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Promoting Yourself Online

How to utilise social networking, blogging and websites to showcase your music

The internet allows musicians to generate considerable career momentum and, on occasion, highly valuable revenue streams. However, it also presents potentially significant problems regarding the control of copyright and performers’ rights.

MU National Organiser, Recording & Broadcasting

The internet provides musicians with an unprecedented number of ways to showcase their creativity to the public, press and industry.

Advances in the way the internet operates mean that even the most non-technical musician can now put together an online presence which will help to gather a fanbase and keep them informed of live events, sell releases and merchandise, provide resources for the press, and even effectively reach the ears of the world’s A&R staff.

Whether you decide to launch a fullyfledged website, a blog, a Twitter account, a YouTube channel, a Facebook profile or all of them, you will undoubtedly benefit from putting your music online.

Online rights issues

Promoting music via the internet has ushered in a new era of rights issues. These apply whether you are launching a dedicated website, a social networking profile, or cutting online distribution deals with download sites. For detailed advice regarding online rights issues, please contact your Regional Office.

Social media

When social media platforms are used well, it can provide provide simple, powerful ways to network and engage with audiences — both current and potential.

Sharing, not shouting

Social networking is just another form of communication, one which encourages fans to interact with you. Each time you communicate, it does not necessarily have to involve a lot of text, you can always post a picture or a link to something you like.

Remember that social networking is a two-way process — essentially, it is a conversation, so do try and engage fans by talking to them rather than at them. And do not just talk about your releases and gigs, try engaging your online friends and followers with communications about your interests, which will deepen and strengthen their feeling of personal involvement with you, as an artist and a person.

Focused resources

Some musicians are joining more focused social networks, in order to engage with peers as well as potential listeners. These include the site for professional vocalists, The Mandy. There are also classified advertising services, such as Join My Band, which are making use of Facebook and Twitter.

For classical musicians, the London Symphony Orchestra has compiled a very helpful set of Twitter user-lists, which cover everything from orchestras and opera companies to composers and conductors.

Free accounts

A key draw with social media is the fact that the sites are often free to use, and as major record labels and PR companies use them as a major communication channel, it costs you nothing but time to replicate their promotional approach. However, although you may be tempted to set up a profile on every social networking site, it is much better to pick two or three and do them really well.

MU members who are unsure about the legal implications of placing their music on social networking sites should seek advice from their Regional Office before signing any user agreements.


Internet deals — website rights advice

The MU advises against the use of music websites that require any form of assignment of rights and, as with all contracts, members should always get internet contracts vetted before clicking on “I agree…”. If members have any queries about a site they should contact their Regional Office.

Online A&R

The record industry largely failed to anticipate the staggering popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, which has swiftly become the mainstream forum for generating a ‘buzz’ around artists. Online A&R is the logical way for the industry to capitalise on this phenomenon by tapping into the ‘hive-mind’ wisdom of an existing networked community.

In recent years, an artist’s page on such online networking sites has acted as an impromptu calling card, so it was only a matter of time before the record labels sought to take advantage of this trend.

Many labels now accept demo submissions online, with others sure to follow. In fact, some labels no longer accept physical demos, so do contact the label in question before sending it any samples of your work.

New space

For any label, the sheer physical or electronic space that demos take up has always been a major issue. Several labels have got around this problem by launching online A&R systems, which allow artists to register, then upload tracks, pictures and a biography. Some online A&R systems even send an alert to artists when a track has been reviewed.

Another online network that is gaining in popularity is the A&R ‘blogging’ community, which allows label personnel, fellow artists and other members to review and recommend or criticise your work.

Membership involves keeping up a blog and interacting ‘socially’ with the network.

Online A&R offers several advantages to artists; it is more cost-effective because you are not paying postage, you can update your demos and artist information, and it is likely that you have got a better chance of getting feedback about your submission.