Bands are getting more and more enterprising and are increasingly seeing the value of giving their early releases away free of charge. Anyone who’s spent any time reading this blog will know that I approve. Every week I get sent, or stumble across, free releases from independent bands, and I try and make time to listen to, and in some cases review, as many of these as possible. However, often what I’m sent is a link to a page that contains a bunch of links to individual MP3’s. In theory this is fine, MP3’s are what I want as that’s the way that I generally consume music.
The problem is, when presented to me as a list of individual MP3′s, they’re a pain in the arse. I now have to download each track individually, hunt around my hard drive for them to import them into iTunes, then on to my iPod, in the process of which I often loose some. I’ve got limited time to devote to this, my hobby, and I’d rather spend my time listening to the music rather than trying to get the damn things onto my iPod! Once they’re there I often find, sin of ALL sins, the ID3 tags aren’t set properly so I can’t even find the bloody tracks! Grrr! It’s at this point I often give up. Life’s too short.
If you’re going to give your music away free, and reap the potential rewards of free distribution, you need to make it as easy as possible for folks to get a hold of and consume the stuff. Most listeners have a LOT less patience than me, and will simply move on when presented with a page of MP3 links. These are your potential fans, and loosing them at this early stage is just plain idiocy. Here’s a few tips:
- (Please tattoo this one on the inside of your eyelids so that you don’t forget) POPULATE THE ID3 DATA!!! I can’t emphasize this more. Put the correct data in the correct fields, correctly spelt. Populate the album field (even if it’s just to say ‘EP’), genre, year the lot. Make sure it’s consistently spelled and formatted across all files. If you don’t know how to do this then find out, or give up. Here’s a tutorial to get you started.
- Put all your tracks in a single compressed file with a file name that is human readable and includes band name and album title. No funny file types, zip is fine. If you have it, include high quality album cover and image of the band, and even some sort of introductory preamble which includes URL’s for your Myspace, website etc.
- Upload this file to as many places as you can – Mediafire, Rapidshare, Bittorrent, your own website. If the facility is available, include links to your Myspace so people can listen to it before they download.
Now, I actually don’t particularly advise this route if you’re in the business of promoting your album. There are plenty of tools out there to help you distribute and promote your music digitally. Bandcamp, for example, provides a media player so people can hear the music before downloading, as well as a ‘pay what you like’ function – OK, so most folks will pay nothing, but at least you have a chance of making some cash. Soundcloud has some excellent social/promotional functions (you’ll notice that I have a Soundcloud dropbox so that artists can send me tracks). Don’t limit yourself, the internet is a goldmine of (often free) promotional tools. Make it easy for people to hear your music and give it the chance to be loved!Bandcamp, ID3, MP3, Promotion, Soundcloud