Welcome to 2013, folks. The first few days of a new year are generally the time when you start to think about how to do things differently, so in this post I thought I’d share some resolutions to help you kick-start your music career in 2013.
1. I will focus on the music first
Being a musician these days seems to involve dividing your time between making music and nattering about it with your fan(s) on Facebook and other social networks. Your first resolution this year should be to put Facebook aside, and put the music first. By all means keep your online presence, twittering and so on relatively up to date – but not at the expense of producing great music. Lock yourself in a room with a guitar (or indeed any musical weapon of choice, with the possible exception of bagpipes) until you are 100% satisfied that you have some great songs really worth talking about. Then, and only then, go out and talk about them.
2. I will ensure I have a great website
Yes, Facebook, Twitter and so on are all great for spreading the word about your music, but nothing beats a good website. By having a good site, you’ll ensure that you have a professional online presence; options regarding SEO (search engine optimisation); and ultimate flexibility and control over how you present your band to the world. To really understand why a band website is so important, I recommend reading this great article by Make it in Music on why music sites matter, and Prescription’s key tips for building a great band website.
3. I will take a religious approach to capturing email addresses
Capturing email addresses - using dedicated tools like Mad Mimi, Getresponse or similar - is absolutely essential for any artist (regardless of the level of their success), because a) it allows you to communicate direct to fans and b) you own the data. Having this direct link to your fans allows you to maximise music sales and gig attendance. Whilst it’s nice to have large Facebook fan / Twitter follower counts, don’t forget that people will only see your messages if an algorithm lets them and, crucially, if the social network continues to be successful. You only have to think of how much effort bands put into adding Myspace friends in the mid-naughties, and how useless that effort all seems now, to understand why having a large database of email addresses is a much more attractive prospect. Besides which, you can import that list into most social networks anyway. Get clued up about the importance of building an email database here.
4. I will not come across as an idiot online
The internet is rightly seen as the key place where artists forge relationships with fans – so why do so many bands and artists use their online presence to come across as complete idiots? Either they regularly spout inanities or keep posting ‘buy me’ links every five minutes on Facebook and Twitter. This year, make a resolution to stop bludgeoning your friends, family members and fans with boring messages about your music and think before you open your online mouth. Here are some key tips on how to manage your online reputation properly.
5. I will take my image seriously
Too many artists obsess over how much their album sounds like it was recorded on a big reel of tape in the 1970s and mixed on a consule packed full of valves – only to forget that sadly, in addition to sounding cool, you’ve got to look cool too to impress those pesky filtering gatekeeper types. Don’t forget to spend some time getting your image right, and ensuring your band photography is up to scratch.
6. I will blog. And not just about me / my band
One of the best ways to generate traffic to a website is ensuring it is packed full of content that people want to read. And the easiest way to arrive at that happy situation is by blogging about interesting stuff – according to research by inbound marketing agency Hubspot, businesses (and yes, like it or not, you are actually a business) that blog regularly receive around 55% more hits to their site than those that don't. Every hit to your site is a chance for you to expose somebody to your music, or capture their email address. The key thing is this: don’t make your blog all about you – people are searching for other, more interesting stuff. Find out why blogging is so important, and how to do it right, here.
7. I will manage my time wisely
If you’re anything like me, you’re juggling a job, a music career, a baby and a cat. And it’s tough, with music-making and music promo often taking a back seat. But there are strategies that can help you make the most of your time to make the most of your music – find out about time-saving tips for musicians here.
8. I will think creatively about how to get my music out there
There are many ways to skin a cat, as a record store owner I once worked for said about a very unfortunate cat. So instead of taking the bog-standard approach of putting your album up on iTunes and hoping against hope that somebody actually buys it, why not take some time to dream up some interesting ways to fund and release it? Sometimes creative ideas regarding both can actually land you a great PR angle too. You might find our ideas on funding the making of your album and interesting formats to release it on helpful.
9. I will plan my project carefully
You have a home studio. You have 10 songs. You are making an album. You are going to upload it onto iTunes. People will buy it in droves. Simple, yes? Well actually, no. Despite a plethora of self-promotion and self-distribution options now being available, releasing an album is actually deceptively difficult business, and if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. As such, we suggest that you make this the year that you take a bit of notice of project planning – here’s an article about why it really, really matters and how to go about creating a killer project plan. We’d also suggest that if you’re going to release an album independently this year that you check out our guide to avoiding the pitfalls associated with DIY music promotion, and read our checklist of the key things you must do when releasing an album independently.
10. I will talk to Prescription PR
Contrary to belief, we don’t just write articles about music promo – we do it day in, day out for artists we – and many others - love. So if you’re planning on releasing something this year, do get in touch for a conversation about how we can help.