Amazon today announced a new service that will soon be available called the ‘Cloud Player’. The idea is that users can upload their music tracks to their own space on the internet and access it from any computer or Android phone. This beats Apple and Google who are apparently developing similar systems themselves. The idea of a large amount of online storage space for general public use isn’t exactly a new idea (i.e. Dropbox), but the fact that the major players see this as the way forward means the demise of the CD and the hard drive.
Last month I got myself a HTC Android phone. As much as I’m a fan of Uncle Steve’s Apple products £40+ per month for an iPhone is just too much for me. Still, it’s not like getting an Android is a bad thing, there’s tons of apps to rival Apple’s growing collection and I was pretty much sold on the seamless integration with Google accounts (mail, calendar etc). I was browsing the Android market recently and I decided to check out what music apps existed for us musicians for those times when we’ve forgotten our tuners.
A year or two ago I joined Last.fm for the sole purpose of getting my band’s music on there. I used it for personal use for a short time having downloaded the scrobbler for iTunes but to be honest, I didn’t really get it. Especially as Spotify was becoming increasingly popular and having it as a standalone program seemed much more appealing. Before long, I forgot about using it, letting my account gathering dust.
It goes without saying that all bands should have some sort of online presence such as an online profile on MySpace or a Facebook fan page. Bands or artists looking to have a more personalised and controlled online presence opt for their own website. The success of these websites depend largely on the content and amount of interactivity available. If you have the same content, pictures and information as your online profiles, users don’t exactly have an incentive to make those few extra clicks to your own place on the web.
Having a media rich website with interactive content is vital in today’s web 2.0 world, which can be a tricky thing for unsigned bands or artists trying to create their own web presence. There are many content management websites available such as Drupal, but the WordPress blogging platform has worldwide popularity and rightly so. You can get your website up and running with minimal programming/designing experience, however the more you delve into customising your website, the more likely you are to get bogged down in CSS, HTML or PHP code.
The latest part of my saga in converting to a digital-only lifestyle is being able to have a decent browser with which to browse my film collection. If you have a mac with the Leopard or Snow Leopard operating system you’ll have ‘Front Row’ – an interface that allows you to browse your film, TV and music collection with your keyboard or Apple remote. It’s well presented and it’s almost like browsing an interface on a TV with screenshots from each of your videos given as a preview.
Another day and another new social network. I’m beginning to lose count to be honest. Still, a day after Steve Jobs’ annoucement of ‘Ping’ the new social network incorporated into iTunes 10 it went live and I’ve gone straight in and had a look.
When I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical. Spotify had introduced their own social networking features recently and to be honest it works because it’s well incorporated into Facebook – there’s no need to set up additional profiles or add friends, you just have to link accounts. It was clear that this wouldn’t be the case with ‘Ping’ and quite how the public will react to having a new place to ‘like’ artists and albums will be interesting indeed. To join ‘Ping’ you have to upgrade to iTunes 10. Once you have done this, you’ll see the link for ‘Ping’ just below ‘iTunes Store’ in the left hand column.
Much in the spirit of MySpace’s incredible lack of pace in upgrading their service to cope with the demands of it’s users, they have finally upgraded their service for music profiles. With a ridiculous inability to keep up with other music profile websites, MySpace’s previous insistence on having to paste CSS code to customise the look of your profile was irritating at best. This is especially so when the ‘free’ MySpace editors that are all over the internet put their own advertisements in the code they give you. So it was to my delight having logged into MySpace for the first time in months to see that it appears to be changing.
It’s that time of year when bands gradually start rolling out new albums for the listening public. In the run up to the release date it’s now fairly common for them to release a ‘single’ to give fans a taster of what’s to come. ‘But it’s always been like that!’ I hear you say – well indeed, but the method of which the single is released and promoted has changed dramatically.
Every now and then I come across a new piece of technology and I usually end up wanting to buy one. Over the last few months I’ve been looking at portable sound recorders to use in school and for band rehearsals. Recently the band got one on loan when we needed to make a quick recording of some new tracks. The sound recorder in question is the Sanyo Xacti which unlike it’s counterparts by other manufacturers is actually a very small and handy size.
The more I’ve used it recently, the more I’m intrigued by the ways bands and musicians can connect with fans on Facebook. Unlike MySpace, you can’t send friend requests to random people from your fan page, you can only invite people from your friends list and hope the word spreads. Getting new fans can be difficult and now isn’t the time to talk about this. For now, I’m going to focus on engaging with the fans you already have.
I only know a handful of people who don’t have a Facebook account, which is surely a good thing as there is a lot of potential in spreading the word about your band. Now, I reckon that most people visit Facebook because they are bored or trying to put of doing something important because they’re bored. In other words, people want to be entertained. Now I’m sure you post messages every now and again advertising a gig or asking people to listen to your music – but is that entertaining?
My band have started posting content frequently although admittedly we still have some way to go. One of the things we’ve started doing is a video blog; videos of us messing about, before and after gigs, chatting, letting fans get to know us… and it’s really working. Hits to our page have gone up a fair bit and we’re receiving far more comments than we used to. Interaction is happening on a frequent basis.
Now the example above is just a video of us talking utter nonsense. It’s not even related to our music, but people found this to be of some entertainment and so we ended up with a decent number of comments. By posting a variety of entertaining content you will drive your fans to your Facebook page. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Post videos of you talking, playing, eating… whatever. Make it fun and don’t take yourselves to seriously.
- Post images of you playing live, rehearsing, eating… you see where this is going?
- Link to funny things you find on the internet.
- Post updates about the band that are not annoying. Don’t post endless messages asking people to buy stuff.
- Post ‘Events’ for every gig you are doing. Even if people can’t go, they will be interested in all the various places you’re visiting
- Give your fans something for free once in a while. Free track, desktop wallpaper, anything you can think of.
What’s important now is that your page is fully up-to-date. Make sure when people land on your page they are seeing what you want them to see. Be creative with your fan page and create new tabs with content such as a music player, links to where they can buy your music, up-to-date gigs listings, band biography, links etc…
Hope that’s helpful to you bands and musicians looking to connect with your fans. If there’s one lesson here it’s that whilst you’re busy trying to gain new fans, don’t forget about the ones you already have.