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March 18, 2014 , , , ,

My Arsenal

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My Arsenal

Ever heard the story of the 3-legged table?  It’s really pretty and wonderful, but without that fourth leg it just can’t stand up on its own.  In a way, your online marketing efforts are exactly the same.  They can wobble.  They won’t fall down, but they may not do everything you want them to either.

There’s a tendency in the music industry to jump on board the newest, coolest bandwagon as fast as you can.  Admittedly, this type of craziness can pay off for select early adopters.  Those folks can market/mine/exploit something steps ahead of everybody else and flee before the scene gets totally played out.  As an example, does Turntable.FM have the staying power of Facebook?

For the most part though, bands follow the example of other bands and jump on bandwagons with fervor.  While bands jumped all over sites like PureVolume.com and MySpace.com a few years ago, they’re just not active there anymore.  And if they are, it’s with a limited presence that has virtually no effect on overall success.   Now it’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube.

The point is that if you’re trying to maintain a presence/profile on 17 different sites, you’re bound to drop the ball somewhere.  Most bands have day jobs and commitments and just don’t have the time to deal with everything that having 17 locations to update requires.

The solution to all this:  Don’t do it!  That’s right, you heard me, don’t do it.  Don’t set up more work for yourself than you’re able to manage.  My career started in radio as a producer.  And when asked if I could do anything, my answer (without hesitation!) was YES!   At some point, you reach overload, and for me that point came fairly quickly.  My bosses realized that I’d say yes to anything, and their strategy was to see just how far I could be overloaded before I snapped.  The lesson I learned fast was that there’s a diminishing point of return when you pick up that extra bunch of somethings.  While you’ll get more done (and sleep much less!), the overall quality of your efforts suffers exponentially.

Your fans would rather see quality output from you in a few spaces than half-assed, corner cutting stuff in more places.  If it’s not meaningful, it’s not useful.  Think quality, not quantity.   When quality suffers, fans stop paying attention.

This starts the discussion of what tools you need to have in your (online marketing) arsenal.  The first lesson is to only work with what you can handle.   You may have the budget to hire people to work on pieces of this for you, but be aware that you’re still in charge.  You’ll need to manage the people you hire and make sure that they work in a manner that matches your voice, goals, and needs.   Are you a good manager?  If not, well, find a manager.  While they may have greater expertise, you need to balance that with your experience and knowledge of your fans.  A good marketer should come to your shows, meet the band, and be familiar with what’s being marketed. If it’s just “PayPal me some cash and I’ll get started,” then look elsewhere.

Taking things back to your goals, you’ll need a way to present your content, promote your content, and (presumably) sell your content.    As you decide on which platforms to use, ask yourself if it effectively meets any of these criteria, and if not – don’t waste your time!

Similarly, the tools you’ll be using come with add-on features and enhancements.  They’re usually pitched thusly:  “For an additional $9.99/month, you’ll be able to climb mountains, make love to beautiful women, and add a gazillion followers to your whatever account.”

It often seems too good to be true.  Odds are, it probably is.  But these companies will tell you that it worked for Artist X – usually someone you’ve never heard of.

Any program that can add eyeballs, followers, or activity to your band’s overall presence is likely using some type of robo-feed.  It will massively follow anyone with the term “music” in their profile.  Or it’ll auto-add anyone within 50 miles of your ZIP code.  In doing so, you’re spamming people.  Did you hear that?  You’re spamming.  And as much as you hate it when you get that email trying to sell you v1agra, you’re essentially doing the exact same thing.  Don’t do that.

These little $9.99/month type add-ons are all over the place.  They can also start out as “Free for 30 days” or “Free up to 100 followers.”  That’s not to say they’re all bad or wrong, but if you’re trying to keep to budget, make sure you’re aware of what you’re doing, what you’re getting in return, and how you’re going to budget for all that promised “success.”  End rant.

Here are the tools you’ll want to start with initially (and in order).  For our purposes here, we’re assuming you’ve already got music and neither it nor you suck.

  1. Website
  2. Google Analytics account
  3. Facebook band page
  4. YouTube account
  5. Twitter account
  6. Sales/marketing platform (a/k/a Direct to Fan Platfrom)
  7. Email marketing platform (possibly part of #6 …)

That’s it.  And as a bonus, number’s 2-5 are free!  Number 6 has the option to be free as well.  You’ll be tackling these items in order from 1 through 6, so that’s how they’ll be discussed here.

This is where the rubber meets the road along with other assorted metaphors for future growth and success.


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March 13, 2014 , ,

YouTube

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YouTube

It’s pretty amazing how much content is on YouTube.  Over 150 million visits per month to the site.  This shows that all the stuff you thought nobody else but you remembered —that “lost” TMNT episode, every music video you could imagine— someone else remembers it too and wants you to see it.

In the pre-Facebook era, if you wanted to hear a band’s music, you probably went to their MySpace page.  In particular, indie musicians flocked to MySpace in its heyday.  These days, the kiddies are just searching the group name or song title on YouTube, and odds are they’ll find exactly what they want.

Today, Google owns the world.  And conveniently they own Google Analytics and YouTube.  For musicians, this will rock your world.  If you post a cool video to your YouTube page, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll see some conversion[1] to your website.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s discuss what makes for an interesting video.  There’s a few ways to accomplish this without requiring you to spend thousands of dollars and hiring a production team.

First off, have an idea about what it is you want to do.  It can be as basic as a vlog (video blog post), or as big as a full scale music video.  Either way, knowing what you want to accomplish going in saves infinite frustration.  Make an outline – or even a basic script/guide.

Team D.I.-Why are huge Apple nerds, and with good reason.  Most of what you need to create quality audio/video comes standard with every MacBookPro and iPhone.  We’re guessing there are some Android phones and PCs that can do that too, but seriously and for realz, Apple rocks.  With the built in iCam, included iMovie, and a little iMagination (sorry, couldn’t resist), you can be the next YouTube sensation.

So you’ve got some video content, and you need to do something with it.  Setting up your own channel (page) on YouTube is pretty damn simple.

  1. Create a YouTube account – keep the account name as close to your artist/band name as possible.
  2. Set up your channel with a color scheme/design that matches your website
  3. Upload content to your page.

Seriously.  It’s that easy.  From there, you can get all creative and fancy, but for now, we’re just getting started.  If you’ve got easy access to the design files for your website, it’s simple to upload a matching background to your YouTube channel.  Wow, branding!

About a year and a half ago, we worked with a band to create a fundraising video.  They were gonna hit the road, and wisely, they didn’t want to lose money in the process.  With nothing more than a MBP, digital camera, and creativity, they created a video that was heartfelt, funny as hell, and effective.[2]  The entire production was composed, produced, and completed over a weekend and for a total cost of about $50 – in beer and wigs.

From that video and accompanying website, Facebook, and Twitter promotion, the tour was accomplished at a profit.  Not a huge profit, but nobody lost money either.

When you’re starting a band, and you’re trying to come up with content for a website without actually having finished your disc, recording a acoustic demo is a nice easy way to show what you’re up to without going nuts on the budget and time.  Turn on the webcam, pick up your guitar, and just go for it.  We recommend proper lighting as well as picking the spinach out from between your teeth before starting.

YouTube also gives you the option of adding captions and annotations to your video.  This added “commentary” can include information you want people to know about you, your music, your next gig, or whatever.

Here’s an example:

YouTube1

YouTube makes it easy to time/sequence the captions and annotations so they fit inside the action.  When done properly, it’s very cool.  Done badly, it can look totally amateur, so take your time with this.

On its own, YouTube provides very similar (looking and functioning) analytics to what you’ll already have inside Google Analytics.  The difference is that they’ll give you some added info about where people are watching your video.

We reposted an interview one of us did with Blink 182 from 2004.  Here’s a snippet of those analytics:

YouTube2

While not earth shattering in terms of the number of views we got, it was very interesting to see that 83% of viewers were male.  It’s also interesting to note that while this video was also posted on our website, a solid majority of the views came from YouTube.  We can then take this info and compare it with what Google Analytics tells us.

YouTube3

 

In this case, YouTube drove a whopping total of 4 hits to di-why.com.  While not thrilling, it definitely helps us figure out where to direct our focus.  In other words, we’re not going to bank our success on converting traffic from YouTube to di-why.com.

Yet again, the point to be made is that the analytics are what helps you figure out what to do.  We had an intern once who swore by posting stuff to YouTube and watching the flood gates open.  I asked him if he had proof of concept – specifically analytics that validated his concept.

He didn’t.

Sure enough, when we dug a little deeper, it just wasn’t there.  Creating unique video content can take some time to do.  If you’re going to invest a concerted amount of time/effort, make sure you’re getting something back in return.  And make sure you can prove it!

Another strategy for YouTube is to “favorite” videos you like and create a channel that along with helping promote your band directly (with your own unique content) but also by helping clarify your band’s brand/image with content that defines your likes, dislikes, and sound.  It can also help draw some traffic to your channel.  When D.I.-Why posted that Blink 182 video, we got a lot of attention from Blink fans.  Odds are, they wouldn’t have found us otherwise.


[1] Conversion – moving website interest from one destination to another.  Ex.  “I saw you on WooTube, and now I’m on your website!”


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My Arsenal
YouTube