Web-er You Know It Or Not… 03/06/2008
It’s hard being an artist isn’t it? Trying to stand out of the crowd and all that. Wondering why so many other artists get picked up or have success when you mope about from fruitless gig to fruitless gig, constantly arguing with your drummer whilst becoming a mix of bitter, sour and downright cynical deep down in your heart.
Well fear no more as this cheeky little blog is going to make you more efficient, productive and focused than ever before! Utilising a whole gallimaufry of free online tools you’ll be able to organise yourself in a way that will free up your time to focus more on writing and rehearsing. Bonza.
First of all read this and do what it says.
After that have a gander at this lot.
I was told a while ago by the powers above that I shouldn’t swear in blogs as it’s unprofessional but I’m going to make an exception for this sentence:
Google, as a company, is fucking brilliant.
It’s quite simply the best company knocking around. They’re entrepreneurial, consumer focused and everything they develop appears to be fantastic and idiot proof so the first few places I’m directing you too are all Google-tastic:
Of course you already have an email account – I’m not trying to patronise you, but do you use it to its full extent? Set up an account for every member of the band and then a band email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) and set up forwarders so emails get sent on from the generic email account to each individuals. It doesn’t take a second to do and you can therefore keep each other in the loop rather easily. Also, if you all have these accounts you can set up and “share” one another’s…
How often have you had this conversation in your band?
Mick: And where are you then?
Keith: Playing Wii Bowling, I’ve just got 6 strikes in a row… A personal best.
Mick: We’re playing Wembley tonight and you’re supposed to be with us at soundcheck
Well no more with this nifty tool. Firstly get every member to input dates when they can’t play (holidays, funerals, bar mitzvah’s, key hole surgery etc) then you’ll never book a gig that you then have to go and cancel because your singer will be in a strip club in Prague on his brother-in-law’s stag do and therefore annoy the promoter. It’ll also means there is no excuse for anyone to forget when you’ve actually got a gig on as it’ll be up there to see and you can also make sure all relevant info is up there (sound check times, stage times, kit share etc).
Now this is getting a bit managerial (arguably all of this is in all fairness) but with this bit of kit you can share/add/delete info from a generic document; spreadsheet, word file etc. What use is this? Well you can keep contacts in there, update it everytime you’ve approached someone so two of you don’t hassle the same person, put links in there when you see interesting things on the web, put reviews of yourself in there etc. Simple interface that takes no longer than fifteen minutes to set up and learn how to use.
It’s annoying when someone approaches you and goes “Oh, I read that piece about you on Gigwise the other day and they slagged you off no end” isn’t it? Well with Google alerts you can receive an email (weekly, daily, or as-it-happens) when you lot get mentioned. You can also modify the results so you are only alerted when you are mentioned in certain places, like the blogosphere for example. (quick hint: make sure you put your band name in speech marks e.g. “The Rolling Stones” or else you’ll be notified everytime someone mentions rolling, or stones and unless you’re a keen geologist it’ll just get rather annoying rather quickly).
This is simply brilliant and it satisfies the geek to the point of informational climax. Add Google Analytics to your website and a whole world of data is opened to you and data, my friends, is power (data and knowledge are transferable words, you know all this already). Information at your fingertips includes: hit rates (on a daily basis), page views, average time on your site, what percentage of hits are new users, where your traffic is coming from, bounce rates, where your visitors are geographically based and many more. But why on earth (I hear you cry) would this be any use to a generic four piece indie band from Widnes? Think laterally and all will be revealed:
Hit rates on a daily basis – did you get a spike in hits last Thursday after Zane Lowe played your record? Or did you actually receive more hits after your local radio DJ played you? Did anyone go and check you out after your debut Mancunian gig?
Page views – does everyone go to your website to look at your pictures but no one bothers checking out your biography? Maybe you should spruce it up and make it more interesting?
Average time on your site – do people spend about 10 seconds on your site then bugger off? Maybe start a blog and see if people hang around longer to read it or give them other incentives to hang around.
What percentage of hits are new users – getting loads of new users visiting your site? Great! Or is it? Why aren’t the old ones coming back? Have you bored them senseless because you constantly fail to update your site with new content?
Where your traffic is coming from – are people coming directly to you? Or are they clicking on other peoples sites to get to yours? If so, where are the clicking from? Maybe an enthusiastic fan’s Myspace site? Maybe a link from a bad review? Is that advertising you paid for on genericindiemusicwebsite.com paying off?
Bounce rates – as in ‘once someone has come to your site, do they bugger off straight away or have a look around the other pages?’. Apparently a bounce rate that is 25% or lower is good so look out for that.
Where your visitors are geographically based – this one is very useful for artists; a map of the world with little dots where everyone has visited your site. Getting loads of hits in Stoke? Then go get a gig there! Having thousands of people look at your site in Holland? Approach an indie label over there in search for a license deal using your information to back up your potential fanbase.
Right them! That’s all Google’s stuff covered (I told you they were fucking brilliant didn’t I?), now onto some other bits and bobs…
Keep on top of industry news here. I recommend using RSS feeds so you get them as the stories are published. Be aware; this is proper industry news about new start ups, dying giants and potential future models, not industry news such as Alex Turner sacking off his misses to become a monk.
One for you bigger bands out there – Ning is basically a DIY social network so you can build and brand your own site for your fans to discuss whatever they want to natter about. Currently Good Charlotte have the biggest branded network with over 8,900 members so this may be a bit futile if you only play the odd medium sized venue at best. Still, good to know about it eh?
The definitive blogging website. The Sentric Music blog started as a Myspace-only blog until a little technical fairy utter the WordPress URL into my ear and I haven’t looked back since (we still post it on Myspace obviously but that’s only for those stuck in their ways). The functionality and extra features are brilliant and the statistical information you receive is also rather valuable.
Got an interesting thing to say but can’t for the life of you digress on it? Welcome to the world of microblogging! Tumblr is designed to let you post the occasional nugget, MP3, or picture that you may want to show the world. Go for this if you can’t be arsed to write a full blog regularly, remember; its about involving your fanbase often rather than what you actually throw at them! I personally would rather receive three one-off paragraphs a week from an artist then one massive blog per month.
Frustrated that Myspace only lets you have 4-6 songs up? And not only that but they’re always pretty wafty quality? Then you need to get yourself a Muxtape account sir. Good for uploading material for fans to stream (up to twelve tracks) and is much harder to steal from compared to myspace so double goodness there. Its actually designed for people to upload ‘what they’re currently listening to’ and then send around to their friends so they don’t have to burn them all CD’s and destroy the world and all that carbon footprint malarkey. Check out mine here.
Right then! That should keep you all busy eh?!
Thoughts? Suggestions? Fire them all my way or leave a comment under the blog.
What I’m listening to this week: The Displacements and the Foo Fighters (saw them last night; formulaic, yet not stale, rock and roll. Brilliant)
What I’m reading this week: Finally going to have a gander at this God Delusion to see what the fuss is about.