Digital Presence

1. DIGITAL HOME

A. Wikipedia

Your goal is to be big enough to have a Wikipedia page. It’s the first place newbies go to learn about you. It’s got the imprimatur of authority, people believe what they read, however inaccurate the details may be. We live in an information age and what we want most is information. Where the act was formed, how you got your name, who the band members are and your discography, including chart placements.

It’s best if there’s personal information, who you’re dating, who you’re married to. People want to know you.

However, beware of filling out your page by yourself. One can tell when pages are written by those whose pages they are. They go on just a bit too long, there’s too much detail, whereas fans have a different tone, somewhat reverential and completist in a different fashion. After you read someone’s Wikipedia page you should still want more.

B. Website/Facebook page/Bandcamp page, etc.

If you don’t have a Wikipedia page, because you haven’t got enough traction, buy your name and establish a page at that URL. It’s got so much more gravitas than a Facebook page. You want to let people know you’re for real, that you invested some money, that you’re in it for the long haul, anybody can have a Facebook page, it tends not to be taken seriously.

Of course, if you’re big enough to have a Wikipedia page, you need your own website and a Facebook page. Once again, on your website, you need to provide information. Like tour dates. And lyrics. And it’s best if there’s a constant flow of information, so people will come back. And don’t put up a paywall, if people believe they can’t get it all for free, they’re not going to become enamored of you.

2. YOUTUBE

America’s radio station and record store all rolled up into one.

All your cuts should be up there. Don’t have any fan clips taken down. Just monetize those that appear. The smaller the act, the more important it is to post videos on a regular basis. Of covers. Maybe even of you talking to your audience. But if you’re talking, make it brief, you’re a musician not an orator and if you go on too long chances are people will get bored, or wonder who these clips are made for.

3. SPOTIFY

Don’t bitch about payments, put your music up. All of it.

And you might as well put it up on the rest of the services, like Rdio, Deezer and Beats, but know that only one will triumph in the long run, it’s the way of the web, there’s only one Google, one Amazon and one Facebook. People gravitate to where everybody else is. Spotify does not have to win, but one streaming service will.

4. SOUNDCLOUD

Gets more ink/press/talk than it deserves, but it is true that the younger generation goes there. Put your stuff up. But know to cover the above bases first.

5. iTUNES AND AMAZON

Buying is so aughts. The teens are not about ownership but access. Sure, make your stuff available for purchase, but that’s not where the money is, certainly not in the future. Sure, being number one delivers some bragging rights, but it means less than ever before. Today it’s about fanbase and money. Don’t get caught up in charts. Don’t get caught up in smoke and mirrors. So much of what you see hyped gets no traction, never mind not making any money. That’s a fool’s errand, playing the popularity game.

If you make it, your fans will make you more popular, they will spread the word, continuously, which news sites never will. News sites are all about the new. They’re voracious predators that will squeeze you dry one day and forget about you the next. Use news to make a splash, but it’s meaningless unless fans become aware of you, embrace you and tell everybody else about you.

6. SOCIAL MEDIA

People want to interact with you, but don’t get caught up in believing the social media game is either necessary or important.

The bottom line is social media is mostly about making the hoi polloi, consumers, fans, feel important. They’re the ones that are posting and looking for attention. You want to give them enough info so they’ll post about you, but your personal Twitter account doesn’t mean much unless you’re a worldwide superstar, and so often that doesn’t mean much, because those people don’t have time to post themselves.

So you want a Facebook page. Don’t feel pressured to post on it yourself, let your minions do so.

And you want a Twitter account. It’s great if you post, but Twitter can be a huge time-sucker that pays few dividends. Better to practice your instrument than to live on Twitter.

7. GOSSIP

Paris Hilton established the paradigm, Kim Kardashian perfected it. Gossip is a career unto itself, which is why so many of its practitioners are famous for nothing else. So beware of the gossip columns unless that’s your primary game, they make musicians look small, which is why Kanye is faltering.

8. NEWS SITES

Press releases are irrelevant unless you’re truly a star and your tour is canceled or you kicked out a band member or you signed a movie deal. However, for the past couple of years, it’s better if you share this info yourself on one of your own sites. It makes the bond to your fans so much clearer.

9. PERIPHERAL SITES

Just because it’s available that does not mean anybody will see it. Sure, stream your album on NPR, if it’s available absolutely everywhere else, otherwise it looks like you’re playing in a walled garden, one where most people are unaware of you.

It comes down to Google. When I Google your name, what comes up?

Hopefully your personal website and then your Wikipedia page, or vice versa.

Right now there’s nowhere to go where all of your online presence is listed, which is why the major sites are so important. Sure, some fans might get past the first page of Google, but most don’t get past the first two HITS! Everything I want to know about you should come up there. If not, your team is not doing it right.

10. FADS

The longer we live in the Internet age, the more things stay the same.

It comes down to the art. The music and then the video.

And there’s so much information, that it helps to have money to make an initial impression, to get the ball rolling.

And then it’s about being available absolutely everywhere so if someone’s interested in you, they can experience you.

Don’t overthink it. Don’t release a single from your album every week. We’re on information overload, we can’t keep paying attention, the only ones who do are the hardest core of fans.

Beyonce had it right. Announce and release simultaneously, all of it. Because the truth is very little lasts. So you want the benefit of the splash. You want to sell while you’re promoting. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get traction.

Market manipulation is history.

You do it in an obvious way. And you make your fans happy. They are the ones who will grow you, it’s very hard to get someone who’s not concerned to be so. So much is hyped every day that people don’t have time to click through and check you out. The plethora of information might get them to your Wikipedia page, to YouTube, which is why you must have a presence there, but the truth is the power lays in the hands of those you’ve already converted, they will not stop talking about you, they will implore others to check you out.

Which is why it’s so important to focus. When someone spreads the word, make sure one track stands above. That’s one great thing about Spotify, they list the tracks in order of popularity. Always put yourself in the shoes of the know-nothings. If they get bitten, how can they enter your universe? Make it complicated, require multiple clicks, more Googling, and they won’t make the effort.

Meanwhile, keep feeding your fans. You’ve got two trains running, making those already converted happy and entrancing new people, and don’t confuse the two. Don’t wait so long to put out new material that the hard core fan is frustrated and moves on. And don’t think that the newbie is interested in anything more than the single.

But if someone is interested, they should be able to go online and go down the rabbit hole into your career. They should be able to spend hours researching, learning and listening. And you’ve got to make it easy for them to do this, by not only being everywhere, but pointing to what they should devour first. You don’t take someone to their first French restaurant and insist that they eat the snails. Start out with the killer onion soup, then maybe the duck. If they like that they’ll sample the foie gras and keep talking about you.

Then again, food’s got a whole network devoted to it, where the personalities shine but the food trumps and triumphs.

So many in music have lost the plot. Not only does MTV not focus on music, so many musicians are focused on their brand, their stardom and sponsorships. Put the music front and center. If you hew to this mantra the rest will follow.

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