I was recently contacted by the manager, frontman and vocalist of a blues band, who have been going since 2010. “I would really value your advice on how to improve our marketing.” Mackenzie asked, and he goes on, “We have a website and I’ve been reading marketing literature. I’ve implemented promotional pages and put a mailing list widget on our homepage, but the uptake has been slow! I have tried to drive traffic to our website, but again with little success! I keep a regular blog that includes plenty of information, a call-to-action and interactive content however, the uptake is very slow and scanty.”
“We gig about three times a month and we are starting to get more bookings. I promote our events, I hate to say it, but it’s usually hit and miss; I work very hard and attendance varies greatly. I’ve used videos and different types of content, but yet again it’s the same story, I’ve had little success.”
“We started as a band that only had friends who were real fans, but I want to move away from that because it’s not sustainable. I’m working hard to not overexpose or overpromote our product so that people don’t just switch off or block us, but at the same time, I’m not getting traction.”
“I do have more ideas on how to generate buzz, but I’ve been hesistant about implementing them because, I get little return on my investment of time and effort.”
“Ian, I’ve hit my ceiling in terms of promotion and marketing. So I want to know how to take our band to the next level on the Internet. It would be great if you can help us out and advise on what to improve, fix, trash, and introduce in order to make a real change.”
Hi Mackenzie, I hope you don’t mind, but, I’d like to share my reply to you with my readers, because yours is such a common cry for help from independent bands, and it fits in well with a couple of recent blog posts: How To Get 100 Daily Website Visitors - The Golden Ticket and The Most Frequently Found Website Promotion Mistakes. BTW, thank you for your well written and detailed email :)
Firstly, I said this in a blog post ages ago, “Nine times out of ten, if you are having trouble getting noticed and making money out of your music, then you probably can’t do it! Seek criticism and advice from an independent and qualified person whose opinion you value and trust. Then act on their advice.” Personally I’m not that keen on Blues, I like Folk Rock, but even if I did like Blues I still wouldn’t be the right person to help you with your core essential, Music and Performance, because I’m not qualified - I’m just for Website Promotion ;)
O.K. after you have checked your core essential and before you do anything else to change your website, you need a Target Fan Profile (someone to aim your marketing and promotional efforts at) - without one you are totally fucked and you are just wasting your time. When I talk about promoting a band’s website, I usually mention something somewhere about a “target audience” or “target fans” (most website gurus do wink) because, these are the people who are going to interact with you.
Your target fans are the people who want to come to your gigs and buy your music, they follow your genre and live your lifestyle! And as I’ve blogged, “They probably hang out in the same colleges & universities, independent record shops, fashion shops, cool coffee houses, pubs and nightclubs that you do, they live next door, they listen to the same music and they want to dance like you, or maybe you want to dance like them! They are your friends, or they could be. You know who these potential fans are, where they are, what they want and how to approach them. I don’t, I can only generalize.”
Your Target Fan Profile Checklist
From your 10 true fans (who tend come to gigs) and 10 other loyal fans, create a target fan profile of your ideal fan by investigating their similarities. Use social media and the art of conversation to extract the information, you will soon build up an intimate understanding of your target fan :) Here are a few ideas:
- Where do they live, is location important to you? Postcode information can be helpful!
- Do they live in a little village or a big city?
- Where do they hang out? Birds of a feather flock together ;)
- What about climate, is that an issue?
- Age (average & range 25 - 60), sex (males% females%) and marital status?
- Occupation and education? Income is difficult to acquire!
- And other demographic factors like, habits, attitudes, tastes and moral standards?
- What is their fashion style? Where do they buy their clothes?
- What is your target fan’s general personality like?
- Their behaviour and life-style choises, do they buy their music from iTunes and listen to it on their iPhone?
- How do they normally listen to music?
- Are they consistently active users of social media, do they have a favourite like twitter?
- How many friends/followers have they got?
- If they work, are they on the net at lunchtime, what time, when?
- When (what time of day) are they active on social media?
- What type of internet connection are they using?
- When you release a new album, are they excited - in what form do they buy it?
- How did they find out about your band?
- Is there a third party online/off-line who recommended them?
- Do they look for and talk about other independent blues bands?
- Are they listening to and following other blues bands? - who are they?
- Are they knowledgeable champions of blues music?
A Quick Run Through Your Website - Including Tips & Advice
Home Page & General Comments: Run your URL through W3C HTML Validation because you’ve got a number errors and warnings - not too many and all are very easy to sort out. You’ve got the same title element on just about every page. Target the title element to the contents of each individual page - using the same one is a huge waste. Also, include the description element, which is missing.
The Home Page looks messy even though it’s actually simple, not good; remember, once the page has loaded you only have a fraction of a second to capture your visitors attention. The messiness is caused by the slightly unconventional presentation of important information which makes the viewer need to think! Not good, we don’t have time to think ;) for instance, in your Our Gigs column, you present your gig thus: ‘name of party’ @ ‘name of venue’ w/ ‘name of support’ ‘date’; the reader is initially confused because the convention is to use the date as a bullet point, newest date at the top. Get rid of the “Past Gigs” section it’s fluff.
You use external websites to augment your site, that’s good not a problem; the problem is that the external sites are using different navigation to you! Navigation is an issue.
I feel the look, mood, aura is wrong for your genre. See: Make A Sexy Website And Get Laid Like A Rockstar This Weekend
Think about the three ways by which your visitors will come to your website: Via a search engine - needs Content and SEO. Via an incoming link - needs links from Blues Music and lifestyle related websites. Via the real world by typing your URL directly into the address bar - needs a cheap (so cheap it’s almost free) and very simple A8 (v.small) flyer.
Think about what will keep your visitors on your website for longer than two seconds!
Book Us [page]: ‘This is Why You Should Book Us’, OK, how about the How? I think you could delete this page and include the information in ‘About Us’, even though you may feel that it’s an important sales page. You’ve included your contact information at the top of each page :)
Blog: Websites are always about communication, and your target fan is the person with whom you should be talking; potential fans are looking for you - what are you talking about with your fans that will help your potential fans find you?
You are using a well-known Wordpress theme, change it to fit in with the look of your website - continuity is an important part of branding.
Navigation issues: ‘About Us’ versus ‘How We Started’ versus ‘The Band’. And ‘Buy Our Music’ versus ‘Hear Our Demo’ versus ‘Our Music’ - six pages where two would do.
BTW, I can see that you’ve put in a lot of hard work :)
How We Started [page]: Redirects to your blog’s About Us! Include some images with description for new viewers. Change one of the page names.
Hear Our Demo [page]: Redirects to Soundcloud! create a new page or use ‘Our Music’ and embed the Soundcloud code. This page should be a sales page, think about merchandise!
Photos [page]: I love your image gallery powered by Coppermine Photo Gallery. Use more of your images around your website and especially your blog. You’ve got a surfeit of brilliant band photographs, but out of the 369 images in 9 albums, you have not got ONE of a fan!!!!! Very Bad for conversation, it’s all one way. Take a gander at how Sandi Thom does it.
The visitor has to use the back button to navigate back to your home page :(
The Industry on Us [page]: Another important page, it misses the opportunity to connect with music industry people, you have not linked to the original articles or the authors. Most music critics will visit this page to find out what others are saying - it’s a very negative experience for them - you must connect with people.
The Band [page]: I suppose this could be the bio page? No content, so delete it.
Our News [page]: No News is bad news, you’ve got a blog, I’d delete it.
Our Gigs [page]: Most recent gig 7th October 2011? No it’s 18th March 2012 - I think! You Must keep important pages updated, up-to-date.
Use the local date format for where you live: day, month, year? Use the date like a bullet point. Always use the same configuration e.g:
20:03:2012 @ 20.30, doors @ 17.30, Venue Name (hypertext link to Venue Page) & town, £5 with flyer, 18+ ID., freebie inf.
The Gigs Page could easily be a hosted Wordpress blog, each gig listing would then be a blog post and it’d be easy for your true fans to share :)
Create a Venue Page for each venue you play. When you promote a gig from your website you are actually promoting the venue as well, so make the most of it. Include:
- Venue’s name inc. hypertext & image links to the venue’s official website.
- Link to venue’s Facebook & Twitter.
- Venue’s Full address - maybe with Sat Nav inf.
- Box office details (link to box office &/or online ticket agency - maybe affiliate opportunity?).
- Normal ticket (admission) price.
- Usual doors times.
- Age restriction details.
- Full travel information and directions inc. how to get there: on foot, by rail, by bus, by car with parking inf., and hypertext links to Google maps.
- Video of your band playing the venue.
- House DJ details.
- Open mic. details.
- Local information might include: independent record shops, fashion shops, accommodation, coffee houses and pubs etc. that reflect and complement your genre.
A Quick Word On Fan Numbers: All your friend/follower numbers are well short of the mark, you need at least 1,500 people on each social media platform, because most of them aren’t true friends, followers or fans.
MySpace trash it!
That’s it for now, I really hope that helps you a little Mackenzie, if you’ve got a specific question regarding this basic website critique or anything else for that matter, please feel free to ask and I’ll do my best for you.
Fond Regards xx
Helping Indie Bands With Website Promotion
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.