Let’s face it: the future of live music is looking a bit bleak right now. Major festivals and large concerts have been postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic, and many news outlets have predicted that we won’t see them return until as late as fall 2021. This prospect has left a lot of us working musicians scratching our heads, taking to streaming channels to “busk” online for a few dollars, or waiting with bated breath for relief to (maybe) come in the form of a grant from MusiCares or some other charitable arts organization.
Since it looks like the only way to showcase our art right now is virtually, I’ve taken this time in quarantine to study up on SEO basics, YouTube optimization, and marketing new material in this truly challenging time for music. People are looking to be entertained online right now since we can’t go out or gather in large crowds, so artists may as well take advantage of the most captive audience they may ever have in their entire career. Here’s the thing: the internet isn’t going anywhere.
Don’t know what to do right now while you’re stuck at home? How about beefing up your online presence so that you can reach the other people who are stuck at home? Here are a few quick tips that make a huge difference when it comes to drawing in an online audience (so you won’t be playing to no one when you start streaming).
Clean up your YouTube page.
Ever go to a successful influencer’s YouTube page? One thing you’ll notice right away is the uniformity and “cleanness” of their channel. They have beautiful thumbnails for every video detailing what it’s about on the actual thumbnail, they have info and end cards on each and every video enticing you to check out their other content while you’re already watching one of their videos, they have custom watermarks on their videos which allow you to subscribe instantly, they reiterate the video title and the video’s content in their descriptions, they have links to their stores, websites, Patreons, and events in each and every video description, and they are masters with metadata and keywords. This is not a mistake. These are all necessary things you need to rank on YouTube and Google, and to pull in subscribers.
Learn a bit about advertising with AdWords.
I know, AdWords is not an easy thing to figure out, and I’m not an expert on it. It’s ever-changing, it seems to favor Google a bit more than the actual user, and it can be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I’ve been hit with astronomically high bills before. The most important thing you’ll need to know about is the daily maximum. Create a campaign, set your daily maximum to a small amount (around $5 a day) to test it out and become familiar with the platform. Figure out what will benefit you more, be it in the form of generating leads, bringing people to your website, or directing them to your YouTube channel. I’ve gone with in-stream ads as you only pay for advertising once your audience watches your ad past 30 seconds (I find it’s more economical). I could go more into detail about this whole process and how to create a campaign, but that would be an entirely different article.
Learn a bit about search engine optimization.
Firstly, what is search engine optimization? In short, it’s a technical and analytic process that helps to improve your visibility in search engines. The end goal is to come up as one of the top few websites when someone searches a certain keyword. Like AdWords, SEO isn’t easily explained, it’s extremely tedious, and it can be very expensive if you try and hire someone to do it for you (and good luck finding someone who can do it well for an affordable price). Some SEO terms you should familiarize yourself with would be backlinking, metadata, and keywords. Entrepreneur, Neil Patel (neilpatel.com) is a wizard when it comes to SEO, and he breaks it down in a way that is easy to understand. Obviously, this stuff takes a lot of time, and you want to be concentrating mostly on being the creative artist that you are. However, having a basic understanding of SEO will put you miles ahead of other musicians.
We’re kind of in the Wild West right now as far as the virtual music world is concerned. No one really knows what they’re doing just yet when it comes to streaming, and a lot of us aren’t sure how to market a record or EP without being able to tour it. However, if you take this as an opportunity to grow your career in a world that doesn’t seem to have a foreseeable end (the internet!), you may come out of this pandemic ahead, and maybe even a few dollars richer.
Just FYI, I will be posting more about these topics on social media (@alexxcalise across all social channels), or you can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in consulting.