I've, been consulting clients in the music industry for nearly 10 years now, but about 6 years ago I stumbled on a website called Hi5 (this was my first experience with Social Networking).

Prior to this setting up a website for your band/product was all the craze, but to set up a decent website was either too expensive or way too technical to run. Many of the great websites were the major record labels and a handful of top artists who gained great success during these times.

What made me realise that Social Networking was going to be the next big thing for the music industry, was that you could customise your own profile with no web designing experience, rather than just visiting a site to read, watch or listen to what's on offer. Social sites gave the individual user a place to share their personal interests. After surfing through many similar sites like Hi5 they all seemed to be based around young single teens flirting, but not like dating sites more like getting their two minutes of fame. Then I found Myspace, wow the revolution had begun!

If you want to succeed in the music industry today, Social Media and Social networking is one the most important tool,  needed in order to make real success. We all live in a great age of opportunity the "THE INFORMATION AGE" . Technology is moving at a dynamic pace enriching our lives, it has come at a cost (in this case the music industry. The discovery of the MP3 has brought a rise in the global environmental waste of vinyl/CD plus the appliances used to operate them).But there's always a happy ending, long gone are the days when you would press 1000+ cd's and then go around the country trying to get them sold. NOW! if you have great content and you market it through Social networking sites, stay relevant, stay connected, stay engaged,stay sharing, stay interactive. Success is sure to follow.

PASTE YOUR SPACE. So you got your hot tracks, now you want to get heard!, get noticed!, get that dough! There are several sites dedicated to music. But I'm going to cover Myspace for the moment as this site has never let me down, even though they're not on the tip of everyone's tongues. Myspace has evolved and stayed relevant to today's ever-growing social media needs. Myspace is by far one of the most reliable sites for uploading a variety of contents such as Music, Video, Photo,widgets ect.. all on your profile plus many cool templates for your profile layouts, not like other sites which have the same look on everyone's profile. You can also sync your Myspace account with Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and many other social sites along with the Myspace Apps available on all mobile devices, keeping all your fans/friends/followers updated has never been so easy. But the best feature on Myspace, is you can customise your own unique FLASH! profile, using css & html codes giving it that professional look, so when fans visit your profile they'll take your band/product more seriously. Note: I recommend that you  hire a good web designer, you can usually find a link on a page you like. Having a well formatted Myspace profile makes a lot more sense than splashing out on a website. Bandspaces.com is a great site for designing custom-made flash layout for your profile. Here are some sample profiles.

www.bandspaces.com

There are many other useful social sites dedicated to musicians such as ilike.com, reverbnation.com, bandspace.com. You can upload and distribute your content in the same way as Myspace, but each has its limitations so look for others which serve your needs.I suggest signing up to as many accounts as possible.

FACE VALUE. Facebook is an important weapon of mass information. If you are not on Facebook, you're not relevant. I suggest you get one, like now!! When or if you have a Facebook account, the next step is to set up a group page and also a fan page. Facebook users are more personal towards others users, so it's important to treat all users like family. Whether you have ten friends or a million friends they mean nothing if you don't engage with them all. When people make comments reply back, on your home page get involved with whatever people are sharing. You'd be surprise how people return the favour when you post something on your status. If you send a request and it's accepted, send them a thank you or say something cool on their wall (like a smiley:o)). Facebook is a fun social site, many of my clients has made some valuable contacts through networking on Facebook this year. My friend's wife promoted a rave on Facebook and she filled the club to its 400 capacity, she did not have to print a single flyer, nor radio ad, just a few friends who told a few friends. That's the power of social networking.

FOLLOW THE TWEETER! Twitter only allows 140 Characters to write something, so you've got to make what you write stand out from the millions of tweets being posted by the nano sec it seems at time! I'm a new Twitter user so I can't comment in-depth about Twitter, but from using it I have found it's very fast paced, informative and useful. If you have a product /brand, Twitter is the place to market it. I will admit I have become addicted to twitter. It's a great social site. Hanging out in Twitville has led me to write this Blog (my 1st may I add!). Here's an example of a tweet I wrote with exactly 140 characters #If you cant keep up u will b left behind,so follow da Twitter cos its movin @fibreopticspeed. Dis is not a trend,its a way of life, iTweet.

MYFACE TV Youtube, Ustream,Livestream and JustinTV are today's leaders in video sharing and management. Let's start with Youtube. You can upload up to ten minute of video footage and can be shared to almost any social site, also you can embed videos into your own website. Try to avoid uploading tracks  with just a picture of yourself/band. Youtube is a place for video not pictures, so contents such as interviews, stage performances, studio or rehearsal footage and some funny behind the scene stuff are great contents to post but keep updating it with new stuff on a regular basis. Create a channel so viewers can subscribe to it. Ustream,Livestream and JustinTV works in a similar way to Youtube but you can broadcast live videos. This is a great tool to get fans interacting with you, your profile has a live chatroom where viewers can speak in real-time plus you can link Facebook/Twitter into your chatroom. Here is where you can get creative, start out with a one hour show playing tracks of your own and tracks in the same genre, have fun, give away tickets and merchandise. This is going to take over live radio plus its all free.

There are many more social sites and tools to cover that will help you succeed in the  music industry such as stores to help you sell your content digitally (singles,albums, ring tones,videos). Mobile apps for iPhone/Blackberry/Androids smartphones are fast becoming very popular. I need to do more research about this topic, it seems you can also integrate these apps with other social sites. Social sites like LinkedIn.com & Hootsuite.com are essential for managing all the featured sites by having them all in one place. Once you're armed with these social tools, it's time to create a buzz about your band/product so your fans/followers can begin to share it with their social friends and families. Many have created great success on the internet, many you have heard some you may not have, but their secret was simple. They just got involved and work hard to get noticed. I will be writing more blogs about these social tools in more details. I hope this blog has enlightened you to help you become the next Jay-Z or P Diddy on the net. Stay relevant!, Stay connected!, Stay engaged!, Stay sharing!, Stay interactive!, Stay networking! and Stay Fresh! ;o)