I recently contributed an interview to firstsiteguide.com, a web development collective which helps people to create their own websites and blogs, and offers helpful related resources. I was approached to comment on the whys and hows of getting online, specifically as a music blogger and more generally as an active member of the online community.
As I explain in my interview, I believe it is crucial to have an online presence, as a musician, teacher and writer. A website acts as one’s “shop window” and is the place where one can include useful information for promoters, agents, colleagues, students and potential audience, from a concert diary to biography, downloadable photographs and press coverage, to video and sound clips. As a teacher, it’s likely to be the first point of contact for a prospective student or parent of a student, and therefore should include clear information about your teaching philosophy, lesson fees, other services, testimonials and terms and conditions.
It is de rigeur to have a web presence these days, and yet I am continually astonished at the number of professional musicians and teachers I meet who either do not have any web presence, or have a very rudimentary or badly-designed website. On the back of a website, one can attract further attention to one’s activities by having a presence on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, which gives one other streams from which to promote oneself. The single most important reason why this blog has become well known is through my active online presence.
“I don’t like talking about myself”, “it seems really egotistical” people say to me when I express dismay at their lack of an online presence. Others worry about security, “trolling” and privacy. All these aspects can be managed, by you the user, if you use these platforms sensibly and control how much information you want to reveal.
As an ingenue concert promoter (I launched the South London Concert Series with a colleague last winter), I have seen how useful and powerful these networks can be. We use Twitter, Facebook and a website as our main forms of promotion and contact with our potential audience, and we operate a paperless ticketing system through WeGotTickets, which saves a degree of admin for us. We have not had to pay for any advertising, and the first two concerts of the series sold out weeks far ahead of the actual date.
As a writer and blogger, the internet is a huge and wonderful resource, and every day I come across articles and more which form the basis for articles or discussions amongst like-minded people around the world. Almost all of my Meet the Artist interviews are the result of an approach made via Twitter or Facebook, and the internet remains a potent means of promotion for me, and many of the musicians I have met in the course of my writing.
Setting up a website is so straightforward these days, with platforms like WordPress, Tumblr and Wix which offer attractive templates and clear guidance, that there really is no excuse not to have a web presence. And these platforms are so easy to use and manage that one really doesn’t need to spend a lot of money or time on web design. (Take a look at my recently redesigned personal website for an example of a “homemade” site, hosted by WordPress.)
For more about how I got online and how I manage my online presence, read my interview