Over the years, I’ve sat at a lot of breakfast tables with local musicians recapping last night’s gig. Usually the conversation starts about the nuts and bolts of the evening itself, but many times, the theme of the conversation moves towards the difficulty to get people to pay attention to the music or attend the concert.
As a musician and someone working in social media & technology, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about traffic and engagement. In my research, I have found there to be a prevailing theme in the thought leadership.
It’s with this context that I humbly present to you 3 critical steps to building fan engagement:
#1. Make Good Stuff
So you’ve attended the latest conference, gathered a lot of business cards, downloaded the newest social media podcast, and bought the newest book on how to get fans.
Sweet! That’s great. But it’s just one piece of the pie.
Content is king, and putting out regular content is important. However, it’s not only about consistency. Amazing content (with a little social engineering) will spread like wildfire without as much need for all the “social media turd polishing” hype. If you’re spending more time on Facebook than playing your instrument, you’re doing it wrong. If you find yourself coloring your hair more often than meticulously working on your lyrics… you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be like Narcissus, drunk off your own reflection, when there are thousands of people you could be learning from. It takes an awful lot longer to make good stuff without knowing, mimicking, and studying all of the good stuff that’s out there. Know the rules first before you go about breaking them. It’s like trying to learn a martial art without going to class. If you won’t dedicate yourself to being an expert, don’t be sad when people lose interest. Cultivate the dedication of the white belt while you strive for the black belt’s execution.
Make good stuff and they will come…
Search is going social in a variety of ways as search engines look to social proof to make search results more relevant and users turn to social networks such as Twitter and Facebook for more of their information needs. Google’s dominant role in search and web video, through YouTube, allows them to shape this process by pushing Google+ to the center of the Googlesphere to the degree that Google+ is now an inescapable tool for music marketing.
Google+ has been a growing factor in Google search results since 2011 with mostly confirming studies since though conflicting studies are starting to emerge.
However even conflicting studies can’t cancel out the fact that if Google is now using social proof as part of its results rankings, then Google+ participation would affect those rankings. Even if that were not the case, Google is introducing multiple reasons to convince or even force your participation.
YouTube Comments Will Soon Require Google+ Accounts
Last week YouTube began to introduce comments “powered by Google+” with full rollout by the end of the year. The new system means that comments about videos on Google+ can show up on YouTube, comments can have privacy settings and new moderation tools are available.
Based on additional details, this new system should be an improvement for videomakers and marketers:
"comments from the video creator will be ranked very highly and surfaced more regularly…The system will also push comments from popular personalities on YouTube and people in your Google+ circles higher up the comment chain, as well as highly engaged discussion about the video. Just like before, you will be able to vote comments up or down, too, and those votes will also influence the ranking…"
"YouTube will now also aggregate public comments about a video from Google+ and display them on YouTube….users on YouTube itself will now also be able to have private conversations on the site by leaving comments that can only be seen by people in their Google+ circles or individual users."
Google Authorship Now Requires Google+ Accounts
I’ve been remiss is not discussing the benefits of the Google Authorship program for solo musicians and individuals building their music industry brands but both Roo Raymond and Bob Baker recently addressed the topic.
In the latest version of Google Authorship you connect Google+ to your web content, in particular blog posts and website articles, and then your Google+ avatar appears with a byline next to your first content-related search result.
Google is partnering with multiple platforms including Wordpress (.com I assume) and Typepad which will further simplify the process for many bloggers.
For Wordpress.org users, various plugins are addressing the issue including Jetpack 2.5.
But the biggest recent change in Authorship is that you no longer have to be signed into Google+ to see those avatars in search results.
See Search Engine Land for more on Google Authorship.
What About the Death of Keywords?
So keywords aren’t really dying, they’re just becoming a bit less key to the Googleverse and that means, in the tech world, that they’re dying.
Hyperbole aside, the role of keywords in SEO is changing as search changes. As Google moves to encrypt all searches, analytics results for keywords used on Google will no longer be available. Though other tools can help take up the slack, this is a major step in undermining the gaming of keywords by SEO practitioners.
But if you take a look at these suggestions for post-Penguin SEO, you’ll start to see that the way forward is a move away from tricks and towards engagement, quality content and honest navigation.
Both earlier seo changes at Google and newsfeed changes at Facebook suggest the same thing, doing what’s best for your readers and site visitors will ultimately improve your presence on Google and Facebook.
Key Points for Musicians and Music Marketers
Emphasis is shifting towards engagement and high quality content in search results and on social media and away from tricks and techniques for higher rankings.
Current changes involving Google+, especially Authorship, privilege individuals over groups. Keep an eye on those changes and make sure you have a Google+ page for your band in the interim.
Keywords have never been the biggest issue for musicians beyond making sure you’re found when they search for your name though they have been of use for particular marketing tactics.
Focus on getting your name out there. Make sure you have a broad but manageable social media presence. And be sure your official website’s homepage has your name in the title and in relevant text on the page and you’ll be found.
When in doubt, serve your fans.
Source: Hypebot (by Clyde Smith)
A couple months back when Ad Age’s staff began working on our Music Issue, I started to obsess about the inextricable link between music and viral media. Think of a pop-cultural moment that’s “gone viral,” and chances are pretty good it’s music-related. (Unless, of course, it’s a cat video. Then again, Keyboard Cat was nothing without his Yamaha.)
Was it possible, I wondered, to pin down the most viral moment in music history?
I also wondered about what, exactly, constitutes historical virality. It’s obviously easier in a post-YouTube/Facebook/Twitter world to quantify buzz. But then again, you might argue that in a pre-social world with way fewer entertainment options — and more of a tendency toward monoculture — what we collectively were all buzzing about routinely had a lot more scale (like when the series finale of “M*A*S*H” drew more than 100 million viewers).
TV and radio powered the popular-music-related conversation for most of the modern age. But was media-prescribed, marketing-driven virality automatically less “organic”? Sure, arguably. Or, you know, maybe people just really liked Michael Jackson.
At any rate, as a sort of thought exercise about the nature of pre- and post-internet music culture, I’ve put together a short list of the most viral moments in modern pop-music history — with “modern” starting, for the sake of argument, 50 years ago. Which means the British Invasion of American prime-time TV makes the cut, but not Elvis’ televised (and semi-censored) hip-swiveling in 1956.
I excluded moments that were purely musical — which means no record releases, epochal or otherwise (like, say, the Aug. 8, 1988 release of N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton,” which ushered in the gangsta rap era). And I left out notable births (e.g., the launch of MTV on Aug. 1, 1981) and artist deaths.
What I was looking for, generally, was viral musical moments that had multimedia dimensionality and which rocked the culture.
For the longest time my older brothers would ask what music they should be listening to. They’re all ten years older than me and seem to think I’m clued up on what’s hip and happening do people still say hip and happening?) but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve done my best to avoid asking nephews and cousins about what I should be listening to and have aimed to find my own way.
Until recently, after various attempts, I settled on a great Spotify App called Tunigo to find great new music. It’s very good. So good in fact that Spotify ended up acquiring the app for itself. Its primary benefit wasn’t truly discovering new music however, but rather manually compiling music for different tastes, moods and experiences – old music and new.
I still needed a way to find out which new tracks were being listened to by the mainstream AND those in the know, released by popular artists, up & coming artists AND new artists. Tracks that weren’t being played on the radio and backed my millions of dollars, but were being listened to by a passionate group of music aficionados and perhaps slowly but surely gaining popularity in the mainstream. Essentially, I wanted a way to discover great new music, irrespective of whether the artists were signed to a big label, small label or were completely independent.
Hello Twitter #Music.
It’s easy to get stuck in a music rut. That go-to iTunes playlist or Pandora station will probably do the trick, but with so much great music out there, why settle for the same old favorites?
The infinite catalog of music, new and old, is a both a blessing and a curse. While music fans unfortunately have to accept that they will never be able to listen to every band, album or song, retreating to the comfort of your personal music library is no way to find your next favorite artist.
Spotify’s latest curation features, Browse and Discover, are a push in the right direction, and Rdio integrates music discovery into its top-notch app with subtle recommendations from listeners in your network placed all over the player.
These streaming services’ social features aren’t the only ways to discover new music, but they tap into what’s key about successful music suggestions today: social curation.
If you are on the lookout for new tunes, try these seven websites and apps that are perfect for social music discovery.
How do you find new music? Share your method in the comments.
Twitter #Music may not be the hottest music service on the planet but they’ve made some moves that should encourage more listeners to check them out. Recent activity includes creating a new Spotify app and adding playlists to Rdio to allow for listening from within those services. Less noticeable tweaks to their iOS app are a reminder of the social potential for this somewhat maligned service.
When Twitter #Music launched back in April it included integrations with Rdio and Spotify. Then, as now, short previews of songs are provided by iTunes with the option to connect to Rdio or Spotify to hear the complete songs.
Now instead of listening via Twitter #Music, you can listen to Twitter #Music picks from within both Spotify and Rdio.
Last week Twitter #Music debuted a Spotify app that looks much like its web app except for the inclusion of a visible logo from acquiree We Are Hunted that links to the “HUNTED” feature. The #NowPlaying option is not available on Spotify.
They then followed with the debut of genre playlists on Rdio based on Twitter #Music trending charts.
Both offerings are a great way to further develop the relationship with Rdio and Spotify while spreading awareness and accessibility for Twitter #Music.
The social aspects of Twitter #Music were also given a boost on the iOS app with, you guessed it, a stronger tie to Twitter. Each track in the #NowPlaying feed shows the connected tweet:
"When you select a song to listen to, the thumbnail will now expand and identify the user in your following list that originally tweeted about the song…it also gives you the option to reply, retweet and favorite their message."
"Furthermore, hitting the ellipsis icon brings up a basic share menu, either for tweeting about the track yourself or sending it to some[one] else via email or text message."To some degree these all seem like obvious moves but, partly because of that, they have a nice completing the circle quality to them.
Source: Hypebot (by Bruce Houghton)
Twitter’s #Music app made some noise when it first arrived in April, but it has largely gone quiet. The company is taking another stab at the effort, this time with a Spotify app that surfaces music popular on Twitter.
Much like the Web interface on Twitter’s #Music site, the Spotify app features sections for Superstars, Popular, Emerging, Unearthed and Hunted. Those first three categories are self-explanatory, but Unearthed finds “hidden talent found in the tweets” and Hunted shows music that’s popular on blogs. Each of the categories can be added to Spotify as a playlist.
The #NowPlaying feature is missing from the app, presumably because it would require authorizing your own Twitter account from within Spotify.
The app also includes featured genres: Alternative, Country, Dance, Electronic, Folk, Hip Hop, Metal, Pop, RnB and Rock, but it’s not clear whether all of these lists have been generated from Twitter data.
As you’d expect, Twitter prominently displays artists’ @usernames throughout the app and includes links to view on Twitter.com.
This doesn’t mean that Twitter has given up on its dedicated #Music app for iOS. Last week, the app got an update that added the ability to interact with tweets located within the #NowPlaying section, following a significant updatethat appeared in August.
Twitter’s new Spotify app plays to its strengths. I’m much more likely to make use of #Music from within Spotify than as a standalone app or website. Twitter has plenty of data that can be helpful, but that information will work best in cooperation with dedicated music services. In this sense, #Music could thrive as a powerful music data platform, similar to The Echo Nest, that provides recommendations and discovery for consumer streaming services.
Source: The Next Web (by Josh Ong)
Shazam, the music discovery and tagging service, has rolled out an update to its iOS app that means whenever you tweet a song you’ve tagged to your followers, they’ll be able to play previews directly inside the message. This is thanks to Twitter’s Player Card, and works similar to how YouTube clips can be viewed without leaving the tweet.
In related news, the iOS app has also been updated with faster recognition, with claims that it can now recognize a song in as little as one second. The company says the speedier song identification will be more noticeable on the iPhone 4 and 3GS.
In addition to this, Shazam’s charts now display the most popular tracks of the past week, and some new “TV experiences” have been introduced for US users, though Shazam hasn’t specified what exactly this is.
Artists / Labels can get their music distributed to Shazam through ONErpm! Click HERE to get started!
Twitter is now helping guide users of its music service to the types of music they want to hear.
Thursday, Twitter Music, the 2-month-old Web and mobile streaming service powered by Twitter activity, was updated with a discovery feature called charts, which offers people a genre-based approach to music listening.
With charts, Twitter Music users can now select from Twitter-generated playlists based on music genre and find special types of charts, such as “Popular” for new music trending on Twitter or “Superstars” for new tracks from hit artists. Following the Twitter Music formula, tracks are featured based on their Twitter popularity in terms of tweets and engagement.
The new options greatly expand upon the previous selection of listening choices, which let people explore new music, listen to suggested tracks, or tune into just the artists they follow on the information network.
The addition of genre-based listening potentially corrects for a flaw in Twitter’s initial music strategy. The service, which connects to Rdio and Spotify to let people listen to full tracks, isn’t meant to replace those streaming services, but instead act as an automatic playlist-generator, introduce people to new tunes, and help them find (and follow) their favorite artists on Twitter. The previous options, however, didn’t allow people to just tune into their favorite flavor of music.
Twitter has stayed quiet on the success, or lack thereof, of its digital music app. Anecdotally, buzz about Twitter Music has appeared to drop off since its mid-April release. The service’s brightest days are still potentially ahead of it as Apple intends to incorporate Twitter Music into iRadio with the release of iOS 7 this fall.
Source: CNET (by Jennifer Van Grove)
Myspace is back…and with a vengeance. Having officially launched last Wednesday, propelled by massive celebrity endorsements and a $20 million ad campaign across broadcast, cable, radio, and digital properties, Myspace looks to rebuild its dominance in social media, but this time, with its focus in music sphere.
You can watch the ad campaign here:
Not only does the new Myspace appeal to musicians, but it also seeks to dominate the creative sphere, connecting songwriters, journalists, photographers, videographers, and artists of all sorts in an interconnected social stratosphere that cleverly links existing multimedia and social media platforms. Perhaps the biggest advantage to the Myspace platform is the updated and simplified iOS app that allows easy access to write posts and “create”, even featuring a GIF maker.
Importantly, it looks as though mobile will fuel their social platform and drive the user experience and growth of the website. In order to succeed as a music service, they must first satisfy this social network need, which, at first glance, they definitely have. Importantly, while Facebook and Twitter dominate the social network sphere, the pecking order for digital music services is not set in stone, allowing a huge opportunity for Myspace.
While Myspace will likely generate a significant user-base through its ad campaign, the fact remains that Myspace is competing in a very crowded field, and may be too late to the game to lead the domain. Particularly, with MyRadio, Myspace will find itself in a highly competitive Internet-radio marketplace, where waves of new entrants (such as Apple) seek to uproot successful companies such as Pandora.
What’s more, as Myspace chief creative officer Keith Tilford acknowledged, the company does have an “existing brand issue.” They are hoping the massive ad campaign will help with this.
In order to move from the intangible to the tangible, I signed up for Myspace to see what it was all about.
After spending some time on the site, labeling myself as a “Musician,” “DJ/Producer,” “Writer,” and “Promoter” (you get to choose four), on first look, I like it. The site flows nicely, is intuitive, and allows you to easily access any creative individual you would need. It’s as easy as filling in a few search criteria. For example, if I was an electronic music producer and wanted to find a photographer for a photo-shoot, or a graphic designer to assist with album art, or a promoter to help with an upcoming show, I can easily search through the Myspace database to find what I need. Perhaps the most useful part is that you can refine the search to a specific zip code.
While only time will tell, it does appear that Myspace has a lot to offer musicians and all creative individuals alike. It surpasses the musician-to-musician connection dynamic, and sees the bigger picture, allowing any entrepreneurial artist expansive opportunities to connect with each other. However, while it does possess these benefits, it is more designed as a social stratosphere than a music promotion platform. For example it is hard to believe its service would replace that of Soundcloud and Youtube as listening platforms. Though, it will surely augment them.
Like all music social media platforms, the more artists join, the more potential to create and thus an exponential growth in activity. And if you are like every other starving artist out there, using another social media platform can only help to expand your network.
Source: SoundCtrl (by Zac Bluestone)