D.I.Y. Musician: Syndicate Yourself

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FIG. 1: You can use your blog''s syndication feature to feed content to your pages on sites such as ReverbNation, MySpace, and Facebook.

Considering that the first thing that people do when they learn about something new is Google it, in today''s music world, if you don''t exist on the Web, you don''t exist at all for a large number of fans.

Of course, all artists should have their own website. But to make an impact, you need more than just one hit on a search. Fortunately, musicians can leverage the large number of free sites and services that are available to put up their music, such as MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, Eventful, and Last.FM. Unless you have serious problems with the user agreement (and yes, you should read them; not all of them are friendly to musicians), these are great places to put yourself and your music where there''s already an audience. Even better, beyond giving fans a new place to connect with you and hear your music, each web presence that links to your website will improve your site''s page rank with search engines.

If you have many web presences, it''s time-consuming to keep them all up to date. When you''re doing it yourself, you don''t want to spend time copying and pasting content you post at one site to another. And yet you don''t want to skip this step because you''ll likely end up with fans at one site that don''t necessarily follow you at another. The good news is that you don''t have to work as hard to keep them all in sync if you have a blog.

Blogs have a special ability, called syndication, which nearly every music web presence out there can pick up. Your blog can feed your other sites automatically. It''s the perfect situation: You get to write something once and automatically update all of your web presences.

If you''re not writing a blog yet, don''t be surprised if your website already has a built-in blog built that you can start using. Otherwise, there are many fine blogging sites such as Blogger, Wordpress, and ReverbNation (see Fig. 1). Once you have your blog, the first thing you''ll want to locate is your blog''s feed. Make sure that you get the feed address rather than the address of your website itself, as many of the web presences will want the actual feed address.

Once you have your blog''s feed, head to each web presence separately and link your blog. Each site will have slightly different instructions. For example, to add your blog to ReverbNation, click “My Profile,” then “Manage Your Blog Preferences,” and then “I Would Like To Show A Blog I Maintain On Another Site” to enter your blog''s feed address. On Last.FM, you''ll need to sign up as a label where you can manage your feeds. For Facebook, you''ll need to create a band fan page and then use a Facebook application such as Facebook Notes to pull your blog''s feed. If you run into any trouble, search the site''s Help function, and you''ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. And while this may sound like work, your time spent is worth it: For every five to 10 minutes you spend adding your feed to a new site, you''ll save hours of copying and pasting to keep it updated.

Most feeds only grab the title and the first few words of any post you make. So it''s best to make your blog titles and opening sentences interesting enough to readers that they''ll click on it and visit your site. But from there, there''s no limit to the number of sites you can link to the same feed. Next time fans search for you, you''ll be everywhere they are.

Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan are authors of The Indie Band Survival Guide: The Complete Manual for the Do-It-Yourself Musician and The D.I.Y. Music Manual, and founders of the open and free musician resource IndieGuide.com.