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Bands

Five spring cleaning tips for bands...

Spring cleaning - image accompanying a post about online music promotion

by Chris Singleton

Spring seems to have finally arrived at Prescription Towers, with sunshine making a brief appearance and bunny rabbits running rampant around the office. As such we’ve been indulging in some spring cleaning (chiefly to get rid of the rabbits) and thought that you might like to do some too. So here are five things YOU as a musician can do to clean up your act...

1. Get rid of social media accounts that are no longer of any use to you

Given that there is a ‘next big thing’ in social media popping up every 5 minutes, it’s not surprising that artists have many disused social media profiles kicking about. I bet you a tenner that your band has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, Myspace, Reverbnation, Bandpage, Bandcamp, Tumblr, Instagram, Google+ and quite a few more social networks…but chances are, you’ve forgotten about most of them and you only keep one or two profiles updated. This means that you run the risk of potential fans or useful industry contacts doing a Google search on your act and encountering really out of date material and goofy pictures that you’re now embarrassed by. If you’re not using it, consider losing it; however, if you have a big following on a particular social network, it’s probably best to keep the relevant page alive – but bring it (and keep it) up to date.

2. Unfollow a load of people on Twitter

Most bands start off their life on Twitter by following a truckload of people in the hope that everybody will follow them back – but only a small percentage of users ever do. This leaves you with a huge following to followers deficit. So take the time to go through the list of people you’re following on Twitter and unfollow as many people as you can - you should unfollow people who don’t ever tweet or people who aren’t particularly relevant to you or your band. Doing this is beneficial for three reasons.

1) It makes your ratio of followers to following considerably better (which is helpful from a reputational point of view – it looks a bit rubbish if you’re following 2000 people and have only 100 followers).

2) It makes your Twitter feed more useful – it’s next to impossible to discern useful information from Twitter feeds when you’re following absolutely everybody.

3) It makes Twitter algorithms more effective for you – if you are only following people that are particularly relevant to your band (sympathetic radio DJs or journalists for example) then the suggestions that Twitter makes to you regarding who to follow will actually be useful ones.

For the record, you might want to check out a tool called Crowdfire (formerly Justunfollow) to help you with the above tasks – it allows you to identify people that haven’t updated their profiles in a long time as well as do one-click unfollows.

3. Update your website

Even if you have the swankiest website going, it will still look rubbish if you haven’t updated it in ages. Make sure it’s got all your latest gigs on it; a nice blog post or two; current photographs and so on. And if you know that you simply don’t have time to update a website (shame on you!) then delete any pages on it that require regular updating: it’s better to have a very simple website that is not out of date than a flashy one that is.

4. Sort out your file storage

I feel slightly ridiculous and not a little un-rock-and-roll in writing this, but simply because everything related to the music industry seems to be digitised these days, a band needs to have as good an approach to file management as possible. The one thing I have consistently found both as a musician and a PR person is that you will inevitably end up needing to access and send files relating to your band on a regular basis – A&Rs, journalists, fans, radio pluggers will all need digitised material from you regularly. If you haven’t got a cloud file storage solution, get one (Dropbox is probably my favourite for bands). And if you do have a Dropbox or Google Apps account, make sure all your folders are neatly organised and that key content is easy to locate. Again, not a very rock and roll thing to be thinking about, but you’ll be grateful for a nice folder structure when the Head of Music at Radio 1 comes calling asking you for new material pronto…and you can locate and share it with him immediately. Well hello, Mr Ergatoudis - another track you say? Certainly...

5. Clean up your mailing list

Take the time to go through your mailing list, ensuring that

  • all those email addresses collected at gigs on scraps of toilet paper are actually added to it
  • you are not using Excel or Word to store addresses and sending out emails manually but have invested in a proper e-newsletter broadcasting tool such as Mad Mimi, Getresponse or Mailchimp
  • your list does not include people who perhaps shouldn’t be on there: think twice about including friends and colleagues on every email about your band (here’s why).

There, that feels better doesn’t it. Nice and clean.

 

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A neat trick to make ANY website promote your band: Sniply

Megaphone

In this article we're going to share a little trick that will let you make any web page shout about your band. Sounds too good to be true? Well, actually, for once you can (mostly) believe the hype.

A quick follow-up this, to last week’s post about solving the ‘lack of content’ problem. In case you didn’t read it (shame on you), the post was chiefly about how to come up with content that regularly keeps your fans entertained and makes you look, to industry contact eyes, as though you are serious about building an online presence and making the most of it.

A lot of the post focused on how you can create your own content, but those of you who were paying close attention probably noticed that there was a little section on ‘content curation’ – some tips on how time-poor bands can use content from other websites to keep their own social media presences looking fresh, keep followers engaged and create a ‘vibe’ about their act based on a shared band-fan interest in certain types of content.

Well, a few days ago I came across a tool that potentially multiplies the usefulness of any content you share significantly: Sniply. This is because it allows you to add a message and a call to action of your choosing which then gets placed on that page.

For example, say your band shares an article from a well-known news site about some topic close to your heart. Using Sniply, you can generate a link which places a banner on that page with a picture of your band, a call to action, and a button taking the user to your website / Facebook / Twitter. Or, even better, you can use Sniply to place a little form on the page that readers can use to join your mailing list. If this all sounds a touch confusing, take a look at the above screengrab, featuring  a Guardian exclusive album stream that we secured for one of our clients recently (sorry, couldn't resist a little plug for our music PR services...). At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a nice little form advertising Prescription PR and encouraging readers to take the very wise step of joining our mailing list. You can click here to see the above Sniply example in action.

If you’re feeling underwhelmed by what on the surface looks like just another pop up box, well, think about the implications of this tool when you share a piece of viral content with a large Facebook audience. With a strong piece of content  particularly if you are quick to share it the resharing potential is large...meaning you may end up with a lot of eyeballs looking at your mailing list sign up form (which, you’ve got to admit, looks damn pretty sitting on The Guardian website). Previously, they would have just seen the content: by using Sniply, you have turned it into a promotional opportunity for your band.

How useful Sniply is to you will depend on the kind of content you share, and how ahead of the game you are in sharing it, but it does represent a very interesting tool for bands that regularly share content with their fans online. If you're interested in using it, you can get a free trial here.

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In a band? Here's some new year's resolutions for you

2015

Happy New Year from Prescription PR! It being our first post of the year, we thought we’d suggest a few new year’s resolutions for bands and musicians.

1. Build a marvellous website

Keen readers of The Prescription will note that this was our first piece of advice to you at the start of 2014, but it’s as relevant as ever in 2015. It amazes me how many bands (including some rather well-established ones) think that whacking a few tunes up on Bandcamp and setting up a Twitter profile constitutes a decent digital presence, when a good music website allows you to do so much more (and says much more about you too). A strong website...

  • marks you out as a professional act that takes its career seriously
  • if SEO’d well, it allows you to be discovered by new listeners more easily
  • allows you to fully control your band’s online image and identity
  • facilitates blogging
  • allows you to incorporate more advanced functionality than you generally get on third party platforms like Facebook or Twitter onto your site.

If you don’t have a website, get one; and if you do, review it to make sure it’s looking as good and working as well as it possibly can for the year ahead.

2. Get your computer’s sh*t together

If you’re anything like me, you have a folder on your PC dedicated to your band…and it’s a mess. It contains a bunch of files that are strewn all over the place – you have band images in the audio folder; audio files in the gigs folder and so on. This situation is going to slow you down – so sort it out (I certainly intend to). Although file management is probably about as far away from rock and roll as you can imagine, if you do a bit of it at the start of the year, you will 1) feel smug and clean inside and 2) be able to lay your hands on that fantastic shot of your band standing against the wall looking miserable quickly when an A&R guy asks to see some photos of your act immediately.

3. Get tooled up

Make 2015 the year that you start using the right online tools to manage your band’s career. You can save a truckload of time by picking the right application for the job – here’s a few of our favourites to get you started:

  • Email and calendar management: Google Apps
  • File sharing: Dropbox (note: Google Apps allows you to do this too – not as well in my view but if you are paying for Google Apps, it’s probably worth using the file storage that comes with it)
  • E-newsletters: Mad Mimi or Getresponse
  • Ticket sales: Mitingu
  • Websites: Squarespace or Wordpress (or us!)
  • Social media management: Hootsuite

These are just a few examples: the point is that it is worth investing in some kit that reduces as much as possible the amount of admin associated with running a band. Don't work off a bunch of Excel spreadsheets to send e-newsletters, or an email system that clogs up your inbox with spam: get proper systems in place to make communicating with fans and music industry contacts as straightforward as possible.

4. Revisit your image

Given that the music industry often cares more about how its artists look than the actual music they produce, it’s remarkable that a lot of bands pay scant attention to image. Now I’m not suggesting that you devote 2015 to making yourself look more beautiful but it is definitely worth taking a moment to review how your band wants to present itself to the world this year – not just in terms of physical appearance (although sadly that is important) but in terms of the visual ‘assets’ your band produces – i.e., photos, websites, artwork and so on. What do they say about you? What do they say about your music? In an era where bands are increasingly doing everything themselves, from music production to website build right down to artwork design, it’s easy to lose an objective approach to image and imagery. So perhaps a good start to 2015 would be to do a review of all this, perhaps involving a third party who is not in the band (and ideally experienced in the field of fashion and design), with a view to defining your band's image strongly (and in a way that won't send potential fans and labels running for the hills).

5. Capture data – religiously

I can be pretty confident in saying that music sales are going to decline in 2015, with streaming becoming an ever more popular way to consume music. As musicians are making diddly-squat from streaming, this is going to make touring an even more important source of income for bands – and a huge component of a successful tour is a well-stocked database of email addresses. So don’t let any opportunity to capture data pass: be it on your website, at a gig or in a Facebook update, always ensure that you are encouraging people to sign up for your mailing list. And, with touring in mind, be smart about data capture too: make sure you’re capturing not just an email address but a postcode / location too.

6. Stay on top of the latest developments within the music industry

The music industry is now umbilically linked to the internet, and as such it is subject to a hell of a lot of technology-driven change; so much so that it is getting bloody difficult to stay on top of the latest developments in music promotion techniques (and the industry in general). There are several online publications however that you can follow to stay up to date on things – obviously we’d recommend that you subscribe to The Prescription (sign up form below), but there are some other great blogs which are regularly updated with very informative posts about the current and future state of the industry – some Prescription favourites include Make it in Music, the CD Baby blog, Music Week and CMU. Subscribe to or bookmark sites / blogs like these, because the more information that you have at your disposal about music promotion, and the more research you do on it, the better you're going to get at it.

7. Make a plan for the year

The start of the year is a great time to think about what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Get the band together, and rather than going down the boozer, sit down with a coffee and try to map out a roadmap for the year. Maybe February could be the month you build a new site; March the month you plan a tour; April the month you start working on new material and so on. It’s easy to amble along and never achieve anything – this year, give yourself some clearly defined goals, and try to meet them.

8. And finally…do less

Yes, yes, I’ve just given you 7 extra things to do in 2015. But in general, try to do less. I’m not suggesting that you lounge about the house in your pyjamas all day (which admittedly is a jolly good lark) but that you look at all the efforts you put into your music (be that making or marketing it) and identify any areas where you’re wasting time. Are you agonising too long over mixes? Are you maintaining 10 presences on social media when perhaps focusing on 3 will do? Are you posting too many updates to your band’s Facebook page rather than spending time on the studio? In 2015, cut out or cut down on any activities that are getting in the way of making and sharing great music.

Good luck!

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