I remember once being told about a band that got signed after sending out their demo CD in a box with a pair of designer boxer shorts and the scribbled message, ‘We are not pants!’ However, whilst it is often quirky little touches that get labels to choose to take notice of your music over the thousands of other aspiring artists out there, times have most certainly changed. In recent years the popularity of something called the ‘internet’ has been gaining massive popularity (I know, I haven’t heard of it either!), and so gone are the days where it is essential to put your DAT tape/CD/underwear in a jiffy bag, send it off to an A&R man and wait for that all important phone call. So if you want to get yourself noticed, check out our simple guide to getting set-up and getting your music heard the new-skool way!
1. Introduction and Contents
SoundCloud is fast becoming the way to share your music with your friends and the music world. If you haven’t already heard of it, then visit www.soundcloud.com now and sign yourself up! It is essentially a social networking site dedicated especially to music. You can create a profile and add a picture, add a description of your act and then upload tracks and sets (achieved via the ‘Upload & Share’ tab at the top of your SoundCloud page) before sharing them with whoever you want (provided they have an internet connection of course!)
You can then add track descriptions, genres, sound types (e.g. Original, Remix, One Shot Sample, etc), tags, BPM information, key information, release date information, record label information, set the track privacy (i.e. who can listen to it), and even make your track downloadable (for free or for money) if you so wish! To edit track information, all you have to do is click the small pencil icon above the track.
You can also add tracks to your 'Favourites' group by clicking the heart icon, so that they are always quickly available to you. This feature is probably best used with other peoples tracks, to build up a playlist of your best discoveries!
You can then browse your tracks and sets (as well as other things) by selecting the ‘You’ tab at the top of your SoundCloud home page.
Once you are all sorted you can then share your tracks on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, via e-mail, on eBlogger and more!
To connect to another form of social networking site and publish your tracks on them, you will need to select the ‘Learn more’ text on the pop-up window that appears when you select the ‘Share’ button.
You then just need to select the ‘Connect’ button next to the site(s) that you want to link SoundCloud to (on the page that loads after you click on 'Learn more'). Easy peasy!
As well as linking your work to existing social networking sites, you can (and should!) tap into the existing SoundCloud community and thrust your work into view of thousands of other music enthusiasts. Not only will this help promote your band or artist name, but you will also receive useful feedback on what parts of your work people like and what parts they think you could improve. Go ahead, don't be shy! We know it is never great to hear that someone doesn't think your work is as good as you thought it was, but constructive feedback can only serve to help you improve your skills and increase your musical awareness.
One way to get more involved with existing SoundCloud members is to join groups that relate to the type of music you make. To do this, select the ‘Groups’ tab at the top of your SoundCloud page.
The easiest way to find groups that may interest you (or perhaps more importantly contain people that will be interested in your music) is to use the ‘Search for Groups’ function and search for words relating to the tpe of music you make or are interested in (e.g. Drum & Bass, Hip Hop, Indie, etc). You can then select the ‘Join Group’ button underneath the relevant group, and these Groups will be added to your 'Groups' folder on your SoundCloud page, giving you easy access to them in future. You can also start your own group if you wish, or you can refine your search to individual people or tracks, although if this is all you want to do it is quicker to access the relevant tab (Tracks or People) and use the search function within there.
If you use the ‘Find Friends’ option underneath the ‘People’ tab then you can discover which of your current Facebook friends are using SoundCloud so you can follow them (and pester them to follow you!) If you find someone that you want to follow, then either click the ‘Follow’ button, or if this is not available, click the small cross button in the upper right corner of the search result:
Once you are following someone, you will get live updates on your Dashboard about new tracks they have uploaded, what they are talking about, etc, etc. Better still, if they follow you back, then they will get updates about what you are doing and your new tracks!
Another really cool feature of SoundCloud is the ability to comment audio tracks. This makes it excellent for you to let other people know what you think of their music, and for other people to give you feedback on yours. Comments can even be timestamped so that you can make it clear exactly which portion of a track you are talking about (e.g. “I love the drum pattern here” or “The bassline on this drop needs turning up a bit in my opinion”). Whenever someone makes a comment, their profile picture appears in a miniature form along the lower timeline of a track, and you can view what that person has said by hovering your mouse over the picture (and reply to the comment if you so wish). Or, to make a timestamped comment for yourself just place your mouse over the relevant portion of the lower timeline, click, and enter your comment!
With SoundCloud you can send tracks easily, or embed a Dropbox on any site so that people can easily send you their songs (click the ‘Widget & Badges’ link at the bottom of your SoundCloud page to add a Dropbox). You can even send your tracks to other people (or have them send theirs to you) using the Dropbox tab on their (or your) profile.
You can even customise your sound player by changing it’s colour, for example, by clicking the ‘Share’ button above a track, followed by ‘Customize Player’ and you can check statistics such as how many people have played your track each day by selecting the ‘You’ tab followed by ‘Your Stats’
SoundCloud comes in a number of different packages. The free version comes with 120 minutes of upload space, but if you need more than this or additional features, then 4 additional packages are available (Lite, Solo, Pro and Pro Plus (for unlimited storage)). However, all these packages come at a cost, but for only €29 per year (price from May 2011) you can double your upload space to 240 minutes, which I happen to think is very reasonable.
Now this article has just touched upon the basics of setting up your SoundCloud page and propelling your music into the wider community, but there is a whole lot more that this website can do (e.g. chat on forums, add apps), so be sure to have a look around for yourself and check their ‘Help’ section at the bottom of your SoundCloud page for more information. It’s very… well… helpful!
Yes, it’s not just for embarrassing your friends by tagging them in unflattering pictures or wasting hours when you should be working by looking what all your old friends from your nursery class now look like, even if they haven’t excepted your friend request as they have been unable to get over the time you ran over their Lego castle with your tricycle! Whereas SoundCloud is more of a place to upload your music easily, and mingle with like-minded musical people (and possibly record labels!), with over 250 million active users, Facebook is more of a tool for getting noticed by the wider consumer market (i.e. people that aren’t necessarily making music themselves, but like listening to it).
But how do you get noticed in such a crowded environment? The first thing to do is to create a Page for your band or artist. The current way to do this is to navigate to www.facebook.com (don’t pretend you haven’t already got it bookmarked!), then on the signing in page, find the piece of text that says ‘Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business’ (under the big green ‘Sign Up’ button).
This will take you to another page where you can select the type of page you want to create - I would suggest ‘Artist, Band or Public Figure’ if you are reading this!
You will then be presented with a drop down menu entitled ‘Choose a category’ and if you click this you will be able to search through a number of options, including ‘Musician/Band’. You should then enter the name of your act, read the Facebook Pages Terms (which aren’t actually very long at all so you don’t even need to scroll through and pretend to yourself that you have read them all when deep down you know full well that have no idea what you have just signed up for!), click the ‘I agree’ box, and push down on the big blue ‘Get Started Button’!
You will then be prompted to enter some text to confirm that you are not a computer virus/cyborg/hamster, and you will then be able to log into your Facebook account (or create yourself one if you do not already own one).
From here, it is a simple process to add an image for your profile picture, edit your information (don’t forget to add in any links to your other websites, including other social media sites), and invite your friends to ‘Like’ your page. You can even import contacts from a file or your e-mail contacts list so that you can invite other people that you know (e.g. subscribers if you already have a website). In fact, if this is the case it is also a simple process to add a Facebook ‘Like’ box to your website so that anyone visiting your main website can instantly connect with your Facebook page as well!
If you select the ‘Edit Page’ button at the top right of the page, you can also make a number of advanced changes to your page (e.g. make other band members Admins so that they can edit the page and check to see how many people are interacting with you).
Once your page is looking the part, it is a good idea to configure it so that your fans can listen to your tracks directly, without having to follow any of your other links. You do this by adding a Facebook Application. Firstly, select the ‘Edit Page’ button, and then click the ‘Apps’ tab.
This displays all the applications that Facebook has added to your page by default, but there is no means of adding sound at the moment, unless you add it with a video (which is also a good idea to do if you have any music videos, or snippets of a live performance.) So, to add a soundplayer you will firstly need to find an application that is capable of providing this service. Click the ‘Browse more applications’ button at the bottom of the page, and here you can search for applications by name or by category. If you have a SoundCloud page, try searching for the ‘SoundCloud’ application. From the search results, click the ‘SoundCloud’ name, and then find the ‘Add to My Page’ button (at the top of the lower list of options in the left hand column).
If you are an Administrator for multiple pages, you will get a pop-up asking which page you want to add it to, in which case select your artist/band page. Be sure to select the correct one! Whilst you may think you are doing your Mum a favour by helping her run her Friday night ‘Origami for OAPs’ Facebook Page, she may have some different views if you accidentally add the explicit lyrics of your Hardcore Thrash Metal band to the place where her loyal elderly followers converge to discuss the paper beaver that they made last week.
Once you have added the application, navigate back to your Artist/Band page (it may be quickest to use the general Facebok search function to do this) and you should be able to see that the SoundCloud application has appeared somewhere in the list underneath your Page’s profile picture.
If you then click on the SoundCloud application, you will be brought to a page that asks you to configure the tab, so select the ‘here’ button to do this.
Once you have clicked this button the SoundCloud application will request permission to access your basic information, and if you want to continue, you must select ‘Allow’. If you are want you can read the Terms of Service before doing this.
You will then be presented by a screen asking you to search on SoundCloud or copy a direct link into the supplied field. You are by all means welcome to search for your page/songs, but I find it much easier to open your SoundCloud page in a new tab and copy song links.
Note: The first time I tried this it came up with the message: ‘Oops, looks like we can’t find that page!’ I used this screen to sign into my SoundCloud, before going back to my artist home page and repeating the above process again (i.e. click on the app name followed by 'here'). It then worked fine!
Once you have done this, a ‘Step 2’ box will appear with your search results in. Click on the correct song, preview it to double check that you want to share it, and then select ‘Save to the SoundCloud Player Tab' from beneath the waveform view. If all is successful, you should get the message: 'This player is now available in your SoundCloud player tab!'
You can then search for more of your SoundCloud songs to upload, or go back to your page, select the SoundCloud tab and your uploaded songs should appear, and be available for you and your fans to listen to!
Sorted! You may even want to select the ‘Edit’ button underneath the ‘SoundCloud’ tab and move the application higher up the list to make it more obvious to your fans.
There are also a number of other soundplayer applications available, so if you don’t want to start a SoundCloud profile then you have lots of other options. For example, you may want to search for BandPage by RootMusic. This application is cool as it allows you to embed songs and band news on your wall, so that people instantly see them when they visit your page. To load it simply follow the same initial steps as detailed for adding the SoundCloud application. However, this time when you select the BandPage tab (underneath your profile picture), you will be presented by the following screen:
From here you can click the ‘Set up BandPage’ button, and you will be transferred to www.rootmusic.com. From here you need to click the ‘Get started, free’ button.
So long as you are still signed into Facebook, this will bring up a window requesting permission for the BandPage application to access your basic information. Again, if you want to continue you need to select ‘Allow’, and again you should read the terms of service as the next screen will ask you to confirm that you have indeed read and understood them. You can then either choose to create your RootMusic account using your Facebook e-mail or a different e-mail address, and you are then confronted with a window asking if RootMusic can send you an e-mail, which you need to allow it to do.
The e-mail that you get sent just gives you a little information about RootMusic – kind of like a welcome e-mail, but you don’t need to look at it to continue, as you should then be transferred to a page listing all the Facebook pages you are an administrator for, and so you need to select your band/artist page.
When you first log-in, a video loads up (about 5 minutes in length) that shows you how to edit your BandPage, and it is definitely worth watching if you want to make the most out of the application.
However, if you just want to upload a track, all you have to do is select the orange ‘+ Add Track’ button.
You are then presented with a menu asking whether you would like to upload a track from SoundCloud, Youtube, or your Computer! It’s brilliantly simple! Just choose the method you want and follow the onscreen instructions. Once you have saved the track to BandPage, you should refresh your Facebook page, and as if by magic it appears there above your wall!
Add as many tracks, photos and videos as you want and you can even click the ‘Share this track’ button to alert your fans, friends, or post it to your wall! You can also Tweet it if you are linked to a Twitter page!
If you are wanting to reach a wider audience, you can even use Facebook to create your own advert. To do this, select the ‘Promote with an Ad’ option to the left of your Facebook page.
You then need to choose the type of Ad you want to create. Sponsored Stories show up in the right-hand column of Facebook, and generally refer to how news about your page will spread to new people when your current fans interact with your page. A Page Like Story allows friends of people who like your page to see that they 'liked' you. A Page Post Story allows your fans to see a story when you post an update on your page. Finally, the Page Post Like Story allows friends of your fans to see when they ‘like’ a post on your page.
The Facebook Ads section is a little more flexible as it allows you to promote an external webpage (i.e. not just a Facebook page). Here you can select what page people land on if they click your advert, add an ad message and image, and preview what your advert will look like.
Once you have selected your advert type, you then need to select your location (you can target by country or be more specific by selecting a city) and you can also choose to target a particular age range and gender if you so wish. You can then select what ‘likes’ and interests you expect your target audience to have, to make sure that your Page reaches the right eyes (or ears!) You can even be more specific with your targeting under the Connections section by choosing to target (or NOT target) fans of particular existing groups!
One handy little tool when doing this is to check the ‘Estimated Reach’ box to the right of the Targeting Section. This gives you a brief summary of how many people Facebook expects to see our advert, and summarises what type of people you are targeting.
Once you have finished creating your advert you then need to select the ‘Continue’ button. On the next tab that opens, you can select your timezone (to refine when your advert is most likely to appear on Facebook), and your maximum budget per day (minimum £1)… yes, I’m afraid you have to pay to promote yourself! You can also set a date and time for when your campaign will start and end, or select the ‘Run my campaign continuously starting today’ checkbox if you do not want to set a specific end date.
Facebook will then suggest a maximum bid for your Ad (although you can alter it yourself). Basically, the higher the bid amount, the more likely your Ad is likely to show on someones Facebook page, as Facebook will display the adverts that will get them the most money when clicked! Your maximum bid is not necessarily what you will pay each time someone clicks your Ad though… it is the MAXIUMUM you will pay, and it is often likely that you will end up paying less each time someone clicks your Ad.
In 'Advanced Mode' you can also change your pricing strategy to CPM, which sets your bid price for 1000 impressions. As this method means you are still paying whether someone clicks your advert or not, this way of advertising is more suited to brand awareness, i.e. just getting you logo to pop up on peoples Facebook pages so that they think of your brand and recognize it in future.
Once you have finished creating your advert, select ‘Review Ad’, and you can then place your order!
Although advertising costs money, if you have some spare cash and you want to get noticed, it can be worth it. If you are unsure, why not set a budget and try it for a week and see if it helps increase your popularity. Just remember that there is little point setting ridiculously low budgets (e.g. a maximum bid of 2p per click and a daily budget of £1) as your advert is unlikely to go very far at all with such low settings!
One word of warning though. As excited as you may be about your new page and as tempting as it is to plaster your wall with loads of updates about your new songs and gigs, it is a good idea to limit the number of new posts you make a day. Whilst your fans will obviously like your music, if every time they log onto their own account, their home page is clogged up full of your latest news, they may well become a little frustrated and could even block your updates from appearing in their feed. So for example, if you get ten new bookings one day, don’t post your new gig dates as individual statuses – maybe do a round up at the end of the day in one concise status.
Twitter – the place to go if you want to see lots of celebrities moaning and arguing with each other, but also a brilliant place to mingle with like-minded musical people and share your tracks with them, your friends and your fans! If you are serious about getting your music noticed and becoming recognized as a band/artist, then you really should be making use of this ever-growing social networking site.
Whilst you cannot upload any of your music to Twitter, it is an excellent place to share links (e.g to your SoundCloud), and just generally speak to people and mingle with your fans… after all, it is your fans that are listening to your music and coming to your gigs, so it’s always nice to speak to them and show them that you are just a mere human being as well!
However, if you haven’t quite reached superstar status yet, then the best place to begin is by ‘following’ your own friends and getting them to ‘follow’ you back. This way they will be able to see any updates and links that you post. You may then want to use Twitter’s search tool to find and follow artists that you like. You will find this search fnction under the ‘Who To Follow’ tab at the top of the page.
You could even try speaking to them or sending them your links to have a listen to… just don’t go overboard and start annoying them!
It is also a good idea to add some local acts that you have seen around flyers in town. After all, they are probably in the same boat as you and would more than likely be happy to listen to your tracks in return for you listening to theirs!
Myspace used to be the place for up and coming bands to showcase their music. However, it has recently fallen behind as SoundCloud, Facebook and Twitter have taken off. Nevertheless though, it is still worth getting involved in this community if you have the time, as they really seem to be gearing themselves towards becoming more of a music site – if you look at their signing-in page (www.myspace.com), it is now all to do with featured artists and music news.
If you don’t have your own dedicated website then Myspace is still an excellent alternative, as it allows you to completely customise the look of the page and includes sections for your main profile, music, photos, videos, upcoming shows, etc! You can even embed Youtube videos and link in your Soundcloud. Just be aware that you will need to select a ‘Musician’ account when you first sign up!
It is definitely worth getting someone who knows what they are doing to work with you to design your Myspace page. If it looks professional then people will be more likely to take you seriously and listen to your songs. If you’ve just gone with the basic layout and font and haven’t put any thought into how your page looks, then the sad fact is that people may leave your page without even listening to anything, even if your music is awesome! People want things to look nice! And make sure that your songs are in an obvious place that’s visible when the page first loads up. You may even want to set your latest or best song to play automatically when the page first loads up. People don’t have a very long attention span so it’s all about getting them interested a soon as your page loads up!
And what about getting people to follow you on Myspace? It’s the same tactics as usual! Let your friends and fans know that you have a page, post links to your page on your other social media sites, and follow similar acts on Facebook, and just generally chat and be nice too people! The more you push yourself out there and mingle, the more people will take notice of you.
If you are making music and want to get yourself noticed, then you really should be taking advantage of Youtube. Why not upload some footage of some live gigs? Or if you don’t have any, have some fun making music videos for some of your songs – you don’t have to have a Hollywood budget or a video camera that costs more than the average house! Get creative and use what you have! Or if you don’t have time, just use an interesting still image for people to look at whilst they listen to your songs. You may even want to consider doing other quirky little videos. Why not do a short 2 minute video of the band backstage on your recent tour? Or little tutorial videos detailing some of your hot tips (although naturally you probably won’t want to give everything away)? Little extras like this can be brilliant to firstly get people interested in your page before they get hooked on your music.
It’s also a good idea to put links to your other pages somewhere in the video descriptions (e.g. your SoundCloud page, your Facebook artist page, etc). That way, if someone stumbles across your music and they like what they hear, they don’t have to do any extra work to find more of your work and follow you elsewhere!
When making a Youtube channel page, try and make it look as professional as possible. Again, if you have some design skills, or know a friend that could help you out for a small fee, work with them to come up with something that looks professional and appealing. Also, don’t forget to fill in all your details and include links to your other pages/websites in the relevant sections.
If you are an up and coming music act, then it is unlikely many people will be searching for you or your songs directly on Youtube, so it is likely that you will need to do a bit of work here. Again, it is worth starting out by informing your friends and fans (through other social networking sites) that you have a Youtube channel, giving them the link, and politely asking them to subscribe! Then your mission starts to attract new fans!
Think carefully about the tags that you give your videos when you upload them. Don’t go crazy and chuck in loads of only slightly relevant words because you think it will give your video more chance of being found in a Youtube search. Be selective. Try to choose 5-10 words that really sum up what your video is about. Include your band/artist name, song name, genre, etc. You may even want to include the names of a couple of famous bands if you feel that people that like their music would like yours as well, but again, do not go overboard here, and avoid pretending that your video is by a famous band to get more views – this is very annoying for people!
Again, gaining subscribers through Youtube is often a case of listening to other peoples’ music first. Search for artists and local bands that create similar music to you, subscribe to their channels and leave them constructive comments, or simply tell them if you like their music! You may like to add in little comments like, ‘I make a similar style of music, so you might be interested to check out my channel and feel free to let me know what you think!’ Hopefully they will then look at your material and subscribe to you back and if they do this, the fact that they subscribed to you or commented on your video will show up in the feed on their channel, so some of their fans may become aware of you! Or, if someone has searched and found their music, then they may see your comment and decide to look at your video as well! You can even try this with famous bands' songs, although try to limit this type of behavior as you don’t want to annoy anyone or appear spammy! Maybe find your favourite song and leave a comment such as, ‘This is my favourite song ever! The main riff is just out of this world! My band have taken a lot of influence from this band so if anyone fancies checking us out then please visit our Youtube channel and let us know what you think.’
Finally, if you have exhausted all the dedicated social media sites, why not start your own blog? Blog’s are a brilliant way to let people know what you are doing and what you have planned and they are also excellent for adding quirky little features! For example, why not use your blog to review some of your latest musical purchases? Or set a remix competition for one of your songs? Or interview local bands and music acts, or up and coming artists that make a similar style of music to you? This way you are mingling with other like-minded people that may give you tips or help you out (with gigs, etc.), you are being useful to the music community and in promoting other acts, you will also be drawing lots more attention to yourself. For example, if you interview a band, it is likely that they will put a link to your blog interview on their website and social media pages. Their fans will then see this, follow the link to your blog, where they will find links to your work as well. Hopefully they will then listen to your music and become a fan of you too (or U2 if you are Bono!) You see how it works? You need to give something to get something back, but that is the way the world works! If you are providing interesting and useful information, then people will keep coming back!
If you want to start your own blog but are unsure how, try www.blogger.com, or search for ‘blog’ in your favorite search engine and see what you can find!
Whilst this blog hasn't gone into great detail on every social media site, it has hopefully given you a little idea of what is out there and has set you well on the way in your own social media adventure! If you follow the basic tips in this article then you will give yourself an excellent foundation on which to build your musical reputation and increase your fans. However, please don't take everything here as a guide that you must follow to succeed. Feel free to experiment for yourself and discover other means of promoting your music/act. And don't feel that you need to spend all your time on social media sites... after all, you still need to make your music! Maybe dedicate an evening or two a week, or a 45 minute time slot five days a week to keep everything up to date and concentrate on promoting yourself and communicating with your fans.
It may also be a good idea to download an all-in-one social networking program. Check out Hootsuite and Tweetdeck. These program let you manage all your social networking applications from on concise interface, so you can for example, update all your social network sites at once! Or, you can do clever little things like schedule status updates for specific times, so if you know that you want to announce a new track tomorrow at 9am and you know that you are still going to be in bed at this time, just schedule the status update the night before and you can enjoy your lie in! Or use the specialised search functions to look for topics that people are talking about on social networking sites. For example, you may want to search for the genre relating to the type of music you make and follow and chat to people that are already talking about it. Social networking applications are extremely handy for saving you time, managing all your sites and best of all, the basic versions are free! Check them out for yourself and spend some time getting used to the interface and how everything links together - it's worth it!
Anyway, I've rambled on for long enough now and so it's time for you to get on with building your social network empire and promoting your music to the world! So I'm going to wish you luck on your quest and feel free to join us on our Facebook or Twitter and share your music with us... we will be happy to listen to it and let you know what we think :)
All information in this article is true as of May 2011