In many ways, it’s true that there has never been a better time to self-promote and self-market one’s music outside the establishment. Very few new artists employ the old model of making an expensive demo to get signed to a major and getting recoupable cash advanced from a record label, to lavish on an expensive studio, and then watch as your label cross-collateralize their account on an expensive video shoot and marketing campaign. And you’ve read it elsewhere, but we have the internet to thank for the seeming leveling of the playing field. With the “gatekeepers” seemingly bypassed, its now just a matter of getting your work recorded and getting it out there on the web for people to discover and (hopefully) buy. The pluses include lower overhead, fewer committeed-to-death decisions and a higher take home yield from any commercial transactions which occur in the process. Of course, it’s still as hard as ever to get attention, especially when you consider that this so called “level playing field” can at times resemble the lawless wild west, a kind of Deadwood of the airwaves, if you will.
You already know all about this, a frankly unattractive template for your page, a limited number streaming content selections and a feeling that you’ve just opened a branch store in a dying mall. Since the Facebook mall opened, all the good traffic has left the Myspace Galleria. I still have an outlet store there, but not for long.
I have had musical presence on Myspace for some time now. But up until recently, I was just homesteading, holding the fort with some art-for-arts-sake musical pieces under my own name or as my electronica alter ego Flam! Recently, my duo collaboration with John Moreman, The Paul & John, have also taken up a little Myspace corner where we have placed four little home demos but neither of us have really maintained that site much.
So as The P&J complete an actual recorded document of our first year of c0llaboration, I have begun to seriously research the e-commerce and social networking opportunities available. I haven’t made my mind up, but here’s a few of the options that I’ve uncovered. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts on self-marketing, or just sites that can make our music available online in a way that more people have a chance. We aren’t looking for Lady Gaga size followings, but we are curious to find the people who enjoy the sounds we make. With today’s fragmented market and multi-level environment, that doesn’t seem like the unattainable goal it may have been when I was just a little rock guy.
Facebook is probably still great for the instant updating and communicating with potential fans, notifying about gigs. It’s the new Main Street, we walk up and down it every day – sometimes handing out flyers for our gigs and telling our buds about our musical activity. The downside is that Facebook was probably never designed to be used for bands, the music function is sketchy and nobody seems to expect music there. It’s best for linking YouTube and Flip videos if you got ’em.
Lala is one of my new favourite sites but it appears to be set up more like a streaming version of iTunes, and it’s an awesome try-some-buy-some system where the first streaming play is free but then you only get 30 second previews for all subsequent streams (unless you buy the tune). It’s great if you’ve been reading about an artist who is already being written about in Pitchfork or anywhere else, but I can’t seem to see from the About Us page whether indie bands and artists can just make their stuff available. Let me know if you know.
The other day on Facebook, I was bemoaning how Myspace seemed to be my only option for music posting and I immediately got notice from my friend and fellow musician Michael Urbano, of Bandcamp. This seems to me to be the site I’ve been looking for. I took a tour of the site and watched their on-site introduction video.
I really liked the way they emphasize clean, functionality on the graphical interface. It’s easy to find an artist, and when you do you have a variety of options of how to download their music, and buy if it you want to. There doesn’t seem to be any charge to join. I would love to hear from anyone who has used this, as an artist or as a consumer, to let me know if it all works as well as it appears to.
I haven’t really figured out how this could work for me, I noticed that an artist I know on Facebook had a link to Reverbnation where her music was available. They also don’t charge to join, at first anyway, until you start going for the Premium features.
Seriously, I’m just researching this now so let me know what you’re experience has been and I’ll let you all know when I’ve made up my mind.