What sites do you need as an unsigned band?
This is a very big subject and opinions differ wildly. However I am going to attempt to help a bit with some balanced and qualified opinions.
This is most relevant to a band based in the UK
There are numerous social media sites available to any band. Some are specifically set up for music, others are more general. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
You Still NEED a Website
Your social media profile is NOT your website.
Say it with me. “Your Social Media Profile Is NOT our Website!”
OK, got that?
- Only on your website can you control 100% of the look and feel.
- Only on your website can you provide the information you want to convey in the form you want to convey it
- Only your website is free to carry your own advertising that might make you a few quid.
- Only your website shows that you are a band to be taken seriously
Having said that if you are just starting out then a website (worth a damn) costs money to set up and maintain, and who knows, your band might fall apart without warning next week.
How many is too many?
A lot of people tell me they only have this and that social media sites because it becomes a pain to keep each one updated all the time.
I would counter that by pointing out that many of these sites can be synced with each other so that your posts on one, will appear on all the others.
The big advantage to having lots of web presence is that each site can be linked to each other site. Every link (especially back to your own official website) is worth something towards your Google ranking. The higher your site ranks the more likely it is to come up when potential fans search for your band.
So I believe that the more social media sites you have the better.
At the time of writing, Facebook has over one billion users. More than one seventh of the entire world population. It is ranked the number two website in the world just behind Google.
Whilst it was never set up as a music site, its considerable reach makes it the obvious first point of contact with the rest of the world. Since the dramatic fall of Myspace, Facebook has made setting up a specific band page much easier and it integrates easily with other networks.
Rating : Essential
Twitter is a lot smaller in scope than Facebook (a mere 200 million users) but it has some advantages. Everything you post is available to be seen by anyone following you. It is picked up and followed by media more than any other site.
Since it costs nothing to be on Twitter and you can sync it with your Facebook so that whatever you post on one is automatically fed to the other there is no reason not to have it.
Rating : Essential
I really don’t like Reverb Nation. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be biased. Well In a sense I am not being. I have had a couple of Reverb Nation profiles for bands. At onepoint I monetised one, and I made one penny; correction one CENT.
They bombard you with emails about competitions that are almost ALL based in the USA and seldom have any relevance to your music.
Nevertheless, they do offer the ability to let your fans listen to your music while giving you some very powerful options.
- Streaming only, so people can hear your music but not keep it
- Free downloads to spread your music as wdiely as possible
- Paid downloads, otherwise known as selling your music
- Conditional downloads, e.g. fans have to join your mailing list to download a track.
- Embed your tracks into Facebook
Also you can add links to ALL your other sites and RN ranks quite highly so the linkbacks are valuable.
Again it can be synced but once you have set it up you don’t need to do anything with it at all if you don’t want to. I never do.
Rating : Silly not to have it
I do like Soundcloud. It is a lot like RN but it isn’t so damned intrusive.
Once again you can set it up and leave it, or you can add stuff to it whenever you want. It supports external links, and also has a very simple smart interface. It is by far the nicest platform for sharing your audio, and the sounds can easily be embedded into other websites.
Rating : Silly not to have it
Arguably not even a social media site, there is not really any networking element, but I think this is one of the best sites around for bands.
It is especially essential, in my opinion, if you have music to sell.
Bandcamp not only make it very easy to sell your music either as CD or MP3 they are by far the cheapest option for bands just starting out, and it is possible to integrate their pages right into your own website. In fact they can even BE your website until you are ready for your own one.
Rating : Essential IF you have music to sell
Last but not least, Myspace went through a very bad patch a few years ago. It became a joke because far too many bands thought the key to getting a record contract was to get a million friends on Myspace.
Lilly Allen is partly to blame for this. She was the daughter of a famous actor, and already had the secret backing of a label before her Myspace profile attracted huge attention. The media picked up on it and announced that she got a record deal simply because of grass roots support.
After that Myspace users were bombarded with random friend requests and it all just became too impersonal.
Jump to the present day and Myspace has a very swish new look and bands that are not part of it may be missing out. The people that still use Myspace are there probably more for the music than anything else.
Rating : What have you got to lose
The rest of the field
Well I know there are dozens maybe even hundreds of others. I could spend all day evaluating them but the post would get boring and this is supposed to be about “the most important sites”
This is just my opinion and you may strongly disagree.
Feel free to say so in the comments.
You are welcome to link to your site, so long as it is relevant to unsigned bands.