Here are some more mumblings from me about an important topic — promotion. You make lots of cool music, but if nobody knows about it, that’s sad, as music is to be enjoyed. This is a big planet, there’s always one individual somewhere, or many many, that would like to listen to your music.
Anyway, about web sites. To start with, get a good domain name, if possible part of your artist name or record label. The more unique and easy to remember, the better. If it is unique, the right site will quickly show up in any web searches. Compare “Cool Music Records” versus “ZharkMusic”. If you have not yet registered your artist name or label, do it ASAP. Also keep it alive, if you forget to keep the domain up and running, most likely some odd person selling snake oil will pick it up and use it for viral marketing.
Secondly, make it easy to find stuff on your web site, spend a lot of time making sure it’s easy to navigate.
It seems more and more artists and record labels use Flash-only sites. They look cool, but they are not that easy usually to navigate. Even worse, web search spiders usually can’t traverse the information at such sites, so you lose all the cool info that could point back to you from Google/Yahoo/Live, ack! If you know about site maps, make one and export it, the spiders will love using that one.
Put links from your site to any place where the customer could find or purchase your music, the easier the better. If possible one click away! Link to other interesting web sites, even the competition. It does not hurt, and if you help others, they will notice you and help you back. Also, if you want a higher hit rate with search engines, such as Google, the best is to get cross-links from other sites pointing back at your site, especially high quality ones. This is why it’s so important to put your URL in any promotional material, especially at digital download sites.
Update the look of the site at least once a year. Like a house, it needs a fresh cover of paint from time to time. Also update the contents at least once a week. The really good sites even have an RSS feed that shows any new changes, but usually those are tricky to put in place.
Hook a blog or a forum to the site. Blogs are easy. Forums are usually tough, as it really requires a lot of people to take part in the discussions, and you need to really make sure that the spammers don’t take over the forum. But blogs should not take so much effort, and it will get those interested to show up at the site over and over. A way to subscribe to a general email mailing list is also something very good.
So in general, refresh and get new content. A well-designed and maintained web site is the facade nowadays for the enterprise you work with. If it looks good, it’s a good marketing image that will help with the rest of your promotions, too.
Many artists and labels also use MySpace, or Myspace exclusively. It’s kind of OK, I like the free streaming of max four songs from Myspace and the social networking, but boy some of the pages look really over-the-top. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a good image for the brand…