The Internet For Jazz Musicians
The internet holds enormous potential for jazz musicians. Many of us have little to no idea of how to take advantage of it. We tend to have websites, Facebook and maybe Twitter. How many of us are happy with the results we get from our efforts?
All About Jazz: How has the internet changed how music is marketed?
Eric Hebert: I think in the past, musicians mostly relied on record labels to do their marketing for them. This usually involved "selling" an "image" to the masses.
While this still works, it requires a ton of money.
The thing the web has done is enabled all of us to build our own communities through things like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging about the experiences of being a musician. This interaction is actually the marketing for your music.
AAJ: Is having a well designed website enough for a jazz musician?
EH: Well, that depends on what you mean by "well designed." One of the first missteps that I find musicians taking is worrying about their site's "design"most are only thinking in terms of graphic design. They think their site should be "flashy" and stand out.
While having nice graphics is a PART of a well designed site, it's just a portion. A well designed site should focus on giving the visitor access to as much content as they want to read or check out. It needs to be easy to navigate. It must be search engine friendly. It must provide calls-to-action to entice the casual visitor to sign up to your email list to download a track.
A well designed site these days is also more than just a billboard for your music. It should be built with WordPress (a content management system) so the artist can easily add content like blog posts and allow the visitor to comment, etc.
I wouldn't say that's it's "enough" for the musician to just have a well designed site, but if used properly, it sure can play a major role in how you market yourself as well as how you plan on generating revenue.
AAJ: What do musicians not understand about the internet?
EH: I don't think musicians, or anyone for that matter, really understands marketing or brandingthat's the problem. Building a brand these days is all about building communities or "tribes" and connecting with them by providing them with information. This can easily be done via the web because it's so easy to set up blogs and social networking tools.
Think about how you found out about me and your perception of my brand. Most find me via Google search about music marketing information. They then learn something by reading my blog content. This content backs up the brand and the services I offer. Then the visitor can connect with me via email or Twitter or what have you, and I then get a new "fan" and possible client.
The same approach can be had for a band or musician. Build your tribe, constantly interact with them in a way that makes them fall in love with your music, and learn how to sell products to them over the web. I think that last point needs to be addressed as well about musicians "not understanding the Internet." One thing they never think about is selling digital content as a main source of revenue of trying to sell a CD. There is a market for selling digital memberships to fans if you can create compelling content that they just need to have.
AAJ: What is your background and how did it lead you to your current activity?
EH: It's kind of a funny story when I look back on it actually. I have always been very entrepreneurial and right out of high school I wanted nothing to do with collegeI wanted to start my own business. A few years between jobs and failed business start-ups, I attended an Internet marketing workshop and was hooked. It ended up being a scam, but I learned a lot about search engine marketing that day and it changed my life.
That was 6 years ago. I basically taught myself everything about publishing on the web since then, and after a few years of building and marketing websites for myself and others, I started blogging. It started out as a marketing blog, but I found myself having fun with a music post one day and I got a lot of buzz for it. A few months later I was contacting a band I liked because their site was broken. A light bulb went off in my head and I decided I would shift my focus to blogging about how the web was changing for musicians and how to apply my marketing knowledge to assist them. Before you know it I was attracting bands and industry professionals and here we are today.
AAJ: Explain search optimization.
EH: That's a tough one to answer quickly without putting you to sleep. Many people think they understand SEO, few actually do. SEO is two thingshow your website is constructed and how much attention you get from other websites (and that's the most important part). You have to make sure that Google can read all the content on your website, and you then have to make sure you get other websites to hyperlink to that content.