In days gone by, people would surf the net for information. Not so anymore. Now you have to get your information to the people via social networking sites.
The more social networking you do, the more fans you'll have, the larger the turnout at your gigs, and the more money you'll make. It's all about spending time to make money. And, the more social networking you do, the more sites on which you have a profile, the more Google hits you'll get, the more fans you'll get ....
It's the way of web 2.0.
Here are my Top Four Picks for a band presence on the Internet, plus a few more suggestions.
1. Your own website
I know, I know. Having your own website costs $. You'll have to decide as a band if you can afford one or not. Personally, I think it's worth the investment, as long as its a GOOD website. If you just CAN NOT afford your own website, try http://sites.google.com or www.weebly.com.
Free or professional, your band website has to have EVERYthing
- - Links to your other social networking sites
- - Band bio's (1-line, 1-paragraph, full bio) plus links to band member bio's.
- - Photographs: professional press photos (at least one landscape, one portrait, in both black & white and color) plus fan photos
- - Music: discography, .mp3's, videos ... if your site plays music in the background, make sure it doesn't auto-start.
- - Gig schedule: include complete information. Dates and times, who else is playing with links to their sites, complete venue address, link to venue's website, all ages or 21+, cost. I would suggest having a calendar view (Google Calendar is handy), but also have a list view. List views are much easier for your fans (and the media) to cut & paste into their OWN social networking sites.
- - Show your love. Include links to your best fans, colleague bands, venues and other companies that support your band (hotels, restaurants, local music media, promoters, etc.) and encourage them to link back to you.
MySpace is going the way of the dodo, but still THE place for bands on the web. In the past I'd suggest having lots of information on your MySpace page, but not anymore. Keep your MySpace page clean and quick-loading. Just simply use it for your band's basic information and use links to your own website and other social networking sites if the reader wants more information.
For an example of a slow-loading MySpace, visit www.myspace.com/iconlive, and time how long it takes the page to load. Seriously. I'd stand in line just to NOT visit their page.
- - music genre (be honest)
- - based from where (city, state)
- - pictures (press photos, a few fan photos, gig posters)
- - music
- - tour dates
- - full band bio
- - blog optional, but if you do MySpace blog, include the date in the title
- - embed one YouTube video at most; more than that makes the page slow to load
- - band members' full names, instruments
- - contact information
- - links to other social networking sites
If you're going to Facebook (and I think you should), do it right.
- - Get a vanity url
- - Make sure all your privacy settings are public
- - Totally and completely fill out the information page
- - Include professional band photos plus fan photos
- - Use the event functions for your gigs (see how to write a good press release)
- - Each band member should have a Facebook too. They can suggest that their friends "like" your band page.
Twitter hasn't taken off in Idaho ... yet. But it will. You should have a specific twitter for the band, plus how ever many band members are interested in tweeting. Try very hard to bandtweet at least 4 times each week, daily is better, but not more than 5 or 6 tweets in a day. Oh, and check your mentions (@'s); reply to fans and RT as often as possible.
Make sure each of the above 4 sites have links to the other three, embed real-time updates where possible. MySpace, Facebook and Twitter can all talk to each other now, so when you status-update in one, it's automatically updated in the others. Make sure you've set them so they'll do that.
Bookmark and Share!
Wherever possible, include bookmarking and share buttons (I know, I know ... I need to do that here too). Your share buttons should include Myspace, Facebook and Twitter, also Digg, del.icio.us, Reddit and StumbleUpon at least.
Optional, but good ideas
Yes, you should be on wiki. Write a good band bio and post it up there.
If you have music videos, it's a must. But even if you don't, YouTube can be used to host 30- to 90-second commercials for your band, with background music and/or with spoken word. Consider vlogs and encourage fans to link to and embed.
A great way to connect with fans. But if you start a blog, keep it up-to-date with a post at least once a week. If you can't commit to doing that, then don't even start. I'd suggest Blogger or WordPress (has better built-in social networking) and RSS feed (FeedBurner) it back to your website and other social networking sites via status updates.
Flickr or Photobucket
Personally, I like Flickr better. But a picture / video hosting site is a super terrific way to increase hits to your sites. Be sure to label each photo with your band name (again, increases searchability). Use their slideshows and embed on your own website (not MySpace).
A good email list is still the best social networking tool out there. Try to send an email no more than once a week, but not less than once a month. Keep it newsy but short. Include: a brief paragraph about recent events and upcoming gigs, plus links to all your other social networking sites with each email.
I like www.FanBridge.com. Check it out and see if it suits your needs. FanBridge makes four incredibly effective suggestions to build your mailing list:
* Give something away in exchange for an email address! By offering a free sticker, mp3 (which you can email them automatically via FanBridge), button, or even a free hug as a fan incentive you are much more likely to get new fans to
* Announcing that you have an email list from on stage during the show may seem cheesy, but it's a sure fire way to know that your audience will hear what you have to say. You could even mention that people who sign up for the list get a discount on your merch (maybe a dollar or two off... it will be worth it) or they are entered in a giveaway for a free CD or t-shirt.
* Have a friend go around the room with a clipboard, or direct them to the merch table where they can sign up. This person should be friendly and excited about the music so that fans will want to join in on the fun. If you ask a person one-on-one to sign up for an email list, they are much more likely to respond positively. You can also have this person stand by the door when people walk in to make sure no fans get missed.
* If you have an extra laptop computer, you can use the FanBridge Merch Table Signup form. This is a downloadable program that you can open full screen on your computer and it lets fans type in their info directly. The program saves it all to a pre-formatted file on your desktop that you can import into your account whenever you are next connected to the internet.
Texting list (known as a mobile list)
Personally, I don't like getting gig announcements from bands via text message. But many people do. You should have that option available to your fans. FanBridge does that too.
Other network sites of interest
There are tons and tons of websites out there for bands and music these days, effective to varying degrees. Here are a few of my favorites: tumbler.com, last.fm, cdbaby, reverbnation, sonicbids, iLike.com, rhapsody.
How to Write a Good Band Bio
How to Write a Good Press Release
Online Event Websites
a.k.a. Lana Banana for Idaho Live Music