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Social media tools and beyond for musicians at the Na Hoku Festival

Originally posted on my blog but reposting here for all those interested.


So today I participated in the Na Hoku Festival by doing a panel on social media and a short presentation on " Tools for Creating a web presence" online. Got to walk to the Hawaii Convention Center from new place and enjoy a beautiful morning. It was pretty great to see the festival kicking into high gear after working with the organizers for months on their website. Things started off really nicely with a panel I was on Social Media with Roxanne Darling and Mike from the Mountain Apple Company. After the panel, I went into my presentation about creating an online presence online. I just thought I would share some of the online resources I talked about during that presentation, most of which are geared towards helping musicians and some of the things I learned from my fellow panelists. So here we go:

If you don't have a website you are ten years behind

I talked in my presentation about how if you didn't have a website you were basically ten years behind your competitors. Don't worry though, if you don't have a website there are plenty of solutions out there to get you a nice hosted site and best of all they are free.

  • WordPress.com - is probably your best best to getting yourself a great website to start with creating your online presence. It's free and literally takes only minutes to sign up. This is a "hosted" solution meaning Wordpress will host the site for you but if you are more tech savvy and have your own hosting then I definitely suggest you do a custom install of the Wordpress software found on wordpress.org. It's what I use for this blog and I absolutely love it.
  • Blogger.com - another hosted site solution provided by Google that provides you with a nice blog
  • Tumblr.com - a very popular blogging solution that integrates social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.

Improve your Facebook Fan Page with My Band


My band is a neat little app for Facebook fan pages that least gives you access to some great band specific features. Here a list of features from their site.

• Add a Bio and Band Photo
• Post unlimited songs for streaming or download
• Sell your music
• Friends can add your music to playlists and share music with their friends (viral)
• Include links to your homepage
• Add your show or gig schedule
• Sell tickets to shows
• Grow your mailing list and street team
• Track how your music is spreading (who's listening? who's sharing? which songs?) to measure your popularity.

Stop using MySpace to host your music and use Twitter and TwitUrm instead

We talked a little bit about MySpace for music during out panel and how it's an outdated tool. Most musicians used MySpace for their nice music player but now a days there are plenty of better ways to share and host your music only line. TwitUrm is a great tool that easily allows you to share your music via Twitter. It's free and all you need to sign up is a Twitter account. So stop using MySpace and start using Twitter.

Use Twitter scheduling tools like Twuffer to make your Twitter life a whole lot easier

Ever wonder how the heck these people on Twitter seem to online 24/7 sending out Tweets? No, they aren't super human they are just smart and using automated Twitter scheduling tools like Twuffer. Do a search online for "Twitter Scheduling" and you find plenty of apps out there that can help you automate your Tweeting and give your poor thumbs a rest. Here are some of the features Twuffer listed on their site:

  • tweet pre-written announcements
  • appointment/milestone reminders
  • run a time-based scavenger hunt
  • notify subscribers about upcoming podcast or video episodes
  • appear to never sleep

Email addresses are gold, keep fan lists, send out newsletters and reward fans for giving you their email using FanBridge and MailChimp


One of the important things Mile from the Apple Mountain Company brought up during our panel was the importance of email lists. Email lists not only help artists keep them in touch with their fans but they can also provide all sorts of analytics. FanBridge is a nice tool created specifically for artists to capture and manage fan lists and has a nice feature that actually rewards fans with items if they sign up for your newsletter. For example, you can offer a free song if a fan joins your Fan list. It's a very cool and I highly recommend it.

MailChimp is another great tool for creating email newsletter lists. We use it a lot for clients at Ikayzo because it has some very powerful features. If you are email list power user and manage multiple lists for example then then MailChimp is the way to go.

Sell your music online with BandCamp, CD Baby and TopSpin

So enough about marketing, how do you make money? These days Itunes rules the music market but there are some great alternatives for musicians out there these days. Mountain Apple Company uses TopSpin to sell their music online and noted that although this is a more expensive alternative it has some very powerful features and benefits like being able to sell your music directly on any site including Facebook by using their widgets. A very nice service from what I see, definitely worth checking out.

Another site that's been around for a while is CD Baby. I first encountered this site a while back when I did some album art work for an artist who was selling their music on the site. This is a very good alternative for selling music online and since they've been around such a long time they have quite a bit of exposure and reach online. If you are looking for a more traditional way of selling music online then this is a rock solid choice.

Lastly, BandCamp is a recent entry into the online music business and has made a great deal of traction attracting top names like Wynton Marsalis who we looked at during our presentation. I like the simplicity of Bandcamp, you sign up and in minutes you have your own little online store where people can download and listen to your tracks. A very powerful distribution tool and another way to get away from hosting music on MySpace. =)

Fund Your Next Album with KickStarter

So you're a starving artist that needs cash to record their magnum opus, where do you go? KickStarter is a great new site that allows people to solicit investors to fund their creative project. Mike from Mountain Apple mentioned a local artist named Sabrina Velazquez recently found success on KickStarter and funded the recording of her album through the site by raising $5300. There are plenty more success stories where that came from too so give it a shot, you never know. Just sign up, embed the widget on your site and star plugging away to get people to pledge money. Offer rewards for pledges and involve your fans in the creations of your project.

Become your own mobile merch store with Square and accept payments anywhere

This is something I wish I had when I was selling comics and books at conventions -- a way to accept credit card as payment. Using the Square mobile app and reader, anyone can now accept credit card payments. A very power tool when you are out there doing gigs and selling merch. Never pass up another buying customer again because you can't take plastic. Best of all, it's a free service. You jus pay a small per-transaction fee.


Create your own fan community site with Ning & SocialGo


Becoming part of online communities is key for promoting yourself online. Now with tools like Ning and SocialGo you can even create your own community site like the one we created for the Na Hoku Festival. Ning recently started charging for their services but Social is still free and offers many of the new features. These are two very powerful tools to bring people together and join basically your own custom "mini Facebook".


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Comment by Jo Mats on June 11, 2010 at 10:28pm
Great summary, thanks!!! We were trying to understand the gamut of SN opportunities out there and this is perfect! Mahalo!
Comment by Scott Murphy on May 29, 2010 at 10:46am
Nice post. Learned a lot. I wish these tools were available back in high school when I had my band.
Comment by Mika Leuck on May 29, 2010 at 9:40am
I'm sad we missed the festival. Based on your post, I'm sure the social media panel and workshop was interesting!
Comment by Daniel Leuck on May 29, 2010 at 9:15am
Nice post! This is the first I've heard of TwitUrm. It looks like an interesting service. Twuffer sounds like a name you would call people who indulge in too many self appreciating tweets :-)

Note that although Ning is no longer free, the base configuration is only $2.95/month. Although SocialGo has some great features including Facebook login and the ability to have paid premium memberships, some of its core features such as the event calendar seem rough around the edges. For example, you can't use even basic HTML such as links in an event description.

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