I have a lot of friends who are musicians and want to know the best way to get their music heard online. The obvious answer is to set up a MySpace profile and add tracks for people to download and put on their page. But it takes a lot more than just adding “friends” and spamming them when you have an upcoming show. So what are other ways bands can get their stuff noticed online?

There are a ton of online radio stations, podcasts, even vidcasts where you can submit your music for consideration. Granted, most have small audiences but there are niche shows on various sites that will accommodate. So what else is out there?

Last.fm is a social networking site for music. Say your band sounds like, oh I don’t know, Smashing Pumpkins. People can search for bands that sound like SP and find your stuff if you sound like them. Pretty helpful way to get your stuff out, especially for those of us who are musically stuck in the 90’s. 😉

Phonezoo is a social networking site based on ringtones. My band has the 6th most rated ringtone for our song “Fallen” and 13th most discussed ringtone for our song “Wasteland”. We didn’t have to spam people (see: MySpace), bother our fans by making them pay or put out a press release to get noticed.

The site is still in beta but it’s a great free way to get your music out there. I have to disclose that we’re currently a featured artist on the site, but we didn’t pay to be featured and they have in no way compensated us for talking about them here. So back to business…

Most bands who are recording at small studios want to know how to get into iTunes. Most applications submitted by bands are declined, so don’t waste your time. You can, however, go through places like CD Baby who are authorized iTunes “uploaders”, meaning once you’ve sent them a few CDs and a check they’ll get you in. And yes, my band is on iTunes thanks to the aforementioned service. Again, no compensation.

There are numerous ways of getting your band noticed as well. Google Ads work to promote your band’s shows, especially when they’re in a geographic region. They can work for CD sales when targeted at specific sites, too. My band’s site currently has Paypal listed as our low-cost entry into e-commerce, however I’m in the process of moving us over to Shopify, a free online shopping cart that not only does inventory management (hurry, the last few copies of our debut CD will be gone soon!) but also integrates with Google Checkout – which, through the end of the year is offering free transaction processing. By the way – if you’re using AdWords and spend a certain amount then Google waives the transaction fees anyway.

Shopify does take a small percent of the sale, but the owners are great to deal with, you can get an immediate response if things aren’t set up properly, it doesn’t cost anything to set up and run and it’s easy to use — even the drummer can figure it out (no offense to Pete & Robert).

Sure there are more online tools, feel free to add your faves as I definitely will.

Don’t forget offline possibilities as well. Sure it’s hard to break into the record industry with payola and record labels working PDs every day, but there are ways to break through into the mainstream media without airplay. My friends in the Cobalt Party Revolution have had their music featured on a few national TV shows, 2 commercials and a movie trailer.

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