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The Blogging Side Of Music

by Head Above Music

The Blogging Side Of Music – Part 2 of 5 – Dave Tamkin

Tuesday, 8 June 2010, 1 Comments

Today, we once again open the floor to Chicago-based (and now Colorado located) national touring musician, Dave Tamkin. We spoke with Dave about the promotional strategies that he finds to be most effective on his own blog, Head Above Music. Dave created Head Above Music as a free resource for musicians to find tips about gear, touring, travel, health and other important interests related to the working musician:

Describe yourself as an artist.

I’ve been a full time national touring musician for the last 8 years, maybe more but I don’t want to admit it. I try to write honest, upbeat, percussive songs that tell stories from a few different perspectives.

How important is social media marketing to your overall goals as an artist. Do you use it often? What is the level of engagement between you and your fans through various social networking channels?

It’s important to stay in contact with your friends and fans at a few different levels. It’s a creative outlet like anything else and the more you can give your audience new material to keep them updated and entertained the better. I use Facebook daily. I have a good time posting crazy ass videos and try to find something either personal or external that provokes some comments. Its fun to see people I’ve met from across the country interact on a topic.

I’m not a huge twitter fan but keep it updated through other platforms. Myspace is still great to tool to connect with other musicians but I’m not sure how many people still use it.

As an artist, how does blogging fit into the overall structure of your marketing strategy?

I blog, but not as an artist. I blog to bring other musicians together and try to keep my comments out of it, although there is a few on www.headabovemusic.com . So I guess I’m an aggregator of other musician’s blogs.

As a blogger, what inspires you?

I like to tear down the hype that comes with being on stage, in photos, in videos, as a performer and a songwriter. Behind all the ego are musicians that are passionate about their voice and how it is interpreted by the audience and the vehicles in which it reaches their ears. Men and women that have the same struggles as everyone else and yet provide such eclectic music along their journeys are intriguing to me. People that want to succeed at what they do and will go to great lengths to make that happen. Everyone has their own way of achieving those goals. The fact that I provide a forum in which they can come together and share their stories and network is what inspires me to keep posting blogs.

A typical questions that most musicians are looking for the answer to, where did you begin? What was the first step you took in promoting your blog?

I began with a subject that didn’t sell anything. It was purely to provide information to others to help on their journey. I wanted an outlet that didn’t depend on me paying my bills or having to be judged in any way. There is not one bad thing about people sharing their stories on how they survive in the music world. I found that extremely easy to stand behind and promote. I first asked musician friends to offer their opinions on how they go through their day as a musician. I came up with as many topics as I could. They could either choose one of those or come up with one on their own. No rules, no topic turned down. It just had to have meat and honesty behind it.

Once I had a good foundation built, I went searching for people that needed help. I explored other blogs and forums where people looked for answers relating to topics I had in my foundation. I simply offered my help and the URL link and continued searching.

I also asked musicians to post the article on their own site and promote as well. This brought their fans to the page as well as inspiring musicians of whom were also a fan of that musician.

I then hooked up my feedburner (not the best option) twitter, facebook, and myspace and began blasting articles one day at time. I wasn’t selling anything, just providing information from other musicians. You didn’t have to agree or disagree with their point of view. If it works for them.. God Bless. If it doesn’t work for them, read another article or write your own.

How much time do you spend looking at other peoples’ blogs?

Not so much at first, but as I went searching for answers that were asked from the submission widget on the site, I spent a great deal of time searching for those answers. There are a lot of great blogs out there and some real shit ones. Its been nice to mold Head Above Music after some of the quality sites I’ve come across.

How do you measure success? Do you have goals in place to measure growth, traffic, and/or reader engagement?

I first measure success by how many unique readers I get a month. Second, how long do they stick around and the bounce rate from one article to another? Third, how many people are listening or clicking to the links provided by the artists that wrote the article.

What is the return on blogging for you?

For right now, it’s knowing I’m helping other musicians out by either giving them new information or exposing them to new music.

How do you respond to engagement on your blog? How do you leverage current engagement to increase future engagement?

Its really easy for me to see who is reading what. So if one topic is really getting a lot of traffic, I try to find more opinions and articles on that topic to present a wider view.

How often do you respond to comments left on your blog? Are there times when you should and/ or should not respond to comments?

People often leave opinions rather than questions in response to leaving a comment. I tend to leave it alone. Its their opinion and I’m happy to have a place for them to share it.

How do you track the success and popularity of each link? Do you use bit.ly or any other link-shortening/ tracking systems?

Google Analytics and Hoot Suite are most convenient for me. They do just enough tracking as far as page visits and link visits, click throughs and letting me know where my traffic is coming from. Some people might need more juice behind their statistics but I’m not there yet.

What are the benefits of an attractive article title?

HUGE!! My articles are listed as such, so it’s the only thing capturing my audience’s attention. Here are my top articles below. You can see that each article clearly states what you’ll find within the article. Clarity is more important than creative, especially when people are new to your site. It seems that my top site might be from this site MicControl.com, I never really heard of them though…. And they’re awesome.

Do you use any sort of SEO progams (search engine optimization) to help increase traffic to your blog?

Its good to do your SEO research. I use wordpress that allows you to add your own SEO. Its always good to know as much as you can about promoting your blog or band web site. Read up on how SEO can help you so you can climb out of the deepest depths of the internet universe.

What is the best way to integrate a blog into existing social networks like Facebook?

Don’t bother people all day long. Post your blog where it needs to be seen and move on to the next day. Its like posters at a club. You put too many up, they blend in to the background and people ignore them. Strategically place a few and it will catch people’s eye amongst the clutter.

From your experience, has Facebook helped to increased reader engagement? Traffic?

Hell yes, my friend. I have a large number of “personal” facebook friends, 550 and counting Head Above Music friends and almost 2,000 musician fan page friends. I post an article and a few people are bound to read them and pass it on if they find it worthy. But those numbers are there by conversing and caring about the people you interact with on Facebook.

You can dismiss social media all you want, but when the numbers are there, its just a fact that more people will hear your music and read your blog.

What do musicians want to avoid doing when promoting their blog?

Selling something, avoid selling something, especially as a musician. Use this opportunity as a window into your world of creative endeavors for the pure purpose of sharing it with others. If you do this honestly and creatively, people will buy your music without you ever having to mention it.

Check back tomorrow for part 3 of the MicControl.com interview series: The Blogging Side Of Music. We will be speaking with award winning producer and blues musician, Peter Malick about his experiences as a musician and a blogger.

Be Sure To Check Out:
Part 1: Matt Moran, songwriter/ blogger on content, consistency and benefits.

The Blogging Side Of Music will explore the dos and don’ts, the styles and techniques, and ultimately the tips and strategies of a successful music blogger. Each day, Each interview will feature of a different style of music blogger, ranging from a musician who uses a blog as part of his promotional strategy to the general manager of a major digital PR firm who runs a music marketing strategies blog.

If you are a music blogger or musician blogger and have suggestions or feedback about today’s interview, please feel free to email me or leave a comment below!


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