Making Music: October 2000
Promote your band's website
If you've built your website, the hard work has only just begun. Sean McManus explains how to start promoting the site.
Once your website has been created, it must be promoted. Perhaps the most valuable source of promotion is the contact the band already has with potential customers: record sleeves, leaflets at gigs, posters, and press releases. Putting the web address on everything the band issues helps to develop loyalty to the site, especially if the site has a memorable web address.
Exchanging links with other websites gives bands a chance to collect visitors from like-minded sites. If you have obvious influences or sound like a well-known band, seek out the leading fan websites and get them to review your music and exchange links. You can find them using the Ultimate Band List which lists entries for free and will create a category for your own band if you ask them to.
By visiting a search engine like www.google.com or www.webcrawler.com and entering the search keywords you want to come up under, you can see who's already got the top entry across a range of search engines. Rarely can you unseat them, but you can often exchange links with them.
In a world swamped with free music, it's easier to promote ideas than tunes, so it's worth extending the ideas of your songs into webpages and using them to attract relevant traffic. You can also write music tutorials or diaries, which are likely to draw people interested in your style of music who might then download one of your MP3s. Make sure that you use descriptive keywords in your search engine submissions. There's not much point using 'music' or 'mp3', given the number of other sites using those keywords, but you might do better with '80s cover versions'. Be specific. You can submit your site to lots of search engines at once at Addme, but it can be more effective to submit the page to search engines one at a time by visiting them and then following the 'Add URL' or 'Suggest a site' links.
Another powerful promotional tool is the webring, a group of sites on the same subject that link in a chain. Visitors can follow the chain forwards or backwards by using a standardised box on each website. To find a suitable webring, visit www.webring.org. If you believe you're at the forefront of the next big thing, you can also start your own webring for free and set the rules for who gets to join.
Create a banner advert and encourage your fans to put it on their personal websites to bring you traffic. You can also get a button from www.recommend-it.com that will automatically enable visitors to send an email to friends telling them how great your site is. In return, the visitors are entered into a competition to win US$10,000.
The Music Industry News Network is a free service that will distribute your music press release by email. To stand out online, you'll need to make sure you've got something unusual to say and a compelling reason for people to visit your site.