Before the Internet, music was consumed completely offline. The discovery process was very organic and generated mostly by word of mouth, live music and television/radio advertising. It could be difficult for smaller bands to get discovered and a lot of the time they would have to settle for playing to the local market or small venue tours across the country. However, with the Internet's arrival, the music scene has exploded and levelled the playing field for all involved.
This is somewhat of a mixed blessing though. It does mean the audience potential has expanded exponentially, however it also means that there are so many other bands and musicians doing the same thing. The competition has increased at an alarming rate, too.
As a band or musician, what can you do to ensure that you don't get lost in the crowd?
First of all, you will need a website. Yes, social networking is great and everything but a website is a fundamental basic that every band or musician should have. It acts as a reference point if nothing else. It also projects a more professional image (provided it has been well designed). Social media does not replace the need for a website - it can be a very useful means of promotion and musical discovery but should work alongside any other online presence you have.
Social networking is also a definite must have. At the very least, set up a Facebook and Twitter profile so that you can communicate with your existing fans and interact with your new audience. Communication and interaction are so important with music now as there are so many bands and musicians present on the Internet - you need to make yourself stand out from the crowd and personal connections are a great way of doing this.
Don't be afraid to get creative in your approach too. Try video and photo sharing sites. Come up with an interesting idea that could become viral and promote it to friends and existing fans on your social networks. If enough people share it, you could increase your fanbase almost instantly!
A good website which is optimized for search engines, a strong social media presence and a daring, creative approach will ensure that your band are discovered. Don't be afraid to ask friends and existing fans for help getting started - spreading the word can be the toughest part, particularly at first. If you need any further assistance, there are companies and freelancers who are happy to take on your online band promotion or provide advice on promoting your music online.
Keep an eye out too for any artists who find creative ways to market themselves online. Take note, and do something which is in line with your style and will appeal to your target audience. Creativity and persistence will be the key to your success.