Find Twitter Overwhelming and Confusing? Watch Part 2 of Ariel’s Mini-Class Series

Last week we introduced part 1 of Ariel’s ‘FTP Sessions’ mini-class series. The F of course standing for Facebook, T for Twitter and P for Pinterest.

This week we reveal part 2 of the ‘FTP Sessions’ mini-class series for you!

Sign up for FTP Sessions and learn the most powerful strategies for using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! PLUS – We are going to give you our free report “The Top 10 Mistakes Musicians Make That Turn Off Fans & Industry.”


Sign Up Here for the FTP Sessions 3-Part Mini-Masterclass Series!

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Digital Media Deconstructed: Tim Board of Front Range Scribbles

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This month we pick up the Digital Media Deconstructed series, an interview series focused on digital media makers and their own experience with creating a consistent compelling content strategy, establishing their own signature story and developing a stronger online brand, with Tim Board (@frontrangescrib) of Front Range Scribbles blog.

Front Range RadioNot only does Tim run the Front Range Scribbles blog, a music blog focused primarily on music in the Colorado area, but he also runs Front Range Radio, a Blog Talk Radio show that continues to showcase the musicians he spotlights on his blog.

Is Front Range Scribbles your first foray into digital media? If so, what was the inspiration? If not, give us your history.

Yes it was. The blog really started out as a test for myself to see if I could just maintain it on a regular basis. The blog in the beginning had no direction it was a hodgepodge of writings, or photos. I would write basically whatever was on my mind that particular day. I then started a show on blogtalkradio featuring music and interviews with local independent artists. It was at that time I decided to change the focus of the blog to just writing about music. Writing about independent artist and their music, combining my blog with my radio show was an easy decision for me.

Besides your blog, what other forms of digital media do you explore?

My weekly radio show that can be heard on www.party934.com . The show is “aired” live each week and then listeners can download or listen the show via podcast after it has aired. My weekly radio show I feature music from a lot of the artist I write about on my blog.

How important do you feel Internet Radio is for independent musicians? Why?

I think Internet Radio should be very important to any independent artist. Internet Radio station’s formats are usually not as restrictive as traditional radio stations. Many Internet radio stations want to be different, want to play music that you may not hear on traditional radio stations. They are willing to take chances with an independent artist. I think the independent artist should really give consideration to Internet radio stations and realize the support an Internet radio station will give them is probably greater than what a traditional radio station may give. Internet radio stations can devote more time per show on one artist than traditional radio stations may.

Are you concerned that on-demand music streaming such as Rdio and Spotify are a threat to iRadio stations and iRadio Djs?

I am not. I think streaming services have their place in just as much as traditional radio has a place. Not every independent artist is on those services so I think the iRadio stations will still have a place especially for iRadio stations that cater more to a local scene. That is something I think Rdio and Spotify will not be able to do. The other issue is how long will many of the streaming services last considering not many are reporting profits.

Front Range Scribbles has a focus on Colorado based independent artists. What are the benefits of focusing on the promotion of local artists?

The biggest benefit is being able to see the local artist perform live and talk with them one on one. A live show give me a chance to hear more from the artist then what they have published on the internet or on a CD. Sometimes the artist will perform songs they are working on that is not available anywhere. An artist from another state or country I can’t see them live or talk with face to face. A phone interview is not the same as a face to face interview.

Which social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) do you feel most effectively helps you to connect you with your blog readers? To bloggers? To Artists?

Twitter seems the most effective platform to connect to artists, but I find that the blog itself connects me to the readers and other bloggers. The readers will leave comments about a particular article or they will email about an article. The artists I write about will tweet link out to their followers or they will post a link on their facebook page. It really seems like I have two different set of followers, the ones who read the blog and then the ones on twitter.

What do you suggest to an independent artist looking for blogs to connect with for the first time?

The internet is full of bloggers writing about music. Look at websites or social media sites of other artist you perform with or know and see if any articles have been written about them and by who. Look at sites such as ‘Indie Bus” once again see who is writing articles about various artists. Once you find some bloggers, get a feel for what the blogger writes about, genre, geographical artists etc. If you do contact a blogger, try starting a relationship first, don’t just email the blogger and say hey write about me or about my single/CD. If a blogger does write an article than watch for comments and respond. The readers will enjoy seeing comments from the artist.

How do you prefer artists approach you who are interested in blog promotion or partnering with you in any way?

The easiest way is to send an email to tim [AT] frontrangeradio DOT net

Where can people find you online?

My website is www.frontrangeradio.net, my blog site is www.frontrangescribbles.com, and my weekly radio show can be heard Sunday nights 9pm Eastern on www.party934.com

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Need a Little Help with Facebook? Watch Part 1 of Ariel’s Mini-Class Series

What’s the most efficient way to get your music, brand and message out to the world?

BY ENGAGING WITH YOUR TRIBE ONLINE, OF COURSE.

But most musicians I see don’t understand the basics and they are using social media to their detriment instead of to their advantage.

I have designed this 3-Part Mini-Masterclass Series to help you!

Sign up for FTP Sessions and learn the most powerful strategies for using Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! PLUS – I’m going to give you my free report “The Top 10 Mistakes Musicians Make That Turn Off Fans & Industry.”


Sign Up Here for the FTP Sessions 3-Part Mini-Masterclass Series!

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5 Unforgettable Fan Experiences, Part 3: Live Music and Album Releases

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This article was written by Corie Kellman (@coralman808), Director of New Artist Relations for Cyber PR®

For the last two months, I’ve been outlining my most recent top 5 unforgettable experiences as a fan in hopes that some of these winning concepts being tried out by artists at every level can be applied to your marketing strategy.

This month continues the series with 5 more experiences that I felt were truly unforgettable, but this month I want to focus our energy on turning this into a discussion.

Please leave us your experiences, ideas and feedback in the form of a comment below so that the entire community can benefit!

Here are my top 5 unforgettable fan experiences this month. What are yours?

1. During Your Live Show, Make the Connection to Your Real Fans

If you guys follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you have no doubts that I am secure and comfortable about being a fan of Taylor Swift.

Corie Kellman - Taylor Swift

Naturally, I had to check out one of her three sold out shows last week at Bridgestone Arena. At most large arena shows it’s very difficult to make fans feel special or connect on a personal level, as there are tens of thousands of faces hidden and the performer generally can’t see past the bright spotlights on the stage more than the first few rows.

Within the first three minutes of the show, Taylor passed her hat off to a fan in the general admission pit after her first song completed. As she coasted up and down from stage to stage, she gave fans high-fives and tossed out guitar picks. It was a great attempt to make a large show feel a little more intimate.

2. Make Your Success a Success for Your Fans As Well

Image Credit: MusicRow.com

Image Credit: MusicRow.com

Last month, Country star, Jake Owen announced a free block party show via Twitter to his fans to celebrate his number one single. These number one parties are a bit of a tradition here in the Nashville country scene; driving up and down music row you will see banners celebrating singer-songwriter accolades. Different to those typically seen here in town, Owen wanted to share the success with his fans, not just his industry team. 20,000 fans gathered in front of BMI for the free show and this party went down in history as the largest number one party Nashville has ever seen.

3. Empower Your Fans to Share Online and Off

Leaving Nashville Sunday night last month, a friend and I visited the merch table a week leading up to the Wild Feathers official album release, where they had CDs available for their fans early. I prefer to purchase vinyl and stream digitally, and since the album wouldn’t be available on vinyl for another week, I left the event with just a poster. My friend, however, LOVES CDs. . . seriously LOVES THEM. As she sat in her car and opened the album to pop into her CD player, she called me stressing not to pull out yet. When she opened the CD, there were two, one “to keep” and one “to share”.

The idea was GENIUS! She came to the show on my recommendation and now she could share with a friend. It is a small offering from the band AND works out in their favor if when it lands in a potential new fan’s hand.

4. Make Sure Your Fans Know Just How Important They Are To You

Cory Chisel has a very charming and engaging stage presence– he’s the type of guy that is everyone’s best friend. In between songs at his most recent Nashville headliner for the Wild Rovers tour, Cory stops what he is doing and calls attention to the very excited woman who clearly wore her dancing shoes for a reason that night, saying into the microphone, “Some people come to your show that give a F***ing S*** and this is that girl…” He then looks her way and says to her, “…means more to me than it does to you.” He later instructs the bar to prepare a round of shots for the group of fans in the front.

5. Don’t Let Anything Stand In Your Way of Connecting Directly to Your Core Fans

I get the Hypebot newsletter, and they are an excellent source of information when it comes to the new music business. They post new content every day and even though I open most every email I get from them, it’s hard to keep up with all the posts; however one about an artist named Ryan Leslie caught my eye and I found particularly interesting.

Image Credit: Ryan Leslie

Image Credit: Ryan Leslie

He has built his brand around being directly connected with his fan base with a large belief that staying connected with his core fans is more important than many other marketing techniques. Read about his story on Hypebot!

What unforgettable experiences have you had as a fan?

Share your stories and experiences with us in the form of a comment below!

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Music Marketing Essentials: Conquering Your Niche

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This is an article I wrote a few years ago, but we continue to have this ever-relevant conversation with our clients, bloggers and beyond, so I felt now would be a good time to update it.

The internet has done a lot of wonderful things for musicians. By somewhat leveling the playing field on a global scale, musicians can now market their music and expand their brands further than ever before, quicker than ever before. Day after day we are inspired by the success stories of others who came out of nowhere, only to be the next trending topic on Twitter or the most viewed and shared video on Youtube… but there is a big piece of their stories that is typically left out:

How exactly these artists got to where they are.

Every time we hear of yet another artist who has broken through from obscurity to being reported by mainstream mass media, the success stories are typically coupled with ‘overnight sensation’, ‘viral star’ or some other similarly ambiguous (and unrealistic) term.

The latest and greatest ‘overnight sensation’ is Macklemore who in the past year has conquered not only the LGBT/ Hip-Hop Alliance niche (among others), but the Billboard charts with his debut album The Heist as well. Of course, this story completely ignores the 8 years of hardcore dedication to growing his fan base, several mix tapes and even a music video that was funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Macklemore’s success story is amazing, but he is no overnight sensation.

Believe it or not, almost every single artist who has found success online, virally or not, has had something in common. They targeted, and subsequently conquered a niche.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a niche is simply a specific or ‘specialized’ market. In other words, it is not ‘the whole world’ or ‘rock fans’. A niche is a very detailed, smaller sub-section of a bigger market, but most importantly those who are characterized within the niche are far more likely to be loyalists than fans of a more generalized market. Not to get too ‘marketing-jargen’ on you all, but typically speaking, the more specific a niche, the more dedicated those within it will be, and visa versa, the more broad a market becomes, the less dedicated the fans will be.

So…

Plain and simple, if you really want the internet and social networks to become the success drivers of your career that you hope they will become, you MUST target and conquer your niche. Below are four very simple things that you will need to consider and map out in order to get yourself on track to conquering YOUR niche:

 


Understand That a Niche Typically Starts Very Small


 

The internet is and always has been about BIG ideas. By giving us a further reach than ever before, it has become second nature for us to always think on a global scale.

This is a mistake!

Remember that a niche can and usually does start very small, as in so small that it can be targeted locally. By working with your niche locally first, you can build up buzz in your area, making it easier to connect with all of the influencers in your area, opening up doors to connections with influencers outside of your area on a regional, then national and then even global level.

An example that I always like to use when discussing Niche Marketing is Phish. Everyone has heard of them and they are widely considered to be one of the greatest touring bands of all time, but it is far less understood that by the time they were signed to a label and started touring the country, they were already local heroes, selling out some of the biggest venues in the area on their own. In fact, Phish didn’t even tour outside of the northeast until years after they had formed the band, because they found it better to target the local scene and conquer it first before moving on. By the time they left the northeast, they already had fans waiting for them in other parts of the country, because as we discussed, niche fans are more loyal. Their local fans loved the music and helped make sure the word got out.

 


Know EXACTLY What Your Niche Is


 

The more detailed an understanding you have of your niche, the better of you will be. As mentioned above, as your niche becomes a more specific section of a market, the more loyal the fans will be within!

Now, your niche can really be whatever you want it to be (within reason – more on this below), so deciding which niche you fit into best is really up to you. But no matter what that niche is, you absolutely need to have a full understanding of the niche you’re targeting. Here are a few things for you to consider so that you can better define and locate your niche:

 

    • Demographic (age, gender location)

 

    • Similar / influential artists (remember to start locally, then branch out to the regional, national and global scale)

 

    • What are the influential promotional outlets?

 

    • Where do the fans exist online?

 

    • What blogs do they read?

 

    • How do they find out about new music?

 

    • Are they into fashion? If so, what brands?

 

    • What are their favorite hobbies?

 

Now that you have the proper understanding of your niche, you need to seek it out and see if it is truly worthy. Some niches won’t exist online or at all in the way you hope and so the demand for your music just isn’t enough to get you on the map. Some of you will be lucky to decide upon a great niche on your first attempt, but some of you may need to test the waters until you find one that really works.

 


Cater To The Needs of the Loyal


 

I think it has been said enough times by now, but one more time for good measure: the more specific a market (niche), the more dedicated the fans within will be.

So with this said, you need to cater your online presence, live shows, studio recordings and official releases, merch, etc. to the needs of the loyal, so that they will continue to support at a diehard level, evangelizing your brand and increasing the overall strength and influence of your brand. This is a critical part to successfully conquering your niche.

 


Nail the Perfect Pitch


 

Believe me, I am well aware that you probably dread having to compare your music to that of someone else’s. I’ve been there and I know it can feel demeaning to say that your baby, your creation, only just ‘sounds like someone else’.

So trust me when I say that when targeting and attempting to conquer a niche, making a comparison to another band similar in sound or style to your own is a VERY good thing!

By making sure that you’ve targeted a meaningful comparison, you will have an easier time building interested from perspective fans. Relevance here is key. As much as you may want to avoid the comparisons of sounding just like someone else, if you can compare your sound to an artist from the same niche, you will have an easier time attracting the RIGHT fans rather than avoiding strong comparisons, only to impress fans of the wrong genre or scene.

 


Maintain a Consistent Presence


 

In a way, niche marketing is quite similar to advertising.

Most people are unlikely to become a fan of yours on the first sighting of your music, video or guest post. This is precisely the reason why you often see or hear the same advertisements over and over again. In advertising, this is called ‘touchpoints’. The number of touch points could be different for everyone, so unfortunately there is no hard and fast science that would allow us to say you need to be heard or seen 5 times per week in your niche for you to effectively conquer it…

It is more important that you simply understand that one time won’t cut it. Most people are so overwhelmed by the number of ads, guest posts, music videos, songs, etc. that they are exposed to on a daily basis that it really takes several attempts for any single brand to break through.

Within your niche, you need to be consistently present enough that people start to notice you, pay attention to you and buy into your vision. This ‘break-through’ point can take several months or even possibly years, so don’t expect immediate results. This was most certainly the case of Darius Lux, who we helped connect to the Gluten Free community through guest posting, and now 18-months later, has become a musician/ thought-leader being asked to take part in conferences, blogs and beyond!

 


What Have YOU Done to Conquer Your Niche?


 

My ideas above only scratch the surface… there are TONS of different ideas, strategies and techniques available to you to help you to truly conquer your niche! If you’ve done anything else than what Ive listed above, or have some feedback or questions about my ideas, please leave a comment below!

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The Musician’s Guide To Affordable Effective Websites

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This article was originally posted in 2011, but we continue to have this critical discussion with our clients, so we’ve updated the information below.

A common complaint among independent musicians is that building a customized website is very expensive; a few artists showed me quotes of $5,000 for a website. It’s not 1997 anymore, and those quotes are not OK.

An effective website can be created for $20 or less a month with no upfront costs.

So for those of you who need a template for how to create an effective and affordable website, this is the article for you.

Many artists drive themselves crazy building a website for themselves or their band because they have trouble keeping it simple, and this is the key.

Your website exists to do two things:

    Number one: Help you engage with and make new fans.

    Number two: Make you money.

That’s it.

Here’s how to set yourself on the right path…

Step 1: You must have a domain name. 

To register a domain name go to godaddy.com (USA) crazydomains.com.au (AUS)

Register the domain that you would like to use.  I highly suggest a dot com (.com) with no slashes and underscores if possible.

TIP: You should also make sure that the YouTube, Twitter and Facebook page names match the URL that you purchased.

Step 2: Choose which payment option you would like.

Pay As You Go

A pay-as-you-go option with a web site builder can get you up and running very quickly and you won’t need a designer to build the site for you.

Here are my favorite 4 in alphabetical order. All 4 have excellent call-in customer service to help ease the confusion.

Bandzoogle – http://bandzoogle.com/

Their lite version starts at $9.95 per month easy to use and the first month is free!

Hostbaby – http://www.hostbaby.com/

Owned by CD Baby, you can store unlimited emails and send newsletters through your custom site. It costs $20 per month or $199 per year.

Reverbnation – http://www.reverbnation.com/band-promotion/sitebuilder

Reverbnation continues to te the one-stop shop for digital music marketing tools. Reverbnation’s Site Builder allows you to create a custom website that can utilize their full suite of tools, including Reverbnation’s Fan Reach (newsletter platform).

Spacecraft – http://gospacecraft.com

Spacecraft allows you to build a simple, highly customizable website with a responsive design that makes mobile browsing easy for your fans.

Working with a Web designer

I suggest crowdspring.com or LinkedIn for finding affordable WordPress designers. Make sure you read the designer’s reviews and see examples of his/her work before you hire him/her so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.

TIP: Don’t pay more than $1,000 for a basic WordPress site.

TIP: Don’t work with an “artsy” web designer who does not build in WordPress because he will give you a flash movie intro or a complicated site. If you want artsy, buy a fabulous new outfit, or create a physical piece of merchandise using http://www.MerchLuv.com that’s really cool, and expresses who you are, but please don’t be “artsy” on your website. 

Your website must be clear and functional.

Step 3: Build Your Homepage

Your entire website should be easy to navigate with a navbar across the very top of each page so visitors can see it (not buried where they have to scroll down).

Kent Gustavson

  • Be branded with your look, your colors, and your logo (if you have a logo) and, of course, a stunning photo of you / your band.
  • TIP: your socials should all match your site colors.

  • You should feature your name, and your pitch, or specifically what you sound like in a few words.  If you feel weird creating a “pitch”, use one killer press quote or fan quote, which sums up the way you sound.
  • Features a FREE MP3 in exchange for an email address
  • USE: Reverbnation, Pledgemusic, Topspin or Noisetrade

    http://www.tinyurl.com/reverbfreebribe

    http://www.tinyurl.com/pledgefreebribe

    http://www.noisetrade.com

    http://www.topspinmedia.com

  • Link to your social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and anywhere else you maintain an active profile.
  • Include a Facebook “like” widget.
  • Include a Twitter stream updating in real time.
  • A blog feed / news feed, or new shows updating onto the page via widgets.
  • If you like sharing photos, a Flickr stream, which ports over to your blog!

  • Nav Bar elements / tabs:

    Annie Fitzgerald

    1. Bio/ press kit. For your press kits use Sonicbids, Reverbnation, or Presskit.to.

    TIP: Photos/ Images. Make sure your photos really capture who you are. Make sure they have clear instructions on how they can be downloaded.

    2. Buy music – iTunes or a storefront

    3. Your tour shows or performances

    4. Your Blog

    5. Your Contact Info

    Make sure that you have your contact information with an e-mail address or a contact form there so people can contact you for online publicity, booking, or just to tell you they like your music. Don’t make it hard for anyone to connect with you online.

    After your site is done, make sure to keep your social media sites updated!  That means daily.  This way your whole site remains interesting and dynamic and fully updated.

    For how to do that please read my Musician’s Social Media Food Pyramid.

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