Content marketing by Matt Ottewill (March 2014)

Content marketing involves giving potential customers (visitors, followers, subscribers)) something for free in order to engage them with a product or service. This article is an example of content marketing. We are giving you free advice in order to get you interested in our project. In our case, you are not technically a customer because we don’t sell anything, but the principal is the same. Content marketing is hugely important for recording musicians.

Content marketing methods

Methods include ..

  • give-aways / freebies (gig tickets, free downloads and CDs, t-shirts etc)
  • competitions / prizes
  • information and advice - such as video reviews or how-to’s (eg how you get your guitar sound)
  • newsletters
  • podcasts
  • apps
  • music video promos

Give aways

If you’re going to give something way for free, you will want to make the process visible and/or useful for you. You could for example ask visitors to your site to subscribe to your email newsletter in order to receive a giveaway. Or you could start a competition on Facebook and ask followers to vote on the best entries. Either way, try to maximise the exposure so that the end result is tangible and measurable.

Competitions

People love competitions and there’s no reason why as a creative artist you can’t come up with something engaging and unique. Although offering a physical prize such as a microphone will be popular, try to think of prizes that minimise your costs. If you offer a gig ticket as a prize, rather than posting a printed ticket you could simply add the winners names to your guest list.

Information and advice

You are a music maker and have talents so why not produce a video master class on some aspect of music making close to your heart. An artist we know offered a master class webcast on alternate tunings, whilst another on vocal exercises. Google hangouts is an excellent platform for this, or just create a YouTube video.

Newsletters

Newsletters work when you have things to say about your activities that can be gathered together and published at scheduled intervals. They need to contain more than just news and although they do not have to be long, they do need to contain information and content that is interesting and engaging. Subscribers value newsletters only when they contain content of value and quality, so don’t think you can get away with just compiling all your latest tweets and social media posts. You should not commit to a newsletter unless you think you can devote time each month to producing it.

You can produce a newsletter in any word processing or page layout programme that can include images and links and which can be published in the preferred format of a pdf. You should brand your newsletter and pay attention to its presentation, design and the quality of it’s images. You can attach your newsletter to an email, distribute it via your website as a download.

You may prefer to construct your newsletter in the form of an html email using the tools provided by a service such as Mailchimp. You will need to pay close attention to the design and include multiple calls to action. Consider including short summaries of content with buttons that encourage to continue reading the full article at your website.

Podcasts

We love podcasts, but have yet to find a use for them ourselves. If you have the gift of the gab you might want to consider creating one. You could talk about your creative processes and perform new songs you are working on. Or perhaps create a podcast in the form of an interview or conversation with someone. You can plan questions and bookend the interview with news items about your activities and other artists you love. You will want to create some kind of short branding “jingle” to start it and perhaps some music to segueway between sections.

Google “creating podcasts” for help and visit Apples advice page at .. http://www.apple.com/uk/itunes/podcasts/specs.htm

 

Apps

Many artists are embracing mobile apps as an effective way to engage with their audience. This is a vast subject and technically involved but the benefits are clear and there have recently emerged some solutions to help non-techies to make their own apps.

If you are interested these links may be useful ..

http://appshed.com/component/content/article/2-uncategorised/30-aboutl
http://mashable.com/2012/05/09/building-cheap-mobile-app/

Creating a music video

Perhaps the most important single piece of content you can have is a great music video. We don’t think you should even consider releasing a new single or album without one. Documentary videos are good too, but only once you have generated interest with a music video. The good news is that creating an HD video no longer costs big bucks.

At the budget end of the market you can film, edit and publish a video with no more than an iPhone and iMovie. You will want some way to support the phone with a tripod attachment, and if you plan to shoot in-doors some additional lighting. Smartphones are not optimised for low light conditions so outdoors is best, and you will find editing software limited for green screen work.

Because video can become an important part of your online profile, you may decide to invest some money in better equipment. Here’s our recommendations ..

  • a consumer AVCHD (mp4) camcorder that records to an SD card, has an external mini jack mic input, a headphone socket for monitoring, and which can preferably accommodate lens attachments
  • an SD card with 16Gb or more capacity
  • an additional hi-capacity battery (camcorders come with small batteries)
  • a battery powered stereo mic with mini-jack plug (such as the Sony ECM-MS907) which you can place close to a source even when the camcorder is at a distance
  • a wide angled adaptor lens (optional)
  • a tripod
  • 2 LED lights (search ebay for “CN-600SA LED”. We bought 2 from a supplier in China and are more than happy with them)
  • light stands (the cheapest will do, LED lights are relatively lightweight)
  • a can of green paint (you can find and print a colour swatch from a suppliers web site, get your local DIY shop to scan it and make up some matt emulsion for you - the colour match does not have to be accurate)
  • a flat wall to paint
  • a video editing programme with green screen chroma keying and colour grading features (we use Final Cut Pro X)
  • a YouTube channel

If you only plan to create music videos, you won’t need the mic because you will be editing soundless pictures to your pre-recorded music track.

Video channel marketing

YouTube is the delivery platform you should be using for your video for several reasons ..

  • videos rank highly in Google search results
  • you can add meta data
  • you can develop a community by having people subscribe to your channel
  • videos can be embedded in other websites
  • the YouTube mobile app is excellent
  • you can add meta data (keywords/phrases) to help people discover your video
  • you can integrate your channel with social media
  • you can add in-programme captions, and calls to action in the form of annotations and links
  • it integrates into the Google Analytics and AdWords eco system
  • its free!

YouTube has extensive advice for maximising the impact of your videos ..

go here for help in setting up a channel and understanding usage guidelines .. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbsGxdAPhjv9eg9JHbQXwBHUB5LK3mKm1&feature=view_all
go here for professional advice on marketing and optimising .. http://www.youtube.com/yt/playbook/

In addition to this advice, here’s our top 10 for YouTube marketing ..

  • customise and brand your YouTube channel
  • use your artist name, song name, and “music video” in your title
  • provide a short description for both your channel and each individual video that contains your keywords/phrases
  • configure keywords/phrases for each video
  • add calls to action in the form of annotations, especially channel subscribe buttons and links to your music on merch (eg iTunes) stores
  • brand your video with opening and closing captions which include your website URL
  • organise videos into playlists (music videos, interviews etc), and don’t forget to include videos that other YouTube users have uploaded (perhaps someone filmed your gig on their mobile?)
  • upload your video in high quality HD using the native camcorder/edit format (eg AVCHD/mp4 or QuickTime) - don’t re-compress it before upload
  • enable social media linking in your page header
  • provide a custom thumbnail image that you have optimised in Photoshop so that you don’t have to rely on one of the 3 random frames that YouTube suggests

 

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