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February 29, 2012

UKBANDS.NET 1997-2012 - I Wonder?

Filed under: General Musings — ian @ 10:56 pm

John Booth, Friday 30 December 2011: “Does anyone really want to know or care about how fraudsters destroyed any hope of creating a portal that may have been the only chance the independent bands in UK may have had?”

Nope! Oh yeah go on then, I would love to know what happened since I was kicked out of in 2007 just for supporting Andy’s ChatAboutMusic Forum!

John Booth again, “ is no more, as most of you will have already realized by now! It was destroyed by 3 people. So what Happened! Well if anyone is interested then I will be happy to write a full explanation and publish it on the record for all to see because these scum bags seem to have got away with it until their next exploit is known. So 2012 is the year to tell the story of and how it fell to ashes due to the greed of a few scumbags leaving a wake of distruction in their path.”

Well John, as Cassie, one of your former employees, stated in UKBands…a deletion too far! on the ChatAboutMusic Forum, “What goes around, comes around.” BTW., why didn’t you post what happened?

It’s the little things that piss me off like: Andy’s band Sheldon, they haven’t been a member of since 2007 (when they too were unceremoniously booted out), who up until recently still had a UKbands profile, even though they had asked you, John Booth, to remove it. You refused! I also didn’t like the petty way you exposed our full names instead of our Usernames after we were barred! “What a moron.” - Andy 2007.

I feel that died in 2005, as each week went by more and more of the old stalwarts disapeared, only to spring up, rebirthed in MySpace (Booth’s nemesis); MySpace is also waning fast (or is it dead?), I suppose Facebook is next!

I joined while making a website for a friend’s daughter’s band in 2004. I was flamed on my first post by a mafia style mother who was protecting her stupid tosser of a son (a lead singer). It didn’t matter. I enjoyed the combined experience of Menendez, UKbands and SEO, so I set-up Unsigned Band Promotion. A lot has changed since then, forums are ‘old hat’ and social media has taken over; just about all the forums I’ve been a member of, apart from one, have fallen by the wayside like guestbooks in the night (who the fuck’s got one of those anymore?).

Over the past couple of day’s I’ve been reading two ChatAboutMusic forum threads, “UKbands time line” and “UKBands…a deletion too far!”, that I saved for posterity (yes, I’ve got it all guys) before John Booth persuaded Proboards to delete them. Both are massive threads running to many pages and they’re a compelling read, detailing how and why it all went wrong for John Booth and in 2007 written by those who were there.

This blog post was going to be a contraversial diatribe, but after reading the forum posts by: Andy, Seags, Matt of The Malloys, Kate, MediaMoggie, KateM, Chaz, Cooper, Allan Wall, Cassie, oneyeopen, Martin GD greendragon, Moby, Revolution Radio, Benny of Bullo Pill, Melandra of Voodoo Doll, and the wonderful (where is he now, baby you can drive my car) Jack Neill, to name but a few, I thought better of it, but I thought I’d quote the wonderful daddy of them all and Flying Hero, Seags, “Suck my septic stump Booth.”


Oh, BTW, if you would like to make a comment, I’m always happy to receive your comments, PLEASE do not make them slanderous, otherwise I may have to “moderate” them! ;)  I would like to progress from where we were on ChatAboutMusic.

Marketing Music With Affiliate Marketing

Filed under: Music Marketing, Marketing — ian @ 12:11 am

Ages ago @JonnyScaramanga Tweeted: @BandPromotion I want to run an affiliate scheme to pay my fans a commission when their friends buy my merch. Any idea how I could do this?

Such an interesting question, I couldn’t possibly answer it in 140 characters. I conversed with Jonny and I’d love to share my additional thoughts with you.

A Brief Overview of Affiliate Marketing

Firstly, there are usually four parties that make up the affiliate marketing circle:

  • The Advertiser (the merchant - the seller)
  • The Network (the intermediary)
  • The Publisher (the affiliate - the referrer - the reseller)
  • The Consumer (the purchaser - the website visitor - Joe Public)

Looking at affiliate marketing from the Publisher’s point of view; affiliate marketing is the practice of getting rewarded by a merchant for sending visitors or customers to their website. After joining an affiliate marketing network you (the affiliate) select merchants to be affiliated with; when approved, you display their advertising banners and/or text links on your website. After your website’s visitor makes a purchase, fills out a contact form or clicks their link (clickthrough marketing) you earn a commission; typically your commission is a percentage of the sales price or fixed amount per lead/ clickthrough. It’s a simple way to earn some extra money and get paid for your performance!

In the case of @JonnyScaramanga, he wants to be the merchant and run his own in-house affiliate program. Jonny wants to pay a commission for referred business - maybe by utilising affiliate tracking software?

Affiliate Tracking and Management Software Providers

Please Note: I think I had better state, I am NOT endorsing or promoting any of these affiliate program products. You use them at your own risk!    Warning: always be cautious of ‘free software’, do your homework and check them out.

If you want to run your own in-house affiliate program, you will need a real website and an affiliate tracking software package (hosted packages do also exist). Fans, friends and family will be able to join as affiliates, then login, get links, view their stats and get paid! You, as admin, will be able to perform all the administration duties:

  • Cosmic Affiliate Click They say it’s lacking in detail and doesn’t have any major features but, it works and it’s free! Because this script is free it isn’t supported - which is normal, most free scripts usually have a helpful forum - somewhere!
  • Best Option (@JonnyScaramanga ?maybe?) (Basic, Hosted $19 (£12) /month): Post Affiliate Pro Affiliate software to power your affiliate program - so they say… Easy to set up and manage - recruit new affiliates, give them promotional tools and track their referrals. Integrates with many third party payment processors. BTW I am NOT an affiliate of PAP - maybe I should be, but I’m not!?

Note: Professional Affiliate Tracking and Management Software costs range from approx. £200 - £1,000 (for a hosted option there’s usually an additional monthly charge from approx. £15).

Be Aware Of The Security Issue

Security (in all senses of the word) is a very important and wide-ranging subject from the consumer’s, the affiliate’s and the merchant’s point of view. It can simply be about trust as in, “would I buy from that website!” Most affiliates are small-time, they worry about getting ripped-off, they want to feel safe and they want to get paid for their hard work; but obviously there is more to security than trust! Where there is money, there is corruption and the merchant who doesn’t prepare for trouble will get into difficulties and fail. Before using affiliate tracking software or signing up to a hosted affiliate package, carry out exhaustive checks and ask questions about their fraud protection and security arrangements - one can’t be too thorough; we all worry about the security of our personal information online, don’t we?

Low-Fi Methods of Running an Affiliate Program

These ideas are not perfect, they all have flaws or loopholes, I would recommend that you only invite superfans, friends & family to begin with. Do a lot of testing and keep a close eye on progress, because what makes these ideas work is trust, for instance: a real world affiliate might come round to your house and pick up 20 T-shirts & 20 CDs on a sale or return agreement, then proceed to market them to his friends - choose the wrong, aggressive salesman and it may harm your band, not help it!

1. This first method isn’t really an affiliate scheme, it’s promoting your band through ‘affiliate style’ marketing in the real world. This should be a casual and friendly project that you can expand, develop and improve.

To start, pick ten close friends and offer them five CDs each at cost price (e.g. 5 CDs x £2 = £10). They can sell the CDs for whatever they feel is the correct price (e.g. recommended retail price: £7 each). They keep all the profit. You give them a complimentary CD and a fake tattoo - get yourself a photograph of them for your website. BTW, make sure you include all your contact information on the CD and rear inlay or cardwallet.

I also recommend that you get your music on to a website like, they distribute to itunes, amazon, emusic, nokia music store and others. Fans, friends and family can join amazon’s affiliate program and promote your music from their social media. Tune Core is always looking for affiliates as well!

At this early stage it would be worthwhile creating a database of names and emails of superfans, friends and family who may be interested in helping your band. Use a brilliant free email marketing program.

2. An advancement of the first method would be the “Sale or Return.” method; Sale or return is an arrangement whereby the merchant (you, the band) sends CDs to an affiliate (the reseller) who pays the band when they’ve sold the CDs. The CDs (or goods, merchandise) remain the band’s property (the band is known as the ‘title holder’) until they are paid for in full (by the reseller). The band should allow a reasonable period before unsold CDs are to be returned by the reseller and/or payment is made, say 30 days; the reseller receives an agreed discount (a commission payment) of say, 20%, depending on their performance (how many they’ve sold).

Obviously you, the merchant, will need to set up a Reseller Agreement. The terms of agreement should include: Ownership and copyright details. Recommended retail price. Commission rates. sales/payment time scale and recovery of CDs due to late returns. Loss or damage. Transit liability. Their consumer legislation responsibilities, and your liability waiver. Etc. etc.

The reseller, affiliate is able to sell your music (and merchandise?) under agreement from their online shop :)

3. I’m sure you are thinking what most people are thinking by now, affiliate marketing is, “a fan sticking up our banner add on their Facebook page and selling our music to their friends!” O.K., here is how you do it Low-Fi style:

Sign up to PayPal and get yourselves a merchant account. When you have joined, go to: My Business Setup & click: Website Payments Standard. Go to: Create A Button Now. Set up a buy now image button (your CD cover) for each affiliate (could take about 15 minutes per affiliate, no advanced programming skills required!). Send your new affiliate the code to paste on their ‘web pages’. When “Joe Public” clicks and buys your music, you get the email from PayPal, so *You *Must keep records of the who, which, where and why affiliates, are selling your music. Then you pay-out a commission (10-15%) to the referrers/ affiliates.

Big Tip: treat your affiliates like gold dust. Why not get some distinctive and individual fake tattoos made, send them (maybe as a prize) to your top affiliates and post images of them flaunting themselves and having fun on your website’s blog. Definitely blog about your top affiliates and link to their ‘web pages’, it encourages others to join and buy.

Please be aware that most of your affiliates will only sell to about 2% of their audience - no one is going to make a fortune.

The Serious Online Marketeer

I’ve been an online/ affiliate marketeer since about 1994, that’s a long time in the affiliate world. Here is some sad news if you are a band looking to join an affiliate network like Commission Junction to market your music; NO serious online marketeer is going to touch your band with a barge pole - unless they are sleeping with the lead singer! Why? Because there wont be enough reward for the effort. It is the same for you (the band), joining an affiliate network (to market your music) would be too expensive! However, serious online marketeers do look for niche products and good profit margins - what’s your product & what’s the PM? Affiliate Marketing is a numbers game and it doesn’t matter what side of the affiliate marketing equation you are on, whether it’s the merchant or the affiliate, understanding the numbers is important - BTW, they’ll check you out!

However, the benefits of running an affiliate program could be worth the effort and expense: you should increase your website’s targeted traffic by 100+%. You will widen your fan base and get the opportunity to engage with, and reward your true fans. And ultimately sell more product.


February 26, 2012

The Most Frequently Found Website Promotion Mistakes

Filed under: Music Marketing, SEO, website promotion, Band Promotion — ian @ 12:32 pm

Sorry that it has been such a long time since I posted, I’ve been working!

If you are The Unknown Band who wants to get their name out there and would love some help with your website promotion, then take a quick gander at this Open Email - it’s a sort of ‘Most Frequently Found Website Promotion Mistakes’ compiled from my 2011 email correspondence with bands ~ no names mentioned ;)

You Are Not Maximising Your Website’s Promotional Effectiveness

Your opening page is a splash page! Having a splash page is one of the biggest and most extravagant website promotion luxuries and it is a colossal mistake. A splash page is nothing more than an introductory opening page that precedes the main home page; it usually just contains a massive attention grabbing image of the band that acts as a link to the band’s home page (CLICK TO ENTER). Here is some real source code copied from a band’s splash page (Only the band’s name & javascript have been changed):

<html> <head>
<title>The Johnson</title>
<script language="javascript">
<!– {
/*Bollox javascript*/
} //–></script></head>
<body bgcolor="#CBBB9B">
<div align="center">
<a href="home.html"><img src="images/artwork.jpg"
width="800" height="569"></a>

…No Content There Guys! Personally, I think a band’s opening page should be a simplified version of their press pack, that contains everything a new visitor or fan is looking for :) Please have a V.quick gander at: Press Packs What Should They Include

Quick Fix Get rid of the splash page and replace it with your Home-Page which has loads of content.
Further Reading Search Engine Optimization - SEO for Bands and UBP’s Response To Matt Early’s Blog Post - Splash Bang Codswallop!

Your Links And Linking Are Totally Up The Spout

Linking errors will ruin your chances of success. The question every noobie band’s webmaster wants to know the answer to is, "How can I get people to visit our website, become fans and buy our music?" The answer is simple, traffic increases with the number of Links pointing to your Website in addition to the quality and quantity of your website’s Content. It’s a simple answer, but quite difficult to accomplish.

Most of your links are pointing away from your website to Facebook, Twitter, ReverbNation, MySpace and various other profile pages, and they are not reciprocated. Your website is acting as a landing page to your social media and that is wrong, it should be the other way around.

Also, create a user-friendly navigation structure so it is easy for visitors to find their way around your website - don’t use loads of different and confusing text sizes and colours. NEVER make regular text look like a bog standard link (underlined &/or blue), it confuses people and stops them clicking the real link.

Quick Fix Link with 10 other websites each week. For linking think networking and for networking think conversations. So that’s, get into deep and meaningful conversation with ten new people each week - and swap links!
Further Reading Links and Linking - The Dark Art and Check Your Link Popularity

You Have Got 153 Coding Errors On Your Home-Page

Coding errors are actually the most common of all website mistakes - by a country mile - I’m sure I’ve got some myself ;) Most HTML errors are very easy to solve, go to W3C HTML Validation and run a check to find out more.

However, you haven’t got enough technical flexibilty on the type of web platform that you’ve chosen to build your website on (one of the free web hosts) - which means, your web host, where your website resides, doesn’t allow you to get hands on with the coding (they do it all for you), your website is not created in the most optimum way and there are a shed load of SEO & html issues! Your problems would be solved by moving your website to a real web host like iPower.

The most common HTML errors are: Not including or incorrect use of DOCTYPE declaration. Forgetting to close a tag. Nesting tags incorrectly. Not opening or closing quotes within tags. Not encoding special characters like ‘"‘ and ‘&‘. Not including the image alt attribute.

Note: a lot of the free Web hosts use too much javascript, Flash and frames which can cause problems with Web crawlers; this may result in your website being indexed incorrectly (and slowly) in the search engines.

Quick Fix Get a real website from iPower then visit: W3C HTML Validation
Further Reading Band promotion for unsigned bands

Your Website Is Mind-Bendingly Boring

A band’s website shouldn’t look like a 1990s Online brochure for a small engineering firm. Boring - unless you’re a small engineer ;) A band’s website should be entertaining. And what makes a website entertaining is good content. Content is the all important key word here; if you want people to spread the word about your band, you’ve got to give them something to talk about! Give your visitors regularly updated, interesting and maybe a tad contraversial, newsworthy Content.

It is So easy to get sucked into social networking and at the same time neglect one’s website, because websites take up so much fucking time, and, quite frankly, updating websites can be boring. However, if you want to make money from your music, it is worth putting in the effort. You are posting some lovely images of your band on Facebook, publish them on your website instead. Write loads of compelling description around the images to enlighten and titillate - especially for the people who don’t know your band. Do the same for the wacky photos of your fans enjoying themselves.

Stop using images to replace actual textual content (words).

Quick Fix Turn your opening page into a Blog.
Further Reading Quality Content

There Are Problems With Your Band’s Name

You often abbreviate your band’s name or write it as an acronym, I wouldn’t do this until you are Very Well established. Promote your full name at every opportunity.

Because your band’s name is a Surname, you have got strong competition when promoting it in Google. Write a strapline that describes your band, eg: The Johnson are an indie folk band from Reading, Berkshire Put it in to your title tag and write an extended version (about 150 characters including the spaces) for your description meta tag - Write many different versions and tweet them regularly (note: tweets are 140 characters including spaces).

There are other bands with the same band name as you!

Quick Fix Choose a unique, short and memorable name that reflects your band’s image - make sure it’s O.K. to use.
Further Reading A Band Name That Everyone Cares About

You Are Not Promoting Relevant Keywords

This is how a search engine sees the textual content of your opening page: ‘official’ ’site’ because you do not have any other textual (written) content!

Aim to be found for your bands name and for something else other than your band’s name, like: ‘folk band reading’ or ‘function band berkshire’. What is someone going to type into Google to find you? Second Guessing (attempting to predict or anticipate what people are going to search for to find your website) is an odd topic with plenty of scope for both error and success, but, it’s important - your band’s lifestyle choices could be the way to go! Don’t bother using extremely popular keywords like: music, sex, free, mp3… they’ll never work!

I wouldn’t normally say anything about keyword density here on my blog, however, I would aim for approximately 4 or 5 keywords and or key-phrases per 100 words of written content (not including the header meta tags) - ‘Johnson’ is a keyword, ‘folk bands reading’ is a key-phrase!

Quick Fix Find the top 20 keywords and key-phrases that best describe your band and genre, add them to your website.

Your Free Hit Counter Looks Very Amateurish

Nobody cares about how many hits your website gets - apart from you ~ true! But, the fact that you’ve got a hit counter means that you are interested in monitoring your website’s success, brilliant. If you are interested in marketing your music, keeping track of your website statistics is vital as they will tell you what your visitors like and dislike.

Obviously, by keeping a regular check of your website’s statistics you will be able to build-up a good understanding of your: Advertising success. Traffic sources (the who, what, where and why of how people are finding you). What pages are successful… i.e. the overall performance of your website’s various aspects.

Quick Fix Get Google Analytics - so you can evaluate your progress.

Cold Hard Fact: Your Website Design Is Unprofessional

Sorry, but the one ingredient that separates an amateur website from a professional website is the speed at which the crucial message is delivered to the visitor. A professional website delivers the crucial message immediately, however, your website delivers your album and gig details eventually (one day, someday, never - only if one looks for them), V. negative!

There are two VERY important areas on the opening page of your website:
1. Centre Opening Screen - this is where your most important messages should be going.
2. Top Right Corner Opening Screen (between 1 and 2 o’clock) - the perfect place for a sign up button, a music player or a 300px x 300px ‘clickable’ image of your psychedelic album cover.

Keep the layout simple and obvious, i.e., Upcoming Gigs should be listed with new gig dates at the top and old gig dates at the bottom - why would you make visitors scroll down the page to find your next gig date? BTW, Don’t forget to blog about ‘it’ too!
…Talking of blogs, if you use Blogspot or Wordpress, make an effort to make it look like the rest of your website. Post 3 times a week.

Quick Fix Think about what your fans want. What is your website like from the their point-of-view? Ask them!
Further Reading Make A Sexy Website And Get Laid Like A Rockstar This Weekend
Make Money From Your Band’s Website

The $64,000 Question: How Can We Get More Traffic?

Well it’s the question everyone wants to know the answer to! How to get targeted and consistent traffic visiting your website - quickly, like today? After all, it’s what we build a website for, isn’t it?

The fasest way initially is to collaborate with others. Big Warning: collaboration will kill you if your band is crap and has a pisspoor website!

Create a ‘Target Fan Profile’ and figure out how they will come to your website; there are three usual ways (with multiple criterion): 1. By searching in a search engine. 2. By clicking on an incoming link. 3 By typing your URL directly into the address bar.

Create the right environment on your website that will satisfy your target audience. Point your potential fan towards your website using both online and real world techniques. Visitors will keep returning and become fans if they are continually entertained - i.e. they like you!

…How Fast? Well it is not going to be a 9.58s 100m sprint, getting traffic is much more like the decathlon! Visitor numbers improve with the quality and quantity of Content, in combination with the quality and quantity of Incoming Links, and Time.

BTW, the three most common requests I receive are: Help us get our name out there. How can we get more web traffic. and, Help Promote My Band. Unfortunately, promoting a band Online through its website and social media, doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix answer; like building relationships through networking, promoting a band Online takes time! See a simple and basic outline of a typical website promotion effort in: 100 Fan Decathlon

Your problem is that you are too focussed on social media, that you don’t pay enough attention to your website!

Lastly, and to conclude, did you know only about 20% of bands have a Real Website! That’s it for now, hope that helps a little, if you’ve got a specific question, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best for you.

Fond Regards

Unsigned Band Promotion
Helping musicians and artists get their websites noticed by fans, search engines
and the music industry in half the time they could do it on their own.

Copyright © all original text by me is licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license