Mike Johnson of Indie Media Show
The biggest challenge facing indie artists today is really the same one as always, exposure. At first the web seemed to be the solution to that problem in and of itself but as things have evolved over the last 10 years or so it's become obvious that the web is only a tool. A very good tool I should add, but like any other tool you have to know how to use it and that's where many people are falling short. You might think of sales as being your biggest challenge but in reality that concern comes further down the road. In order to have anyone buy your products they first have to be aware of your products. This blog is going to be about how to expose your work to the largest audience possible both on the web and off it.
Developing the Indie Media Show helped me to learn what works and what doesn't and how to use the amazing tool provided by the Internets in the best possible way at the least possible cost. Let’s face it, most indie artists are not blessed with the same kind of bankroll to promote their products as the big labels and that single fact is the biggest reason that the artists the labels promote are available everywhere and you aren't.
The first thing that you need to do is to have your music, whether in video or audio form, available everywhere that it possibly can be. Just having your mp3 on your MySpace player and iTunes and your video on YouTube isn't enough. Five million other bands also have their music on those channels. What is going make a listener discover your music above others? Nothing, unless you make it happen.
Lots of people have been preaching about the power of web 2.0 and social media in general to make you a success. It's true the word-of-mouth is great advertising, and having an involved street team is a wonderful thing. But I think we've all found out by now that their impact is limited. From what I've observed social networks are fairly worthless when it comes to exposing people to new music on a wider scale (except when it's done in very specialized ways).
There are other things to take into consideration when you're making decisions on where to feature your music. Whether you're concerned about royalties or not is something to think about. Some sites pay them and some don’t and some in different ways than others. Some people like to balance the two and pick one song off a CD to use as a “throwaway”, or depend on a music video to sell the CD much in the same way a TV commercial sells a product.
The following list is going to consist of what I think are the best places on the web for you to put your music. I'll give you a little explanation on each. The criteria used for inclusion in the list was simply the sites being among the top 10 destinations on the web in their category on Alexa. Combined, the total users weekly on all the sites listed are roughly 10,000,000 people (for streaming audio/radio). This is certainly a worthwhile audience to go after.
The other factor that I used when considering sites for this list were the ones that are commonly available through web to TV or web to radio technologies. The services that are already going to be included in the biggest web to TV technologies are obviously a great place to put your music so that it is taken to the audience beyond the web.
The other technology that is now starting to the appear in the real world is web to radio. Pioneer is now streaming web radio to cars through their high end GPS units and Pandora. I think that's a really fascinating development because it uses satellite transmission without a monthly fee and without the reception drawbacks of cellular based web to radio devices (PDAs).
I looked to the websites of the TV manufacturers themselves in order to identify the web channels that are most commonly featured by them since those are going to be the highest profile sites and the one’s you need to be on. If you want to check out the manufacturers’ pages which talk about their web offerings for yourself here they are; Samsung, Sony, Vizio and LG.
Pandora is the obvious winner, as it is featured on almost all TV and radio applications, in terms of where your music needs to be placed in order to have exposure to the widest audience. But when I ask bands if they have their music on Pandora most of them don’t and aren’t aware of how to go about doing it. In fact most of the bands I know are not on any of the services I’m going to talk about with the exception of YouTube. Why? Don’t people realize that having your music on only one or two of the less popular players is like having your song played exclusively on one rural radio station and then wondering why you don’t get discovered by more people nationwide. Plus all of these destinations are FREE to put your music on (with the exception of two).
So, let me list the best places to put your music and videos right now for the greatest web exposure AND where they need to be in order to take advantage of the web to TV and web to radio transition that is happening NOW.
a. Pandora.com: The number one streaming music site on the web and the number one station to be featured on all the web enabled TVs listed above as well as the Roku player, etc.. Artists can submit their songs for free to be included in the music catalog through this URL:
http://submitmusic.pandora.com/ Of course just submitting to Pandora doesn’t guarantee you inclusion into their catalog but it’s certainly worth a shot.
b. Last.fm: Number 2 according to Alexa. This site is part of the CBS Radio network. Artists can submit their songs directly and add concert dates. Last.fm is also a popular featured application on web to TV boxes and sites like Microsoft Media Center.
Submission URL: http://www.last.fm/uploadmusic
Add concert date URL: http://www.last.fm/events/add
Let me say something about CBS. CBS Radio, CBS Interactive and CBS Digital seem to own the radio on the internet for the most part. Yahoo! radio and aol radio are the number 3 and 4 destinations on the web for people who want to listen to music and BOTH are powered by CBS Radio so it is CBS that controls their programming. Having a door into the 150+ “real” radio stations owned by CBS Radio as well as Yahoo and aol radio would seem to be a great opportunity and since last.fm (above) is also owned by CBS Radio and is the one station in their huge network that allows artists to submit their music directly it seems like everyone would be lining up to submit their music to last.fm.
c. Grooveshark.com: is user uploaded music. They link songs that are on their site to iTunes and Amazon for download purposes. All you need is a free account to upload songs. Grooveshark is a bit like Pandora in that they also play random songs for you based on similarity to the first song you choose so it is a good site for music discovery.
d. Blip.fm: Submit your mp3 or video url to their database so it shows up in their search engines and users can play and share the song over their social networks such as facebook and twitter. A very cool concept and a great way to work the word of mouth, social media concept.
e. Mp3.com: Another part of CBS Radio. They have music videos and mp3 streams and downloads. Another CBS property where artists can submit their own music.
f. Play.it: Another CBS Radio property which is popular with listeners. It allows user “stations” as well as featuring CBS, Yahoo and AOL stations.
g. Playlist.com: VERY popular site for streaming music. They pay royalties. Search engine based discovery across the web. Like Blip, song URLs can be added.
h. Deezer.com is the number four music site in the world according to Alexa but hardly anyone in the US seems to have heard of it. If you want to put your music in front of the world audience it is a destination you might want to consider. Submitting songs to their site costs 19 Euro and is done through a third party site called Zimbalam. Info on that process can be found here: http://www.deezer.com/en/#legal/labels-artists.php
i. Slacker.com: Also a popular music destination and included on yahoo web to Tv apps. Songs can be submitted through hellomusic.com and through most aggregators.
i. CDBaby: Distributes your music to important web stores along with mobile content providers. Includes; Rhapsody, Spotify, etc. $9/song $35/CD
If you have your music on some or the majority of these sites you will potentially be exposed to a huge audience and will make it much easier to get together a serious promotion plan for you.
Music video placement seems obvious. YouTube is free and the number one site on the Internet for videos of all sorts. In addition it is going to be included on every web enabled TV and every web to TV box so being on YouTube is a given. Getting your product noticed on YouTube is a different story. There is something like 6 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every 2 minutes. It is possible to get your video noticed but just uploading it and then letting it sit there is not the way to do it.
All of the video sites on the web that you might immediately think of to put your video on are free and since each has it’s own audience there is no reason not to put it on all of them,. Some suggestions would be; MetaCafe, Dailymotion, Blip.tv, Vimeo, VEOH, etc. The number one site on the net for music videos is aol music. Did anyone know that? I didn’t until I started checking into all this on Alexa. Yahoo music is also one of the top three sites on the web for music in general. Another little tidbit of information that might be useful is that TiVo has their own music video channel. Yahoo, aol and TiVo all utilize their own pool of videos for their channels and don’t draw from other sites. This would exclude anyone who doesn’t know how to get their music onto those sites. They all will accept music video submissions (this is yahoo music not general yahoo videos where anyone can upload). You just have to know how to do it, so here is how;
aol: Free music video submission through Truveo.
Yahoo: Artists can submit music videos by mail for inclusion. For the address click on this link.
TiVo: Videos from Music Choice. Here is how you get your videos on Music Choice.
It might seem daunting at first but if you spend a couple of hours doing it the results will be well worth your time. Like I said though, that is just the first step but the one you have to make yourself since most sites require the artist to submit. After you have all that done give me a call or email me and I’ll help you get to the subsequent levels…