Last week I wrote about the 12 things every band website needs. Since, undoubtedly, you have already made sure every one of those 12 things are now a part of your website, it’s now time to promote your band and your fabulous new website. You can have a phenomenal band and the most amazing band website, but if no one knows about or can’t find it, it doesn’t do any good. So here are 12 things you can do to promote your band and your band’s website.
Technically this entire article is about advertising, but here I’m referring to actual paid advertising with a print publication, radio station, tv station, or website. Most people learn about these things through paid advertising. Think about it, the last time you bought a cd or tickets to a concert, how did you find out there was a new cd out or a concert coming to town? Probably though some form of advertising. If you are a new band, this is especially important, thought probably more difficult to afford. You haven’t build up a fan base yet so you need to get the word out that you are out there.
When paying for advertising you need to consider a few basic parameters. What is your budget? Who are you trying to reach? What is your message?
Where and how you can advertise depends greatly on your budget. If you only have $500, you probably won’t be producing a commercial for the Superbowl or even for a 30 second spot during 3am airing of Ernest Goes to His Living Room on your local WB station. But $500 can buy you an ad in couple of newspapers, a radio spot or 2, or a whole lot of banner impressions on a website. Figuring out how to stretch your funds for the most effect is important, especially if you don’t have many funds.
Advertise to the right people. If you have a hard core band like P.O.D. you probably don’t want to advertise in Elevator Muzac Monthly, but Hardcore Christian Mag would be good. Make sure you are advertising to a demographic that will respond. Similarly, if you are a local band, only looking for local gigs, you don’t need to advertise on a national or world-wide level. Stick to the local options. Consider who your audience is and target them specifically to be most effective with your advertising.
Finally, consider what message you are trying to get across with your ad. Sure it’s great to be creative and get people’s attention, but it doesn’t do any good if they don’t get your message in the end. I’m sure we can all remember a commercial we’ve seen where we laughed our heads off and then thought, what was that commercial about? Not good. Make you message clear and bold.
Consider these things and decide what will be the most effect way to advertise your band and don’t forget to include your website’s address!! You can only include so much in an ad. Giving your website’s address provides a way for people to get much more info.
2. Search Engine Optimization
One of the most important things you can do for your band’s website is to get it listed in the major search engines and ranked well for keywords relevant for your band. This is important for 2 reasons. First, you want people to be able to stumble across your website. People are always looking for new bands in the search engines so you want to be up in the first few results for keywords relevant to your website. And by relevant, I don’t mean “Christian music.” Be specific. General keywords, though more popular, aren’t as effective as specific keywords. Second, statistics show us that over 50% of the time people go directly to a website, they enter the address into a search bar. So, if you aren’t listed in the search engines, even the people who know your website’s address might not be able to find your site. If you’d like some help with this, consider OCC’s Guaranteed Search Ranking service.
3. Christian Search Engines
Alright, you’ve gotten into the major search engines and are ranking well for a lot of the relevant keywords for your website. That’s great, but don’t forget about the Christian search engines. Christian search engines, by definition, are reaching for a targeted audience, Christians. If you’re reading this article, this is probably the demographic you are trying to reach. Christian search engines don’t seek out sites. So you have to manually search out and register with the Christian search engines or pay someone else to do it for you. But, since Christians are the ones most likely to become fans of a Christian band, it’s important get into the Christian search engines. If this sounds like it requires more time or expertise than you have, consider OCC’s Christian Search Registration service.
4. My Space, Blogs, Etc.
Paul spent a month talking about MySpace and in his last MySpace article he talked about how MySpace can be used by musicians to promote their bands:
“For most people, music is something to share and experience with other people. The social component of music is undeniable, and MySpace has tapped into this by putting a clear focus on music.
While the typical MySpace profile is designed for personal use, MySpace developed a unique member template specifically for bands and musicians who want to network with people.”
“MySpace is an even more valuable tool for those independent artists who don’t have the big marketing budgets behind them. It allows them to easily keep in touch with fans and friends, letting them know about upcoming performances, recording projects, and other information. It also facilitates the “word-of-mouth” social marketing that occurs when friends tell their friends about the bands they like.”
This is true of other Blog and social networking websites as well and it doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or a world famous sensation. Even Michael W. Smith and President Bush have a MySpace profiles. It’s free and a great way to not only spread the word about your band, but also help others spread the word for you.
5. Linking Campaign
A linking campaign is when you actively try to get other websites to put a link to your website on their site. There are 3 main benefits to getting others to link to your website.
1) The more sites that link to your website, the more people will see those links and click through to your website.
2) Links on websites are often seen as a recommendation by the webmaster of that site. People always respond better to a recommendation than an ad. So getting others to recommend your band through their website, can be a great advantage.
3) Generally, the more people who link to your website, the better your website will do in the search engines. This is especially true if the website linking to you is directly related in topic to what your website is about. So, a website about Gospel music would be a great site to have link to you, if you have a Gospel group. That same link would still be helpful for a punk band, but not as helpful.
Linking campaigns can be done in several ways. You can search the web for other sites relevant to your band’s site and contact them asking them to link to you. You can offer to link back to them as well. You can register your website with online directories. The list goes on and on, but you get the point.
6. Band/Music forums and websites
There are thousands of music forums and websites on the net. Search the web for a while and try to find some, especially ones that relate to your bands musical style and have some popularity. Join these forums and websites and post some messages. This can allow you to promote your band, get links to your website, and network with others:
TIP: When you post your messages, don’t just post a message (or several) promoting your band. Actually contribute to some of the discussions. Many forum owners don’t like it when people only post a message to promote their website, but if you are contributing to the forum discussions and you mention your band/website, even including a link, they usually don’t mind, but check the forum’s rules to be sure..
7. Press Releases
There are several press release websites, such as prweb.com, prfree.com and christiannewstoday.com, on the web as well as print publications and radio/tv opportunities (maybe a local newspaper or tv station) to make press releases. These press releases can a very effective way to let people know you have a new cd out or you are playing a concert and they are often free or very inexpensive.
8. Contact Local Christian Radio Stations
If you are a local band, or a band coming to a particular area for a concert, contact the local Christian radio station and let them know about touring dates, cd releases, and even the possibility of an interview. If they can’t do an on air interview, maybe they can do a print or pod-casted interview for their website. This is about as targeted an audience as you will get so, even though it may take a bit of work to arrange, it is well worth the effort.
9. Buzz Events
Buzz events are events that get people’s attention and get them talking. They require pro-activity and outside-the-box thinking. Perform for free at a church or a town festival. Set up and start performing acoustically in a park, outside a stadium, or on a busy street corner (make sure you proper permission). Participate in a “Battle of the Bands” contest. Do a CD signing at a Christian bookstore or a CD release party. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and assertiveness.
10. Support Your Fans
Give your fans the opportunity to support their favorite band. Print T-shirts, make stickers, create digital wallpapers, offer ringtones, etc. and offer them on your website, at concerts, out of the back of unmarked vans, wherever. Everything should have your bands name and website address on it: Posters, cds, ads, links, shared music, family members, cars, everything. Your most enthusiastic fans are your best advertisement. Communicate with fans and reply to their messages. Give your most enthusiastic fans special opportunities for special merchandise, special events, insider information, and anything else that makes them feel appreciated and helps them tell their friends.
11. Peer 2 Peer Sharing (Music)
Most of us have heard about the evil Kazaa and the formerly evil Napster and how every band in the world nearly became homeless because people were illegally downloading music. But the fact is that peer-to-peer networks can actually be helpful for a band. I’m not trying to make some philosophical statement about intellectual property rights or promote digital theft by any means, but for a band trying to get noticed, file sharing can help a lot. There are lots of people who use these file sharing networks to search out new music so don’t be afraid to share some of your music on these file-sharing networks.
12. Tell everyone!!
Talk your band up wherever you go. Tell others about your music, inspiration, cds, concerts, etc. This one is so basic, that many people don’t think about doing. We often don’t think people are interested or think they probably already know. Well if you haven’t told them about your band, assume they don’t know. And if you think your music is worth listening to, then it will probably be something others will be interested in knowing about. Its one thing for people you meet to not like your music, but you have no excuse if they do not even know about your band.
That’s it for now. It’s not a guaranteed guide to a world-wide tour with 100,000 person venues and a multi-platinum cd, but these steps should help take your band to the next level or 2. Now it’s up to you implement these steps and, of course, write and perform some music worth listening to.