In last week’s article, I gave indie and local bands an example of a band who is constantly marketing themselves. Now it will be your turn to get things kicked into high-gear and start building a loyal fan base--especially online.
This week’s blog post will be heavily focused on getting fans on your email subscriber list. If you think you already know how to market over email, the you can stop reading.
But, if you’re someone who is open to all possibilities to build a brand and make money at the same time, you can carry on with this article. This article is the primer of how you earn money with your band.
As a disclaimer, I am not responsible for a band’s failures or loss of money. The following points I make are merely tips for how I have been able to earn money for clients and myself.
Start Building an Email Subscriber List
For any band, this should be the first priority. Face it, you’ve already got the creativity and you’ve made music that people like. Your time to really shine will be driving people to subscribe to your email newsletter. Why?
BECAUSE EVERYONE CHECKS EMAIL.
...and this is how you will be selling your products to your fans. It will also be one of the ways you will drive traffic back to YOUR WEBSITE.
Therefore, it’s your duty to get your fans on your newsletter list at each gig. A band should be building relationships and learning about their potential new fans by mingling before and after a show. Each band member should be armed with some type of promotional material that has a printed link that directs them to an opt-in form on their website.
Doing an interview on an internet radio station? You get one shot to get your call-to-action out there for potential fans. Shoot that customized link (http://www.yourbandrocks.com/subscribe) over the air and watch the subscriptions come in (depending on the authority of the internet radio station). If you’re using Wordpress, download and install the Pretty Link plugin to customize temporary links.
I know that bands have preferred email marketing programs that they can use, but you can choose:
A lot of the software you choose will be free to start, but as you build your fanbase, you will have to start paying their premiums (depending on how large your list grows). Hopefully by the time you gain a large list, you can start start selling product and gain a little extra skrilla.
Frequency of Newsletters:
As you build your list, you and your compadres need to decide on how many emails you will send a month. Based on the vast amount of marketers out there, an email newsletter should go out once a week at the same time every week. If you think once a week is too much, then do it every two weeks at the same time/same day. The idea is to stay top-of-mind for your fans without being annoying.
Remember, the idea here is consistency and if you can’t be consistent with drafting up some type of newsletter at the same time every week, you’re not going to see the return on the investment down the line.
Blog Every Week on Your Website to Collect Emails
I know that creating music seems like it should be the #1 priority. But if you’ve already got the talent, expand your wings into the realm of blogging.
“What do we blog about?”
For a band, you need to understand your audience. One way of doing this is by asking your fans what they are interested in. When someone subscribes to your email list, set an autoresponder that asks them to complete a survey for you. Provide a link to a Google Form that surveys your audience on what they like and what they may find interesting.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
In theory, you should find topics to write about and publish once a week. If each band member is committed to the success of the band, they should all be blogging.
Publishing more than once a week would be preferable since you want the traffic to your website. When you get those new fans, you know the drill: build rapport.
The bottom line is that if you are blogging, you need to give your audience something that they can chew on all of the time. Tell the story of how you are producing an album. What are the struggles behind the latest song you are writing? If your story is good enough, they will want to subscribe to your newsletter right from your website.
Pro-Tips When Blogging:
Make your blog posts at least 300-500 words long. Look, I know that not all band members are William Shakespeare, but you don’t have to be a professional writer to put content on a platform that the Google search engine is going to crawl. Every website blog should be Search Engine Optimized.
Pro-Tips When Embedding Media in Blogs:
Embed media into your site like music, YouTube videos, photos, etc. If there’s one thing you absolutely need on each blog post, it will be a photo. Make this photo original and never copy an image from off the internet. All of your photos should have the title, description, and alt text completed. Not only does Google crawl words on web pages, but it also crawls photo descriptions. Most Content Management Systems allow you the opportunity to fill out the aforementioned fields. Be diligent when uploading these pictures.
Pro-Tips for Facebook Photo Feed Dimensions:
When you create a photo, you may share it to Facebook with a link back to your blog. That’s great, but what happens when someone wants to just share the link into their own Facebook feed without a photo? Facebook is going to pull the image that is off your site and embed it into the feed. Make sure that your photo’s contents fit within the new feed dimensions of 400x210. You can enlarge the photo as you wish so that it looks cleaner on your website, but make sure the enlarged dimensions are proportionate to the 400x210 dimensions.
Pro-Tips for Collecting an Email Address in Your Blog:
Your site should have an email opt-in box at the top, middle, and bottom of every blog post you make. In fact, your whole site should at least have an opt-in box at the top and bottom of your website theme.
You can typically get the embed codes from Mailchimp, Aweber or Reverbnation. Either way, give your fans the option to sign up at every turn on your website.
In fact, I even recommend putting a pop-up so that you can collect an email address. I know exactly what you’re thinking right now: pop-ups are annoying. You know what? They may be annoying but they definitely convert when you’re looking to collect emails.
Lastly, give your fans an option to download a free song off your album in exchange for their email address. If it’s not a free song, then make something else free. Just try to collect that email address.
Final Pro-Tip Thoughts:
The weekly consistency of your blog as well as the length of the blog is vital to how people will stumble upon your website. Therefore, written content is equally as important as it is to your weekly schedule of blogging.
Take heed: Google crawls words, not audio.
Words drive discovery of your material in search engine results.
Discovery of your material leads you to having new fans clicking to your website.
New fans to your blog lead to getting on your email newsletter.
Your email newsletter will communicate calls-to-action back to your website to like, comment and share your blog/song or whatever.
When the time comes, you can sell to your list if you have content available to sell. This could be in the form of a new single, snarky shirts, and any other type of swag.
By no means should you be copying and pasting content from one site and placing it on your own. Search engines are able to determine if your content was pulled from another site and will, in turn, penalize your site and domain name.
If you’re original enough to create music, you can be original enough to blog every week.
Turn Your Website Into a Membership Platform and Perform Songs Live
If your fans love you in your own town, who’s to say that they won’t love you in another city? Don’t think that you have to tour to gain some of these fans too!
There are some pretty amazing tools that can turn your Wordpress site into a monthly paying membership site (given that you are committed to pumping out content to your own website consistently). Look into membership site plugins for Wordpress and you should come up with a few good ones. Of course, they are going to cost you, but for the amount of money you will get back in monthly memberships, it will be worth the one-time fee you pay for the plugin.
One way you can leverage your membership site is by holding LIVE performances for paying members. YouTube Live gives anyone the opportunity to hide a live video stream of any event and embed it on any website they wish.
If you’re a naysayer and think this can’t be done, you can look to Daria Musk for success in this arena. She has been performing live Google+ Hangout Concerts and capturing millions of people to her music through this method. Although I haven’t seen Daria implement my idea through YouTube Live, she’s still accomplishing it through Google+.
While we’re on that naysaying attitude, I want to dispel your impressions of Google+. Sure, you’ve heard that it’s a ghost town and that no one is on that network. Believe it or not, there are 540 million active users on the platform along with 300 million who are participating in the stream everyday. Call it whatever you want, but this platform is built on Google’s platform and is surely there to help you get a boost in search engine rankings for discovery.
Using the YouTube Live function inside of YouTube is built on the Google+ framework. When you do live performances, they can be streamed from a soundboard directly into a computer at high quality. This is a live performance and if someone is there mixing the music, who’s to say you couldn’t sell this live event as a recording for product?
I could go on and on about the value behind a membership site and YouTube Live for monetization purposes.
YouTube Live Events to Collect Email Addresses:
Do FREE live events from Google+. If you’re a band that has an acoustic outlet, you could perform your songs acoustically for a public audience if you promote ahead of time. Stay away from doing any type of cover songs because YouTube will pull your video in mid-performance and you have the possibility of having your Hangout privileges taken away.
While you’re performing, you can place a lower-third card at the bottom of your screen that gives a call-to-action to get on your email subscriber list. Give them the Pretty Link and try to build your list as much as you can.
(If you’re wondering where the Lower-Third comes from in Google+, it’s from the Hangout Toolbox when you start your very first Hangout On-Air.)
I’m going to close this blog out right here. I know this is a lot for a band to chew on but just know that building your brand is a never-ending process. If you stick with the idea of consistency, you will see the emails pour through and you will now own a list of loyal subscribers who will want to know everything about your band.
Remember, you can’t rely on social media loyalty every time. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ own all of us and can decide to remove a social network if they want to. That will leave you with zero fans and no means to contact them.
Your email list will be the one thing that can make you or break you in the long run. Maintain a proactive stance when it comes to collecting email addresses on your website because at the end of the day, this is how you will earn money doing what you love.