About Kevin

Kevin is a Grammy nominated artist, podcaster, and indie musician advocate. He resides in Portland, OR where he is the Director of Marketing for CD Baby (cdbaby.com). Oh, yeah, he also plays guitar in Smalltown Poets.
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    The secret to building an audience on the web – Be interesting!


    I hear artists and musicians asking all the time, “Is it possible to build a bigger fan base just through the web?” I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and I’m convinced that it’s not as hard as people make it out to be. Here’s the big secret – Be interesting! I’ve learned a lot from reading blogs and using Twitter, and one thing I’ve noticed, is that the people who have learned how to convey information in an interesting manner are the ones that have a growing online presence.

    The funny thing is that artists (you know, creative types), are some of the worst people at creating interesting content on the web. Instead of conveying information that peaks the interest of those browsing the internet, they usually just post, “Buy my CD!” all over the place. Why would anyone stop to read more? They won’t. Promoting your music online can be as much about your writing skills as your musical skills. In order to give a push in the right direction, I’ve come up with a couple band updates that are typical web fare, and then created examples of how it can be made better.

    Boring: We wrote a new song last night. You can hear a demo here

    Better: For some songs, the birthing process can be a bit agonizing. Last night, we finally finished up what might turn out to be our best song to date. This is quite a surprise considering we almost scrapped the idea twice, and the fact that two of us (who shall remain nameless), nearly threw punches over the chord progression of the bridge. Writing music can be a wild ride making it easy to get hung up on the small things and lose perspective. That being said, we’re curious to hear how this new song hits your ears. Please take a listen to the demo we posted and let us know what you think! We promise we won’t throw any punches!

    Let your readers in on the process so they have a reason to care. Make them feel as if they need to take a listen in order to make the story complete.

    Boring: We had a great show last night! Thanks for coming out!

    Better: Last night, the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland OR was a rock n roll cauldron of joy. It was one of those amazing nights where the audience and band were in perfect sync. The type of show that makes all the rehearsals and time we’ve invested as a band worth it. But what those in attendance didn’t see, is what we are now calling “The Salsa Incident.” It’s typical for a venue to provide snacks or food backstage, and at the Doug Fir, this means a giant bowl (the term vat would almost be appropriate) of salsa, and a giant bowl of chips. Well, literally five minutes before we were supposed to go on stage, Peter decided to take the bowl of salsa and……

    Well, you get the picture. Your fans most likely saw the show. Tell them about what they didn’t see. There is always an interesting story line, you just have to make a conscious effort to pay attention and look for it.

    A few more tips:

    The people reading your content and discovering your music online can be anywhere in the world. Don’t write strictly to your local audience.

    Try to avoid starting your posts with what I call “We phrases.” Things like – We Played, We recorded, We blah blah blah. This will usually turn into a “We don’t care” from your readers

    Read blogs and follow folks on Twitter that you think create interesting content. Learn from them.

    If you continue to develop a story mentality, creating interesting content will become second nature, and the result will be more subscribers, more readers, more fans!

    • http://www.robertleeking.com Robert Lee King

      Nicely written and solid insights.

      I’d differ with you on one point though, there is an important place for the “We” phrases and that is when you’re speaking about the band and audience collectively. As in: “We really tore up the ______ last night.”

      Sometimes, that sense of being acknowleged as a part of the event can be very important to the fan and the band.

    • http://www.rifasband.com Ron from Rifas

      I couldn’t agree more with your points here. Most musicians think like avant-garde painters: “If you don’t want to kill yourself over my music then I don’t need you”. More realistically (not to mention, less dramatically), fans today are all about the back story. We should’ve seen it coming with the popularity of movie DVDs that now come with 5 additional discs featuring 57 hours of behind the scenes content. Fortunately for me, i’m not the real song writer in the band (more of the producer type myself) so I’ve taken the role of trying to generate our online “back story”. Blogs, podcast, vidcasts, twitter: all excellent tools. More than anything though is the understanding that you are now your own journalist. And you need to write your content like one.

    • http://kevinbreuner.com KevinB

      @Robert

      When I say avoid “We” phrases, I’m mainly talking about blog post titles, and the first sentence of an update. It becomes a habit with bands to describe everything as, “We did this or that.” It’s not very interesting. It’s really the idea of developing a story mind set.

      Kevin

    • http://www.arielpublicity.com Ariel Hyatt

      Kudos Kevin

      After SXSW where all the buzz was about social media and how to do it effectively, I could not have said this better myself!

      Ariel Hyatt
      Cyber PR
      twitter.com/cyberpr

    • http://music.skipregan.com Skip Regan

      Great suggestion. How to narrow it down to 140 curiosity-inducing characters in another challenge.

    • http://www.newmusimconday.com Tim

      Excellent points Kevin. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. As in “How can I make this more interesting?” For us especially when we post a new song or video, most of our energy goes into creating the actual piece, and then when its finished we often don’t put nearly enough though into how we post or present the material. If its on our blog we may have a decent write up, but the title might be something like… “A video update.” How interesting is that?

    • http://coliebrice.com Colie Brice

      Very good, simple, yet effective point. Thanks..

    • http://tunesmithsapprentice.com tunesmith

      Kevin, I’m not sure this is the place to ask this question. I’m a bit confused about this whole podcast thing. Is it an internet radio? Do you guys choose songs to perform from things sent to you? If you have time to reply I’d appreciate it. Thanks Bob.