This might actually be the question I get asked most often. At the end of a seminar, a lecture or a guest talk at some event, somebody will raise their hand, and ask the question. I kind of dread it, because I can only really disappoint every time I answer it, but almost every time I speak, it comes up again.
“Hi, that was interesting and I can see that I’m going to have to pay more attention to the web / put an RSS feed on my site / get my own URL / use innovative strategies to promote my music, etc. I’ve read your 20 Things e-book, and I want to implement all that stuff…
“But can you please point me to an example of someone who is doing all of the things you suggest really well, so I can model my site after theirs?”
The answer, happily, is “no”
Of course, it would be great if there was a perfect example. An archetype of online music success. The poster child for New Music Strategies. But it would also mean that I’m wrong about pretty much everything.
Because although there’s no shortage of artists, labels, independent retailers, collectives and other music enterprises doing interesting things online, I struggle to think of an instance of someone who has everything spot-on and can stop trying now.
But in a way, that’s kind of cool. We should strive for constant improvement. There’s a reason this site is called New Music Strategies rather than New Music Solutions. For a start, I don’t think there ARE solutions. At least not ones that can be universally applied.
If you’ve missed it so far, part of my whole thing is that you have to customise. You need to play to your own unique strengths and innovate, rather than looking for ‘The New Model‘.
Strategies are simply things to try. Approaches to take. Ways in which to connect the dots that capitalise on what’s unique about your own situation.
Mapping someone else’s model onto what you do is, to my mind, almost a guarantee that you’re doing it wrong – because it forgets the most important ingredients: what you do, who your audience is, and what tools you have at your disposal to connect with that specific audience in the way that will be most meaningful and useful to them.
Instances of good practice
But, yeah – that’s a bit of a cop-out, because there are people doing really brilliant stuff. Some of it can be repurposed, and some of it serves as inspiration to go out and do something comparable, even if it isn’t directly applicable to your own site.
My preferences are the ones that aren’t simply cookie-cutter websites with an ‘About Us’ page, a ‘Listen’ page and a ‘Contact’ page. And nor is it those ones that rely utterly on Flash to look cool, but break all of the rules of simple, usable design.
But I’m not going to tell you which they are. I want you to tell me.
Which are the artist or music business websites that you would nominate for an award, if such a thing existed? What record label’s site keeps you coming back? Which band has a site that makes you more of a fan than ever? What’s the “perfect” music industry website?