14 ways to promote your music online

Arctic Monkeys worked the MySpace angle to generate some buzz.
Arctic Monkeys worked the MySpace angle to generate some buzz.

If you want your music to reach the wider listening world, the internet can be your best friend. However, if you're going to have a presence online, you need to make sure that you do things right.

Here are MusicRadar's top tips for making it big via the world wide web…

1. Join a social network
MySpace and its ilk act as a one-stop band advert where you can upload anything you want: photos, songs, video, text and more. Limit yourself to two or three social networks though - you don't want to spread yourself too thinly.

2. Set up a website
As good as MySpace and its mates are, having your own website too looks more professional. Websites are cheap to host and easy to build so there are no excuses. Remember to update it as often as your social network profile though...

3. Keep your website/profile current
Make sure that you post regular updates and news stories. Add new photos frequently and generally keep your profile looking busy. That way you'll be seen as a serious, enthusiastic, up-and-coming act. Regular profile/website updates will also keep things interesting for returning fans.

4. Write a decent biography
An artist biog should be concise, informative and interesting. People (particularly venue staff) don't want to know that your band was formed "in the first year of uni by songwriter Joe Bloggs and producer John Smith" - cut out the background and write something that's a bit different.

"As good as MySpace and its mates are, having your own website too looks more professional."

5. Get some good photos
Top-notch imagery is crucial if you want to be noticed online. Try to present a uniform 'look' that fits with your music. There are plenty of aspiring photographers about who will be willing to take press or live photos of you and/ or your band for little or no money. Take advantage of them!

6. Offer your songs for free download
If you're an independent act, your goal is to get your music heard as much as possible. Be aware that people are much more inclined to listen if you offer the occasional track for free. If you do decide not to give away your music then at least offer streaming full-length versions of your tracks rather than short clips.

7. Interact with other artists
Networking with other artists and bands by keeping in regular contact and giving feedback on their music means you're likely to find gig partners and be asked to play support slots. Musicians are also generally more interested as fans when it comes to independent music like yours.

8. Dedicate some time to your fans
Replying to mails and friend requests can sometimes be a chore but try to avoid blanket "thanks for the add" messages. If you keep things personal you're far more likely to be remembered and if your audience likes you, they'll be predisposed to like your music.

9. Avoid spamming
While it's important to keep in touch with your fans, repeated spam is annoying, so reserve mass messaging for special events. It's far more effective to tailor your messages and gig invites to individuals or small groups of people - there's no point telling someone from Land's End that you're gigging in Dundee.

10. Make sure your social network friends are valuable
It can be tempting to add every person you come across, but when it comes to MySpace, high profile views is what makes you look good and not your friend count. Make sure you add only valuable friends who you think will like your music and visit your profile.

"There's no point telling someone from Land's End that you're gigging in Dundee."

11. Do something to stand out from the crowd
The sad truth is that the quality of your music won't always be enough to get you noticed. Try doing a blog, a quiz, a gimmick - anything that will make your website or profile a bit different and interesting.

12. Get a short, snappy URL
Your website and your social network profiles will need a short snappy URL (web address) that's easy to remember. Bear in mind that you might be shouting your URL through the PA at a noisy gig to apathetic, drunken punters - keep it fairly obvious and make sure the spelling is logical.

13. Get your songs on iTunes
Nothing says professionalism like having your songs available to buy on the world's largest online music store. Websites such as CD Baby can get your tracks online for a small charge - you can then link to your songs in the store from your website/profile.

14. Keep your social profile concise
There are all manner of widgets and plug-ins available for social networks, but while they may look flashy, having too many may obscure the important info on your profile. They can also make your profile slow to load - remember that people generally don't have much patience on the net.

For more advice, check out The Computer Music Special Beginner's Guide (volume 32) which is on sale now.