How to market music on the internet

bnl
According to the big record labels this internet thing is close to the worst thing that has ever happened. They do what they can to work against the possibilities and enormous potential this fantastic distribution and communication platform has to offer.

Let’s do a wild hypothesis and assume that people will actually come to your concerts, buy your t-shirts, use your music commercially and actually pay for your tracks as long as you make the music available and tap into the power of the internet. What are your options?

Market yourself
Make a profile on MySpace. Publish your videos on YouTube. Make a channel in Democracy Player. Be present on Last.fm and in Pandora. A lot of people use these sites to discover new music.

If you make quality music you could end up on BoingBoing like Sophe Lux. If you do cool stuff like Bare Naked Ladies you could end up on digg several times, on BoingBoing, Slashdot and in general – all over the place.

Join the conversation
Start a blog. Follow the blogsphere. Be active on the music forums.

Make yourself available
Millions of idiots buy music on iTunes music store and MSN music. Files that will only play on certain players and with heavy restrictions on use. Still, it’s a good idea to be there because of those millions of idiots… Even better, be available on eMusic and any other stores that sell DRM free music. If your music gets popular it will be available out there without DRM anyway.

Give your fans control
Let fans take pictures on your concerts. Let them record on their phones and cameras. Let them share their works. Make tags on Flickr and YouTube and Del.icio.us so people can find you. Let them remix and have fun with your music. Let them help you with your next album. Use creative commons to avoid commercial exploitation.

Do like BNL
Yes, simply do like the already mentioned Bare Naked Ladies. BoingBoing have a good roundup of all the cool stuff BNL do here. You also find them on Flickr and YouTube through the tag “bnl”.

How to market music on the internet

28 thoughts on “How to market music on the internet

  1. “Millions of idiots buy music on iTunes music store and MSN music. Files that will only play on certain players and with heavy restrictions on use.”

    Oh, come on. You’re starting to sound like Cory Doctorow. As if DRM is THE worst thing that ever happened humanity.

    I don’t care. I buy music in iTunes because it’s convenient. I hear a song. I find it. I buy it. I have it on the iPod.

    Of course it would be so much better if it had no DRM, but I don’t have an alternative to that? Do you?

    One alternative could be that there were no DRM on the music in iTunes. I wonder what would happen? Maybe Apple could put up all the songs without DRM for one day? To see what happened?

    Or make a deal with – let’s say 200 artists: For one day we put up your music without DRM. People still would have to pay, but the files they downloaded were DRM-free.

    What would happen?

    The sales of those artists would increase that day. And the next day everybody would be mailing each other mp3s and putting them on sharing filesharing networks.

    Or…

    The sales would increase and because of this, lots of people would buy the tunes the next day, week and month.

    I think for most artists, the first is what would happen…

  2. Or I sound like Thomas Hawk: iTunes, One Billion Suckers Served

    All the tracks on iTunes are available for free with no DRM on different darknets, bittorrent and usenet anyway. As far as I remeber the time it takes from they release a new track on iTunes until it hits The Pirate Bay and Usenet is about three minutes.

    I think you have described the solution here:

    The sales would increase and because of this, lots of people would buy the tunes the next day, week and month.

    Actually I think that’s what would happen.

  3. Tomas says:

    Just have to point out a few things:

    I don’t care. I buy music in iTunes because it’s convenient. I hear a song. I find it. I buy it. I have it on the iPod.

    Of course it would be so much better if it had no DRM, but I don’t have an alternative to that? Do you?

    I don’t have an iPod (thank god). But if I had one, and I broke it. I would have to buy another iPod (right?) to play the SAME music I have bought. Because it only plays on iPod. And correct me if I am wrong…isn’t the song TIED to the iPod I broke? In both cases I’m the loser no matter what…so.
    YOU SHOULD CARE!

    The alternative is DRM-Free music. It WON’T be pirated more since ANYONE that can use peer-to-peer clients or even email (and have pirate-friends) can get the music for free anyway. I will PAY for drm-free music. I WON’T pay for music with DRM. I think that is the case with most consumers, once they get to know what DRM does.

    And I agree with Eirikso on every other point he has. Problem is : I don’t think the big labels don’t know about this. They are probably ALL too aware of it. They see they WILL loose the distribution monopoly they currently have, artists won’t need the record labels to distribute their music around the world and so the powerhold they have will ultimately be lost. The artist suddenly has no reason to stick with a record company once he is famous, because once that happens his reputation alone will draw the fans to whatever web-site he uses. And download directly.

    Point is : Distribution companies will die, what will remain are sound-studios and PR-companies. That’s IT!. And that is what all the big labels are deadly scared of… with good reason.

    The exact same thing is happening on the movie content market. Just a tad slower due to file sizes and overall costs of movies these days.

  4. And you should all read this.

    eListeningPost is a new music service that allows artists to distribute their songs via a link on a website or by email. The file can be listened to up to five times on any one computer – meaning it can be forwarded to others and they can listen to it five times, too. There are no restrictions on the number of times a file can be forwarded, and if someone likes the song, they can purchase it.

    Interesting model.

  5. As long as anywhere is limited to five devices and all of them are controlled by Apple you have no problem.

    If you should fall into the utterly strange idea of playing your music on your Windows or Linux based media center in your living room, pasting your music into a presentation, use it in a video editing software for your home videos or at some point in the future would like to buy a new MP3 player from another vendor you will run into trouble.

  6. So because I can download everything for free, I should? Maybe. And people do, of course.

    And I agree with you: DRM sucks. But the way it is done in iTunes is ok with me. I can use the (few) songs I buy on five devices, and I can burn as many CDs as I want from them (which I can import back in again = no DRM). And if I want to set my music free, there’s DVD-Jon to the rescue.

    The things is: I think people make to much fuzz about this. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not melting icecaps or bird flu. It’s just that I can’t put a few songs I buy on iTunes on other devices. Big deal.

    When you and Thomas name people buying music on iTunes idiots and suckers, I think you’re overdoing it. Totally.

    If I bought ALL my music on iTunes, I would be closing in to the idiot stamp. But buying a few tunes in iTunes does NOT make people idiots, even if they can’t but the files on their Zune… uhm… nobody has that… their Nomads or Zens without a little DRM-cleaning first.

    Like yesterday, I bought some running music from the Nike+iPod section. It was there, in the Norwegian store for the first time. Click buy, download, and an hour later I was running in the woods, listening to the great music by The Crystal Method (who got their money), and thinking why on earth is it +10 Celcius (50 F) in December? In Norway?

  7. The iTunes music store is excellent and the only sensible way to buy music today. The usability, speed, price and quality is all fine with me. The problem is the DRM and the fact that you have to use hacker software or burn a CD and rip it back again to use the music on all your devices and if you want to make sure that you won’t have any problems as you buy new computers and devices.

    Because Cory Doctorow has been mentioned here I emailed him for a quick and simple argument. Here it is:

    We presently design devices to serve their owners. DRM demands that we design them to control their owners. This has lots of knock-on consequences. It means that owners of devices are at the mercy of proprietary formats. It means that there’s a ready-made means of spying on them. It means that there’s a ready-made means of subverting their devices. It is NEVER a good idea to design a device so that it can subvert the will of its owner.

    …not the end of the world, but a valid point.

  8. Tomas says:

    And I agree with you: DRM sucks. But the way it is done in iTunes is ok with me. I can use the (few) songs I buy on five devices, and I can burn as many CDs as I want from them (which I can import back in again = no DRM). And if I want to set my music free, there’s DVD-Jon to the rescue.

    Er…so you have to break the law (copyright infringement) to play the music on any other device than Apple’s.

    Here’s a pretty good scenario that explains what is wrong about DRM:

    A person buys an Apple Mac, a Mac media centre, a apple laptop and an iPod. And starts to buy music from the “excellent” iStore…so much music that the price of all the music FAR supersedes the price of the devicse it is played on. (Which is QUITE normal when it comes to CD and DVD’s at the moment)…
    After a few years of this, the iPod has been chewed to bits by an angry puppy, the media centre is old and can’t play the new cool HD videoes that are out, and the desktop mac he uses is getting long in the tooth, as well as the laptop. In fact, he needs to upgrade all of this after a few years, as it can’t do what is expected anymore… Now what…does he need to buy ALL new licenses to music he already has bought once to play on the new devices? Why can’t he decide to get a Zune 2.0 to play the music he has paid for? Why is he only allowed to own 5 music devices?

    Crazy….

    If I was him, I would sue Apple for being evil and start hacking their iTunes servers and rip all the music from their sites… I would be angry.

    This isn’t a very unlikely scenario…it is very very real. And is the dream scenario for greedy corporations.

    I try not to be rude here, but I find you reasoning why iTunes/iPod is great rather…naive. Again, I’m not trying to offend you.

  9. Tomas says:

    Oops…the law you would be breaking would NOT be “copyright infringement” of course…it would be illegal decryption of encrypted material…Don’t know the legal term for this though…

  10. I’m not offended Tomas, and both you and Eirik have some very good points. It’s just that I don’t expect my music files to be playable forever. I have a huge box of LPs upstairs that I never play. So what? Ditto with CDs. A huge stack. The best ones (both LPs and CDs) are transferred to the iPod.

    Don’t get me wrong: I would also like the files I buy to be non-DRM, but it doesn’t represent a big problem for me. And I’m not an idiot because I buy music in iTunes.

    I had 25 programs for my old Mac, both professional software and shareware. I paid for all of them. Only a couple of them were upgraded to OS X.

    And what if I switch to Windows now? Am I expecting my software to run on the PC? Or thinking that I can sidegrade (downgrade?) from Photoshop CS2 for Mac to Photoshop CS2 for Windows? Of course not.

    Yes, music and software is very different. I’m just saying that I don’t expect to live forever and neither does my music have to.

  11. Tomas says:

    Well. I agree, the music won’t live forever on an LP or CD, but that is because formats change and quality increases. If a new sound format that far supersedes MP3 VBR 320khz comes around, then I’d happily pay to get this new better quality stuff. But the point here is that I’d have to pay for the SAME quality twice with todays DRM solution!

    Compare it to having multiple copies of the same CD, so you could play it on whatever you wanted….not very good for you, the consumer right?

    Anyway. It is looking up and someone is listening to us…finally:
    EMI does MP3 (in Norwegian)

  12. I would give a plug for the Podsafe Music Network from Podshow . It’s a great site for musicians who wants to get spins on podcast around the world. At same time the network give the artists the opportunity to sell their music through the network. All the money from the sales ($ 0.99 pr song) go straight to the artists, except for a small transaction fee. And the songs are sold without any DRM.

  13. I wrote this further up here:

    And what if I switch to Windows now? Am I expecting my software to run on the PC? Or thinking that I can sidegrade (downgrade?) from Photoshop CS2 for Mac to Photoshop CS2 for Windows? Of course not.

    Well, I was wrong. And that is a good thing. Because you can:

    I’m happy to say that Adobe is now making it possible for Windows customers of Photoshop CS2 to get a Mac CS3 beta serial number, and vice versa. To request a number, you can send mail to photoshopcs3beta@adobe.com & include your CS2 serial number.

    We made this decision a couple weeks ago, but I didn’t want to publicize it widely until the staff was back at full strength after the holiday break. Please note that this is a manual process on our side right now, and we appreciate your patience as we handle requests.

    Related: If you find that you want to switch an Adobe product license from Mac to Windows or vice versa, please contact Adobe Customer Service. They’ll walk you through the process.

    …says John Nack of Adobe Systems on his blog today.

    So the world is moving forwards. Can I now switch my old LPs for AIFF-files please?

  14. Now, if I could convert my Windows license of Photoshop Elements 4.0 as well…

    Or, should I give myself a license of Photoshop CS3 now as I have a proper computer to run it on…

  15. Well…

    Related: If you find that you want to switch an Adobe product license from Mac to Windows or vice versa, please contact Adobe Customer Service. They’ll walk you through the process.

    …maybe I should contact them regarding my license of Elements 4?

  16. Change Photoshop serial number from XP to Mac…

    …or the other way around. I applaud Adobe for doing this!! If you have a Windows serial license of Photoshop, and then switch to Mac OS X, you now can contact Adobe, and get a working serial for OS X. Or the other way around. Excellent! John Nack…

  17. TimPermanent says:

    This is pretty obviously a site made to promote the Bare Naked Ladies. These kind of sites that are geared toward like minded people are made so that the Bare Naked Ladies can get better featured in search engines…. its really smart.
    Im thinking I’m going to start another site just to plug myself like this one.

  18. Yes. From 2004 to 2009 I have been writing hundreds of articles on this web site. Articles about new media, photography, media centers, food, travel and just about anything.

    Only so that I could promote Bare Naked Ladies in this single article.

  19. About 5 years ago I started using the internet to market my songs. I knew the internet was not ready yet, but assumed it would be soon. By “not ready yet” I mean it was still in a state of flux, with constant changes and “improvements”. After 5 years it is obvious that the internet is not ready yet.

    The bottom line is that although the internet has destroyed traditional record companies, NOBODY has become a genuine success on the internet without making it in the real world first. Hopefully this will change, but THE INTERNET IS NOT READY YET.

  20. I have to disagree, Sullivan.

    The internet is ready. People can make sales on the net, can advertise themselves, and can gain popularity.

    As far as I am able to tell, that is as much success as you can gain in real life.

    Dozens of artists have gained fame from YouTube covers, songs, and contributions. Some artists have even gained popularity simply by having their songs featured in independent video games. (Which are primarily marketed online.)

    I would argue that the internet is ready to be used for marketing, so long as other things are in place first. The internet should not replace anything in the real world, but it should be used to aid it.

    I have a 21-page guide I wrote, it’s a free e-book that you can download here:

    http://theindieartist.com/how_to_market_your_music

    It involves marketing your music, and it is applicable to real world concepts, as well as internet marketing.

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