The music industry isn’t what it used to be, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it’s true that most people don’t like paying for music, that doesn’t necessarily apply to fans. The secret to getting album sales in these changing times is to develop a fan base first. Getting gigs that put you in front of the right audience will help you develop the necessary fan base.
There are plenty of tips out there for finding and playing gigs, but no matter what, it all starts with having a strong online presence so venues can check you out without having to make direct contact first. These days, venues are busy and won’t always have time to meet with you in person to see how you perform live.
Your professional online presence can make or break your gigs
Your online presence is your calling card, whether it’s a website, your profile on distribution sites, or social media. If you’re trying to engage fans, get gigs, and sell songs, everything you publish online needs to be professionally crafted to effectively represent you.
If you haven’t created your online presence yet, or if you know it’s time for an update, here’s what you can do to support your gig-searching efforts.
Start with a custom website design
Remember your friend’s cousin’s brother who does websites? Don’t ask him to build your website unless he’s running a legitimate, professional website development company. Chances are, if you have to go through people you know to get a web designer, they’re probably not a professional. They might make money on the side by calling themselves a website designer, but as an artist, you can’t risk receiving subpar work.
Next to distribution, having a professionally designed website is a critical investment in your success as an artist. While you could make a free website with a site builder, pre-made layouts aren’t usually a good match for musicians. Most layouts are designed to showcase products and services. You need a custom layout designed to showcase your personality and your tracks.
Update all of your online accounts to match your website’s theme
Once you have a custom website design, update the rest of your online accounts to match. You don’t necessarily need to use the same profile picture, but every profile image should be easily recognizable as your brand. You can use images from your performances, custom artwork, or a professional headshot. Whatever you use, make sure it fully represents you.
Think about Tom from Myspace. He never changed his profile photo and his image became a sort of brand for Myspace. When his photo pops up in image searches related to the history of social media, everyone recognizes Tom. That’s the kind of familiarity to aim for with your online profile photos. They should be instantly recognizable as your brand no matter where people see those images.
Don’t create accounts you won’t update regularly
Your fans will have preferences for certain social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud. Fans who may not be all that interested in Twitter might spend more time on Twitter just to catch your posts and will be disappointed if you stop posting. Don’t waste their time. If you’re going to create an account, make sure you have the time and energy to manage your account regularly.
Your fans will expect regular content on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, you can get away with posting tracks sporadically on SoundCloud. It’s okay to cross-post, but don’t engage fans on ten platforms if you only have time to manage three.
Be proactive with an email list
The core of growing and maintaining your fan base will be using an email list. Email is the best way to inform fans of your live streams, new track releases, gigs, and tour dates. You can’t expect your fans to see all of your announcements on social media.
Also, if you get signed by a label, they will probably insist on handling your social media accounts and you may be required to delete your existing accounts. In the past, this move has caused bands to lose touch with hundreds of thousands of fans. Having an email list is the only way to maintain control over contact with your fans.
Be proactive and start generating email addresses on your website and through social media. Work out a plan to send email to fans periodically even if you don’t have anything going on.
It’s critical to stay in touch with your fans between track releases and tours. Make sure your fans feel included, like they’re part of your family rather than a group on the receiving end of marketing messages. That’s how you’ll capture, retain, and grow your fan base.
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