Confusion Is Next Part 2
July 11th, 2013 by
Confusion Is Next: A 4-part Look at Music SEO In A New Era Of The Music Industry
Part 2 – How Do I Work This?
What is interesting about music SEO as a concept is that the focus isn’t really on steering traffic to a musician’s website in the same way that it would be for, say, a lawyer or dentist. With more traditional businesses, media like videos or sound files are frequently treated as neat bells and whistles that can help attract more attention to the actual service or product that business provides, as detailed on that company’s website. For a musician, these media ARE the service or product. A YouTube video for a lawyer can be strategically utilized to drive traffic back to a home destination. More and more for musicians, YouTube videos ARE the destination.
When it comes down to it, how do you even approach optimizing a band’s website? I’ve looked for online resources, and the results have been alarmingly banal and obvious. If you have to be told by “SEO experts” to include your band name in your band’s website title and domain name, I’m just not sure what else to even tell you. Have you heard of this thing called MySpace? It’s supposed to be pretty sweet. Anyway, some sources provide theoretically legitimate guidance like implementing meta data on all of your site’s pages and maximizing external link opportunities, but think about it: who are you optimizing for?
I signed up for a mailing list that granted me access to a 20-minute video on SEO’s importance to musicians in researching this post. In the video, the key example was a wedding band in Oakland targeting the keywords “wedding band Oakland.” That’s fine, and from there, plenty of SEO professionals will know what to do to help a local wedding band get some additional online presence. But this doesn’t do much for a new indie-electronic/neo-shoegaze/whatever-core three-piece doing all original material and who would, in different times, have viewed a modest advance from Touch And Go as a massive coup. Although I really enjoy the mental image of a lovesick college student Googling “new neo-math rock quartet Indianapolis that girl with the glasses in intro world lit would probably like,” people just don’t really use Google that way.
Moreover, there’s the question of what it is you’re actually trying to optimize. It feels somehow already out of date to optimize an actual website for a band or musician. Facebook, Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages are all probably afforded much greater significance by active musicians and their fans than individual websites. Facebook is likely to be more current on listings and news and allows more direct contact (for better or worse) between musicians and fans, Soundcloud makes it easier to hear music and Bandcamp allows a musician to get something resembling a paycheck with relative ease. Getting a traditional website to do all of those things sounds like an awful lot of unnecessary trouble for an amateur garage-punk quartet.
Basically, the focus with a musician needs to be on the music they are actually making, which – if found and digested by listeners – may or may not eventually lead to the band’s actual website. Establishing domain authority matters dramatically less than establishing connections between the artist being promoted and musical works or musicians that are already better known to most audiences. Ranking for targeted keywords is essentially meaningless; reaching listeners searching for other materials is crucial.
In Part 3, we’ll look at how musicians are actually reaching listeners (legally) in 2013.