Scott Meldrum is a musician with a dry wit and a background in direct response advertising. He's also called on by major labels when they want to brand an artist and reach millions of fans via the Internet.
Beginning with Papa Roach in 1998 and continuing with such platinum-selling artists as Avril Lavigne, Dido and Jennifer Lopez, Meldrum's Long Beach, Ca.-based Hype Council has helped entertainment companies reach the 70 million-strong potential online music buying audience.
At the National Association of Record Industry Professionals (NARIP) convention in Los Angeles last week, Meldrum spoke on the five mistakes music marketers make with their Web sites:
"The Internet is still a new medium," Meldrum said, "and there are tremendous opportunities for people in the business of selling music. Some of those opportunities are being wasted, however, through poor Web site design."
His top five mistakes are:
1. Mistaking creativity for functionality. "Don't try to put everything on your front page. Organization is the key. Lead your fans to the most important things," he said. "That's what menus are for, so don't hide them. How many times have you gone to a site that looks interesting, but you have no clue how to navigate it? People don't have time to waste figuring it out. Make it easy for them."
2. Burying the offer. "Links to buy the CD should be available on almost every page on your Web site. Many Web sites challenge -- almost dare -- visitors to find the product, let alone buy it."
3. Ignoring fans. "Many artist Web sites have a registration feature, but it is not prominently displayed. When you are not selling albums at your Web site, you need to be collecting email registrations. This builds a fan base where you can sell an album now and more in the future."
4. Not giving fans what they want. "Make your music accessible. Offer a few full streams of your songs. Make a download available in exchange for an email registration. You will win more fans and sell more CDs giving your music away than you will by not letting your potential fans really listen before they buy."
5. Failing to design with bandwidth in mind. "Ever been to a Web site and forgot why you were there before the page fully loaded? Getting people to your site is hard enough. Losing them because they got tired of waiting for your page to load is a waste of everyone's time and energy."
But don't limit yourself to just a Web site, Meldrum added. A site is a necessity, but consider other options for reaching out to potential fans on the Internet, too. Buy or trade banners. Send emails within the constraints of the CAN-SPAM law.
"You can send emails in text or HTML format. With, you can include pictures and graphics. They look nice, but we get twice the 'open rate' with text emails," he told the audience.
In addition, market on search engines, Meldrum said. "You can join or participate in message boards and blogs. And the latest advancement in music marketing involves social networks such as MySpace."
His specific suggestions:
- Use Google for research
- Check out MySpace.com
- Simplify your Web site
- Give away some songs
- Interact with your audience often.
"To your online fans, you are your Web site," Meldrum said. "If they love it, they will love you, and will be eager to follow your careers. Take all the great things about you, your talent and your message, and translate that to HTML. Keep it simple, easy-to-navigate and informative, and you will have a highly effective marketing channel for your music."