Online Promotion for Indie Musicians

I have been recently engaging on a campaign of “relentless” self-promotion.

I don’t believe that it is something that comes naturally to most musicians (most of us are not business people or business majors obviously) and this is likely why a lot of us fail.

Who hasn’t cringed when they have opened an unsolicited email from some random musician on myspace who says something like, “if you like The Killers, you will looooooove my music!”

Yuck!

There’s gotta be a better way to do it.  I’m not sure how, but I have started (quietly) promoting my music mostly online.

Here are some sites that you can use for music promotion:

1. Last.fm

This site has a lot of features so you are able to control the music and artist information, even able to link your twitter feed to your page.  Also, it is pretty fun to use.  I haven’t yet interacted much with the “groups” or community features.

http://www.last.fm/music/Nancy+Nishihira

2. CDBaby

Although CDBaby hasn’t been running as smoothly as when Derek Sivers ran the place, it is still a great way to have low cost digital distribution ($35 to sign up).  My name and CD is all over the internet now, which is pretty impressive.  Even if no one sees it!  However, their customer service has been terrible lately.

http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/NancyNishihira

3. Twitter

Twitter is a great way to tell everyone anything instantaneously (as long as you can fit it within the character limit).  Also, you can link your twitter feed to many different sites, so it is very convenient.  Some people sound really crazy when you read their twitter feed though.  I may be one of them.

http://twitter.com/nancynishihira

4. Myspace

Myspace is not the social networking hub it once was.  The trashy in-your-face ads took away any desire I’ve had to visit the site, so I visit infrequently.  It is still a good place to list your other links in case someone happens to stumble on your page.  However, it seems some musicians have had success on myspace.

http://www.myspace.com/nancynishihira

5. Facebook

Facebook is a cleaner, less glitchy, more private website to use.  It is now more popular than myspace.  I have recently created my Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nancy-Nishihira/235144706238?v=info

I am not sure what the success rate is for fan pages via Facebook, as many less tech savvy people can get confused by all the tabs and boxes.

6. YouTube

I haven’t tried any sort of promoting on youtube yet, mostly because of the lengthy amount of time that it would take for me to make music videos and upload them to the site.  For anyone with the time and ambition, it would be a great place to promote your music.  I intend to do so in the future.

7. Amazon.com

Amazon has a new feature called “artist central” where you can create a page and upload mp3s and they will link it to your album (my album was already linked as CDbaby had distributed it to Amazon already).  It doesn’t seem to give you the kind of control that other sites like last.fm provide, but this service is still in the beta stage.

http://www.amazon.com/Single-Breath-Nancy-Nishihira/dp/B000OYCAY6/ref=ntt_mus_ep_wlb_dpt

8. iLike

I am not sure how well music is promoted via iLike, as it has not really done much for me.  They did have this thing where they would make your music into an iPhone app, which sounded cool, but I don’t have an iPhone.

http://www.ilike.com/artist/Nancy+Nishihira

If anyone has any other suggestions of good promotional sites, please let me know!

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Selling your rights for a little money

Yuck.

I just came across this website called noequivalent art, where they claim to be able to make you money as a photographer.

The way they do it… is not something I would ever do.

Here’s a direct quote from their faq, which explains how their website works:

“Prior to posting your image you need to

  • Own the image and hold all rights to it. (authorship, copyright, and privacy releases)
  • Be comfortable that you are in the possession of all the high resolution versions of the image. (Otherwise, the image might already not be unique)

When posting the image you need to

  • Have NoEquivalent be the exclusive marketer of the image. (You cannot sell a unique image through two channels. If somehow both sell, the image is not unique.)

Once the image is sold, you need to

  • Assign copyright, excluding claim of authorship, to the buyer. (Transferring the unique image)
  • Get rid of all high resolution copies of the image. (The buyer will now have the unique copy)
  • Promise not to author a similar work. (Completing your part in ensuring the sold image remains unique)

So basically, you are not only giving up your rights to that image itself, as well as any personal hi-res copies you may want to keep or show (say… for your portfolio!?), but you are also restricted from “authoring” similar images. [Actually you are allowed to keep low-res images for your portfolio… how kind of them!]

The promise of uniqueness that the site strives for seems to imply that you would likely be unable to use other images that you took of the same location or during the same photoshoot.  This may also be an issue if you tend to shoot similar objects/animals/locations.  Many photographers do take hundreds of photos on one shoot or one location and under this system, these photos would become unprofitable or worthless to the photographer.

These requirements are equivalent to telling a musician that not only is that song not yours anymore (since you signed over the rights) but you must destroy any demo recordings you own, destroy the lyrics in your possession, and by the way, you are not allowed to write any similar songs, or to play that song in the future.  Ever.

Oh, but you’ll get about $500 bucks for your trouble.

Oh wait.

“Each image sells for somewhere between $500 and $800 US, with the artist controlling the price within this range. At sale, the artist receives 40% of the image price.

So… you’ll actually get less.  A lot less.

Personally, I think these type of ventures are more damaging than rewarding, and are aimed at people who may not understand the liabilities.  And many other photographers (see comments on this photography blog) tend to agree.