How to Lead People to Your Music in a Digital Age
By Bill Pere - 08/04/2011 - 08:51 AM EDT
the maturity of digital delivery and a proliferation of websites that allow
easy uploading and legal downloading of music, the old models of making and marketing
CDs are gone. The shift from an
album-based economy to a track-based economy spawns many new considerations for
the Indie artist when the time comes to go into the studio and record.
the old days, the typical strategy was to record an album, release a featured
"single" and people would then purchase the whole album, never having
heard the other songs.
Albums often contained several 'filler' tracks of songs that never would
have stood alone.
anyone can easily hear up to 2-minute samples of tracks before purchasing, so the notion of using filler tracks is
essentially useless Ė ALL the
tracks have to be good or the consumer will just bypass them and download the
ones they want. More than
ever before, the quality of the songs is important helping your music rise
above the baseline of filler tracks that are out there on CD Baby, i-Tunes, and
other internet music stores. If you spend the time and money to record a filler
track, it's not going to give you the return on your investment in a
track-based music economy as it might have in the old album-based economy.
leads to the obvious question, is the concept of an "Album" even
valid anymore? Should an artist spend time and money making a physical CD, when
CD sales are rapidly declining and digital sales are increasing? If you are a
touring artist, you'll still (for now) want physical CDs to sell at gigs, but
remember that the ultimate goal is always to be able to generate income without
having to be physically present.
Content is King
Consider how a typical listener comes to find new music. As an Indie artist, it's fair to assume
that most people have never heard of you.
How will they find your songs? The most likely path to your music will come from
consumers doing Internet searches on topics which have nothing to do with
you. However, if your
website contains content that might be of interest to particular groups of
people, they will find you and then discover your music. For example, I have lots of
website content about hunger and homelessness, and also about songwriting
techniques. I've had lots of folks
around the world find me and my music because they were searching on those
topics, and now they've become fans.
Think of the content on your website as a net to catch Internet
searchers. Baseball, coin
collecting, gardening, cooking, etc. all become nets to catch the relevant
searches of people with an interest in those topics.
way to increase the effectiveness of your net is to put the lyrics to all your
songs online as a separate page for each song. If you write songs about various topics, people
searching those topics will be more likely to find your content. Again, the importance of the
songwriting comes to the fore. If
you just write generally about love and how you broke up or got together,
you're going to be lost in an ocean of similar content. If however, you want to write about
those things and use some interesting metaphors, like "your love is
kryptonite" (a Superman reference)
or "My heart is as parched as the desert of Tatooine" (a Star Wars reference), you're now
providing potential hooks for people with specific interests. In this age of niche marketing,
specificity is always going to be a big plus. Over the years, I've been commissioned to write songs about
a submarine, a river, a statue, horseback riding, Special Olympics, and various other unusual but specific
things. These songs get
found by people searching for related content. As an example, my submarine song about the USS Connecticut
is often mentioned on websites of Navy personnel, and my songs about whaling
ships found their way to the Maritime Heritage Network.
a track-based digital music world,
there are some things we've lost from the album-based model. Concept albums like the "Days of
Future Past" (Moody Blues) , or "The Who Sell Out" (The Who) donít translate well to a
track-based model. The order of
tracks and the transitional content between them were essential to making
concept albums work as a whole. With
individual digital tracks available in any order, the artist can no longer
control how the listener will hear the content. Each song will have to be able to stand alone, and
transitional material between songs is meaningless, and complicates where to place
the track markers. If you want to
do a concept album with transitional material, it is a good idea to submit a
different version for digital download, where any inter-song transitional
material is omitted. With most
sites giving a 30-second clip to preview the song, it's important to limit the
length of musical introductions and get right into the song, unless you can
specify the section to use for the preview clip.
to a concept album, but more in tune with today's market is the themed-album.
This is a collection of individual songs, each of which could stand alone, but
all of which relate to some common and specific theme e.g., high school life,
baseball, rural life, spirituality,
boats, etc. This serves two
purposes. It makes it much easier
to identify a target audience, enabling you to focus your promo efforts. It also provides a critical mass of
content on the Internet, making a
much bigger net for catching Internet searches about that topic. The more specific the theme, the
better. A colleague of mine
who wrote a CD consisting of just original songs about baseball now has that CD
in the baseball hall of fame.
What's In a Name ?
of the most important things to think about in a digital world is the song title. Typically the title of a song going to
be a phrase in the first or last line of the chorus, as that is the most easily
remembered part of the song. But
it might not be the most unique phrase as far as search keywords go. So you can use the technique of
double-titling, where the song has one primary title, followed by a second in
parentheses. An example would be
Rupert Holmes' song "Escape (The Pina Colada Song). In the aftermath of hurricane
Katrina, I produced a song by a fellow writer called "Daydream" about
memories of growing up in New Orleans.
I suggested that it would be advisable to double-title the song calling
it "Daydream (The Levees of New Orleans)". You can see the difference that would make in number of
search hits the song receives.
If you can come up with a title which is
similar to some word or phrase which is commonly searched, it will be a big
help to you. Before there was the "High School the Musical"
phenomenon, I released my CD and song "High School My School". This gets many hundreds of hits each
day from people searching "High School Musical". If you can generate high web traffic,
you only need to convert a small portion of that into sales to start seeing meaningful royalties.
today's world of individual tracks and search engines, make it a part of your
overall planning to think about how you can maximize the web traffic that each
of your songs can generate. Think
of lyrics, titles, and subject matter as web content. Make sure each song is truly strong enough to stand on its
own as if it were a featured single.
Learn how search engines like Google work and optimize your website
content to draw people to you.
Cast a well-thought-out net, and you'll be well-rewarded.
Bill Pere was named one of the
"Top 50 Innovators, Groundbreakers and Guiding Lights of the Music
Industry" by Music Connection
Magazine. With more than 30 years
in the music business working with top industry pros as a songwriter,
performer, recording artist and educator,
Bill is well known for his
superbly crafted lyrics, with
lasting impact. Bill has
released 16 CDs, and is President of the Connecticut Songwriters
Association. He is an Official
Connecticut State Troubadour, and is the Founder and Executive Director
LUNCH Ensemble (www.lunchensemble.com). Twice named Connecticut
Songwriter of the Year, Bill is a qualified MBTI practitioner, trained
by the Association
for Psychological Type. He is a
member of CMEA and MENC, and as
Director of the Connecticut Songwriting Academy, he helps develop young
talent in songwriting, performing, and learning about the
music business. Bill's song
analyses and critiques are among the best in the industry. Bill has a
graduate degree in Molecular
Biology, an ARC Science teaching certification, and he has received two
for Outstanding contribution to Music Education.
© Copyright 2011
Bill Pere. All Rights
Reserved. This article may not be
reposted without permission of the author. Reproduction for educational
purposes is permitted with proper attribution. For workshops,
consultation, critiques, or other
songwriter services, contact Bill
via his web sites, at www.billpere.com, www.ctsongwriting.com, and www.lunchensemble.com
[ Current Articles | Archives ]