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By Bobby Borg
Most of you are already up to speed on the vast opportunities the Internet provides, but in case you've missed out on something, let's take a quick look at some of the ways you can be more proactive about your career by promoting yourself over the World Wide Web.
Digital recording equipment and home studio gear have made it far easier for artists to record their musical compositions. The cost of CD duplication and packaging is also more affordable. But if the thought of selling 1,000 or more CDs seems like a daunting undertaking, then you should know that there are a number of "online stores" who can provide you with some help. Highly traveled websites such as Amazon.com, Mp3.com, and Cdbaby.com will advertise your CD on their sites and process orders. You'll receive a percentage of sales, and in some cases, you'll even receive detail tracking information about the fans who purchased your music.
Taking your music online, Web sites, such as MP3.com, allow you to upload MP3 music files, as well as biographical information and photographs. People surfing the web can both listen to your music and download files for a small fee for which you'll be compensated! This is a great way to get both your name and music out over the World Wide Web, make new fans, and essentially get immediate feedback from the "net community." You'll be happy to know that A & R scouts at record labels also keep their eyes glued to the Internet for new talent. MP3.com also provides a number of special services such as the "payback for playback" program where you can earn money every time someone visits your home page and listens to your music.
There's also a music "licensing program" where your music is made available to producers and directors who may be interested using your music in television commercials and movies. If that weren't enough, MP3.com also has an "on demand" CD manufacturing program where they'll manufacture CDs as people request them and send them out for a reasonable price.
Another interesting way to get your music exposed on the Internet is to get it played on net radio stations. Net radio stations are just that; radio stations that broadcast over the Internet. With nothing more than your computer, a modem, and speakers, you can tune into radio shows around the world. Sites such as Bwbk.com, launch.com, virtualradio.com, and Knac.com are just a few of the many net radio stations that exist. By sending out your music to net radio stations like these, you may even find that you get some exposure. However, to take even a more proactive approach, you can actually create your own net radio station and broadcast your own music. That's right! it's not entirely difficult to do, and in fact, SHOUTcast radio (www.shoutcast.com) is one site that can help make it possible.
Live Web Casting
Live "Web casting" is a great way to take your live concerts to those people who live in another part of the country or world. Web casts are essentially live performances over the Web. Sites such as L.A. Live (www.lalive.com) have centered on introducing the Web community to the underground world of L.A's music culture. Companies such as L.A. Live actually show up at live performances, wire up the club, and broadcast performances over the net. In fact, more and more clubs are becoming what's known as "wired" clubs themselves. The House of Blues (www.hob.com) brings concerts online to its own site. The Knitting Factory located in New York and L.A., is also wired. Night club nation (www.nightclubnation.com) is a site that brings you concerts from clubs all over the country There are many others. Check out — live-online.com, hotconcerts.com and livewebcasts.com for a larger view of online concerts.
Chat Rooms, Web Rings, Newsgroups, Mailing Lists, and Webzines
Getting on the Web and just hanging out with the music online community is another good way to spread the word about your music. By getting on a sites such as iMusic.com you can find over 1.5 million fans of all shapes and sizes and begin spreading the word 24/7 via message boards and live "chat rooms" (chat rooms are places where you can talk with other people over the web in real time). The Internet also allows you to join and/or create what's known as web rings.
Web rings are groups of websites all linked together by people who share similar interests. For instance, there's a U2 web ring. A huge directory of existing web rings can be found by logging on to Webring.com "Newsgroups" are also a great way to make new contacts and increase your fan base. Newsgroups are places on the web that allow you to post messages and converse with other readers about specific topics. A list of all types of newsgroups can be found by logging on to Deja.com. And finally, there are a number of online magazines known as "fanzines" or "webzines" in which you can get your music reviewed, post pictures, and list your concert events. Needless to say, the Internet provides endless opportunities to spread the word about your music. The key to becoming part of the net community is to get involved a little bit at a time. You'll be surprised at how fast you get a hang of it.
Even if you make your presence known on a variety of other web sites, creating your own Web site is still a good idea — it's your place to shine! Your personal website becomes your headquarters in which you can provide links to other places on the web where your information and music can be found. You can get listed in search engines and directories such as Google, Excite, Lycos, and Alta Vista to help people find you. But once someone logs on to your site, the key is to a give them a reason to want to keep on coming back. Keep your web design simple and easy to navigate. Keep your site fresh and up-to-date so that visitors can always expect something new. Create your own newsletter. Provide message boards where people can post messages for other fans visiting your sites. Give people an opportunity to converse with other fans in chat rooms. Provide your e-mail address so that fans can contact you personally and so that you can respond to as many people as possible. You can also include MP3 files of your music for people to download, and give people an opportunity to purchase your CD.
Bobby Borg is the author of "The Musician's Handbook: A Practical Guide To Understanding The Music Business," which is NOW available by Billboard Books; available on-line at Amazon.com or in a store near you! For more information: www.bobbyborg.com.