By James Pew

Personal Web Presence linking to Band Web Presence

An artist should have a personal web presence or personal brand – and a band presence.

Your personal presence expresses things through facebook and Twitter for example. And your band has a website with a blog that links to a myspace page and facebook fan pages etc.

Separate personal and band web presences, can be made stronger by interconnecting with each other. This mixes friends with fans and increases the opportunities for viral circulation.

Much of the online marketing for our business, is done through my personal presence online. Since many of my FB friends are musicians and recording artists – letting them know about a new Studio Manifesto post that talks about the loudness wars or copyright or personal branding for musicians – may be of interest to them.

An important thing to understand is that with social media and web 2.0 every person becomes a medium that aggregates, shares, and recommends content. In other words everyone becomes a “specialty channel”.

Since I do a lot of research on music production & promotion – I share the best examples of my research with the people who visit me online. A small portion of the content I’ve aggregated on my “channel” is about me. A larger portion is not about me. Why would people want to visit me online if all I ever do is try to sell them on my studio, label, or audio shop?

How you get people to check out your web channel can be tricky. You don’t want to engage in spam practices. How many people have received an impersonal email from a band saying come check out our new song?

Sending this type of message is not very effective – because the person you are sending that message too has received a similar message from a million other bands. Even if you offer your song as a free download that doesn’t mean anyone will care.

The concept of permission marketing is important. If your band has established a core fan base, and some of those fans have signed up for your mailing list, then those people have given you permission to send them emails telling them about new songs you’ve made available for them. But no one else has. And sending that email to anyone else will most likely end up annoying them. If you annoy someone it makes it that much harder to someday convince them that they should like you.

Even for those who give permission – don’t spam them. Send them frequent personalized updates about what you are doing with your music. Invite their input & participation on your website. Give them fun stuff, free stuff, interesting stuff…build a community around your web site, and eventually your fans will start contributing some of the content.

I believe it is possible and has never been easier for artists to self manage and promote themselves. That is not to say it has become easy. Just a little easier.

In fact it is still a very complicated endeavor, made more complicated by the turmoil of a changing music industry. So I’d like to attempt to paint a picture of how I’ve come to understand the music business.

Music is merging with technology
Music Merging With Technology

As we all know technology advances exponentially. Constantly innovating and redefining rules. The merger of music to technology is redefining the music business.

The rate that people are adopting and adapting to new technology is increasing and will continue to increase as new technologies become easier and easier to use. Communities of software developers are relentlessly improving on the quality of the proverbial user interface. Much of it coming from open source communities. This is Web 2.0. It basically means that the digital counterpart of technologies that have been around for decades are now in the hands of every person who wishes to use them.

Converging literacy’s and the democratization of digital production and media creation tools is contributing to the weight of all this innovation.

As new music business models become more integrated with technology, specifically on the internet, the music business will change at the rate of technological innovation. Since technology endlessly innovates, in tandem, the music business will endlessly change.

The only certainty is that you must know technology.

The younger generations are growing up immersed in digital technologies. As Lawrence Lessig says – It is their language.

The use of digital media tools is how they often best learn or express things. If you are of a later generation, and unfamiliar with web technology, and its various cultural by-products, like social media, you are at a big disadvantage.

This is a broadband world communicating, creating, and sharing various forms of digital media. This is life on earth 2.0.

The above attempts to illustrate a few of the skill sets required to be a modern day self-promoting broadband indie musician.

Interacting in a Democratized Broadband Culture online

Learning how to use media creation & manipulation software allows you to be your own PR agency. Having to depend solely on graphic designers and web programmers can be costly. Becoming your own webmaster and occasionally outsourcing some design or programming work when you hit a snag, is now a realistic strategy.

But before you begin making media its important to understand that there are multiple forms of literacy at play.

Lets take a closer look at Literacy.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has drafted the following definition of literacy:

the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.

The focus on “printed or written materials”, implies that emphasis is on language. But looking at the other qualities in Unesco’s definition, its apparent that they translate to other forms of
literacy. Where learning or expression is accomplished through multimedia. Not just words. The User Generated Content found on social platforms like youtube shows us that images and sounds can communicate ideas in ways much more powerful and compelling than words alone ever could.

According to wikipedia:

Increasingly, communication in commerce or society in general requires the ability to use computers and other digital technologies.

Similar expanded skill sets have been called multimedia literacy, computer literacy, information literacy, and technacy.

Professor Peter Trifonas of U of T has a book coming out in early 2009 called “Digital Literacy”. Peter’s book will delve much deeper into this topic. But if we take what we already know about literacy and cross that with digital technology you end up with something that looks like this:

Digital literacy is your ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use digital tools. Digital Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.

The world of the modern musician is one of converging literacies. Digital literacy is converging with the literacy of music, production, marketing, communications, and business.

For artists not up to speed in the digital world, an improvement in digital literacy is necessary before they can understand the purpose and function of a website or facebook fan page.

An understanding of emerging cultural behaviors online. How people are networking and relationship building online. And how you can participate and engage in this online space. These are all part of digital literacy.

So ask yourself how well do you understand the web? Are you wired into social networks, do you have an awesome looking website with amazing sounding recordings of your songs? Or is your website static like a brochure? Is it frequently updated with new music, photos, blogs, news, promotions, show listings, give aways, contests, and other fun stuff.

Here is an easy checklist of things your web presence should have!

The 4 Imperatives

The Four Imperative Aspects of Online Presence

Frequent – frequently updated content. Not just your songs. Photos, blog posts, videos, etc. Give people a reason to come back often.

Quality – All the content should be high quality. Post up your distorted demos at your own risk. But remember the general audience has a critical ear and eye. Keep it quality and artistic.

Accessible – Easy to get to, and navigate through. People have little patience for slow loading pages or confusing user interfaces. Well organized easy to understand navigation is necessary to make your site accessible. How easy is your website to find? When someone types your name in Google, where in the results do you show up?

Interactive - Fans being able to add content and interact with you and other fans. The idea is to build a community around your web presence. Let them compete among themselves as to who is your biggest fan.

Take a look at your website a make sure it is inline with the four imperative aspects.

Master the web for your purpose. Use it to present your story in the most compelling way possible, and ensure that it’s optimized to be found.

After an artist produces the music, and conceptualizes an online promotion campaign to draw attention to it, the next step is to Design, Program, and Publish.

An artist can easily learn how to webmaster their website or blog when using a free open source platform like wordpress. Initially a wordpress designer can be hired to create a unique wordpress design, and help with the install and hosting set up.

But once the site is designed the artist takes over and keeps it frequently updated with new content.

It becomes easy very fast. This level of digital literacy is attainable for any person even those that think them selves as totally non technical. Remember – Web 2.0 is all about making powerful tools user friendly.

Lastly, here are some statistics on the emerging cultural practice of social media.

I found this information on a great blog, called Radical Trust, that discusses issues in social media marketing. 1 in 10 Americans have a facebook profile. That equals just over 31 million profiles. 1 in 3 Canadians have a facebook profile. That equals just under 10 million profiles. Half of all Torontonians have a facebook profile. The rest of the world has millions upon millions as well.

Myspace is huge, Reverbnation, Last FM, iMeem, and new social platforms are coming out almost everyday it seems.

What web platforms do you use to connect with fans and build relationships?

Creative Commons License
Music Presentation at Soundtopia Part 2 by James Pew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

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