By: Chris Standring
MySpace has become a fantastic way to promote music online. Every artist or group needs a MySpace account now and if you haven't already got one I urge you to sign up now and start promoting. But before you do, I want to explain what is effective and what is not so you can use your time wisely, because trust me, you can spend a lot of (addictive) time there.
The first thing you need to do is look for ways you can stand out from the herd. It seems like every Tom Dick or Harry has a MySpace page so it is important to do something a little different. Having said that, the coding boys at MySpace have not made it particularly easy to do that, (it's a free service after all) and hence the slew of external companies offering free MySpace layouts. To find a layout you like, simply do a Google search for "Myspace layouts" and you will find a good deal to choose from. One I particularly like is www.freecodesource.com When you find a layout you like, you will get some code to insert in your profile field. It's quite a simple process.
There are way too many artists spending too much time promoting their MySpace pages when their own band domains are being ignored. You should know, and expect, that MySpace may very well be out of business in a few years. Most of these big sites come and go, especially when there are millions of dollars involved. On the other hand, the company may thrive, who knows. Frankly, I'm not prepared to put all my eggs in someone else's basket. So here's something you should take on board: Use MySpace to drive traffic to YOUR website and seduce them into subscribing to your opt-in newsletter. If you are smart you could even place an opt-in form right on your MySpace page. MySpace utilizes HTML so it's quite easy to place code in your page calling files from external sites. You can see how I've placed a form on my own MySpace page here (and do feel free to send me a note or comment). Once you have fans subscribed to your newsletter (preferably by location) you can send them discount offers to buy your CDs and tell them where you are performing. This, and a riveting and fascinating monthly newsletter will stand you way ahead of the pack I assure you.
Make your MySpace page personal. Talk to your fans and post comments on their pages too. If you care about them, they will care about you. Take time to add some interesting personal info about yourself, or the entire band if appropriate. Include some great photos, both professional and candid, and of course allow fans to download an mp3 or two of your music.
So let's now talk about grabbing new fans from MySpace. What I suggest you do is accept pretty much all those who request to be your friend, within reason. But I would advise you not to go seeking friend adds from other bands. The reason is that other bands have absolutely no interest whatsoever in your music, for the most part. They have their own agendas. Unless you want to discuss joint ventures with them I suggest you don't go after bands but go after those bands' fans instead! To do this, find bands that are on the same musical frequency with you. More importantly, ask yourself, "What bands' fans out there would also dig MY music". When you come across a particular band you like, scroll down to the comments section. These are the folks you want to get to most of all. Those folks adding comments are the most active MySpace users and are listening to artists' music. So go to their pages and send them an email introducing yourself, along with a friend add. Do not simply spend hours adding blind friend requests to all and sundry. Target your fans and seduce them into your lair.
Finally, it can seem overwhelming and somewhat daunting when you see some stars with just millions of friends and Plays today: 10,000, but wouldn't it be nice to get there? My advice is to take your time but dedicate an hour or so every day to do this.
I can't reiterate enough the need to get your new potential fans to come visit your own website. If they haven't subscribed to your newsletter at your MySpace page, then make it really easy for them to do this at your own domain when they come and visit. Give them incentives to subscribe, free stuff, but also stuff they would want. I have found that free music isn't always enough now. Utilize youtube.com now and make little videos that fans can see when they subscribe. Video cameras are not expensive anymore so investing in one and uploading edited versions to youtube (then copying the 'share-it' code to your website) could be extremely effective in helping to market your music.
The Internet has enabled so much for the indie artist. These are exciting times for us. No excuses now. Go promote yourself!