Some of the best tools to promote your music can come (free!) straight from the Internet, however sometimes diving into the world wide web can be scary. What blog site should I use? What do I write about? Is anyone even reading what I’m writing?? No need to fear anymore as Cyber PR teamed up with MicControl’s very own Jonathan Ostrow to create a bi-weekly panel of bloggers that are kind enough to share some valuable insight on the blogosphere, the music industry and more.
Every other week we will address different topics that artists might have in regards to blogging. Picking the brains this week of Jen D. Rafanan from A Million Watts of Sound, Gary Hill from Music Street Journal and Kevin Allen from Song Revelation, they’re here to ease you into the world of blogging as this week’s topic is:
Ways For Musicians To Blog Effectively Without Being Self-Promotional
We encourage any feedback you may have and feel free to ask any questions of your own! What topics do you want see covered in this series? This is all about YOU, the artist, so tell us what you want to know and we’ll find a panel to answer your questions!
Jen Gary Kevin
1. What should musicians write about on their blog?
Jen from A Million Watts of Sound: I am a total behind-the-scenes kinda gal and love stories. Not just the stories told within the songs, but stories about the artists’ life. How they got to where they are. What inspires them. What doesn’t. A funny anecdote from a tour. A cool experience with a fan. Stories connect people. Musicians that write little stories like this on their blog, make me more interested and invested in both them and their music. These are the artists I find myself more drawn to. Whether it’s a story I can relate to or not. As long as it’s from their perspective, the insight into the artist and music is fascinating. Once that connection is made, it’s a pretty solid commitment from me. I make more of an effort to promote that artist however, whenever I can. 2 of the only 3 artists I have supported on www.kickstarter.com for help with an album or tour were CyberPR artists. In a difficult economy, part of what did it for me is the connection I have with them. Though I am fortunate to have gotten to know them through CyberPR, they are artists who definitely share stories and their experiences with their fans. So, yeah…promote your album or latest single, but definitely include STORIES!
Gary from Music Street Journal: The key to writing an effective blog is to make it interesting. For a musician that means, don’t rehash old stuff, but try to throw new angles on old information or put completely new stuff out there. While it’s never a good idea to be intentionally untruthful in a blog (or any promotion) it’s always good to highlight the positive and ignore or at least downplay the negatives. Choose news to publicize carefully. It’s not a good idea to talk about a musician leaving the band until a replacement has been found. Then, focus on showcasing the new person and mention the other person leaving only as means of explanation. And, NEVER trash a former band mate, manager or other person in a public forum.
2. How can artists use a blog to build their mailing list?
Kevin from Song Revelation: Maybe use an autoresponder with a signup form. (Perhaps use this to link to some free music or access to members area after they enter your email). If you’re just starting out & don’t have much buzz I think a better way is to be proactive than expect people to want to sign up to something they know nothing about.
3. Where should artists be promoting their blog?
Kevin: Personalise your approach and get to know people with a similar interest & aspirations to yours. Therefore I suggest maybe actively targeting people that you like and see if you can work together for promotion. I think that if you have great content people will come back for more so in a way viral promotion, by word of mouth (and this is free). Personally, I’m not a huge fan of using paid for site SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tactics, such as link building & directory submissions when starting out due to the costs involved. Also, you can’t quantify realistically what you’re getting for your money. If you’re interested in adopting a holistic approach to search engine optimization perhaps buy a book on the subject to learn what its about.
4. What makes a great blog post?
Gary: The key to a great blog post is revealing information that’s not available elsewhere. In particular, if there are questions that fans keep asking over and over again, writing about them at length in a blog posting is a great idea.
5. How can you make your blog post more searchable?
Jen: Get it auto fed through numerous venues. I like using www.posterous.com (as mentioned in question 2) Use a feature like, addthis to make sharing your posts easy once they are read. The more it is shared, the more your blog will be easy to discover.
Kevin: Don’t use flash on your site. Use simple HTML then everything can be indexed easily by search engines. Also this helps for iPad and iPhone users since they can’t see flash anyway.
6. How often should you update your blog?
Gary: While it might seem like the best idea would be to update a blog frequently, it really doesn’t make sense to post a blog when there’s nothing interesting to write about. If you put out blogs every day, or once or twice a week and many of those blogs contain nothing that people find interesting, they’ll stop reading. The rule of thumb is, only blog when you have something important and interesting (and that means important and interesting to your target audience, not just to you) to say. Don’t waste your time and risk turning readers away by posting trivial stuff that no one wants to read.
7. What are some key rules for blog writing etiquette?
Jen: Be honest. Be genuine. Be original. Above all, just be yourself. Write about things you would maybe like to read about. Spell check is always a good thing. Make sure your links work too.
If your link is really long, use a site like www.bit.ly, shorturl.com or tinyurl.com to customize and shorten it. Much easier on the eyes!
8. How do you get fans to interact with you via your blog?
Jen: While some post comments, most fans of my blog email/message me directly. Whether it’s artists, pr/marketing, fellow bloggers and music lovers, etc. I’ve made some pretty cool friends from the direct contact. I love when I hear from someone who discovered and now follows my blog. I love reading about how they came across it and that they have shared it with others.
Speaking of sharing, there is a feature at the bottom of each blog post that allows the reader to share what they just read, to all the social media venues (fb, twitter, digg, etc.) That comes in handy. I use it a lot when I visit artists’ sites, because it is so convenient in sharings posts in other venues. (http://www.addthis.com/ I briefly mentioned this in question 7.)
Kevin: Comments on your blog posts are always an option but spammers are a problem too. I’d say from personal experience 95%-99% of blog comments are people trying to link build (SEO) as opposed to people genuinely interested in your article. The most important thing is to have a ‘contact me’ page so people can send you a personal message quickly and easily. To engage fans, friends, companies, etc. I like to just email, text and call people directly. Since you’re more often than not discussing an interest you both share, you have a great starting point!
Here are some examples of artists who follow these tips!:
Hotels & Highways
Mixtapes + Meltdowns
The On Fires