you and ask when they can buy the next download, CD, when you are playing next etc.? Fans will give you their money if they believe in you. Price is usually not an objection that hardcore fans ever have for purchasing music of a band they love. They will talk about you with others and be your evangelist for their world. Can you imagine that place? Are you good enough and honest enough as an artist for this to happen to you?

I am looking at the broad picture here. We can break all the social media sites down if you all would like?


  1. I'd be interested in your opinions of the various social networking sites as they pertain to musicians. From a tech industry point of view, I can offer what I see.

    MySpace is literally a wasteland with number of active users declining at a very steep slope for various reasons including being slow to adopt an open API, competition from Facebook which had momentum from its origins as a college connector and customizability gone mad which rendered a vast majority of people's profiles unusable. But MySpace has always had the leg-up on music, is that still the case? Does MySpace really offer that much to an artist these days besides a templated web page and free track streaming?

    Facebook, for all its usefulness when it comes to staying connected with others has a large problem with messing with what was working. A great example of this was the "Fan" system which was more useful, intuitive and favored over the current "Likes" system. That's one example but there are plenty others. My point is that Facebook is restless. In their quest to stay on top, they often redesign aspects that were just beginning to sink in with users. Facebook will enjoy growth for at least the next few years and even longer if they don't screw it up for themselves. I'm not sure if Facebook and music will ever really click the way that MySpace did. A lot has to do with the different demographic of Facebook I think. But the point still remains, MySpace is dying, Facebook is growing.

    Social networking sites offer their own take on what a profile is and implementation is everything. One thing that is obvious to me is that Twitter is here to stay. Twitter has a very limited scope and it does that quite well. By staying focused and not trying to do everything, they've marketing themselves into a unique position where they don't actually have any direct competitors. Sure, status updates in Facebook and MySpace are the same thing in principle but people don't go to either site explicitly for them unlike Twitter. I think Twitter is very safe well into the coming decade provided the formula remains the same. Bands tend misuse Twitter as you say as more of an RSS feed of their headlines instead of an opportunity to let some genuine thoughts out. I think as Twitter becomes more ingrained and accepted, we'll see that dissipate and more people will be following in the "genuine" footsteps.

  2. Jeff,
    Great post and you touch on some extremely important topic. as we discussed a couple weeks ago, many bands (including mine) make the mistake of assuming they are king shit of "F" mountain and the fans will come to them. Websites, social media and general banter pages need to be regularly updated, maintained and sustain a level of excitement and intrigue. Most people i know spend countless hours a day surfing around either at work or at home to stay up to date on life and in many cases, their music...if you're interaction isn't updated regularly, they'll quit checking in, plain and simple.

    when it comes to music, people are going to get your music free, it sucks but it is the reality of the digital world. BUT, if they like what they hear, they will more than likely spend their hard earned money on your hard earned products. give a song away, give one away once a month, create podcasts, post a monthly online "rehearsal" or better yet, setup webcams and let your fans interact with you during your rehearsal. how cool would it be to sit at your computer, beer and cheetos in tow and request some random ass cover or otherwise from your favorite band and feel that you're a part of their world...even for that one hour a month. Musician's especially are in a very powerful position if you think in a proactive manner. instead of sitting around bitching because you sold 10 copies of your disc at your cd release party, reinvent your scene. use the web as a conduit to infuse your followers into your musical life and if you want to bitch, save it for the other pussies that don't work for it and expect free handouts.

    anyway, love your posts and GK is a true testament of what can happen when bands work hard, play hard and keep it about the fans, not the egos.

    take it eez,
    jeff b

  3. Great post. Seems the ol' Gravity Master was on to something all those years ago...

  4. Also, let me address some points... Traffic is traffic. One might not like Myspace (et al), but there is still an audience there.

    The main reason for a unique web presence is not only for a boutique or vanity URL, but as (mentioned) a hub.

    One can integrate myspace, facebook, twitter, flickr, vimeo, youtube, etc. in one central place.

    The smart artist will utilize all of these sites correctly - that is to say when you post a new photo on flickr or video on youtube (etc.) you'll include a link back to your website. When you post a podcast, include a link back and use very descriptive titles.

    All those links drive traffic back to your site. And if you're using google sitemaps (and a few other easy to use tools) you will climb the search results ladder.

    It's VERY EASY to do, but does take some investment of time.

    But if this is what you want to do for a living - or even if it's just what you want to do on the weekends, you'll want people at your shows.

    This will help a lot!

    Same goes for the actual social aspect of the social networks. Include your website address in your twitter profile (and facebook, myspace and...). Don't sell too much on social networking - people hate that - unless you're giving special deals for your 'friends'.

    I could go on - and I do! I even teach a 2 day seminar about it.

    But once again - it's not difficult. I can teach a granny how to do it. All it takes is some time.