For some great tips on marketing your music online, we recently turned to Eric Hebert, CEO of Evolvor Media. His company works with bands and labels to roll out successful web marketing campaigns. Here are his thoughts…
In your opinion, what are the essential social networking sites that bands MUST be on these days?
There are a ton of networks out there, and with new ones coming out every day it seems, the task of setting up all these profiles can be time consuming. Obviously MySpace and Facebook are no-brainers, they’re going to be the ones you use the most. If you’re in the rock genre, Purevolume and GarageBand are must haves. Virb is becoming very popular because of its clean but customizable options. You’ll have to get on YouTube for videos and Flickr for photos, they’re part of the plan as well. You’ll also need to make traction on the big three streaming networks – Last.fm, iLike, and Imeem. Saving the best for last, Reverbnation offers the best tools out of any of these networks to help promote their music and nurture their fanbase.
How can an independent artist use MySpace effectively to develop a fan community? Is that even possible anymore?
MySpace is just a tool in your toolbox. It has to be part of a bigger plan. You’ll use it to gain fans and communicate with them, but ultimately you’ll want to have your own website, your own blog, your own contact list. Use MySpace and the other networks to interact and bring them to your website. Do you own the contact list you have through MySpace? You want to build your communnity and own the asset.
What are some of the most exciting music marketing tools you’ve seen lately?
I mentioned Reverbnation, they are offering fantastic tools, mostly for free. They have the best streaming music widgets out there, the sound quality is far superior to MySpace’s player. The have a full list management system that also coordinates your street team. I used to pay money for a similar system that was harder to use! Full analytics for everything as well, all in very nice charts and graphs. Their Gig Finder helps you book shows with contact information available right there. Soon they’re going to be rolling out some awesome new options, you really need to check them out.
What do you see as the biggest opportunities online for artists to get heard?
That’s a tough question. The “opportunity” is the website. If someone land’s on your site, how soon can they hear one of your songs? Do you have your album streaming? Are there free downloads? That’s the opportunity. Many bands screw this one up. They force you to buy an album first or make it difficult to just hear a song. The sooner someone can hear something the faster they’ll become your fan and hopefully buy the album, see the show, etc. I could answer this question ten different ways, but being smart about how you present your music is just clutch.
Do you think unknown artists should give away music for free?
Abso-freaking-lutely. Artists that don’t want to give some music away for free are in denial. I’ve found that if you give a song away, just give them a file, you’re halfway there. People love free stuff and will take anything that’s free. If they like it, then they’ll want more – and that’s when you sell the album. You give away the “single” for free. Then maybe you give another song away for free, but this time you ask for their email so you can add them to your list. If they like you after one song, they’ll LOVE you after two. I’m seeing bands give away entire albums, and I think that’s great too. The album isn’t the only revenue model anyway, and any band that wants to become financially successful should have alternative models – touring, merchandising, sponsorships, and fan club revenue. Get them to hear the music and you have a chance to sell all of those things as well.
What are the fundamentals of Evolvor’s music marketing strategies?
I’d say the basic underlying fundamentals are building the brand through interaction. Yes you have to have good music that people will enjoy, but you have to interact with them so they become true fans. The web offers us the ability to do this though things like blogging and creating videos and viral content. An artist that works with me better be prepared to constantly interact with fans, to open up their lives a bit and share their experiences with us. You have to make people give a shit about you, otherwise you just one on a million. There needs to be an emotional bond.
Can you give an example of a successful web marketing campaign you’ve done with an artist?
The Fear Zero guys get it, and it’s doing great things for them. You have to understand a lot of the concepts my campaigns are based on come from the internet marketing sector that I’ve worked in for years and are just being tried out as we speak with musicians, and those guys understand it. I tell every artist that seeks my time out that if they’re not committed to things like updating their blog or creating behind the scenes content, or giving a track away, that they’re better off doing things the old fashioned way.
At what point in their career should a band outsource their online marketing and strategy to a company like yours?
I’m much more of a project manager, a teacher, to artists more than anything else. You can’t just expect to throw money at me and expect magic to happen. So I’d say that once you’ve established that you want to be a musician and you have a band, literally at that moment, is a good time to give me a call. If you get started early enough, especially in the blogging and content creation department, you can slowly build your fanbase while you begin to find your identity and record your music, and by the time that first record gets finished you’ll be armed with all kinds of content to put out there. So many bands wait until they have the album in hand and come to me expecting to get it out there in a few months time. That’s possible, with a large budget. I’d much rather work with them before they even go into the studio to teach them why documenting the recording process is vital to building their fanbase.
Thanks Eric for the excellent ideas! Take a second to check out Evolvor’s blog.
You can also download a free Fear Zero track.