Most bands are constantly planning new ways to get their music out into the world, play more shows, and get more publicity. There’s a lot of business for the modern musician to take care of or delegate these days. This means that people sometimes forget to check one of the most important and basic things: can I be found on Google?
Imagine you’ve just played an amazing show, but you’re relatively new on the scene. Someone asks for your band name, and they write it down. You now have to hope that they can find you online. This wont be easy if your website or social media sites don’t pop up when they search via Google. These encounters are with people who want to support you, and would almost certainly buy your music or come to more shows in future. They go home, type your band name into the search engine, and find a random company with the same name - opportunity lost. Many bands can only be found if the person looking also types in ‘music’, ‘band’, or your album name into their search, and you can’t guarantee that everyone will think of that.So, what can you do? What factors are important in maximising your online presence, and ticking the most important SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) boxes?
What’s in a name?Your band name is the first thing that will have a major impact on your online presence. It’s a crucial decision in its own right. You need an original name that is easy to remember, and fits your musical aesthetic. If you’re a solo artist and your real name is John Smith, for example, you should consider thinking of a different and more unique name for your musical project. There has to be something unusual about your name if you want to achieve any notability online.
The band CHVRCHES apparently changed the letter ‘u’ in their name to the roman numeral ‘v’ to improve their SEO potential. Many bands include numbers in their names, miss out letters, or use unusual spellings to make sure that they stand out. Try to choose a word or combination of words that doesn’t relate too closely to something else that people would search for. However, successful examples like Grizzly Bear do demonstrate that you don’t have to do this – your success always comes down to a combined approach in the end, not just one decision.
Wikipedia?Wikipedia is a powerful database, and comes top in many Google searches. However, Wikipedia is not a social media site, and it isn’t designed for promotional purposes. Most bands that are listed on Wikipedia have achieved a certain level of tangible fame and success by releasing albums with established labels, winning awards, or appearing at noteworthy festivals and venues. Wikipedia have a strict set of guidelines on the notability of musical acts that appear on their site. It’s best if you don’t actually upload an article about yourself, but ask or wait for fans or regular Wikipedia contributors to do so. If you are in discussions with someone else attempting to add a page for your band, make sure you give them as many specific details as possible about your releases and the history of your band. Give them links to any articles that have been written about you in respected publications or blogs. These pieces of evidence will reduce your chances of being deemed irrelevant and deleted by an administrator.
MetadataMake sure that you include as much information as possible in the metadata of the tracks you release. Once you’ve chosen a great band name (see above) you should also think carefully about the album name and track names. Include this information on all the platforms where your music is shown. You should also include details about any labels or publishers you’ve worked with, the date and track number, the IRSC code, and other commercial and licensing information. Check out our previous post on metadata for more details on this topic. You should also think about the content and title of your links. Where possible you should customise them to give the most accurate and snappy information possible, in order to make it easier for your band to show up in Google searches.
Buzz PlatformsIt’s crucial to have a website for your band, with links to all your other social media pages. Third party platforms like SoundCloud, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. are all widely used by fans and artists, and have their own domain authority. These platforms will help expose your music to a wider audience, and Bandcamp in particular can be visually customised to give a slick representation of your music, and your discography. SoundCloud gives you the opportunity to remix or be remixed by other artists too, all increasing your presence online and within your musical community. In spite of its predominance in the 2000s, (in 2006 MySpace even had more visitors than Google!) MySpace no longer stands up against the aforementioned sites, and artists can no longer rely on it to promote their SEO rating in the online music network.
Remember, when a fan or potential fan searches for you online, the first thing they need to be able to do is to hear your music. The widespread availability of streaming services and free listening platforms these days means that people are very unlikely to invest immediately in an album via iTunes or your website unless they can at least hear part of it or see a video for free first. You need to include a bio and relevant links between all your social media platforms to start making waves effectively. Not every fan uses every platform, so it’s not enough to only have a limited selection of shops online to sell or promote your songs. You need to make them available on free and open platforms too, although you don’t have to use every single one if there are some that you think suit your music more than others. Try searching for your own band on Google and see what happens. You can then decide how to make the most effective strategy to ensure that people can hear your music whenever they want to. You can also search for bigger bands that you know, to get inspiration. Look at what comes up first for them, how they present themselves, and use this to inspire you about where to focus your online marketing efforts.
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