I was asked by a friend who recently started a band named Legitimate by Friday what were some ways they could leverage technology to help promote their band, get their name out, and get some fans to show up to their gigs. I gave this some thought and figured I would post it here to see if someone else could get some use out of it.
Once you have decided to go legitimate, there are several free and very low cost tools that you can use to start building your communication platform with your current and potential fans.
MySpace – Step one is to set up a MySpace page. MySpace has become very music-friendly and is probably the most commonly used tools for new bands. They will let you actually sign up as a band and give you a solid suite of tools to promote yourself and your music. For an example of how to use these tools, see Sharif’s MySpace. Avoid adding a background image that makes the content unreadable though, like he has done. Less is often more. One of the biggest complaints of MySpace users is that owners have so much control over design and some of them look terrible. Focus on posting videos, audio, gig listings, and interacting with fans through your comment board.
Facebook – While Facebook is not as a musician-friendly as MySpace, its power with viral marketing is far superior. You will want to create a Public Profile, otherwise known as a ‘Fan’ page. You can get started on the Facebook’s Pages tool. If you’re brand new to Facebook, this walkthrough from eHow.com – How to Create a Facebook Public Profile – will take you through the process. The goal with this account is to acquire as many fans as you can, as well as posting photos, audio, and video. Keep this content updated regularly. Everytime you update, your fans will know about it and Google will also re-index and potentially improve your search rankings
Email Marketing – It is very important to grown and maintain a database of email addresses. Any major gig or event should be blasted to your list. Email is largely one-way, so its more about disseminating information and less about trying to interact with your fans. It is important that people don’t see this as spam, so some sort of newsletter management tool with an opt-out feature is critical. A popular low cost option is Constant Contact. On the cheap, you will have all the features you need to grow your email database and craft great looking emails to send out to your fans.
Another option for email marketing is a startup based in San Diego – Champion Sound. This is a tool meant for musicians/bands, as well as venue managers and promoters. It offers email marketing, social networking tools, a guest list feature for and mobile access as well. This is a new site and I have not tested it, but Chuck Longanecker from Digital Telepathy has a reputation for building great and usable web applications and so I trust that it will be a very useful tool for up and coming bands. This tool is free for basic users and would be a great jumping off point.
Be sure to always be collecting email addresses. At every gig you can have a simple signup list for interested parties to signup. Link a signup form from your Facebook and MySpace pages.
Website – If you are brand new, I would advise holding off on building your website. To do right, this will cost a decent chunk of change to put together good graphic design, functionality, and seamless delivery of your music and video. A first step would be to purchase a domain name through a registrar like GoDaddy, and put up a single page with basic band information, newsletter signup form, and links to your Facebook and MySpace pages. GoDaddy’s Website Tonight application is a do-it-yourself tool that should be more than enough for a non-technical user to set up a basic page like I described.
Once you’re ready for a better looking website, you ‘re best bet is to hire a freelance web designer to put it together. You can find a good designer through eLance. This is a tool that connects customers with service providers and tries to keep you protected from getting burned by shady contractors. For a top of the line website with graphic design, integrated functionality, streaming audio and all the rest, you should avoid a freelancer and instead contact a full blown web development firm. Fill out the Barefoot Solutions Contact Form and we would be happy to put together a proposal for you
With these simple and free/cheap steps, you will have built a very solid platform to get the word out and interact with your fans when you’re not out playing. Feel free to post any questions or problems you might have as a comment to this entry and I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction.