The challenge for independent artists, label managers, artist managers and anyone working with artists in online marketing is deciding where to apportion effort.
Am I doing enough online? Should I tweet? Should I blog on MySpace? Do I need my own website or is a MySpace enough? Do I need a Facebook page?
For digital music and music marketing in general to move forward, I think it’s important that some basic standards are established around an artist’s online presence. If these standards are established, music marketers can spend more time innovating and less time worrying about whether the Bebo page has enough of a photo gallery.
If we agree on a minimum standard then we can define what is exceptional and extraneous.
Native has developed an online artist report card to help structure decision-making and reduce the grey area around representing music online.It moves from the basic to the advanced and is intended for all levels of artists.
A threshold: This is the minimum requirement to pass. You need to answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-5.
1 - Is your music available for sale on iTunes?
2 - Do you have your own MySpace, with autoplay turned off, featuring your best songs?
3 - Have you embedded an iTunes buy link into your MySpace page? (You can generate iTunes links to your album here.)
4 - Do you have a document listing the email addresses of your fanbase?
5 - Do you have an application to sign up subscribers embedded in your MySpace page?
For a C, answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-10.
6 - Do you regularly (8-10 times a year as a minimum) deliver value to your fans via email? Delivering value means sending them mp3s, video content, letters from the band. Tour dates, calls to action to ‘buy my album’ and press releases do not constitute value.
7 - Do you have your own website on your own domain?
8 - Do you keep a list of online sources that mention your music?
9 - Do you have a YouTube channel to collect all video and audio content relation to you?
10 - Have you reserved your artist/band name domain on Twitter?
For a B, answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-15.
11 - Does a Google search for your band/artist name return your MySpace page, YouTube clips of your music, your Wikipedia page (where relevant) and your homepage within the first 10 results?
12 - Does your website and MySpace integrate not just buy links to iTunes, a subscription form for your email database but links to buy merchandise and tickets.
13 - Is your music for sale on iTunes, Amazon mp3, emusic and BigPond (for Australian artists).
14 - Are you aware of being talked about on music forums relating to you?
15 - Do you track analytics on your website relating to user behaviour (where people come from, where they go, how long they stay, how many pages they view, what they search to find you)?
For an A, answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-20.
16 - Does a Google image search return an image of you?
17 - Do you have an established presence across Facebook, an active engagement with the Twitter community and an up to date Last.FM page?
18 - Is the band regularly producing and distributing original content to fans via email and across the online presence: photos, text, video, out-takes, live recording, broken guitar strings, guitar picks, signed posters…
19 - Do you replicate all artist content across all your online properties including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, your homepage et. al.
20 - Do you track and engage with all mentions of you across your Homepage, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Last.FM, on blogs and in forums?
To be the best, answer ‘yes’ to questions 1-21.
21 - Do you have your own blog on a separate domain to your main site, a forum set up dedicated to discussion around your music and a series of subsites dedicated to various campaigns around your music (remix competitions, live album giveaways, UGC-style film clip sites)?
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