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Automate your band!

Gears - image accompanying some marketing automation tips for musicians

by Chris Singleton

Whether you’re a wildly successful musician or a complete unknown, you are probably ‘time poor’ - you are either very busy with a successful music career, or subsidising an unsuccessful one by working round the clock in an unloved day job. Either way, you won’t necessarily have a huge amount of time on your hands to promote your music. This is where automation can come in really handy – and in this article, we’re going to look at ways you can automate your band’s marketing efforts and save a truckload of time.

1. Consider online advertising

Using online advertising isn’t a free way to automate your marketing – but it can, when done well, be very effective in driving traffic to your site while you are working in a call centre. If you are lucky enough to have some budget to put into Facebook, Twitter or Google ads, then it’s definitely worth experimenting with them to get more visitors to your band’s site or social media profiles (the aim, of course, being to convert these visitors into social media fans or subscribers to your mailing list). Usually it’s best to target fans of bands that you think your act would appeal to and offer some free content in exchange for a like, follow or email address.

2. Automate your e-newsletters

I’ve written about this regularly on this blog, so I’m not going to wax too lyrical about it again…but basically,  if you use a tool like Mailchimp or Mad Mimi to send out e-newsletters, then you have the ability to program in a sequence of automated ‘follow up’ emails to your fans. Everybody who signs up your mailing list can therefore automatically receive encouragements to follow you on social media; buy your merch; come to a gig and so on – without you having to worry about scheduling e-newsletters in automatically. You’ll find some more in-depth information on autoresponders here.

3. Use RSS to disseminate content

If you have a website worth its salt, it will contain a blog with an RSS feed. This RSS feed can be used to power all sort of stuff automatically – if you set things up correctly, your RSS feed can:

  • convert your blog post into an e-newsletter which goes out to your mailing list every time you add a new entry
  • share your new posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media feeds
  • allow others to display links to your articles on their websites which are automatically updated every time you post new content
  • ‘ping’ news services and blog directories with new content
  • display your new posts to anyone using an RSS reader.

4. Be a slave to the algorithm: optimise your site for search

Every second of every day, algorithms are trawling the internet, sifting through sites and picking the best ones to plonk at the top of search results. Setting up your website in a way that gives it the best chance of being automatically discovered by one of these algorithms means that you may end up on the receiving end of a lot of web traffic without much effort . For some tips on how to go about this, you can read our article about SEO for bands (I’d also recommend that you check out our inbound marketing tips).

5. Split test to find out what content works best

You can use split testing algorithms to test what content works best for your band. Whether you want to find out which version of your website works best, what subject header for an email generates the most opens, or even which mix of a song appeals most to your fanbase, A/B tests can automatically ask the question and give you the answers.

A/B testing tools work by

  1. showing two different versions of a web page or email to a sample of your visitors / subscribers
  2. evaluating which generates the most engagement (be that in terms of how long people stay on a website or how many people open an email)
  3. automatically rolling out the best performing version of your content to the majority of your web visitors or subscribers.

Most e-newsletter tools allow you to split test out of the box; for running A/B tests on websites, check out Unbounce or Instapage.

6. Promote your gigs with Songkick

By using Songkick you can automate your gig publicity efforts to a degree. First, it allows you to make use of a widget that you can embed on any number of online presences (i.e., your website, Facebook, Bandcamp etc.) – meaning that once you’ve added a gig to the system it will automatically appear anywhere your widget is displayed.  Second, Songkick have a partnership with Spotify, Youtube and Soundcloud, so your gigs should automatically appear on those sites when people are listening to your music on them.

7. Use Hootsuite to schedule social media posts automatically

If you know that you’re going to be too busy to post on social media during a certain period, you can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance – on multiple networks –so that the posts still magically appear even whilst you’re doing something else.

Not convinced by the power of automation yet? Well, you’re probably reading this post because one of three things happened:

  1. A search engine or social media algorithm automatically decided that you should.
  2. Our e-newsletter system automatically sent you an email about it.
  3. Our RSS feed and an automated tweet sent news of the article’s existence to the Twittersphere.

Automation rules...

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How to get more traffic to your music website

No traffic here...

No traffic here...

If you’re in a band, the chances are you’ve got a website. You either designed it yourself, convinced a gullible friend to build it, or got ripped off by a cowboy web designer, but regardless of how your website came into being, you’ve got a problem with it. Nobody’s looking at it.

This is because the supply of music websites far outstrips the demand for them. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians, all over the world, with music sites. But only a tiny proportion of the owners of these sites are popular musicians that people have actually heard of (and are therefore in a position to search for). So the vast majority of music sites languish on a server somewhere, with online tumbleweed (whatever that looks like) slowly passing by them. By virtue of the fact that you are reading this, you probably own one of them.

So how do you generate more traffic to that music site that you lovingly created? Well, as ever, we’ve got a few suggestions.

1. Forget about the music

Yes, you run a music site. But if you’re an unknown musician, making your site exclusively about your music isn’t going to drive traffic; nobody has heard of you, and consequently nobody is searching for you or your music. However, if you feature content on your site that is searched for, then you stand a much better chance of getting a significant number of visits.

Think of it this way: nobody is that interested in reading about how that gig of yours in the Rat and Parrot went; but they might be interested in what you made of the most recent U2 album. There might be one person entering ‘Sexy Susie’s gig in Rat and Parrot’ into Google (your mum) compared to hundreds of thousands whacking ‘No line on the Horizon U2 review’ into the search box. Consequently, if you’ve blogged about the U2 record, you’ve got a significantly better chance of coming up in search results than if you have written and posted a glowing review of your last album on your site. Ergo more visitors to your site, even if they are aficionados of tax-avoiding Irish bands.

Ah yes, you say, but then my site just becomes a U2 reviews site. Well, no, not really. Your site can become a place where you and your bandmates share your views on a range of topics that are of genuine interest to you - and more importantly, other people. You can share your views on sex; religion; politics; photography – whatever. So long as the content you post on your site is engaging, and you are passionate about the topics you write about, you can start to attract decent visitor numbers, simply because the internet is a huge place filled with content-hungry searchers. And obviously, you can feature the content you’re really trying to put in front of people – you and your music – alongside any of your posts about sexy religious politicians who dig photography. All of a sudden, through intelligent blogging, you have a captive audience.

2. Remember the tagging

Any time you post new content on your site, always tag it well. Assuming your site is built on a relatively modern platform (such as Wordpress or Squarespace), or you are integrating a blogging tool like Blogger into your site, you should be able to easily add labels to your content which will help it crop up in search – and drive traffic. If, for example, you write a blog post about your favourite Star Wars film, you shouldn’t just leave it there – you should add a series of tags which accurately describe the content – “Jar Jar Binks”, “George Lucas”, “daft Ewoks”, “camp robots” and so on.

Whilst on the subject of tagging, you should ensure that your site in general (i.e., not just the page where you post articles) is optimised for search. There are countless articles you can read online about SEO (search engine optimisation) but in a nutshell, you need to ensure that your site title, meta data, headers and copy all contain information that people are likely to be searching for. Again, because nobody is really going to be searching for you, you should use descriptions which involve well-known artists that you are influenced by. For example, instead of having a site title like “Official website of Sexy Susie”, you should have one that includes the main artists that you are influenced by – for example, “Official site of Sexy Susie – an artist influenced by David Bowie, James Blunt, Kiss and Cliff Richard” (an unfortunate combination perhaps, but there you go).

3. Share your content, and get others to share it too

When you do create your hugely engaging article about Bono’s leather pants, make sure you share it. Post a link to it on your Facebook page; whack it up on Twitter. Submit it to content sharing services like Stumbleupon or Digg; and encourage readers to do so too by adding a ‘sharing’ call to action at the bottom of each article – “Like this article? Please share it on…” etc. Using a free content-sharing tool like Addthis can help in this regard. Even one share – whether by you or another person - can actually result in an article going viral, so make the most of all the copious sharing opportunities that the Web 2.0 gives you.

4. Allow users to subscribe to receive more content

At the end of each Bono article, explain to users how they can get more of your content. Usually this involves asking them to subscribe to your blog posts via email, subscribing to an RSS feed or following you on Twitter / Facebook. If you have a blog, you can use Feedburner to allow people to sign up to email or RSS updates – it’s a free tool from Google which makes all that sort of thing a doddle. The more people subscribe to your updates - using any of the above methods - the more return visits you'll get to your site, meaning you'll have more eyeballs encountering your latest gig listings, online store and whatnot.

Monetise?

Finally, if you are really good at writing content, and you start to get thousands of hits to your site as a result, you could consider a) giving up music and becoming a writer or b) monetising your blogging talents through selling advertising space alongside your blog. The easiest way to do the latter is to use Google’s Adsense service – you just sign up for an account, copy and paste some code into your site, and you have sold your soul to Google in two easy steps. But it might pay for some recording time for that next album of yours that nobody’s going to buy.

Related articles

There’s a couple of other articles from us about websites / content which you may find useful:

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