Much like trying to get a unique domain name these days, getting an unused name for yourself/group is a bit more complicated that it once was. Even if you do have an original name, getting people to hear your music before you have any fans can seem almost impossible. With some clever thinking and hard work, it can all be done without spending a dime.
So let’s get right to it – you want to upload your music, photo and bio to the internet, without being lost in a sea of obscurity. It’s understandable how it can happen to even the most talented artists. As mentioned before, it’s not necessary to spend any money in promotion to get great results. It’s also not something that happens overnight.
Establishing your music online ten years ago was an amazing experience. I remember posting tracks made with a Yamaha DJX onto MP3.com, a couple years after it first launched in 2000. I uploaded the music to the Hip-Hop category, and within a few weeks, I had over 47 downloads (this was before streaming was typical, and AOL’s 56k internet connections were still running most of the US). Fast forward a decade later, and you are lucky if your band’s name hasn’t already been taken by at least three or four different groups across the web.
Register your band info to as many websites as possible. This means post your biography, mp3s, videos, photos, etc. to MySpace, Facebook, last.fm, Soundclick, Muxtape, YouTube, ArtistServer, iSound, Twitter, Flickr, blogspot, Gravatar, etc. The more sites you sign up for, the better the chances you have of people coming across your music when searching for your name.
Jump on new websites as soon as they launch. When music.download.com (now last.fm) was first launched, Sound Scientists were one of the first groups to upload music, and because of that, we got a head start on the rest of the bands that signed up afterwords, even bigger names (see image at bottom of list).
Leave comments on blogs, forums and other social networking communities. Use the same username, email and website link for all of them. Leave actual feedback, not just a link and a banner, which brings us to the next big tip…
Don’t spam forums, chat rooms, blogs, etc. By just randomly posting links to your website you risk losing credibility – but more importantly, you are just going to come across as annoying and unprofessional.
Create a single avatar to use on all of your accounts. Use this image on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Gravatar, etc. Companies spend millions of dollars and years of research establishing brand recognition, and strive to stay consistent with that image. You should take their lead and do the same – the more familiar people are with your image, the more likely they are to spread the word and return to your pages.
Stay humble. Ask for feedback, and appreciate it. Follow up with feedback for others. If you are posting your music to be reviewed, be grateful to the reviewers, no matter how horrible their comments may be. Nothing will turn people off of your music quicker than having an attitude, or being defensive. If you act like everything is done for the passion and love, potential fans will be less critical, and will relate to you more. Giving others feedback is a good idea, as it shows you aren’t selfish and are looking to help others too.
Constantly post new music. Regularly rotate a few tracks out, so that the same music isn’t collecting dust on your pages. If somebody notices that you have had the same five songs on your page for a few months, they lose the incentive to keep coming back. Remember, even if you have music that’s old to you, 99.99% of the internet hasn’t heard it yet.
Collaborate regularly with other artists. An unfortunate aspect of hip-hop music is that the sense of collaboration for the sake of fun and music isn’t as strong as I’ve experienced with other genres (for example, rock, blues, jazz, etc.). By stepping away from that mentality and working with as many other people as possible (yes, that means for free sometimes), you are only helping establish yourself as an open-minded and hard working musician. The results may not be award-winning, but at the very least it’s great practice.
Here is an example of what can happen when luck plays out in your favor, along with using the methods outlined above.