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Riding ‘The Major Train’
Helping Fans Find You On MySpace
By Anne Freeman, The Aspiring Songwriter®
(more articles from this author)
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Following up the previous article’s discussion about maximizing the ability for potential fans to find your myspace page, called “Can Your Page Be Found On MySpace?”, I spoke about the fact that MySpace and all other social networking sites depend upon mechanical search engines to direct subscribers to one another.

All of the previous articles in this series can be found at:
· Can Your Page Be Found On MySpace? Helping Fans Find You
· Make The Most Of Your Music Player On MySpace
· You Are What You Look Like On MySpace

The more you exploit the search engines of a social networking site, the better your chances are that the search engines will direct potential fans to your site. Therefore, you must be purposeful when selecting words, terms, names and phrases to include on your MySpace site in order to maximize your chances of attracting potential fans to your site who are most likely to be interested in the kind of music you are offering.

For example, a fan of a particular band or artist who wants to find similar music on MySpace will use the band or artist’s name and music genre when conducting a search on MySpace. That is a given. What is not a given is that you, the indie band or artist, have anticipated typical fan behavior by including those terms and phrases on your MySpace site. There is no magic to search engines. You’re either on board or you’re not.

Let me say it a different way: every term, word, name or phrase that you do not include on your website is a term, word, name or phrase that a potential fan cannot use to find you when they are searching for music on MySpace. I have outlined below one strategy to use when designing your MySpace site in order to capture typical music fan search activities to help you find potential fans:

Hop On The “Major Train”

When I visit MySpace music sites, I notice that artists often overlook a strategy to drive potential fans to their MySpace site: that is to ride the coattails, via search engines, of major label artists or other artists who are very well known to fans in a particular genre, even if they are not on a major label. Some bands and artists may have reasons for not exploiting major label artists' name recognition and fan base to recruit potential fans on their MySpace sites, but for those of you with no such reservations, consider the following:

If you are a Country artist or band, for example, and the current, top-selling Country artist Tim McGraw is one of your influences, why not exploit that fact to attract Tim McGraw’s MySpace fans to your site?

Tim McGraw has songs on radio all of the time, his videos play on TV, he tours, and performs on major TV shows, etc, all of which drive fans who are MySpace members to his official MySpace site. As of the writing of this article, Tim McGraw has had 9.2 million songs plays, 5.6 million profile views, and about 3000 song plays just today. He has 236,239 friends and 26,855 comments on the site. There are a lot of potential fans right on that one MySpace page, waiting to find you!

You can reasonably assume that many people are searching MySpace at any time using Tim McGraw’s name. They are looking for Tim McGraw’s website, but they are also looking for Tim McGraw fan club sites, other Tim McGraw fans, Tim McGraw forums and groups, and in many cases, other artists who are influenced by Tim McGraw.

You can ensure that your site will show up in those fan search results by including Tim McGraw’s name on your site in several places. Yes, such a search will turn up thousands of sites. But your site will be included in the search. If the fan is looking for music in their state that sounds like Tim McGraw, and you're in that fan's state or tour in that fan's state, the higher your site will rank in that fan's search. But, just like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it, so get into that fan's search sweep.

In your Edit Profile section of your MySpace site, it would look something like this:

Listing info: The place where you select your genres, include Country as a genre
Basic info: Your band name or your name, country, state/region, city and zip
Bio info: Repeat: your band name or your artist name; your genre or genres (Country); your major influences (Tim McGraw); where you play; the names of your CDs, EPs, videos, downloads, etc., that are available for sale or download (and the name of a single for sale that you’ve recorded that is a cover of one of Tim McGraw’s songs, if you did so); etc.
Members: Each band member’s name is mentioned; a brief bio of each member; the instruments they play; if they are vocalists; if they are songwriters; and the influences of individual band members (Tim McGraw).
Influences: List Tim McGraw, etc., etc,
Sounds Like: A combination of (Tim McGraw) and …, with a funky twist, for example.
Website: Your own website or your CDBaby site. Make sure it is a site where you can sell your CDs and downloads and, importantly, obtain that persons e-mail and other information of fans.
Record Label: If you don’t have a label and you are recording and producing your own records, then create a label name for yourself. Show that you are serious enough to have identified your projects with a label, even if that label is your own.
Label Type: Indie
Friends: Make sure Tim McGraw’s official fan site is posted on your site. Another Ride On “The Major Train”

Continuing on the theme of using a major label artist to attract potential fans to your site, consider this: do you perform live? If so, do you cover any songs that were originally recorded by a major label artist who is one of your influences? Have you recorded one of those cover songs?

You may have noticed that in the band bio section in the example above, I mentioned that if you have recorded a cover of a song by Tim McGraw, to mention it on your site. A popular song title is another powerful search term that fans will use to find music. If a fan is looking for a Tim McGraw song, and you have the name of that song on your site, suddenly your ranking in the search will jump.

Don't have a recording of a cover of Tim McGraw hit song? You can easily obtain a very inexpensive license for the song from the U.S. mechanical licensing agency, the Harry Fox Agency , using their online HF SongFile service. On the HF SongFile service, you can obtain a mechanical license to record 150 to 2500 copies of a song for digital downloads.

The U.S. statutory mechanical licensing rate for digital downloads is currently 9.1 cents per download per song, plus a very modest processing fee that Harry Fox charges to issue the license. You can obtain a license from Harry Fox, for example, to record and sell or give away 200 downloads of one of Tim McGraw’s hit songs for less than $50. You must of course incur the expense of recording the song, but the cost of a license is nominal.

Consider recording a cover single of a Tim McGraw song that you would offer as a free download on your homepage. Upload the song on your MySpace player and tell your MySpace friends that they can receive the free download of the song if they sign up to your fan club or register for your newsletter. (Make sure to get their contact information if you’re going to give something away!) Repost the song on your MySpace player frequently so that fans will find you using the song title searches.

Don’t neglect to you post a notice of your free download of your Tim McGraw cover song on the chat rooms of those Tim McGraw MySpace fan clubs, forums and groups. This is a simple, inexpensive, legal and targeted strategy to recruit potential MySpace members who are likely to enjoy your music and became your fan.

Staying On Track On "The Major Train”

Why am I pounding away on using major label artists or other well-known indie artists as part of your MySpace strategy? Because social networking sites like MySpace are very, very time consuming. You must decide how to best make use of your time. I once heard a terrific saying: “Never marry for money; go where the rich are and then fall in love.” Well, in this case, go where Tim McGraw fans are and then find a fan.

Your time is precious, and it can be wasted on sites like MySpace searching for friends who will never become a fan. If you can only spend one hour a week on your MySpace site, why not spend it on Tim McGraw’s site, visiting all those fans who already love your kind of music, and inviting them to your to become your fan, too?

As an indie, you don’t have squadrons of employees and street teams to do all that ground work for you. The majors do. The majors have done the work of building huge fan bases on their MySpace pages. Those fans are all in one place, waiting there, ready to hear more good music made by you. Go get them!

For more information and to contact the author, click on the author’s name at the top of the page.

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