Online self promotion – worth the effort ?
I’m wondering how useful online self promotion is these days, in particular for the case of ambient musicians. I’m sure the same thing applies to pretty much all forms of music (and other art forms also) but ambient being a niche genre, I think it has its own ‘specifics’. For an ambient artist, given the massive over-saturation currently in the ‘scene’, what are people’s expectations of their promotional efforts, If the primary goal of self promotion is the exposure of their work ?
On to specifics, for musicians – Soundcloud is considered to be one of the best ‘networking’ sites out there. While I think it is a great resource, its easy to find tracks with hundreds of inane comments made by people expecting reciprocal comments made by artists following and being followed by thousands of people – the numbers have become irrelevant. Regarding the ‘numbers game’ – the ‘wide trawl technique’ that hopes that surely something meaningful will happen through generating lots of activity via stats, followers, likes, plays etc. makes the artist appear to be somewhat undiscriminating / prepared to try pretty much anything. I remember on Myspace getting friend requests from artists who were ‘friends’ with porn stars and the like and I would routinely ignore them. Soundcloud is a good case in point, there is a list of links on the ‘About’ section of an artist’s profile: YouTube, lastfm, twitter, facebook etc. It seems these links are pointing artists to the seeming ‘necessity‘ of making all of these these connections as a requirement to get their work ‘out there’. If an artist was to have all of these profiles on the go, the time it takes to manage these profiles would be considerable.
Pretty much everyone has Facebook and Twitter accounts, I don’t trust the former and just don’t get the latter, but am I missing out ? Should an artist try every possible promotional ‘tool’ or prioritise the places that they think are more relevant ? That’s what I try to do, I find forums and community sites to be more valuable. Naturally it depends how they are used. I see artists introducing themselves (sometimes without any introduction) and just going straight into the self-promo bit and taking no part in any discussions or anything other than just talking about themselves effectively. I think its a good thing to be able to discuss and debate things on these sites, to keep them ‘alive’, in terms of their content.
Setting up this Blog has been an interesting mini-project. Rather than just posting things exclusively about my ambient music, I’ve put up a number of things that I do / am interested in. For instance, I did a review of some earphones recently and that seems to be my most popular post ! That’s cool and hopefully people may want to have a look at some of the other posts while they’re at it. I think going beyond the confines of a ‘dedicated audience’ (ambient music fans in this case) is a good thing. I’m very keen on people hearing my work on a more eclectic level. Incidentally, Lastfm is very good for this. Also, the Search Engine Optimisation of WordPress ensures that all this stuff is freely available to Google searches, which while I’m no fan of such behemoths of the internet, they are something of an necessary evil.
Lastly, I’ve done a fair bit of self promotion myself over the years (on Myspace primarily – when it was good) but hopefully it was / is focused and not too spam-like. I tend to do less now, but have set up more places / ‘portals’ to expose my work. Has it worked ? It’s hard to say, as you don’t always really know whats happening with people checking things out. At any given time it can seem that things are very ‘flat’ and then I get some decent CD Baby royalties as people have bought or downloaded a fair number of my albums that week.
I think it’s a chicken and egg situation, if you don’t actively promote the work, you’re missing out on people hearing it. It’s time consuming, but I feel it’s necessary. The Internet is the place to promote music in a way that has never been possible before, but there’s an awful lot of other people doing that as well and over-doing it is counter productive. For me, it’s an area to monitor to ensure its done enough, so that it’s informative (announcements and the like) and not so much that it’s annoying. On a related point, probably the best form of exposure is getting your music played on Internet radio, but you have to self-promote to get that to happen, for that alone, it’s worth the effort.