In this brand new blog series, CyberPR artists have a unique chance to get some answers from gurus on the cutting edge of the music industry. Not only do we want to showcase those who are doing some great work; we also love the idea of stumbling upon some fun new insights from the perspective of the artist. Today’s real answers come courtesy of CyberPR artist Pheroze and Dave Cool of Bandzoogle. Enjoy!
P: You reach a decisive proposition at the end of your 2006 documentary, “What Is Indie?“, which explores the notion of defining oneself as an indie artist in the music industry. Now, 6 years later, do you think the definition you attained is still conclusive or has it changed?
DC: The funny thing about the conclusion of the film is that it was very much open-ended. I think being independent still is today, maybe more than ever, about being in control of your own career. With the lines between what’s a label/indie label/major label now even more blurry, I’m not sure it really matters anymore. It really comes down to having control over your own career, whether you’re unsigned, signed to a small label, or signed to a larger label.
P: In the days of MySpace dominance a lot of artists were content to place the full efforts of their online presence into their MySpace page in lieu of their own website. While people have largely moved away from
MySpace, I’ve noticed a lot of today’s artists are still doing the same thing by putting a large percentage of balance on general social media like Twitter and Facebook and music specialized social media sites like ReverbNation or SoundCloud. Do you see any kind of recurrence of abandonment of these networks similar to what happened with MySpace? What can social media networks do to stay relevant to an artist’s long term career and how can artists keep on top of the shifts?
DC: I think that we’ll continue to see social media sites come and go. Many argue that Facebook is quickly losing its significance because it has simply become too big/too noisy/too buggy, just like MySpace was, and I don’t disagree with that notion. And unless they find a way to get people to spend time on their platform, I think Google+ might come and go very quickly. Then there’s Tumblr, and now Pinterest gaining a lot of traction.
But this just reinforces what we talk about a lot on the Bandzoogle blog, which is the need to have your own website. When artists spent several years trying to gain as many friends as they could on MySpace, many of them were probably lost if they weren’t getting those fans signed up to their mailing list or driving them back to their website and developing a stronger connection with them there.
As for staying on top of the shifts, I’m not someone who believes that every artist should jump onto every new social media site that pops up. You should definitely sign-up to new services to reserve your name in case you do decide one day to use that account, but you need to spend time where your fans are. Right now you could probably get away with simply being on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There have been some success stories with artists using Google+ to gain attention for their career, and early adoption of new services usually brings in success stories like that, but you can call me a Google+ skeptic, as I just don’t think is gaining significant traction, at least not yet.
P: Services like Ustream offer artists a way to live stream their shows with pretty basic equipment creating potential for a hybrid of an in-person and online experience for fans. Are there any creative ways that you would suggest that an artist can bring their website and social media into their live show?
DC: Definitely, and you just mentioned one yourself, which is to live stream your show. You can send people to Ustream, but you can also embed the stream on your own website, so that way fans can interact with you on a site that you control, and where they can sign-up to your mailing list and learn more about you.
As for social media, there are lots of ways to interact with fans during a show, the easiest being through Twitter. I’ve heard of bands setting up a #hashtag for their show so fans can react to each other during the show, or other bands taking requests live from fans through Twitter. You can also post photos throughout the performance using an app like Instagram and sending it to your Twitter & Facebook.
P: Bandzoogle enables an artist to easily create their web presence and customize it to their ‘brand’. Are there still web best practices that you feel an artist should know even when using Bandzoogle?
DC: Oh yes, there are lots, and we regularly blog about website best practices. But the most important page of your website is probably your Homepage, where most people will land on your site. For your homepage you’ll want to have:
– A great header photo
– A streamable song and/or video
– A short bio
– A call-to-action (to sign-up to your mailing list, download your latest song, shop at your online store, etc.)
– Latest news: a few of your latest news items or blog posts
– Links to your social media profiles
With these 6 elements in place on your homepage, you’re giving yourself the best chance to keep fans on your site and exploring more about you and your career.
P: What are ways an artist can use to gauge the health of their online presence?
DC: I think the first step you can take is to do a quick Google search. Your website should be first, then your social media profiles. With your website, you can take a look at your analytics and see what the bounce rate is for your homepage. If a lot of people are leaving quickly after getting to your website, then you might want to think of tweaking the design or having a better call-to-action, which is the one thing you want people to do when they reach your site (could be to sign-up to your mailing list, download a new MP3, visit your online store, etc.).
With social media, again it can be a numbers game, but not necessarily quantity. If you have 1000 likes on Facebook but nobody is reacting to/commenting on/sharing your posts, then you might have to think about your messaging and re-tool your strategy. On the flipside, if you only have 250 likes, but are getting lots of feedback/comments/likes, then you’re doing great and should just slowly keep building your following.
P: How did you reach out and meet the people you interviewed in “What Is Indie?” and what were their reactions to the finished documentary?
DC: I honestly just sent people emails. It was mostly musician friends of mine to start off with, and after we had filmed a bunch of interviews, we cut a short trailer. Then I started emailing the trailer to people who I didn’t know so they had an idea of what the project was all about.
I think most of the people in the film enjoyed it, but like with all artistic works, some enjoyed it more than others, and some not at all. But some people really championed the film to their networks and helped it reach so many more people than it would have, so I was thankful for that.
That’s all for today! We’d like to thank both Pheroze and Dave Cool for this interview. Did you learn anything that you found interesting? Let us know in the comments!