If you are a person using sites like Blip.fm, Last.FM and others to share your favorite music with the world, you know how frustrating it is when you can’t find a song you are looking for. Sites like SongTwit.com help somewhat by allowing you to upload a song, but then you run into potential copyright and ownership issues. We all know you are just showing your favorite band some love and not stealing, but some labels are not so open minded and don’t see the long view of sharing as a benefit to sales.
The artist can help us be the engine of their discovery by allowing sharing, and better, by proactively ensuring their content is out there to share. I would have never discovered some of my favorite album purchases without a friend sharing a link to a song with a “you must listen to this” note attached, and I am not alone in this. After all, those who find music online are several times more likely to make a purchase.
How can an artist help their music get found? Uploading songs to sites like Blip.FM is a great start, but just slapping a song on Blip or a video on YouTube is only the beginning. Artists need to proactively tag and title their work, from the ID3 tags to the file name, to make them more discoverable. If your ID3 tagging isn’t up to par, what I find when I search for your music to share are a bunch of crappy covers on YouTube or hundreds of junk links to poor quality fan recordings of your music. That’s not what you want for your music brand!
If you are really good, you will learn to embed purchase links into your YouTube videos on your official channels. After all, 91% of those who proactively look for something on YouTube make a purchase related to their search. If you are full of awesome, you’ll learn to be shameless about putting purchase info into your songs themselves. Some musicians use analytics in their file links to track listeners and reach out to them. Some simply end the official song file with a voice over saying to find them on their website, spelling the URL. As a listener, that is fine with me – it gives me a way to find you and pay you for your art. Musicians who have sharable links on their sites increase sales dramatically as well.
If you are a musician or label, what creative ways are you encouraging sharing and turning it into a purchase?
I talked about the value of trailers to filmmakers. It got me thinking about the music sampler, free MP3s, peer to peer sharing and other ways musicians’ music can be discovered even before their album is out – “musical trailers”, if you will.
For me, the musical trailer that leads to a new band, musician, or song is often a shared file sent to me by a friend or client musician. Random nuggets of discovery that lead to musical happiness, vetted by people I trust. For a growing number of people, musical trailers come from sites like Grooveshark, Pandora, Blip.fm, iLike, Last.fm, iMeem (now Myspace music), LaLa, Musicovery, FlyFi and others. Lately, by hooking sites like LaLa and Blip.fm to Twitter accounts, Twitter has become my main source of music discovery.
Hooking whatever account the music lover or band uses for music sharing, even multiple sites, to Twitter creates one stream for music discovery for people in your network. It gives you a way to create a musical trailer stream distributed to multiple fans, that they can then pack and take with them via RSS feed or other services, and that they can share with their networks via lists, hashtags or regular tweets.
If you also hook your discovery and sharing services to other social networks like Facebook and MySpace profiles, you reach an entire extra layer of people. Facebook makes this a bit harder lately. They’ve decided, for example, to ditch the iLike stream (which is unfortunate, it was one of my favorite Facebook apps). But people are finding ways around site restrictions to share the music they love with each other.
Think how you as a musician can up the ante by not only sharing your music and your favorite music to listen to by others using streaming services, but by purposely creating an old school music sampler to act as a coherent musical trailer for your upcoming album. Then release the sample into the wild for free download and make it easy to share. One of my favorite things I see happening on Twitter, specifically, are bands that will randomly send me a link to a free song set (usually two or three songs) via Direct Message a few months before the album comes out – I love that! It’s like unwrapping a present in my DM box.
I’m continually watching for new ways to discover new music to buy, and so many others do the same. Make it easy for us to hear you by changing how you think about your music and the music of others. Emulate the movies a bit, and tease us with trailers – get us excited for your next release. What ways are you using to get fans excited for your new music?