The Internet has become the world’s kiosk. For almost 15 years, active listeners have turned to the Internet to find new music. So when a person recommends one of your songs to a friend, he or she can go to a handful of sites with the expectation of being able to instantly find it online.
If you want people to discover your music online, there are five sites that you must post your music to.
Although Bandcamp is an online music store, most people surf to it to hear music for free. This simple, user-friendly, free-to-join site allows artists to create their own microsites and post tracks, EPs, and albums for people to stream with an option to buy for personal use. Bandcamp also hosts photos and lists artists’ tour dates, contact info, biographical information, a link to the artist’s official site, as well as Facebook and Twitter links, making it a one-stop shop and the first destination for those who like to Google a band’s name.
For music lovers who don’t turn to Google, there’s always YouTube. Over the last eight years, this crowd- and corporate-sourced video hosting site has taken the place of MTV in the music video realm. All artists should produce as much video as they can and post it to YouTube. And don’t limit yourself to just music videos. YouTube is a dynamic place to engage listeners in the complete fan experience. Followers go there to watch clips of their favorite artists’ backstage antics, rare studio footage, vlogs—anything that draws viewers behind the scenes and entertains them. If your band name doesn’t come up in a YouTube query, then it’s time you made some changes.
A monthly subscription service or free streaming service with commercial interruptions, Spotify presents listeners with a digital treasure trove of music—literally rivaling the music collection of any record store in the world—that can be streamed from “the Cloud.” Anyone can post their tracks to it, and artists from your neighboring garage band to The Rolling Stones do. Some superstars such as Taylor Swift and The Black Keys opt out of hosting their music on Spotify (where the returns for plays are just fractions of a penny). But until your band is that big and well known, you can’t afford to boycott.
Speaking of the Cloud, SoundCloud is one of the Internet’s preeminent platforms for independent artists to stream new music. And that’s because—like YouTube—SoundCloud’s unique music player is embeddable for use on music blogs, sites, social media platforms, and more. SoundCloud is an invaluable tool when dealing with an Internet that’s all about simple, easy access.
Myspace revolutionized social media and music discovery for musicians and listeners alike. The site, which was recently redesigned, is currently in the midst of a total relaunch as a socially driven music site. Even so, it remains a user-friendly, ubiquitous platform for artists to post tracks, photos, tour dates, and biographical information.
Like any startup business, your band is a brand in the making. Therefore, its value is determined by the strength of your fan base, and your fan base is determined by word of mouth referrals and exposure—however you can get it. “Cultivate a following and you’ll find there are many ways to make money off of your music. But record sales are hardly one of the best ways to do that. Touring, merchandise, licensing—that’s the real business you need to be in if you’re making music,” said Daniel McCarthy of The Music Bed. And as for the music itself, you should view it as a marketing tool to promote your existence. So until you can sell it, you really should be giving it away.