A lot of changes have been happening in music industry in the past few years, most noticeably the move to streaming services. Along with that came the fading of personal websites. Most bands decided against having their own webpages and moved to social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud.
We are now finding out that this can be a dangerous tactic – giving up control of your fanbase in exchange for convenience. Even if millions of users are on a platform, it can still die, just like Myspace died. Just yesterday it was announced that one of the most popular streaming websites Soundcloud had to lay off 40% of its staff, meaning that the company might be dying. There are talks that Spotify may face bankrupcy in the following years too. Or maybe you’ve spent years building your presence on Bandcamp, but your audience decides to move to a new platform that comes along and kills Bandcamp. What then?
How can musicians take back control of their fanbase?
First of all, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Use as many platforms as you can – this will benefit you in more than one way. Not only you will be covered if one of the platforms dies, you will also be more accessible and reachable to the audience you possibly didn’t even considered before.
Sometimes musicians don’t want to put the effort into starting up activity on more than one platform. They tell us “I have a really big following on Soundcloud, I don’t need another platform”. Well, if you have a big following on Soundcloud, your music is probably interesting to people on other services too. Why not have a big following on all the services instead of just one? Especially if that one you chose dies one day and you have to start again.
Most musicians already know that it’s crucial that to have a direct relationship with your fanbase, and Facebook gives you just that. However, you have no control of how your page looks or what gets shown to people, unless you pay. Facebook can decide to block your YouTube videos just because YouTube is a competitor. Facebook gets all the useful statistics about your fans, and hides a lot of that information from you. Relying on Facebook as “your website” is probably not a good idea in the long term.
Back in the early days of the worldwide web, artists made their own websites that reflected their music and character. They spent a lot of time and money making things for themselves, instead of putting all their stuff in somebody else’s platform and praying. Now it’s easier than ever to have a website without even learning programming, so maybe it’s time for band websites to come back into fashion? Just use WordPress which is cheap and easy to use. You can set up your blog in an hour and start giving your fans a personalised space for them to discover your world.
Of course, the obvious problem arises – there are too many websites already, how will the fans remember to visit the page?
Another thing that is coming back into fashion is email lists. Email refuses to die. Email is still a powerful way to get your message to people who want to hear your news. If you’re wondering why you’re not famous yet, maybe it’s because you never write letters to your hardcore fans?
Email is a highly effective and platform-neutral channel. You can send monthly or bi-weekly emails (don’t spam your audience!) with the latest news and links to all of the platforms that you’re on – your fans will choose the one that suits them best. Don’t assume that they are all on Spotify or Facebook. The more you communicate and engage with your fans, the more fans you will get.
Don’t just be a content generator for somebody else’s website – take back control and bring fans to your own space. If you build a hardcore of fans and control your communications to them, they will be your army of promoters when your next release comes out.
For advice on getting your music online, talk to us! We’re here to help.