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Four ways to tackle the 'lack of content' problem

The lack of content problem

by Chris Singleton

Back in the day, ‘content’ wasn't a problem for your average musician. Producing the stuff generally boiled down to doing what most artists are meant to do: releasing an album and playing some shows.

Things got a bit more difficult in the 80s with the invention of the pop video, but even at that, this sort of content creation was just a case of accompanying 3 singles from your album with some clips of you parading a mullet.

Fast forward to 2018 and it’s a different kettle of fish. Mullets are, for the most part, out, and content is now, to pardon a much-overused phrase, king. These days it's not enough to record songs, make videos or play gigs: on top of that we have to ‘engage’ our audience with blog posts, photographs, live videos, vlogs, viral games, tweets, status updates, online gigs, alternate acoustic versions of album tracks...and so on.

As exhausting as making / doing all that stuff sounds, there is actually a point to it – it can generate interest in your band, drive traffic to your website and help you make new fans. It also gives any industry contacts checking out your act a sense that you are serious about what you do online (something which is crucial in an era where the music industry and the internet are increasingly joined at the hip).

But how on earth do you tackle producing all this content? For many artists it’s hard enough to fit in recording music and playing gigs around a time-consuming day job; as such the thought of even keeping a Facebook page up to date — let alone writing a blog post about what the band cat gets up to on tour — simply instils dread.

There are a few things you can do, however, which make climbing the content mountain easier, and in this post, we're going to highlight four ways you can tackle the 'lack of content' problem.


1. Create a ‘content bank’

Don’t wait until you’ve got something to release before you start thinking about what sort of content you’re going to accompany that release with. Have it all ready beforehand.

I usually suggest devoting a week or so to content well before you release any music. During this, you could...

  • go into a studio for a day and record a load of live acoustic versions of your songs
  • spend a day in front of your computer writing several blog posts about music or art that's inspired you
  • take a load of ‘behind the scenes’ images of rehearsals, gigs, recording sessions and so on.
  • capture footage of recording sessions and editing them into little ‘making of’ videos.

Once you've done all that, you can edit it so that it looks, sounds or reads great, and put it in a Dropbox folder: now, you have a 'content bank' containing a lot of stuff that you can share regularly during a music promo campaign.

So, by the time it comes to releasing your album, you won't be worrying that tumbleweed is blowing through your Facebook page at a time when it’s clearly meant to be conveying a sense of that much-sought-after ‘buzz’.


2. Curate content

If you’re struggling with the content bank idea (or even if you DO have a lot of content ready to share) think about being a ‘content curator’.

This means sharing other people’s content via your social media presences and blog — something that takes a lot of the legwork out of content-sharing.

The kind of content that you share can say a lot about your band though, so when you get into the content-curation business, you need to think very carefully about the links you post and how frequently you post them.

But, done correctly, content curation can create a ‘vibe’ about your band, convey a sense of activity and make your followers keen to stay posted to your feeds, simply because they’re interested in what sort of crazy / interesting  / downright disgusting link you’re going to post next.


3. Make some live videos – and kill four birds with one stone

It’s a good idea to make a live video of several tracks. Done correctly this can gives you up to 4 pieces of valuable content:

  1. Live tracks that you can give away or use as bonus tracks on releases.
  2. Several video performances that you can whack up on Youtube and include in electronic press kits.
  3. Well-lit photographs of your band (assuming you can convince a photographer to hang out that day).
  4. An experience that you can blog about (complete with lots of nice images and embedded videos).

4. Use Instagram

Being in a band is as much about the visuals as the music.

This can be a bad thing, as it it often means that bands who make great music but don't quite have a slick enough image aren't taken as seriously as they should be.

On the flip side, today's emphasis on image in the music industry, coupled with Instagram, can make content creation quick and simple. It's dead easy to create and share interesting visuals using Instagram that arguably say a lot more about who you are as an artist than a 1500-word blog post could ever do.

In short, Instagram is one of the quickest way to get into the content-creation business without having to spend ages on creating any content! So if you're not using Instagram, it might be time to get cracking with it.

In terms of the kind of pictures you should take and share using Instagram, I'd suggest that rather than constantly share pics of your band, you post images of stuff that represents your act and its ethos – whether that’s pictures of vintage microphones or dramatic skylines.

Doing so lets you make an impressive statement about you and your music in a few seconds.

I hope the above suggestions have helped ease the content pain a little. And remember, there's always the mullet video...

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A guide to blogging for musicians

'Blog' spelt out with Scrabble tiles

There’s a sense amongst a lot of musicians that I chat to that ‘blogging is important’, but not an understanding as to why. So in this article I thought I’d try to spell out what blogging can deliver for a musician or band, and how to go about it.

Why should I blog?

The main reason for blogging is because it delivers traffic to your site in a way that, as an independent artist, your music alone probably won’t.

If you write an interesting article about, say, the price of cabbage, it may get discovered in a search engine by a cabbage-lover, who then retweets it to the cabbage-loving community, generating thousands of visits by cabbage lovers to your site.

And, when the cabbage lovers arrive there, not only do they get to read an interesting article about cabbage, they get subtly (or not so subtly) exposed to your latest and greatest MP3.

If you had just posted this MP3 somewhere online without any references to cabbage, you wouldn’t get this traffic, because the web is full of bands posting MP3s online and frankly people are rather bored by that. A blog post about cabbage, however – now that’s interesting.

The above cabbage-related example may sound daft, but it explains pretty well how something important called ‘inbound marketing’ works. You write something interesting on your blog, it gets indexed by a search engine, and people interested in that topic discover it when they type a search phrase about it into Google.

If the article is very good, the user may well post a link to it on Twitter, Facebook etc., creating the potential for a lot of traffic to your site. It’s a ‘pull’ marketing tactic rather than a ‘push’ effort, because the quality of the blog content will drive the visits and shares (meaning you don’t have to spend money on online ads, or subject your Facebook followers to the same post about a music video involving your cat over and over again).

What should I blog about?

The simple answer usually is: not you.

If you’re blogging about how great your music is all the time, or detailing the minutiae of your latest creative project every five minutes, you are unlikely to get much in the way of traffic to your site (unless you are already a genuinely huge star, in which case I’m not sure why you are reading this advice).

Whilst it’s okay to post news of what you’re doing musically periodically into your blog, the focus of your blogging efforts should generally be on other issues. Stuff that’s topical; stuff that you’re really interested in; other bands you like and so on.

For me, the crucial thing about blogging is to write about stuff that you are genuinely fascinated by, because it will inspire you to write interesting posts, which are of course more likely to get shared and discovered than navel-gazing dissertations about your deep and meaningful lyrics.

How do I blog?

There are a host of free services out there that let you blog – the list seems to be growing endlessly, but big hitters include Blogger, Tumblr, Wordpress, Squarespace and Posterous. If you are completely new to blogging, I’d probably suggest starting off on Blogger, because it is a free service which is very easy to set up and use.

If possible though, the best thing to do is to get your music site’s web designer to include blogging functionality on your site – this is usually the ideal place to host a blog because it means that all your musical content is on display when visitors arrive at it.

How often should I blog?

SEO experts generally believe that Google and other search engines prioritise quantity over quality, so my advice is to aim to blog reasonably frequently, but only when you have a decent post to publish. That said, avid readers of your blog might appreciate regular updates — so don’t leave huge gaps between posts.

Ultimately though, it’s better to publish a high-quality, long-form post once a month than to post inconsequential blogs every 5 minutes.

How do I get people to read my blog?

The golden rule is: write interesting, topical stuff. Your blog will get indexed by search engines and if the content is strong, you will get traffic via ‘organic’ searches. However, there are some tactics beyond that which can help boost readership:

  • After writing a new post, make sure you post a link to it on Twitter and Facebook, encouraging readers to share the article. The accompanying tweet or status update should contain a short but accurate summary of what the blog post is about.

  • Add an email subscription form to your blog so that readers have the opportunity to receive new posts in their inbox when you post them. If you use an email marketing tool such as Aweber or Mailchimp, you’ll often be able to edit various settings so that the tools convert your blog posts into emails automatically and broadcast them to your subscribers.

  • Always add relevant tags to your blog posts. Tags are keywords that summarise your content and help readers and search engines to find it easily. For example, when you do get round to that ‘price of cabbage’ article, you should tag it with things like ‘cabbage’, ‘economics’, ‘vegetables’ and ‘Brassica oleracea’.

  • Keep your blog post titles engaging and keyword-rich.

  • At the bottom of every blog post, list the ways that people can follow you – mention your Twitter profile, Facebook page etc. And promote the email subscription option again. The more followers / subscribers you get, the greater the chance that your content will be regularly read and shared. It's a virtuous circle.

  • Use pictures in your blogs. Not only will these make your posts look more attractive, but any time somebody shares your posts on Facebook, the pictures will be displayed in the article preview. These will make the articles jump out of a user’s news feed much more than a boring text link.

And finally…

Finally, having gone to all that effort to create a well-crafted blog, do make sure that information about your musical activities is clearly visible on it – make sure a link to a free download is available, or that some tracks are available to stream on Soundcloud.

See also

You may find my Style Factory article on how to increase blog traffic helpful.

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