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Promoting your music online, or the big last.fm guerrilla marketing plan…

I’m by no ways an expert in the topic of music promotion and I’m just writing this to relate my experience with online music promotion on music networks. I’m writing new stuff as I figure out things about the dark ways the internet could help you publicize your music online and, as I previously stated, I think the most innovative music social network out there is last.fm. I therefore apologize with the casual reader if I focus so much on last.fm to even consider doing a single, lengthy post on the subject…please forgive me, I’m pretty sure I’ll be just scratching the surface of such a huge topic, so please bear with me if I indulge too long. Last.fm rocks. Period.

The first thing you should do when you start promoting your music on last.fm is to create an artist page where you’ll put up all the relevant informations. The process is pretty straightforward so I’m not gonna explain much about it. The last.fm docs explain all the steps pretty well. The second most important thing you should do is to make sure all of your own mp3 are correctly tagged. Last.fm will use your tag to determine how many listeners your music gets. Listeners are the basic fuel of your car in music promotion,so you’re gonna be wanting loads of’em later on. It’s very important to tag your music in a consistent way before releasing it, you don’t want to make a mess or any omissions,so please include the artist name, album title, year of publication, copyright informations, you could even add a contact if u like, please don’t skip on the basics or your later efforts will be completely wasted.

I assume you already have a last.fm account, make sure you installed the plugin and you’re sending data on your plays to the net already. I made mine way before putting out my music on the net and I even used a different nickname back then. That raises a legit question: Would it be ok if you chose a last.fm nickname which is the same as your artist name? Well it depends…for small, unknown artists promoting their music via their own account it could look a little bit too much like “begging for attention” and I suggest you avoid it. For large bands I guess it would be rather fake looking, so don’t play in Metallica and make a jamesHetfield account or nobody will take u seriously :) a “MetallicaFan” nick would make it a lot more believable…but I guess this won’t be a big problem for maybe 99.9% of us, right :) ? For medium, lesser known artists it could work out a lot better if you promote your stuff with your account, and this has been used on a larger degree on myspace to generate interest and visits (look who’s on my friend list, Trent Reznor from NiN!) and it’s a proven gimmick.

Now that we’re done with the basic stuff let’s see what’s to be done to gain some fame…

Get new friends

Last.fm offers you a handful of options to scavenge your other online services (such as gmail) in search of other people that have a last.fm account. You should use them all to build up a strong network as soon as possible,I skipped on this at first and had quite a hard time making new friends in my first months there, so don’t repeat my mistake. As you play more music on your clients (pc, mac, linux, whatever) your profile will eventually build up with a series of suggestions and musical neighbours that are gonna be useful to broadcast your music all over the place. I’m able to listen to music @work, and got my last.fm plugin there,I own a living room media player that’s internet enabled (the mighty xbmc), so that’s also on the list of my last.fm clients, good stuff, I even found a way to scrobble (notify last.fm of my plays, that is) after listening tracks on my Mobile mp3 player, but that never worked too well for me,just try it out if you have the chance. When you will have built a musical network of neighbours and friends it will be a good time to move on for something thicker.

Make a group

You are an artist, you’re participating in the royalties program (more on that later), you have stats, listeners and friends, it’s now about time you start a group about yourself :) for promotion purposes. A group will make it possible to assemble crowds and target your committed fans with exclusive news and selective emails. But last.fm will purge groups if they’re less than 3 members, so you’d better have some friends in your group to boot or you might risk disintegration! Your next goal is to make as many people on last.fm join your group, and that’s not easy…

The gentle art of shouting ?!?

Whenever you feel like you’re being social enough on last.fm it’s time to fish for new fans…and btw the friend network you’ve been developing is the best net u could wish for! Here’s how I do it.

First of all check the artists last.fm has tagged as similar to the artist u want to promote, go visit their pages,chances are that some of their listeners will enjoy your music as well. This is no exact math by the way, but you can place a shout or two on those pages and look for the fans reactions, this will get you some fresh listeners if you carefully repeat over time. Please don’t be a jerk on your shouts (last.fm lingo for messages on a board, how rude :) ) and please respect everybody and their opinions when pushing your music.

Here’s a couple of examples:

Wrong: Are you still listening to Artist X puny shit? You check out Super Artist Me NOW and I’ll pretend you don’t deserve a bloody death by my hands…

Correct: Hey guys, Artist X is way cool, make sure you check out http://last.fm/music/ArtistMe as well. You may be surprised! Bye!

As you can see it’s possible (and a smart thing to do) to add links to your shouts, please do so! I also suggest you keep doing this until you have all of your highly similar artists covered.

After that it’s time to visit your neighbours on last.fm and tell them about your common taste and how you think they should “check out ArtistMe and be happy”.

There are additional ways you could relate to your next fans, shouting on an artist page is something, shouting on a user profile is a little more confidential, while sending direct messages will help you achieve even more musical closeness. I ALWAYS take time to thank all the users that I’ve been able to track as listeners of my music via shouts on their user pages. I show’em some respect ’cause they took some of their precious time to try my music out. I don’t get personal at all unless I know them already from other places or in person. A word of warning: some users may be bothered if you get too close without them even knowing you, be polite and don’t take too many liberties or You’ll only achieve ill effects.

Please keep in mind at all times that yours is just a musical advice,you don’t wanna force/annoy anybody and of course when somebody happens to argument or even yell at you, keep it low profile and don’t be rude to anybody, that’s all I can say.

Remember to periodically check your artist account to see who’s listening, the listeners’page contains the most important informations to help you tell who’s just casually checking you out (recent listeners, usually)from who’s really into your stuff (top listeners). The page gets update every couple of days (hopefully more often in future). It’s precious information and you don’t wanna waste it. More of this stuff can be gathered via the last.fm Music Manager, which is your artist control panel. I rarely bother with that, as I don’t need statistical informations at the moment, I just wanna track my listeners and know the most about them (each one of them!) so to make’em happy with more good stuff. Your mileage may vary, and I’m pretty much finished now. I’m always out there looking for new fans or friends so please drop by and say hello! Good luck on your online music promotion “quest” and stay tuned for the next part of this guide…

link to part 1 of this guide

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One Comment

  1. Posted November 30, 2009 at 19:58 | Permalink

    Thanks for the useful info. So far I use myspace and twitter. I will have to try Lastfm. I love the internet because it is great to me able to get all these great tips. Vic

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