How to bootstrap music career on a budget
How to build web presence
Most Zimbabwean artists will tell you that the greatest barrier they face is that of cash flow. That’s fair enough. The American tennis legend Arthur Ashe Said,”Start where you are, with what you have.” Great moments are missed because people are waiting for the stars to align. Those who believe in what they want to achieve will sow seeds before the clouds bring rain. There goes my tendency to become overly philosophical.
As a team we have collectively been involved in at least 12 startups in 4 different countries. We understand how it feels to bootstrap something on a shoestring budget or without a budget to speak of. Where money is low, trade in time instead. The statement “Time is money” is one of the truest cliches going around. It’s no wonder it has lived on for so long.
New Artist Hypothetical
Let’s say I had an artist to market or was marketing myself, with a measly budget or no budget at all. Perhaps I had just $1 how would I use it? Come on, your mom, your lady or someone else can give you a dollar. That’s a great place to start. Invest a dollar into your brand real quick. With that dollar we are going to invest in some internet access. I am tempted to throw some numbers your way. There is not much other value that you can add to yourself as an individual or to your brand as a whole outside of creating a web presence with such a small budget. What most people fail to realise is just how important a web presence is. Over the next decade it will increasingly becoming more and more influential as a method to reach people with whatever message you carry.
Our digital marketing wing works with influencers when marketing for brands. Influencer marketing has become one of the driving forces of social media marketing. I spend a lot of time every month prospecting potential influencers for products and services we may be marketing for ourselves or a client. This is something that is still at grassroots level in Zimbabwe.
There is still time to build your brand online. Corporate collaborations are still very sparsely distributed. This is mainly because we haven’t sold the companies on the value of digital marketing. We believe the iFlix collaboration with artist will be a solid building block. Other companies will emulate this soon. As an artist, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are well positioned to take advantage of this.
It is also up to artists to create content that shows businesses what they are missing out on by sticking to print media as a form of advertising.
The Google Test:
Our previous post mentioned the Google test that we advise artists to carry out at least once every month. Let’s use that as a starting point. We will use a different artist in this instance. Asaph. Mambo was one of the most exciting releases we will ever work on. It presented a unique perspective on various fronts. Asaph is a great guy to work with as well. So we will use it as an example in this case.
Above is the first thing that you will see when you search for “Asaph Mambo” on Google. What would I as a digital marketer glean from this. Firstly, I would know that Google’s algorithm prioritises video content for this particular search term. Do I have video content that I could use to compete for that top spot? In this case, Mambo view was the video that we wanted to rank for that term, so we have that covered already.
As you scroll further down, there is another Asaph Video which doesn’t match the entire search term.
Soon after it gets more interesting:
Our product page ranks very well for this term, which is always great. Unfortunately we have come to find that this is not a buyer intent keyword. People are happy to find the video and stream it for free.
As you scroll further down streaming platforms begin to come into the mix. The two major wins we have here for Asaph are the fact that our page does very well for that search term, and that he can influence decisions pertaining to that page. He controls his Twitter as well as his own instagram. The collective click through rate of all of these, combined with the video go a long way. The key theme here is, if the fans want to reach you, can they? Asaph can answer with a resounding yes.
Social Media Profile
There are tonnes of social media sites out there. The three that you should not miss out on are Twitter, Facebook and perhaps Google+. The last one mainly because it will only work well in placing your brand in Google’s search ranking. I will start by assuming that you have an active email address. Let’s pick up from there. Let’s say you have a Gmail, not Aol or some awful one.
Twitter and Facebook are fairly straight forward to sign up to. We will pick 3 or 4 influential individuals in the space and see what they have done with their profiles that you can perhaps use as a model going forward.
We have already highlighted him in a previous post. Hats off to my guy, again.
Tehn takes a more minimal approach. Nothing that would surprise those who follow the man. It’s on a need to know basis. Link to what’s popping. Adds a relevant handle that he leads.
I am ashamed to note that none of our guys who are with me as I write this are acquainted with this amazing talent, perhaps (Mumhanzi Media) would have something to say about that. Heck I know some uninspiring people I’d rather not know. Her set up is similar to Brythreesixty’s. Who/what she does, followed by how you can contact her if you would like to. Her website is linked to at the bottom. I’ve checked it out. It’s a celebration to the great Andy Brown! Love it! I mean, I grew up on Mapurisa and such tracks. Perhaps one quick criticism in this regard is a small typo I found instantly. Maybe I am just a grammar snob.
On a dollar budget, that would be a link to your blog.
Jah Prayzah has the same set up as the others. Who he is, and what he does. This is then followed by how you can get in touch if you are looking for what he offers. I must say he has a great looking website, a cut above the ones I have seen for other artists. It is fitting, the man is arguable the biggest brand in the music industry right now. Address wise, I don’t know what that is. Hopefully an office space. Last thing you need is a knock at home.
Social media marketing can be fairly tedious and time consuming, not to forget that we are also working on a $1 budget. Syndication or marketing automation is the way to go. This allows you to be able to get content onto various platforms based on a post that you have made to a single platform. The reverse of this would be you having to log onto Facebook, then Twitter, then your blog and so on. You’d have to create individual posts and upload accompanying images for each of these platforms. Forget that nonsense, we only have a dollar here, data inopera.
Sign up to IFTT and set it up to syndicate your posts. I will show you some screen shots of this method in action. IFTT stands for If This Then That, which means that the algorithm would be triggered to take a specific action if the conditions specified at met.
In the image above the post on 3-MOB is the trigger. You can choose for the trigger to be a post in a specific category. The Hashtags are predefined.
Self Curated/Managed web page
Every artist needs a web space where they can share their thoughts, their music and just connect with the fans, you know. A great test for this is. If Facebook was to close down tomorrow or let’s make it more feasible. If Facebook and Twitter were to both ban you or suspend you, what impact would that have on your brand?
I have seen a lot of influencers become undone through a ban on Instagram or getting hacked, losing all followers as a result. That is like making a few hundred dollars every day and having all of it taken away overnight. You are likely not at that level yet, so this is a great place to begin planning an exit plan if that were to happen. Didn’t your mum tell about eggs in one basket and that?
Blogger has been Google owned for a while now. Accounts will get suspended from time to time, due to doing some shady stuff, which we trust you will not be up to. Some of the most influential blogger across the world run on this platform. This is the first place where I personally ever had an online platform, and the first place I made money online from creating content that I loved.
One a $1 budget this is a great place to start. So, start by deciding what pages you want to have on the site. We will have a look at Rymy Ray’s page to give some pointers on things that would work well for most artists.
For pages we went with: Home, Downloads, La Gallery ( know it sounds pretentious), Music Player and Bookings.
Home is a blog roll. This is where the new content posted on his site appears. We have realised the importance of lyrics for artist. Unless you are touring, and Uber-relevant, there is only so much content that we can create for or about you. Lyrics become a gold mine. Some of the world’s biggest websites are built solely on the back of this.
On a dollar budget, you cannot afford to store your own files in a paid space. MediaFire provides a worthy remedy to this. They handle our submissions. We then take these off them and upload to our own servers. Anyhow, sign up to media fire and upload your music there. I’d tag the tracks and make sure that they are in a zip or rar file. This makes them that little smaller and that little bit more secure for the downloader. Let’s have a look at what Rymy‘s downloads page actually looks like.
I will be the first to admit that it is not the prettiest of pages. Not by any stretch of the imagination. We took a minimalist approach, and made sure t was functional. It does what it says on the tin. The download buttons are linked to the media fire storage.
Synik said it best “People believe it only when they are seeing it.” or something close to it. You can go listen to his song, Muripo to confirm. Your gallery is a key part of your brand. This is what people see of you. Do it right.
Include any great images, and videos. You can embed these from YouTube and other hosts.
If you are a musician with a site that doesn’t showcase your music, I don’t know what to say to you. Unotoda bhande. Again, on a dollar get your tracks on our site, on soundcloud, audiomac or other similar sites. Once it is hosted there, you can link to it or Embed the music. Here is what we did for Rymy Ray.
We didn’t venture into Tumblr until about a year ago when we made it a part of our web ranking strategy. It is similarly easier to set up and free. It’s a micro blogging platform, which puts it in the same category as Facebook and Twitter in the sense fo content. It does however allow for more content to be posted than other social media channels, which is why it worked so well for ranking.
So WordPress has two formats. There’s the .org and the .com. Due to our budget we can only turn to the free one. The set up is similar to that of Blogger in some ways. If you have already decided what pages you want to have, this is where to go.
Key Things to remember
What do I want people to see
I’m sure your mum told you about first impressions. The web is even less forgiving than the real world. At least in the real world you may get a chance to place context and explain stuff. The web is fast paced, people view content and judge you before they have even read all of if or considered the context. This is why this is crucial.
Profile: Who are you?
Up to date contact details: How can people get in touch
South African Rapper Nasty C gave away his WhatsApp number to all fans, not what I would recommend. Depending on how big you are you may want to include it at the start and curb it when you feel you are getting more call/messages than you can handle. Building a relationship with fans in a way that they feel they are a part of what you are doing is key to branding. That’s how you get people to spend money on your product. If they believe they are truly “family” they will support their own. Unless of course you have some stingy or broke fans. That’s a topic for another article.
Type of opportunities you are available for
A portfolio of your work
Your portfolio is what should close the deal. No matter what perspective people may have of you, your work should shake and shift that in your favour.
It’s one thing to create all these platforms, you actually want people to be able to find them. Google ranks website based on various factors. We will look at how you can best place yourself in a position to rank well.
If you created your site on Blogger it will be indexed fairly quickly, Google love their own platforms. For other platforms you may need to get the link submitted to a link indexer to speed up the process. We use link centaur for this, and it has been amazing so far. Here is what it looks like.
We already have some campaigns running. If you haven’t got, you will need to create and name one. The names are of no relevance, except for you to track your links.
As shown above. Type in the url of your new page/pages. This will quicken how Google and other search engines pick these up.
Interlinking is showing readers where to find content related to what you are reading. For instance I may be writing about song writing and mention Jnr Brown. I would then interlink to either music by Jnr Brown or some other piece of content related to him. This raises the value of the post that I interlink to. It tells the search bots that this content linked to is of higher relevance when it comes to the term that it has been linked to. You may say in your profile that you are a singer, then interlink to songs you have released.
Your one dollar is finished.
Key take aways:
Get a Gmail (don’t have to)
Create a blog
Create a present a professional image
Use IFTT to syndicate content
Drop us a message or email if you have any question or would like us to consult on any marketing project.