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Where To Build Your Fan Base Online

Recently it came time to update DJ TechTools founder Ean Golden’s artist website. Since the last update was more than three years ago and a lot has changed since then, he was wondering: Does anyone even need a website anymore? Why not just focus on Facebook/Twitter and ditch the .com altogether? Since you’re probably wondering the same thing, we scoured the net and asked industry professionals for answers.

To Ditch or Not to Ditch the URL

With Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and SoundCloud seemingly in control of music fans’ attention, and a slew of other social media services for musicians available, you don’t necessarily need to have your own web domain these days to build your fan base online. Personal websites require money and time to create and maintain — two resources DJs and musicians must always use wisely.

However, there are still very compelling arguments for maintaining a personal website these days. Constantine Roussos, a music industry entrepreneur, is trying to create a .music domain extension. His recent “16 Biggest Reasons to Have Your Own Website” list created a tremendous amount of buzz amongst industry insiders as he has relentlessly toured music conferences around the globe while advocating his cause. Here is his excerpted list — it’s thick on marketing speak, but it makes a lot of sense:

1.  You own your website.
2.  You are branding your artist/band name, not a third-party website.
3.  You never know if that third-party website will exist in the future or be as relevant (for example, MP3.com shut down). All your “friends” left MySpace, and unless you captured their email through your official site, you are in trouble.
4.  You control your search engine results. It is easier to get ranked #1 for your artist/band name if you have your own dedicated domain name. You can also add search “juice” or “pagerank” to your official page by linking to your official site from social sites, as well as others linking to you.
5.  It is a long-term strategy.
6.  Visitors to your website have a much higher sales conversion ratio than third-party sites.
7.  You control all the content and brand image.
8.  You portray professionalism. Would anyone in the press take you more seriously if you had a website versus not having one? First impressions count.
9.  You can funnel and aggregate all your social media and widgets in one location, where it is convenient for your fans to find information about you.
10.  Flexibility. You can create polls, add any programming, widgets or modules of your choice without third-party restrictions.
11.  You have no fear of being deleted because you are being too “commercial.”
12.  You can own your shopping cart and keep more profit from your sales.
13.  You can add your own advertising and sponsors on your page.
14.  You can offer product bundles and competitions for your fans.
15.  You can build credibility with your fans, create a fan club area for your superfans, as well as dedicated message boards to interact with your fans.
16.  You are investing in yourself and not others. Websites are like cheap virtual real estate.

Perhaps you’re convinced by those arguments but still don’t have a lot of time or cash to put into your own website. Consider using Nimbit’s Instant Band Site as a solution. Instant Band Site is a WordPress plug-in that uses a template based format to create a music website with a minimal amount of labor. The template formats may not be visually stunning, but this service does offer many shortcuts to getting your site running.

Just like WordPress, Nimbit has a free account or premium featured paid accounts. Instant Band Site with NimbitFree gives you a store to sell music directly from your site, an email list sign-up, a streaming music player, connections to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and MySpace, integration with photo libraries and other WordPress add-ons, and an artist bio, blog, and event calendar. Paid Nimbit accounts start at $12.95 a month and add a complete store for selling physical merchandise with credit card processing and order fulfillment, as well as many other features.

While owning your own website will cost you for the domain name and web hosting, there is a lot you can do with minimal expenditure.

The Online Juggling Act

While DJs short on time may wish to concentrate only on social networking tools, the consensus we found among music industry professionals, pundits and DJs themselves was to strike a balance between your own site and your social media sites.

“You should have have ‘www.yourname.com’ as your homebase online, which feeds out to and back to all of your social media sites,” says Ariel Hyatt, a music publicist and author who successfully transitioned from pitching traditional media to all digital and social media in 2006. “Anyone who lands on your website should get samples of your music and links to your MySpace, Facebook, Twitter feed, and any other key pages that you update often,” Ariel said.

The following graphic has become a classic in social media strategy and shows how your different online tools can work together.

It’s all well and good to suggest spending your waking life on social networks instead of doing what you know and love — DJing, so to save time on social media management, Ariel highly recommends utilizing Artistdata.com, SocialOomph.com, and/or Ping.fm. “These will vastly cut down on your updating time,” she says.

To some, being a Facebook and Twitter chatterbox comes naturally, but others don’t know where to begin. Ariel offers a social media “Food Pyramid” strategy that ranks the types of suggested posts in inverted order. Notably, she suggests that only one out of ten Facebook and Twitter posts be hardcore self-promotion, so that you don’t annoy your peeps by over-hyping yourself. The other nine out of ten posts should be split up between simple photo links, links to articles or videos you like, and direct messages to people within your network. Read more on this strategy or get Ariel’s book.

Artistic Merit

We looked at Bassnectar as a case study for a DJ/producer who has galvanized a rabid and loyal fan base through a robust website, as well as Facebook and Twitter. Lorin, the man behind Bassnectar, is now in a place most of us are not, in that he has a crew of a few people working with him, including work on his website and social networks. However, the way he separates the duties of his website, Facebook and Twitter can inform us all.

Lia Holland works for Bassnectar Labs doing PR and assisting with the online sites. She said Lorin only interacts with fans in the comments sections of his own website so he can save time for production and touring, while his crew maintains the Facebook page entirely. “Bassnectar.net caters to a growing squadron of hardcore fans,” she says. “And Facebook is perhaps the primary means of reaching out to the entire fan base.” They run frequent contests on Facebook and post the “family” photos (a picture Lorin takes with the crowd at the end of each night).

“Our approach to Twitter is more lighthearted,” Holland continues, “with Lorin maintaining the Bassnectar account and everyone on the touring crew having their personal Twitter feeds syndicate to the iPhone app for fans to read.”

“People love Bassnectar because of the music and the live show,” Holland says. “We like to use every aspect of the Internet to digitize that tactile experience so fans want to pass it on.”

Even More To Do?

As if there weren’t enough to keep you occupied already, are you now expected to have a mobile app like Bassnectar does? Not necessarily. It can be phenomenal way to connect and stand out, but don’t rush into it unless you already have a large fan base and know there is a demand for an app. Ariel says, “start a mobile phone text messaging list first, using Mozes.com or Myxer.com to gauge how interactive your mobile community is before you launch an entire app for yourself.” If you decide it is app time, check out the Mobile Roadie service for app building. -Markkus Rovito

Additional reading:

Self-Promotion Tools for DJs

Publicity for the Working DJ

Self-Promotion for the Working DJ

  • Your website will be with you always, not matter what changes the net goes through. I’ve been online since 1996 and it is forever evolving. That’s the beauty of it, we just have to roll with it.

  • I started DJing two years ago, and immediately noticed I needed a place where the people who liked what I do (and my friends) could get all the info they wanted. It’s gone through many changes over the last 2 years, but it’s still there, solid, and has been getting traffic consistently/daily. I tend to NOT focus on social media as much as I do the site (except Twitter). Everything I post on the site gets immediate direction from all the social circles. Occasionally I’ll post things on the Facebook, or Tumblr, or Soundcloud exclusively, but mostly everything stays on the site, and I find that to be the easiest way to consolidate all my promo/marketing. 

    But through it all, Twitter is the one thing I update constantly. That, I’ve found, is the most effective way to communicate with fans in a “no-frills” kind of way. Which people like.

    Thanks Ean for the post, as always it’s fantastic info.

    Now for the shameless plug: http://www.g6music.net

  • D Jam said it well. Getting a site up is long but it is worth it in the long as it is your thing. You market, brand it and fill it with the content you want.

    http://www.moyma.co.uk/site/

  • My laptop crashed recently causing Win 7 64bit to restart over and over, complete with the Blue Screen Of Death. After running virus scans and malware scans, it keeps telling me that RootMusic was the culprit somehow. Every time I visit my FaceBook BandPage that I used RootMusic to beef up a bit, my firewall goes nuts.

    Anybody care to explain? Am I the only one who is having this issue?

  • Nice post!

    By the way, you can get good hosting at SuperGreenHosting, 105$ for 3 years (little trick required), everything unlimited.

    If you need an artist website you can contact me…
    Well… check mine first to see if you like my work 🙂
    http://www.najiglass.com

    You can contact me by e-mail : andrey.ivanov@najiglass.com
    And I don’t charge much 😉

  • This is fantastic! I used RootMusic to beef up a new Facebook BandPage. Already, I’m getting great feedback. I put together a new image in PhotoShop to tweak my logo and had the page looking and sounding like I’ve always wanted in no time. The RootMusic upgrade is only $2/month (but if you can’t get the money from beneath your couch cushions to pay for it, there’s a free version with less features).

    RootMusic app account PROS and CONS I found so far:
    PROS:
    – Cheap.
    – No coding knowledge needed.
    – What you see is what you get interface.
    – It loads your music to your BandPage from your SoundCloud profile. (Which any working DJ should have anyway to share exclusive mixes and tracks.)

    CONS:
    – I had issues beginning my BandPage through the RootMusic site. It took me a few tries and I had to watch their videos in the Help section to get it right. (I do tech support for my dayjob, so user error or a lack of technical knowledge was not the issue.) In my opinion, their site can stand to be more user friendly to streamline glitches in this process.
    – I had more issues with adding my payment info to upgrade from Free to Pro. Again, after a lot of trial and error with watching the Help videos, I got through it, but not without much frustration. My friend tried setting up his upgrade (who is not as patient or as tech savvy as I am) and he gave up after a few tries.

    Overall, it’s a great tool to help you set yourself apart from the herd. I thought it was a bonus that RootMusic does enough to the page to be different but keeps the same streamlined look, functions, and feel of a run of the mill Facebook profile. Speaking as an ex-web designer, this is a BIG plus. It prevents people from going nuts rearranging the layout and getting awfully obnoxious with the end result (think: where old GeoCities sites and MySpace went wrong). This alone adds user friendly-Ness for you fans and limits BandPages from getting fugly.

    DJTT, great job helping DJs step up their game yet again.

    That’s my 2 cents worth. For those who have questions or comments feel free to post them. If you want to see the results of what I did (or become a fan) I posted my FB BandPage with this comment.

    Holler back at me, y’all.
    — DJ B-Naut
    Electro House / Mashups / Turntablism
    Atlanta, GA
    http://www.DetroitMutantRadio.com (My Rock band)

  • Sound advice here, great post. Having your own site does take a time, knowledge and a bit of cash investment which I believe is crucial to any DJ/Musician’s career. I’ve been using Topspin to integrate robust sales tools into my clients websites so they can build fanbase, track music downloads (paid & free), track web anayltics, create embeddable music players and a bunch more. Social media networks should be used to connect and engage with your fans, to create open dialogue, your website is your shop front to the world. Thats where you’ll do business.

  • Great article with great advice.

  • Bartboy

    Fantastic article. Well written and informative. I learned so much about all kinds of promotion I never knew existed. Thank you.

  • duerr

    [quote comment=”38525″]You need to strike a balance too, as people say above – if you DO something, you should spend lots of time actually DOING it and not promoting it online!

    Also there are so many elements to promoting online – SEO, web programming. social media, advertising, writing, graphic design, technology, marketing, PR… I think the trick might be to be aware of all the areas that you need to be covering and do just a tiny amount each week towards all of them, reserving the lion’s share of your time for your DJing or producing.

    Saying that people shouldn’t bother with any of this stuff is naive, though – good artists never just rose to the top. There was nearly always strategy, planning and promotion behind the best acts. It’s just the tools that are changing.[/quote]

    Well said Phil, I share the same sentiments.

    I encourage the people who don’t believe marketing is important to do some homework on newly succesful artists and how they got to where they are.
    you’re going to be hard pressed to find any that just got to where they are based on their musical skill alone without any sense of entrepreneurship – this is especially true for DJs because lets face it, DJing is not exactly rocket science and EVERYBODY is one, knows one, or secretly wants to be one.

  • phil

    meh +1 🙂

  • Oh yea, I think I did a good job of my website, so check it out too and let me know what you think of it:
    http://www.djpc3.com

  • I like a lot of the opinions here, but being a professional in Interactive Media and working in advertising, I’ll tell you that free services and social networking is not enough.

    I’ve seen some guys who smugly think that SoundCloud, Zippyshare, MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook is all you need. I also notice those guys never get much further than just playing at small local things.

    I agree with Roussos in his 16 points. I purchased my domain and built a site long ago simply because I wanted a CENTRAL spot for my needs. The goal shouldn’t be to spread yourself all over the place, but simply reach out like an octopus into these different arenas and pull people into your central spot. So you post things on Twitter and Facebook to drive people to come to your site and thus purchase something, download something, or read something.

    Anyone can set up an account on a social network site, add 5000 people and spam the hell out of them, but as we see, the sites come back with changes.

    The file share sites lower their max limit on file sizes and shorten how long a file is online…so you see DJs constantly uploading files again and again when they expire, or seeking out new share sites with less limits. Unfortunately then, these sites get loaded with ads and possibly one virus slips out…then your following won’t trust you ever again.

    I could even see SoundCloud one day crack down and limit the file size on the free accounts…thus forcing people to pay in order to share mixes. Other sites that offer free everything to DJs and artists also seem to come and go…so you get all set up, then a year later the site went bankrupt or had errors and fell apart.

    Social networks are also changing. Lord knows on Facebook I’ve successfully managed to block out or hide every DJ and promoter who constantly statuses and spams people about mixes and events. Imagine what happens when you find that 4980 of those 5000 friends also managed to do that?

    If one can’t afford or doesn’t want to have a site, then I still strongly suggest they get a domain name and point it to a social network or something. I personally even think that seeking out a domain name should happen at the same time as when you’re thinking up your stage name.

    The rationale is your http://www.___.com name is now yours, and no matter what happens to your site or social network, you can simply point the domain to whatever you do. So you start off on Facebook, but 2 years later you break down and build a site. Your fans won’t have to seek you out, because they’ve been going to that web address you had.

    Finally, I think promoters and booking people should pay attention to which acts have a FACEBOOK PAGE with loads of fans…NOT a FACEBOOK ACCOUNT with loads of friends. Anyone can easily get 5000 people added to a friend list. Getting loads of actual fans…that’s talent.

    Although I still think DJs shouldn’t be as responsible for “bringing heads” as the industry has forced them to be.

    • Milan

      I actually know a DJ who bought “likes” from a chinese website. He has like 3k + fans now……

  • Arclyte

    [quote comment=”38506″]Good to have a website and facebook to point people to in order to give them information about yourself,but the whole thing has gone wrong.
    Used to be venue managers did most of the promoting of their venue now alot of the time the DJ is expected to do promotions for the club via facebook and everyones doing the same thing so any advantage has been lost.
    Used to be that djs would get bookings because they were good not because they have 3000 so called friends.
    You wouldnt employ a chef because he had loads of facebook friends if he couldnt cook.
    Yet lots of cheap and cheerfull djs are getting work based on how many facebook friends they have whilst the manager does next to nothing to promote the venue.
    No wonder the industry is fucked[/quote]

    Wow this is so spot on in the States specifically. Club owners/managers are getting ridiculously lazy about their bookings that many of them do not even bother to listen to a demo anymore. They check the Facebook friend count and book from there. It’s crazy! I have been out a few times where I am sitting chatting with a Manager, the DJ starts his set and there is this look of shock! It would be funny but it’s not because the whole practice has sent the good, reliable, and talented DJs into a panic about adding more and more people to their “friends” lists and less time working on trying new things( or even adding new tunes) with their sets.

  • Great article. Thanks for your coverage of Instant Band Site. I wanted to add one thing, we provide free WordPress templates to get your site started, but if they don’t work for your particular style, you can use any WordPress template with our plug-in and there are hundreds available to choose from.

  • for got to add the site http://www.manguproductions.net
    check it out! and follow us as well on FB.

  • We just did one ourselves, and we have alot of followers out here in Miami, and since MIami is a mixed crowd we are open format and everyone likes because of that check out our link if your interested.

  • You need to strike a balance too, as people say above – if you DO something, you should spend lots of time actually DOING it and not promoting it online!

    Also there are so many elements to promoting online – SEO, web programming. social media, advertising, writing, graphic design, technology, marketing, PR… I think the trick might be to be aware of all the areas that you need to be covering and do just a tiny amount each week towards all of them, reserving the lion’s share of your time for your DJing or producing.

    Saying that people shouldn’t bother with any of this stuff is naive, though – good artists never just rose to the top. There was nearly always strategy, planning and promotion behind the best acts. It’s just the tools that are changing.

  • hey whats up ean. good aritcle. we actually started our own blog to just post our mixes. we actually plug info off yoru website onto ouurs since we aren’t as cool as djtt! for example we linked to yoru midi fighter and s4 videos and made sure to give yall the props for it…the link from our website funnells to yours which give su higher rankings! =)

    but for some dope mixes..make sure to rub one out at http://www.masterbeaters.com

    digital fo life!

  • Good summary. A fully artist controlled site is a great central presence from which everything else can radiate if you have the resources.

    However, I would advocate smarter reach-measuring before being concerned with a full promotion strategy. Using the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) and tools like Next Big Sound and persistent search, you can evaluate where you actually should be spending your time. Hypothetically, if Twitter provides 80% of your buzz and Facebook only 20%, you should be able to figure out where to focus.

  • Sanius
  • Sanius

    [quote comment=”38501″][quote comment=”38474″]yeah, i’m not feeling the “dj as a networker” bent…

    /quote]

    DEAD ON !

    Today lots of kids waste time in the digital realm because this is where they think they commute and present themselves most effectively. The truth is however that for every moment spent online updating some stupid status or spamming out a twitter blog, time in the studio/club is lost.

    Learn how to do things in the REAL world first…then focus on social networking for promotions.

    But hey, check out my stuff anyway
    http://soundcloud.com/w4lk3r%5B/quote%5D

    This is a completely different subject. The article doesn’t state that as a beginner you must have a website to begin your road to succes. It simply answers the question wether a personal website helps boost your online promotion/selling/booking etc. and shows the views experts of (social) media have.
    And I agree, if you suck you can promote all you want, it will not help you.

    But a big break can happen in various ways. You shouldn’t limit yourself and underestimate the power of tha internetz. I think it’s not unlikely a very talented, starting DJ could be discovered if he/she merely spends his/her time online self-promoting. He/she better be prepared for the real deal when it happens though.

  • Anonymous

    Good to have a website and facebook to point people to in order to give them information about yourself,but the whole thing has gone wrong.
    Used to be venue managers did most of the promoting of their venue now alot of the time the DJ is expected to do promotions for the club via facebook and everyones doing the same thing so any advantage has been lost.
    Used to be that djs would get bookings because they were good not because they have 3000 so called friends.
    You wouldnt employ a chef because he had loads of facebook friends if he couldnt cook.
    Yet lots of cheap and cheerfull djs are getting work based on how many facebook friends they have whilst the manager does next to nothing to promote the venue.
    No wonder the industry is fucked

  • You can never get around having your own website… I completely agree with post, you need a site to use as your “hub” for your other sites. Also, like the post said, these websites come and go… Facebook is here now, twitter will be next, then something else, don’t put all your chips in something that you don’t have complete control

  • Royal Vasquez

    Great article ONCE AGAIN DJTECHTOOLS! this is the best page out there period!. I am wondering if there could be an article on the new Hybrid Mode on the DENON DNS3700 A lot of people are wondering abot connections and to get it all set up and I know you guys will explain this so well and easy. Just something I would love to see.

    THANKS AGAIN DJTECHTOOLS
    keep em coming!

  • [quote comment=”38474″]yeah, i’m not feeling the “dj as a networker” bent…

    social networking is not a means to success, you have to have a product that people want, it’s sad that so many people fall into this logic trap, i know of several people that have bazillions of online “friends” and “connections” and still suck at MUSIC, so they fail to get re-booked, i consider time spent online about as useful as watching tv, the real meaningful (and profitable) connections are made face to face, i know lots of international bookings still happen on myspace, but this is for established artists, for up and comers, time spent in the studio or in the clubs far outweighs the utility of online networking

    and if bassnectar and a guy selling a book impress you, then i’ve got some oceanfront property for sale, it’s in arizona near this spot where they throw awesome beach raves… lol[/quote]

    DEAD ON !

    Today lots of kids waste time in the digital realm because this is where they think they commute and present themselves most effectively. The truth is however that for every moment spent online updating some stupid status or spamming out a twitter blog, time in the studio/club is lost.

    Learn how to do things in the REAL world first…then focus on social networking for promotions.

    But hey, check out my stuff anyway
    http://soundcloud.com/w4lk3r

  • meh

    good music used to rise to the top and the shit used to sink…. now thanks to the internet… the shit doesnt sink anymore it floats on the surface.

  • dick walz.

    i would rather spend my time mixing or producing then being on line. no real large star dj or producer does this shit them self they pay some one.

  • funny,,only a few days ago i realized this myself…. that a personal website is necessary to center all other social sites like stated on the social media strategy outline above…
    another good point is that as dj’s are going all digital anyways ,,,so it doesn’t heart learning the basics of the internet programing..html (you can learn enough through web building apps as-well – just need to jump into the deep waters and start swimming..).

    i personally have my own site cause :

    – i like the freedom of imagination,

    – i like light programming,

    – on google i made myself appear as no 1′ on search results…

    – i want to share my mixes online(which many of them are chill out stuff – hosting costs around 80$ a year for a plan like this) , without limitations that you have with soundcloud , myspace,etc

    check out my working site(wich is always developing )at
    http://www.celtic-dj.com

    great article,,thanks alot !!

  • duerr

    this is a good article, it’s good to get some insight from succesful artists like bassnectar & his crew. thanks!

  • duerr

    [quote comment=”38474″]social networking is not a means to success, you have to have a product that people want, it’s sad that so many people fall into this logic trap, i know of several people that have bazillions of online “friends” and “connections” and still suck at MUSIC[/quote]

    okay so you know a couple idiots who spend more time friend-collecting than they do creating… who cares.

    lets flip this around so that it’s actually relevant and helpful:

    how many great and succesful up-and-coming artists with large fanbases do you know of who don’t promote themselves with websites or social networking whatsoever?

  • [quote comment=”38474″]yeah, i’m not feeling the “dj as a networker” bent…

    i know of several people that have bazillions of online “friends” and “connections” and still suck at MUSIC, so they fail to get re-booked, i consider time spent online about as useful as watching tv.[/quote]

    I don’t think anyone is encouraging anyone to stop trying to evolve as an artist. The point is, the two go hand in hand. If you make a great impression at a gig and nobody knows where you’ll be next time, you’re missing a lot of fans and future success.

    Talent and PR, both online and face to face has to work together because it doesn’t matter if your product is great, if nobody knows about it.

  • rubixhelix

    yeah, i’m not feeling the “dj as a networker” bent…

    social networking is not a means to success, you have to have a product that people want, it’s sad that so many people fall into this logic trap, i know of several people that have bazillions of online “friends” and “connections” and still suck at MUSIC, so they fail to get re-booked, i consider time spent online about as useful as watching tv, the real meaningful (and profitable) connections are made face to face, i know lots of international bookings still happen on myspace, but this is for established artists, for up and comers, time spent in the studio or in the clubs far outweighs the utility of online networking

    and if bassnectar and a guy selling a book impress you, then i’ve got some oceanfront property for sale, it’s in arizona near this spot where they throw awesome beach raves… lol

  • Love the article. I swear I read better career development stuff on djtechtools than when I was in school for music business. And this is free! Keep up the great work. Ima go make a website now…

  • Very good advice. I’ve had my own website and released MP3’s independently since 1998 during which the Internet has gone through several fads, communities and social networks.

    http://www.LQP.se always stays with me 🙂