Musicians – Use These 4 Things to Build a Better Website

Website-for-musicians

Building a website has never been easier. But if you are a musician, you shouldn’t create a website just for the sake of it.

Let’s say you don’t know much marketing and someone says to you “Hey create a website”, that sounds like good advice, right? And you know why?

Because everyone (almost) has a website and so it only makes sense that should have one too.

But that’s not good advice, especially for independent artists.

If you are still confused about the idea of building your own website, don’t worry.

I have compiled a list of four key components that are crucial in order to build an effective website.

This is not the usual Kumbuya “How to build a website” advice, No.

So without wasting any more time, let’s dive in.

Design a Landing Page

A landing page should be your first priority when designing a website. For the average website, the home is the landing page.

But for a musician website, that’s boring. You can do better than that.

Just in case you don’t know what is a landing page and how it works for musicians. It is a standalone page on a site designed for promotional purposes.

Say someone clicks on your website, whether this was via social media, online adverts – the visitor is then directed to your promotional offer (on the landing page).

In a musical context, your offer can include a free music download, exclusive merchandise, et cetera.

You just have to use your imagination.

The following is an example of a landing page template

musician-landing-page-theme-forest
Image Credit: themeforest.net

2. Embed Your Music

Is your music available on SoundCloud, or iTunes?

I hope so.

Try to leverage on that by displaying some of that work on your website.

Instead of directing traffic to third-party websites in the form links, you can embed your music using Soundcloud .

You simply copy a code (of each track or the entire playlist) and paste it to your personal site.

It is possible to include your entire catalogue (singles and albums) on your site as long as you can make it easier for visitors to find your music.

Can I upload my music directly to my website instead?

Yes you can, BUT…. it’s a bad idea!

If you do, remember that all your audio files stay on your server. And you and I know that the average audio file is more than 1MB.

In the long run, as you add more files, the website speed and performance will decrease and that will hurt your user experience and traffic.

Imagine clicking the play button only to wait five minutes for a song to load?

That sucks.

3. Optimize It

There’s a popular catchphrase out there, and it goes like “If You Build It They Will Come”.

Sure there might be some truth in that. But I said SOME. So, it’s not entirely true.

As an independent artist on the come up, it is important to have a following in order to have a constant flow of web traffic.

But it’s easier said than done

I’m not going to explain how to build a fan base, but the objective here is to help you turn your web visitors into fans!

You don’t want to do all that work and end up with a white elephant, now do you?

What I mean by the word optimize – to ensure that your website is search friendly. In simple English, make it easier for people to find you online. That’s It.

But then again you are an artist and not a web designer. And I’m assuming this is all new to you.

But that’s okay, stay with me.

How to optimize a musician’s website for search engines (and users)

Search engines are your Google’s, Bing’s and Yahoos of this world.

But here, I’m referring to Google because it is the market leader after all and most people are familiar with this gigantic brand.

In my humble opinion, a musician’s website should include the following:

Home Title – This is the title of your home page and it should be descriptive. It might be a challenge to come up with a unique title. But you should include keywords that tell people what you’re all about.

Title Pages – Say you create an “About Us” page, instead of leaving it as is you could include something like “Free Music Downloads South Africa”. That is a descriptive keyword and most people are searching for free music. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging you to just give away all your music. But I’m illustrating my point on how to pull visitors to your website.

On-Page Content – Here you can tell people about yourself. But you have to be as a creative as possible (something that you know too well) and use the right keywords. The keywords in this context could include any record label, manager or artist affiliations.

Meta Descriptions – This is the first thing people will see (or not, Google decides) on search engine results. The Meta description encourages people to click and visit your website. It’s basically a description of your web page (see title pages above)

Mobile – Most people have access to smartphones. So it’s important for a website to be optimized for mobile too. If ignored, you might miss out on the potential traffic from mobile users.

4. Email Subscription List

As an independent artist trying to get your name out there, an email list is a must.

In this day and age, most people have an email address. If they have a social media account(s), chances are they have at least one email account!

The advantages of an email subscription list for a musician:

  • You can interact with your fans
  • Send them exclusive tracks
  • Free music downloads (people love freebies)
  • Sell or distribute free merchandise directly to your subscribers
  • Run competitions

You name it!

But the idea here is to build a Real Fan base from the ground up.

Some of you would argue that social media is the way and far easier than building a mail list of subscribers. And I agree but to certain extend….

A Facebook artist page doesn’t always represent a true reflection of real fans, unlike email subscribers.

A thousand followers on social media doesn’t necessarily translate to a “thousand fans”.

How to build an email list

Well there are several ways to do it, but I would recommend the following:

Email pop up on your website – When a visitor lands on your home page, a pop-up message will appear on their computer screen. Avoid this on mobile though.

Landing Page – I mentioned this earlier, check out point # 1 to refresh your memory

Using a lead magnet – such as a free download, eBook, etc. You can incentivise people by giving away free music or any product you have in exchange for their email address.

Include a CTA (call-to-action) at the end of your content – Request the email but tell them why they should subscribe to your website.

If you are starting out, I recommend Mailchimp for email marketing campaigns. It’s free but you can only add 2000 subscribers.

Sure, I understand that collecting emails can be as hard. But trust me it is more authentic.

If you are patient and you do it the correct the way, it will pay off gradually.

Conclusion

There’s so much that goes into putting a website together. The design is just the beginning and not the end.

As a musician, you shouldn’t be doing things the conventional way.

Technology is advancing at a faster rate now. And if you don’t adapt and move with the times (I’m sure you’ve heard this so many times), you will fall behind.

If you follow the above steps and incorporate it with your social media and offline marketing, you will reap the rewards of your hard work in no time.

It’s not easy though but it’s simple.





Online Marketing Strategies for Recording Studios and Artist Managers

Online marketing for studios and artist managers

If you are in the business of studio recordings or artist management, you might want to read this post till the end.

I’m going to cover the online marketing strategies specifically for recording studios and artist managers.

An online presence is no longer enough.

With so many recording studios readily available (almost everyone has one or access to one), so if you are earning a living from this, it only makes sense that you find a strategic way to market your business.

Before we begin, I want to make it clear that, the following ideas are not “hidden secrets” or anything of that sort.

In fact, some of you might even be familiar with some of these tactics.

I took already existing online marketing concepts but I decided to put them together for people involved in the recording industry.

So without further ado, let’s go through them.

DESIGN A WEBSITE

Before you shut down this idea and say “But that’s obvious”, please hear me out.

Most people don’t understand the real purpose of having a website in the first place.

What is the purpose of a website?

A website is basically your “online business card”. But it has to sell.

What I mean by that is, each time someone visits your landing page, your message should be loud and clear.

In other words, you need to convince a potential customer to do business with you.

Say you are an artist management company (or aspire to become one); your copy should be attractive enough to sell your services.

But you before you design a website; you have to register a domain name

Just in case you don’t know what a domain is. It is the URL name of your business, brand, etc.

Here is a basic example:

yourbusinessname.com

When your domain is registered, then you can build a website.

I won’t explain how you should design it because the topic is broad and that would go beyond the scope of this article.

The design is important but then again, it’s not as important. Sounds counterintuitive right?

But I will tell you what is more important though……..

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION

Yes, that’s right, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial if you want to “make it” online.

If you get this step right, then half the battle is won.

When I built my first site, I heard about this acronym but I didn’t pay too much attention to it.

Instead, I focused on my web theme.

It sounded complicated and intimidating and I thought I could bypass it and still find success online without it.

I would later find out that education is not expensive, but ignorance is.

What is SEO anyway?

SEO is basically the phase where you have to ensure that your website is optimized (with the correct keywords) in order to generate organic traffic from search engines.

You don’t have to be an IT Guru to do this; you just have to know the basic theory behind all of this.

Let’s say you are a musician searching for a recording studio in and around South Africa.

When you type in the search phrase Recording Studio in South Africa, Google would then give you a search result of the first 10 sites based on your query like the one below.

It’s not easy to rank on the first page of Google so that should be priority number one because….

It increases the probabilities of generating leads and sales because most of the traffic (clicks/visits) goes to the websites that appear on the first page (especially the Top 5).

I know this SEO thing might be a foreign concept for you.

It’s completely understandable because it has nothing to do with the music industry but it helps to know about it, even if it’s a little.

Don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand for now and try to give some pointers on how you should approach it.

Before I proceed, I just want to state that you don’t have to do this task on your own.

Truth be told, it can be time-consuming especially if you have a business to run. The bulk of your time is probably taken up by other activities anyway.

If you have the funds, you can enlist the services of an SEO consultant.

But still, it doesn’t mean that you should remain ignorant like I once did.

It is better that you have an idea so you don’t fall prey to a slick salesman should you decide to hire a professional to do this for you.

Alright, back to the program.

If you want to rank for those “golden” keywords, it is vital to do what is known as keyword research.

I use the word golden because that is where the traffic and money (sometimes) follows!

However, please bear in mind that I will only cover this briefly. I would have to write an entire book dedicated to this subject alone (But maybe that’s not a bad idea after all).

Keyword research is done using various tools such as Google Keyword Planner, wordtracker, and many others.

This is the process of finding the potential keywords (and the search volume per month) that you want to rank for.

If you are offering studio recording services, chances are musicians searching online would type search phrases such as the following:

Recording Studio near me
Affordable studio in Johannesburg

These are known as Long Tail Keywords.

But instead of taking an educated guess, it’s better to do the research and analyse the data once you have it.

The following screenshot below is an illustration of keyword research. My keyword words are Recording Studio

I used wordtracker and it shows the search volume and most popular search phrases. Don’t read too much into this though. This is just an example to show you the importance of this task.

When you have this information at your disposal, you are better off.

But choose your keywords wisely. It’s advisable to write down a list of search phrases first.

Once you are done with your selection, make sure they are placed strategically on your website’s Header, Meta descriptions, content and title tags, etc.

CREATE RELEVANT CONTENT FOR YOUR AUDIENCE

I’m pretty sure that you have heard of this mantra before. Well, it’s not just noise, because content is here to stay.

In the music industry, an audio recording is sometimes referred to as content.

But I’m talking about a different type of content here.

As an artist manager you might be asking, “Why on earth would I want to create content? I’m just a manager”

For starters, you might want to consider educating future potential clients (especially for those artists just starting out or trying to get a break) about the industry, presentation skills, grooming, etc.

The list is endless; you won’t run short of ideas.

See, there are many ways you can add value besides being just another representative for musicians.

Three Ways You Can Create Content

YouTube – If you are not camera-shy, you might want to look into creating videos and upload them on your own YouTube Channel.

In case you might not be aware, creating a YouTube channel is free of charge.

If you have a Google Gmail account, a DSLR Camera, good audio and content ideas then you are good to go.

For a recording studio, you could demonstrate, a “How to connect a monitor speakers to a PC” to newbies for example.

At the end of your videos, don’t forget to include a call-to-action.

A CTA can be a subscription to your channel, instructing viewers to visit your website or a free download offer, you name it!

Blogging – Blogging is more about putting your thoughts on paper in a literal sense. But when done right, a blog can increase visitors to a website and boost your credibility as an expert in your field.

People tend to shy away from blogging because of a lack of knowledge and/or the amount of time, resources and work that is required to put a proper blog together.

But you don’t have to invest 100% of your time. Five or even ten per cent of your time can make a difference.

When you have interesting topics to talk about, blogging can make you stand above your competitors.

EBook – Say, you are an up and coming manager trying to sign new artists. You could write a mini eBook anything related to the music industry and distribute it free of charge (or sell it if you want to).

An eBook can be made available as a free download on your website and you can also include your name, contacts, web address, social media, et cetera.

I mention the word “free” again because not many people would be willing to purchase an eBook unless you are a household name.

This free strategy would help to build a following as more people get a hold of your book.

It goes without saying that you should share and market your content on social media.

But don’t approach it blindly though. Instead……

BUY FACEBOOK ADS

It’s pointless to share your content on your personal Facebook timeline only to forget about it.

Chances are most people won’t even care about your post and won’t bother reading it.

Instead post it on your Facebook page, join relevant groups and share your content there every now and then.

But don’t be a spammer. Observe; join discussions and then post a link later if that is allowed in the group.

Depending on the number of followers you have on your FB page, most people won’t see your posts.

However, Facebook paid ads allow you to target and reach a wider audience much quicker than organic posts.

Just remember to install a Facebook pixel on your website before you launch your Ad campaign.

Oh and don’t forget to…….

ANSWER QUESTIONS ON QUORA

I don’t know why many people neglect Quora.

I think it’s a fantastic marketing platform. If you’ve never heard of Quora, well it’s basically a Question & Answer site.

When you type a question in the search bar, the search results will give you a list of questions or similar questions with answers.

However, some questions are yet to be answered. So this gives you the opportunity to write a compelling answer if you are knowledgeable about a subject.

The screenshot below shows a list of questions and answers relating to audio, recording and mixing.


If you know the answer to any question, you can share your thoughts based on your background, knowledge and experience.

But what is the benefit in doing all of this, you say?

When you add a compelling answer(s), more and more people on the platform will trust you based on the upvotes.

The upvotes increase your credibility as a thought leader.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I just took you through five important online marketing strategies that you should implement (in that order) going forward.

If you don’t have a website, I suggest you start working on one as soon as possible.

If that sounds like something you don’t want to do on your own, then you can leave it to the professionals.

But you read this far which is good, so you can use your new-found knowledge and instruct whoever will be doing your marketing to implement these strategies on your behalf.

Well, that’s it for now and I hope you enjoyed reading this article but writing it was so much fun!

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What You Need To Know About Starting Your Own Record Label in The Digital Age

start a record label

The record business is not as lucrative as it used to be (from a record label standpoint). But there is still huge demand for music from the general public.

The digital age has made it easier for any aspiring artist and/or entrepreneur(s) to start a label with minimal costs. Before the digital revolution, it was difficult for the average artist to put out music on their own successfully.

Well for starters, besides dealing with the so-called Gatekeepers, you had to be well-funded to record an album, pay for marketing and promotions, pressing CD’s, tapes; vinyl’s and perform other countless tasks.

Of course, some artists such as Master P (USA), and locally Bujo Mujo of House Therapy fame were able to sell massive physical units to a point where they were running fully-fledged 100% Independent businesses.

But that was the 90’s and such artists were few and far apart. Then technology came along and changed the game.

The general consensus is that technology has killed the industry and there might be some truth in that. But when I look at the other side of the coin, I believe that technology has simplified things and created opportunities which did not exist before.

Imagine recording a song today and distributing it worldwide the very next day?

That was unheard of two decades ago

If you want to release your own music and control your destiny, then let’s go through some important points which are applicable in the modern-day music industry.

A Record Label is a Business

Many a young artist tend to forget that a label is like any other business. Say you recorded a demo and then you finally decide to submit it to an “established” record company with the hope of getting signed.

If you get signed, what happens after that?

Someone has to fund the album – the photoshoots – promotions, etc. And all those things cost money!

When you approach a label, it is similar to going to a bank or any financial institution to apply for a loan. At first, it doesn’t seem that way but later it will all start making sense.

It’s just too risky to invest in a new or unknown artist (For them)

So don’t take it personally when you get turned down, or don’t receive any feedback. If the tables got turned, chances are you would do the same.

The takeaway here is that you should approach this whole thing with the same mindset. But this time, you will be investing in yourself (and maybe others as you make progress).

So how do you start?

Without a product, you don’t really have much. Start recording your music ASAP. You don’t necessarily have to record a huge project like an album.

Start with a single or maybe an EP (Extended Play). For those of you who are not familiar with the term, an Extended Play is a “mini-album” comprising of a minimum of two to seven tracks not longer than 45 minutes.

Gone are the days, when you had to hire an expensive studio to record a project. Digital recording has made it possible for almost anyone to start a basic home recording studio inexpensively.

When your product is completed, it is imperative to spend time and some money (Yes money, you don’t have to break the bank) on the mixing and mastering phase. This is a crucial step, so don’t take any shortcuts. Whoever is going to be handling this process on your behalf either has to qualified, experienced or both.

Get Your Paperwork In Order

In South Africa, if you want to operate a formal company then you have to register with the CIPC. You can do this yourself or you can hire a consultant to do it on your behalf.

When that is done, you will receive documentation which includes your details (Company Name, Physical and Postal Address and the registration number).

Before you get excited about your releasing your music or handing out any promotional copies, make sure that you register your intellectual property with the relevant bodies, such as SAMRO.

There are other collection societies in South Africa but SAMRO is by far the biggest and most recognized.

You Shouldn’t Do It Alone

If you are an artist trying to start a label on your own; handling administrative tasks, running errands, recording and bookings can be overwhelming. You will probably be the generalist at the beginning, which is understandable. But long-term, that’s not sustainable.

You can recruit friends and family members that you trust and they can handle some of these tasks while you focus on doing what you do best.

Teaming up with a manager/partner from the start is not a bad idea either as this will allow you to focus 100% on the creative aspect while somebody handles the administrative/business side of things.

Find A Reliable Digital Distributor

It goes without saying that you should distribute your music if you want to succeed.

While I do encourage free downloads via SoundCloud, Sendspace amongst others for promotion purposes while building a fanbase. It just makes logical sense in the beginning.

But at some point, as you’re building a following, you are going to have to figure out how to get your music into stores.

By stores, I am referring to iTunes, Tidal and so forth. Your fan base can’t rely on free downloads forever

A distributor’s job is to make sure that your content is available on most music stores.

How do you find a music distributor?

Unless you already have contact details of potential distributors, your best bet would be to start with a Google search.

But bear in mind that every distributor has a different a vetting system and some might not reply to your email(s), or turn down your request for whatever reason(s). We don’t live in a perfect world after all.

However, I have decided to save you the time and effort in finding one.

Below is a list of some (there’s plenty mind you) of the reputable digital distributors you can partner with.

Digital Music Distributors

Label-Worx

They are based in the UK and have been around since 2007 and still going strong. There are no subscription fees but they retain about 18% of the profits from your sales.

If your genre is strictly Dance music (House, Afro, Tech, etc), then I would definitely recommend that you sign up with Label-Worx.

Tunecore

Tunecore is a bit different because you pay them a small fee for each release (single, EP, Album, etc). However, they don’t take a cut from your sales.

DittoMusic

Ditto Music is an established digital aggregator and all you need to do is pay them an annual subscription fee for unlimited distribution. But you keep 100% of your royalties!

CD Baby

The CD Baby business model is similar to Tunecore. But they take 9% of your sales and some of their services include CD Replication.

Music Africa

Music Africa is based in South Africa, Randburg to be exact. They have a similar model to the service providers I have mentioned above.

Before you start distributing your music formally, I would recommend that you register (free of charge) for a ISRC Code with RISA and/or the relevant music body in your country.

The acronym is short for International Standard Recording Code. This is an identification code issued for your sound and video master recordings.

I won’t get into the full details regarding ISRC Codes because the subject goes beyond the scope of this article.

Build An Online Presence

Everyone (Well almost everyone) is flocking to the internet for information, products and services. So it only makes sense that your label is visible online. Create an account on one or two business directories such as Hotfrog. When you list on a directory, it will make you look like a real label and business.

Branding is everything. When you mention Hip Hop Def Jam comes to mind, and local House label you think of Soul Candi or House Afrika. Sure, you won’t build your brand overnight but you should start somewhere.

Don’t be complacent and rely on social media networks (you can start there) but try and take it beyond that.

You can start a basic three-page website that includes your home, about us section and contact form; nothing fancy. Creating a label or a website for the musicians is the foundation for building a solid web presence.

Final Thoughts

Times have changed and most labels do not operate like they used to when the industry was still organic.

The beauty of starting a record label today is that anyone can do it. But those who successfully manage to do so because they treat it as a business and not a hobby.

So it only makes sense that you devote your time, energy and resources accordingly if you are serious about giving this a shot!

I hope that you enjoyed reading this short article as much as I enjoyed writing it for you.

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5 Basic Things You Need To Start Your Own Recording Studio

a woman recording in studio

If you are planning to set-up your first make-shift recording studio at home, then this post is for you.

Whether you want to record your own songs, voice-overs or podcasts, this post will give an insight into the basic tools-of- trade required to start recording immediately!

So without wasting any more of your precious time, let’s dive in shall we?

Now before we begin, I’m going to assume that you have a Personal computer or laptop or have access to one.

If the answer is No, then I’m going to advise that you get one as in yesterday. A PC or a Laptop is a basic requirement for home recording.

Now let’s get to the fun part. So what do you need to start a basic home recording studio?

That depends on the nature of your project, budget, and skills amongst others.

But for the purposes of this post, we will stick to the basics.

The following items are just some (Not all) of the tools that can help you capture high-quality professional recordings!

  • Audio Interface
  • Microphone
  • Monitors
  • Stand
  • DAW

AUDIO INTERFACE

An audio interface is basically another name for an external soundcard. This is one of the most important tools required to capture high-quality recordings.

In most cases, some beginners try to bypass this by connecting a microphone directly to the PC internal soundcard instead.

But this usually leads to disappointing results because the audio quality is usually average or poor.

recording studio diagram
Basic Recording Set-Up using a audio interface

If budget is a huge concern for you, then there is another way.

You can purchase a 48V phantom power.

Say you have a basic standard external computer sound, then you can connect this to the phantom power and still manage to achieve above-average audio quality.

Recording Studio set up using phantom power
Basic Recording Studio Set-Up using a Phantom Power

MICROPHONE

It goes without saying that you need a microphone to record vocals. But not any mic.

A condenser microphone is recommended for studio recordings and broadcasting purposes.

These types of microphones usually require 48 Voltage power (from the audio interface or Phantom Power) in order to function.

But USB Microphones are also popular because the audio interface is built-in! The connection is direct-to-pc/laptop, that’s it.

Before making any purchase, make sure you check the features and reviews of the product.

A podcast equipment Kit includes a condenser microphone, a pop filter, a boom arm, a shock mount, a cable and a phantom power (in some cases)! How cool is that?

Microphone connected to audio interface and laptop
Image courtsey of Alctron

MONITORS

Monitors can be quite pricey. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find high-quality budget monitors. Reference monitors are speakers specifically designed for recording studios.

The sound is usually raw, which allows you to hear the details of your recordings and make adjustments. Normal Hi-Fi speakers don’t allow you to do that because the sound is “complete” and crisp.

However, for most people starting out, a good pair of reference monitors might turn out to be costly. If that is the case, monitor headphones are an alternative. You can basically get the same results at a fraction of the price.

STAND

There are different types of microphone stands such as the floor standing, desktop, and studio boom arm stand.

For recording artists a floor stand is the preferred option; for podcasts or voice-overs, a desktop stand or studio boom arm is recommended.

However there’s no hard and fast rule, it’s a matter of preference. Your studio set-up will determine the type of stand you go for.

DAW

DAW is the acronym for Digital Audio Workstation. Just in case you are confused, this is another term for recording software.

You need software to capture the vocals and audio. There are different kinds of software packages for music production and recording.

In most cases, these software packages have the same or similar features. Don’t try to test and use different packages at the same time.
Pick one (preferably user-friendly), learn it and stick with it.

Pick one (preferably user-friendly), learn it and stick with it.

Of course, a home studio wouldn’t be complete without accessories. You need additional items such as a pop filter, Canon cables and a mic shield (not mandatory though).

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CONCLUSION

This is not a complete list but if you have these five basic tools, you can launch your studio in no time. You can upgrade your set-up as you progress, it is up to you.

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