Creating an Online Presence

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Tonight, after I played a set, someone came up to me asking if I had a link to my music. I do and yet I felt too shy/embarrassed/scared to share it with her. After the fact, I realized that I wish I gave her a link and that maybe it would be a powerful invest in myself and my music to have an online presence of some kind. I was wondering if any of y'all had any tips of how to even get started? Should make a website and get my own domain name or a Facebook artist page? Something else? Does it even matter?

I feel rather shy asking for help but I thought a bunch of talented/beautiful songwriters would be able to shed some light! Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you Smile

Ya def need a website! And maybe some cards with the URL on it to pass out at shows.

Yes get the web site sorted. Get those cards as well. Your music is to good not to get shared.

Wow...I've watched so many youtube vids on this exact subject over the last couple years!
I have some folks that I will suggest!
Seriously, they explain things - the how-to, the WHY do it THIS way and not THAT way, the success they had doing these things, etc....lots of great information.
My personal exp:
I was really into it at one point...thinking that an "online presence" was all that I was missing and that if I got myself a website, started posting little 'stories' of me making music on Instagram/FB, and using hashtags and 'search engine optimization'...I'd gain some sort of following.
PFFFFT!!!
Now that's ME...but your mileage may vary.
So the website - I went through Bandzoogle. I think I paid like 12 bucks or something for the whole service which included the domain name and all their website building stuff. Could customize how you want your site to look with various templates, and there were enough to choose from that you'd prob find something that fits you. If you know how to code, you could customize even more and make ur own stuff.
My problem came with updating it consistently. I always posted stuff on Soundcloud. But I would always forget to post it on my website. I would forget to share my website on social media; forget to link to it or tell people about it, etc. ...again, your mileage may vary (prob not as forgetful as I am!)
Keep in mind that I am a bedroom producer and I don't play shows. Furthermore, my music was up on soundcloud only. I have maybe like 300 followers, with my plays usually sitting at 0 after a couple days of posting a new track - and when people did listen, it was usually low double-digit listens. My highest played track has 500 plays...but that's over years. Do I really have to say it - your mileage may...ok ok you get it.
All of this...is useless. Why? Because I don't promote myself.
That's key, and you'll find most vids and advice will include emphasis on putting yourself out there. Main thing I remember is that they always say BE CONSISTENT! Posting on your socials really is considered 'having a presence' - a lot of instructions mention posting a certain amount of posts each day along with commenting on a certain amount of posts each day. Now that stuff is all about gaining a following.
As far as just having a presence...I mean you can have 19 websites with a merch store on each, every social media account that exists, a big sign over your house telling people you make music....but if nobody cares or visits your stuff....there's not much of a presence.
But that someone came up to you and asked you - that's motivation alone to do.
So my opinion is if you're gonna have a website, you gotta also have FB/Insta/Twitter/youtube... And from what I've learned, each platform has its own unique "atmosphere"...its own "vibe". Insta is more visual and I seem to get more traction there than on FB. Twitter is its own thing but I rarely use it. YouTube is where you can REALLY let people get to know you - there's the visual presentation of yourself (or whatever you want people to see), there's the audio where you can have your music housed there as YouTube Artist OR you can just have a normal channel and put your stuff up there, and then there's the KIND of content you post - could just be you vlogging with your music as background music, your performances at venues, blahblahblah - its totally up to you how you present yourself there.
Wow....I'm typing a lot and kinda rambling - just go watch the vids! And read what other people who have WAY more exp (and success) than I do, cause I kinda suck.
Here are my favs:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdWdS4LAtv0HvnyLUs0GrKg - Adam Ivy: just started watching him this year. REALLY gives DETAILED methods for gaining an online following as well as just overall great producer/musician advice for getting out there
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7RgQTe5CiHZiMfb5qk8YuA - this guy has a lot of advice for hip hop rappers/producers but it applies elsewhere, too; marketing strategies and how to learn from established artists' mistakes
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCACvpWNREiN9cYJsTGInAlQ - this guy was my first introduction to these kinds of topics; TONS of great vids on presence, followings, website building, etc
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcB3bcWy0_QK7uPQvTD0LwQ - they specialize in developing your youtube channel

Ok...geez, I guess this subject must interest me, huh? lol
Good luck, sincerely!

Decided to do a TL;DR

Online presence - MUST HAVE
Soundcloud - full of spam bots
YouTube - a must IMO to get people to REALLY know you; visual+audio+storytelling oppurtunities YOUR way
Instagram - a must
FB - popularity seems to be wanning; does not seem like a traffic-heavy outlet for musicians
Twitter - I see decently popular youtubers with posts that only have single digit likes/shares/comments; then other folks have those things in the thousands....can't figure twitter out
Website - MUST DRIVE TRAFFIC TO IT OR USELESS; can customize; cheaper than it seems; can have a store here to sell music
Bandcamp - great stat tracking (down to how many people listened past a certain point on your track!); can sell music; NO SPAM (at least that I have exp'd)
ALL OF THE ABOVE - gotta promote it all, tell people, share your links on one social media to all the other social medias AND your website/bandcamp; be consistent with your visual styles (picture/logo/your visual identifiers/etc); be consistent with EVERYTHING ELSE - posting, responding to comments, updates, give people incentives to want to visit your pages, etc

All of this is good advice so far. FB is tough because of the algorithm squashing your presence down, even if you pay money for the silly ads. Its a good place to share your art with family and friends though.

Wow @splittybooms, that is a lot of helpful info! I will second one of your main points...you will NOT get any traffic just because you have a website! You have to promote, promote and then promote some more! I've owned a web design agency for more than 20 years and a website does nothing for you unless you promote it. But, if you wanna try to promote your music you need a website!

Thank you all for taking the time to share your thoughts! This is a tremendous help Smile

@coolparadiso Thank you! <3

I guess question #1 is what the purpose of having an online presence is. For me, I'm trying to get beyond the open mic scene a little bit, network with other musicians, and maybe land a few more gigs at festivals and things. I've been picked for festivals (we're talking uke festivals and low-key community festivals here, but still selective) on the back of my social media. They usually want some videos, and I think some evidence that you're serious. I'm not really looking to make a career of it. Building a following hasn't been a real goal, perhaps there are a handful of people in the ukulele world who know who I am, lol. I'm targeting the uke scene because it's a really friendly vibe and there's plenty of opportunity to play.

I've done both a Facebook page and created a separate Facebook account - the latter is more active because you can network with people more easily. Facebook treats pages like businesses, and wants you to pay for advertising- nahhh. I've made friends with hundreds of ukulele people. Had a friend do up my background graphics and profile pic, which have been critical in landing gigs I think, making me look much more pro than I actually am Wink

I'd probably hit up Facebook, Instagram and YouTube in that order, and that's in order of ease of getting started. Facebook has the benefit of your existing networks. Instagram I find is a lot of likes/comments from other musicians trying to build a following, and I've found it difficult to get subscribers on YouTube but haven't worked on it much yet.

PS @nateger, I agree with @coolparadiso - your music is great and worth the effort to promote!

Everyone up there is right. I'd just add that you don't don't want to go scattershot-- refine your online presence, at least at first, to a couple/few spaces, learn how people there expect to be responded to, and then schedule regular time to keep those spaces current. Nothing kills a platform like inconsistency and letting things slide. You can always build more into your platform. It's better to be present and responsive in fewer places than to be an absentee landlord at a thousand sites.

Smile good stuff!

I don't have Instagram. I don't have Twitter.

I have a Facebook page and I don't really try to update it outside of posting when I release new albums. My "Buy" link on my page goes to my discography, so I can be lazy and not bother updating the link to my latest album. I mostly hate Facebook and this shows in terms of how I treat my Pages. (I see it as mutual, as Facebook treats me like they hate me, too.) I have no time to fight their algorithms so that the few people that "Like" my page actually see any of my posts.

I have a Bandcamp page. Bandcamp is super easy. If you want to make your stuff available to the big streaming services, those all cost money, but the technical stuff they'll want -- lossless audio and high quality cover art -- is stuff you can easily practice for free by using Bandcamp.

There's some benefit to having YouTube videos for your songs, even if they're little more than slideshows. There are people for whom YouTube is how they access new music. You want to post regularly, but if you post too much you'll see less engagement. (Folks who post new material daily have an issue where they overwhelm their fans. Too many videos mean fewer videos have a large number of views, which effects algorithms.) Personally, I know the benefit is there, but I've made little effort to do this for my own work.

I also have business cards.

You do gigs. You want to do more gigs. Business cards are cheap -- even with color.

Business cards -- for you -- should help an owner/manager know whether they want to hire you and how to get ahold of you for that end, as well as provide an access point for your fans to immediately buy your music/merchandise and know when your next show will be.

The easiest way for your business cards to do this is to reference one or more websites. The specifics of the website are inconsequential, so long as it meets your goals of:
1. Help owners/managers decide to hire you
2. Help owners/managers contact you
3. Help fans find your gigs
4. Help fans buy your stuff

Your website can _also_ have blog features, contain a visual tour diary, etc. But those are extra features. The core features you need are the ones that get money in your pocket. Don't get so distracted by the sparkle and flash of something pretty that you forget what you really need.

Yes, good stuff Smile

Really interesting thread! When I first started wanting people to hear my music and connect with me online, MySpace was big. So mid-2000s. I took a 3-4 year exploration into making and marketing kid-and-family folk rock, and my wife made me a pretty slick website to sell CDs (professionally done, not homemade) and t-shirts and tote bags and such. Maybe - just maybe - we made back our initial investment.
And now I'm reading this thread as someone who just wants a few people (beyond you awesome 5090ers and FWMers) to hear my music, so I do the occasional Facebook and Instagram video and the occasional performance at an actual place that people come to outside my house. You can still buy my kids music online, and I also have a rarely-tended-to Bandcamp with 2 albums of FAWM songs on it. A month ago, I got $20 bucks through PayPal for various downloads, etc. Last year, I got a similar payment.
So as at least one other person stated, your approach to online presence would have to do with how far you wanted to try to take your music. Do you want to become a YouTube/Instagram celebrity/musician? From what I've read in the news, that kind of fame doesn't always end well. And how many are really making a living like that, let alone striking it rich?
I'm going to comment separately on the ideas (again, I think, stated earlier here) of posting with regularity and what you should post.

So, as far as what and how to post:
My wife and I co-own a business (yoga studio). We did give some of the social media work to an awesome employee, but we do a lot of it ourselves. Every single day, we put something on Instagram and Facebook on our business pages. And most of what we post is not sales-y - it's fun, personal and occasionally interactive, and inspirational. We also both maintain personal Instagram and Facebook, and we make sure that 1) it's not all about yoga and 2) we have a fun-but-responsible-adult public image (and we are, in fact, fun-but-responsible adults!). We post on the personal pages a couple times a week, and we like others' posts as well.
I know too many yoga teachers - and not just younger ones - whose social media make them out to be flakes, drifters, and partiers. And too many who only post to get people to pay them - and often guilt people into paying them - for not just yoga, but all kinds of schemes like essential oils, holistic beauty products, crystals, etc.
I think it's easy for musicians to fall into that trap, too. I'm turned off by those who only post on their private accounts to get their music heard and to make some money. Show me what you're like as a person - but not too much or too personal! (And create a separate music page, but even then pay attention to the manner of your sales technique.)
And more about maintaining a website: Our business website is a straightforward way to do business with us. There's a blog, teacher bios, etc., but the website is where we're not shy about letting people know how much things cost and how to buy them. We do link to our website through Facebook and Instagram, and you can do a certain amount of business transacting with us through Facebook.
Oh, and we have a studio Soundcloud that maybe we should pay more attention to - guided breathing and relaxation, and a little music (by me). And we tried Twitter for awhile but it didn't take - that was back when I was the social media guy and I just couldn't/wouldn't keep up.
I just realized this post makes it seem like I'm just a nice guy because it helps our business. I am indeed a nice guy, and also one who wants to pay the mortgage and for our kid to go to college.

A follow up to my original post: I think I'm interested in having a a nice presence to show to friends/people/anyone who is interested. I'm not entertaining fantasies of making huge gobs of money. And yet I would like to keep sharing my music and perhaps even develop more of a personal brand? So the idea of Youtube or Instagram and having a story to share has a certain resonance.

On the flip side, I know Audiomack is a bit janky of a platform. I use it because I ran out of space on Soundcloud and don't want to pay for additional space. Audiomack offers unlimited space. Maybe Audiomack is enough? If people are asking for links to my music I have that... I guess there's this part of me that feels like I "should" have a facebook/youtube/instagram/website because that's what I see "professional" people have.

I appreciate all of the perspectives!

@nateger I had never heard of Audiomack. When I went to their website, their information for artists mentions absolutely nothing about paying artists.

I do improvised acapella and variants thereof. Niche stuff. I've gotten paid by Bandcamp, as I've gotten a sale there. (Just one, but my stuff is seriously niche.) My stuff isn't commercial, and you can download it for free -- but folks can pay for it if they want.

Recently, I found that KMFDM and Lords of Acid (and the label they're on, Metropolis Records) release to Bandcamp. They might not be your genres, but they're big established artists that have both been around since the 1980s. (You can pre-order the next KMFDM album on Bandcamp.) It's likely not the only place they release their new material, but Bandcamp is both easy to use and free for artists.

If Audiomack will not pay you when your superfans want to give you money, I highly recommend that you look elsewhere. I think I have over two dozen 14-track albums on Bandcamp, and Audiomack's "unlimited storage, completely free" line for artists is meaningless. I pay nothing for Bandcamp.

I also put a totally free album up on Archive.org, because if you're giving stuff away, a lot of netlabels do it that way.

Even FreeMusicArchive.org lets you put up your music with a non-commercial license and lets folks contact you if they want to use it in a commercial context.

I mean, you can _use_ anything. But, if fans don't have a way to give you their money, you'll never see it.

My first music site online was Soundclick. Not quite as wayback as @Chip Withrow MySpace but close. Then I joined Soundcloud to make NaSoAlMo playlists. I got put off by the spammer/followers and removal of ability to make playlists. I switched to, and still am on, Bandcamp and opted for the premium version at $10/mo.I mainly use it for songs I write in NASoAlMo and the occasional live field recording or home recording. Wave or uncompressed files are required there. Can sell downloads, CD's and merch. I like the name your price for downloads option. At the same time I had a website through HostBaby (owned by CD baby) that is specifically oriented to musicians and I wanted to use it for art too. They had pre-formatted templates and an expandable music-oriented format for about $200/yr. I had to update the content. They handled the back end stuff and I never had a problem with hackers or spammers. After heartfelt evaluation a couple of years ago I realized that I was not so much about merch, gigs, fans etc. as I was about songwriting and having fun with creativity. I stayed with Bandcamp for music, and post photos of some of my art on Instagram.

A website can be or inexpensive to set up and maintain, and the first place to start. Wix and weebly offer low cost editors. Godaddy offers custom URLs for very little money, and band camp works well for the independent musician. My webpage is in my profile, I set that up on a Sunday afternoon for just a little cash.