Musicians no longer depend only on their record companies to market their music. They are using Web 2.0 sites and tools to share their music, experiences and to connect with their fans. The way popular bands and indie bands use these tools might vary, but any musician that doesn’t want to become obsolete, uses these new Internet tools to their advantage.
Wikipedia defines Web 2.0 as a “commonly associated term with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web” . Wikipedia is often criticized but is also an important part of the new Internet tools with user-generated content and is contributed to by millions of people from all over the world. Web 2.0 technologies includes social-networking sites (such as Myspace, Facebook, Twitter), social bookmarking sites (such as Digg and Stumble Upon), blogs, wikis, video-sharing sites, hosted services, web applications, mashups, podcasting channels and more.
Musicians share their own videos and pictures on their Facebook pages, they tweet individually (as opposed to hiring a social media manager to use Twitter for them), personally contribute to their websites, present or contribute to podcasts and much more. Below are some of the examples from the singers and bands you are already aware of, as well as indie bands who are working these web/music technologies to have their breakthrough:
Prince is a pop-rock musician born in 1958. He released his first album in 1978. His most famous album is Purple Rain (released in 1984), which gets its name from the hit song Purple Rain.
What Prince did in 2010 surprised many people but the PR and marketing specialists who are more than aware of the changing dynamics of the music industry. Prince’s 2010 album, 20Ten, was “given away” with the copies of the Mirror newspaper. This action was observed and reviewed positively in the book Six Pixels of Separation, written by Mitch Joel. The book covers many concepts from brand management to marketing and social media. According to Joel, Prince knows exactly what he is doing. It is virtually impossible to stop your songs being downloaded for free anyway. Now, he is doing it himself- giving his songs for free. And he will be reaping the benefits in the form of concert and memorabilia revenues and beyond.
Another artist covered in Joel’s book is the alternative rock band Radiohead, a band that has gained more than their share of loyal fans ever since the release of their first album in 1993. Radiohead did not give their album away with a newspaper issue. Instead, they made the songs available for free download, with the option to donate. They asked for the fans to pay as much as they thought the band deserved. Guess what? Not everyone downloaded for free. The band made some money, in addition to huge free promotion. When more people like the songs, more people come to the gigs.
David Meerman Scott’s book “The New Rules of Marketing & PR” book also covered the relationship between musicians and their use of Web 2.0. The book mentions a podcaster who has made it a mission to share his diverse taste of music with as many people as he needs. The bands he plays include Uncle Seth and Moonah, two indie bands that have embraced podcasting. These bands know that podcasting is a great tool for reaching a wider audience, minus the marketing costs. It also has the benefit of helping develop a more personal relationship with their audience.
Bigger bands might have a different attitude towards podcasting, partly because of their deals with their record labels. However, even though full songs aren’t available for free, sound bites are often featured on their websites. Canadian pop/rocker Bryan Adams’ website is an example.
A final example is the official Facebook and Myspace pages where bands share information, photos, videos and even engage in conversations with their fans. For instance, American rock band Bon Jovi have made habit of sharing fun photos on their Facebook page- photos taken by the band members, during their tours.
It looks like artists’ engagement with Web 2.0 will only increase with time. Singers and bands are noticing, mass-communication tools are no longer enough and we are living in times where anyone can publish his or her own content, as well as reach out to anyone. It would be a shame if they ignored the majority of their current and the potential fans.