Lisa Redford: Online resources for musicians
After a short break, our regular columnist returns with a look at some useful tools for promoting your music online
here are more websites and online services aimed at performing artists than ever before. I talked about how I use Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud and Tumblr in a previous column, and recently I attended a music conference where they discussed the trends and sites that would continue to flourish in the future. Here I’ll give a rundown on some of them and hopefully suggest good ways to use them to promote and sell your music.
One of the key trends continues to be interacting through social media, particularly sharing videos on the likes of Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo, giving fans more access to your world and activities. YouTube continues to be the dominant video platform and I’m always looking for ways to share varied content whether it be live videos, promo videos, teasers, interviews and radio sessions. Spotify has received very mixed press but creating a playlist and sharing it is also a simple way to steadily build a fanbase. Lots of musicians now have an artist account and are using playlists to connect with their fans and, being a huge lover of all kinds of music, this is something I’m starting. For information there’s the Spotify Artist Blog.
“Stageit is an online venue where you can perform a live gig via your laptop”
For an independent songwriter like myself, touring can be expensive. I have fans based all over and many don’t get the chance to see me play live, so Stageit is a great idea. It’s an online venue where you can perform a live gig via your laptop. These monetised online gigs are a great and unique opportunity to perform to and interact with your fans. It’s also a chance to be really creative. Ensuring you have a good internet connection, you could stream backstage before a gig, be in the recording studio, offer sneak peaks of a new music video or band rehearsal. Fans get a chance to be really involved by asking questions, requesting songs and chatting with your other fans during the gig. It could be particularly good to organise a live performance around a new album, EP or single, which is definitely something I’m considering for my next release.
Crowd-funding has become hugely popular in the last few years and it’s a great way for independent bands to fund album releases, videos and tours through sites such as Pledge Music, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It also provides another avenue to engage with your loyal fans as they really feel part of your project by investing in it. Before embarking on a campaign, though, it’s worth doing a lot of research to see what’s been successful. There is a lot of commitment and updating required and creating a video of yourself is really valuable for people to connect with you and your project. Music author Remi Harris has done some great research into crowd-funding and written a book about it called Gathering A Crowd.
If you have a new release, there are numerous options for promoting it on streaming services and websites which range from free to submission fees or with a revenue share going to the site. I have my material available at Bandcamp which allows fans to buy it directly from me via Paypal. It creates a cool band website and lets you sell your music at whatever price you like and in whatever digital format you choose, as well as providing statistics. I also have tracks available at NoiseTrade which distributes music instantly and fans can tip the artists.
Emubands also helps unsigned artists and independent labels – you retain 100 per cent of your rights with no ongoing fees. I’ve also sold my music via CD Baby which is great for independent musicians and there are no ongoing fees as well. You send them copies of your CD and it will be available to iTunes, Amazon and other major online sites plus Spotify. I recommend regularly reading their DIY musician blog which provides up-to-date tips and contributions from artists themselves. Bandzoogle, as well as providing marketing tools, builds band websites and also offers excellent advice which I regularly read. I’m also on BandPage, which allows musicians to create customised pages with a selection of themes.
“Cool, entertaining content will keep your name in your fans’ minds”
The music industry is constantly changing and so are the ways that musicians can market and sell their music online. There are so many websites out there it’s well worth researching what works for you. Thankfully, lots of blogs and sites give up-to-date advice. Google Analytics and Next Big Sound provide online music insights across social networks and streaming services which is great for equipping yourself with knowledge. Making great material, creating cool entertaining content and activities will keep momentum going, and keep your name in your fans’ minds for when you next head out on tour or release that album or single.
I’ve just touched upon things here and would love to hear what trends and sites you think will be big for 2014 and which ones have really helped your career?
Regular Songwriting columnist Lisa Redford has been described by BBC Radio 2′s Bob Harris as “one of our finest singer/songwriters.” She has earned acclaim for her heartfelt acoustic music with gorgeous melodies and pure, soulful vocals. Her latest EP, Reminders, was recorded with musician and producer Jeff Hill (Rufus Wainwright, Teddy Thompson), and has received glowing reviews and BBC radio airplay.