With technology and the many resources available online, independent bands and artists have a greater chance than ever for success. You must, however, make sure all of your bases are covered – from social media to email, online streaming to your store. Here, we’ll go over the must-have online tools you need to survive in the music industry today.
Might as well get the easy one out of the way first.
Once you’ve started booking shows or tours, you need to announce them to your fans and the world! There are many places where bands can promote their shows for people to find, such as in blogging communities or through PR reps, but you'll make it difficult for people to discover your shows if you’re not on these platforms:
Bandsintown - This is one of the easiest tools to integrate with Facebook and build a strong standalone community through its app. Bonus: You can be recommended to others by listing your influences.
Songkick - Although it's very similar to Bandsintown, it's hard to make a case for one over the other – so upload your shows to both.
Social media is obviously one of the most important resources bands have today. It’s a way to share information about shows, connect with fans, and promote your brand. Even though there are many platforms, that doesn’t mean you should waste energy focusing on them all.
Here are the key platforms you need to use:
Facebook - Share updates, tour dates, relevant links, and more.
Twitter - Post shorter updates, and interact with both fans and bands.
Instagram - Pictures and videos are the way into your world, so show them to your fans.
Snapchat - Take pictures and videos to the next level and connect to your fans individually.
Email Marketing Services
Speaking of staying in touch with your audience, if you don’t want to send individual emails from your personal email account, you're going to need some help. There are plenty of services to help with mass emails, but these three are easy on the wallet and will keep you organized as you continue to grow:
Mailchimp - This is a super easy platform to use, and the price is just right when you're starting out (i.e. free).
Constant Contact - Offers many of the same tools as Mailchimp, but can integrate with social media. It provides event and survey tools as well.
Topspin - A premier platform made for musicians, Topspin helps with leveraging your database of fans and connecting them to your online store.
Music Streaming and Sales Services
What good is communicating to a mass audience if you don’t have anything to offer them? You need to be able to sell your products, and, lucky for you, there are a few options to help do that:
Topspin - There’s that platform again. Not only does Topspin allow you to email your fans, but it’s also a full-blown online music store, complete with all of your music and merch, ready for you to sell through easily integratable widgets that you can send out or set up on your site.
Bandcamp - One of the most indie-friendly sites out there, Bandcamp is a great way to set up your own store. They don’t even start messing around with profit-sharing until it actually matters.
SoundCloud - The premier combination of social media and music streaming, Soundcloud not only allows you to sell your music, but also message and interact with fans who are digging your songs. Couple that with adding your tour dates and website info, and it’s an all-around win.
Streaming, Licensing, and Royalties
A lot of music streaming and sales platforms will offer you publishing deals where they can pitch your music to appropriate opportunities. The main goal, however, is to get on the major streaming and sales distribution platforms through bundle packages they offer.
CD Baby - For a yearly fee, immediately gain access to all major streaming and sales sites, as well as physical distribution (if you want CDs or vinyl these days).
TuneCore - Though very similar to CD Baby, TuneCore also offers publishing and licensing opportunities.
Songtrust - Performing rights and royalties can get messy. Take a look into this platform to let someone else worry about them, so you can work on that pentatonic scale.
(If you have other questions on copyrights or how to get into performing rights organizations, give our "Copyright and Your Band" column a read.)
There you have it – a great place to start. This covers a good chunk of what you’ll need by way of online tools to help you succeed in the indie world. Keep in mind that simply creating social media accounts doesn't mean anything; these tools are like flowers and must be maintained and cared for. That’s why it’s important to start off slow and manage one at a time. Then, you can burst onto the scene, add more platforms and, before you know it, you'll have your own botanical garden of online love.
As a lifelong Bostonian, Andrew Hall has been an advocate for the local music scene by participating, managing, and consulting with bands since 2006. A founding team member of service-based music management company Deer in Headlights Music Group, Andrew has taken his experience in community building and tech and applied that knowledge cross-dimensionally. He hopes to cross off Red Rocks Amphitheater from his venue bucket list this summer.