Tuesday, January 1, 2013

HTML5 And Your Band's Website.

We'll assume that your band does already have a web site, and talk about why that web site should be html5 based.

Over 70% of the smartphones owned in the US are either iPhone or Android based. Add to that the number of tablets in use now, and you start to see something very quickly. Computer web surfing isn't dead, but it's no longer the main means of consuming the web.

Mobile devices are now either tied with desktop website consumption, or have surpassed it (depending on who you talk to or what study you've read). But the point of this post isn't to mince those numbers. The point of this blog is compatibility.

Does your band's website work on these mobile platforms? If it's flash based, it'll work on Android phones and tablets just fine. But if it's flash based, it will NOT work on iOS devices such as iPhones, iPods, and iPads! By making your website flash based, you've effectively ensured that a major segment of those browsing the web on a mobile device will be unable to see your site.

This is why I believe web sites for artists should be made with mobile compatibility in mind from the start. After all, if I find a new artist and happen to be on my iPhone, I want to be able to listen to them regardless of my mobile device of choice. If I can't, I may never go back to check out that artist later.

HTML5 is a platform that will work on iOS devices. You now have websites being built with HTML5 formatting, and music players that are html5 based. For instance, Soundcloud.com and Reverbnation.com offer HTML5 music players that will work on iOS devices! I prefer Soundcloud because you can add .wav files for better overall sound quality, but that's just me. If you just want to stream an mp3, both sites will do the job.

Wix.com will let you build a website for free, and in exchange they will place a tiny "Wix.com" ad on the top and bottom of your site. But the good thing is that wix.com pages are typically HTML5 based! This means that the site will work perfectly on an iPhone or iPad, right down to the email form!

In short, make sure your website is compatible with mobile devices of all brands. HTML5 is a solid choice for this compatibility, but if another standard works for you and doesn't eliminate an entire popular operating system, then by all means use it. Just be sure it's compatible in the mobile market!

Monday, December 31, 2012

5 Ways To Use Twitter As A Musician:

Twitter is a great way to gain a large audience, but it's a very misunderstood medium. If you're not doing it right, you won't see any returns from it, and it can get very frustrating. So I'm compiling a list of ways to use twitter to get more followers, and to turn those followers into part of your tribe.

1. Find someone similar to you, and follow all of their followers.

It may seem disingenuous, but it's really not. Let's say that I'm a rapper in a certain city, and I know that another rapper in the same city has a lot of twitter followers. If my style is similar to the other rapper, there's a chance that the followers of the other rapper might like what I have to bring to the table.

By following all of their followers, you're standing up and saying "Hi, I'm here" in a non-invasive way. Most of them will not respond, but some of them will follow you back (on average i've experienced a 20% followback rate using this tactic)! SCORE, you've just increased your twitter followers by approximately 20%!

Be careful how quickly you do this, as twitter can shut down your account if you do it too quickly. Don't do it right after opening a brand new twitter account, as twitter will be watching your account to ensure that you're not using a bot to spam people. I tried this tactic for a friend's brand new twitter account, and followed 900 people in 3 hours. The friends account was suspended for 48 hours, and multiple emails had to be sent to twitter to get it re-activated!

2. Following Back…

The point behind using social media to increase your fan base lies in the ability to turn your followers into part of your tribe! This means that you must let them feel that they are a part of something, and even though you may be what it is centered around, they are the important factor in the movement. The easiest way to start that is by following back everyone who follows you.

There are smartphone apps that make following back your followers as easy as pushing a button and letting the app do the work (Followorks OneTouch for iPhone is my personal favorite). These apps also make unfollowing those who didn't follow you back just as easy.

3. #Hashtagging

A hashtag, for those who may not know, is a way of marking a word in twitter to make it searchable. Let's say for example that you were to include a hashtag for iTunes (it would look like this… #iTunes ) in your tweet. This would allow anyone who is searching on twitter for the word iTunes to see all the tweets that include that hashtag! So if you are including hashtags for relevant topics in your tweets, the likelihood of them being seen by a much larger audience increases!

Case in point…When Tupac was "brought back to life" at Coachella, I was in the middle of searching on twitter for "#biggie". There were a ton of tweets that just kept coming from people who were saying things like "I can't wait till they bring back #biggie!". So if you find a topic that relates to what you're doing, and that topic happens to be trending on twitter, include that topic as a #hashtag in your tweet, and it'll be likely to be seen by a lot of people!

4. Post often, but make it relevant.

If I'm following a musician on twitter, part of me wants to know about what's going on in their lives. I don't care about the spat they had with their baby mama, but I do care about the fight they got in with the other musician at the local bar. I don't care about their junkman or what's in their fridge, but I do care about how rehearsal went or who their next shows are going to be with. Keep it personal, be yourself, but keep it relevant too. If I have 10,000 people I'm following, and I see your tweet about how bad your eggs tasted, that may be the only tweet I see from you before you disappear into the twittersphere again for god knows how long. If my only chance to be reminded that you're an artist failed because you were too busy talking about something unrelated, you've lost the chance to peak my interest.

5. Tweet your songs…but don't spam.

Your fans will want to hear your music, and if they are following you on twitter they can re-tweet your music to their followers with a push of a button. This is the perfect opportunity for your fans to help you go viral. But you want to be careful not to overtweet your music. If my feed is full of nothing but you, and I'm not an extreme fan, I'm likely to unfollow you.

I'd like to add another point, about what NOT to do.

There are those who want instant gratification with social media, and refuse to recognize that this is a major time commitment. These people will try social media for a week, or a month, then get bored and move on. Or, they will try to buy followers so they look much bigger than they are.

You should always stick with this, because if you stop you lose steam. You will have to start at ground zero yet again with your social media efforts, and you will lose ground very quickly. You should also avoid the trap of buying likes, views, twitter followers, ect… There are many musicians who I've seen that have bought several thousand twitter followers, but their plays on reverberation are still minimal and their Facebook interactions are miniscule. It's not hard to spot these people, and it seems very unlikely to me that if you have 50,000 twitter followers, that none of them are playing your music online. These artists are ignoring the fact that these bought likes and followers are just a waste of money, as they aren't going to actually increase their fan base in any way. In the end, if it's not increasing your fan base, why would you do it?

Just remember that it will gain traction, but it will be slow at first. Keep at it, and good luck.

Friday, February 24, 2012

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

That's right, I said it. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. On the contrary, a lot of knowledge is a good thing. Also, no knowledge can be a good thing. Let me explain.

I'll use a recording studio as an example. If you're a musician, odds are you've been advised that "no mic will sound good on that amp unless it's an SM57, and it has to be positioned at this spot." This statement completely negates the fact that mic placement dramatically changes the tone of a mic, and the room an amp is in also plays an important factor. Also, different mics have different characteristics, so how do you know that you're not passing up the tone to end all tones by trying some different mics if all you do is demand an SM57?

To put it bluntly, there's a reason you're a guitarist and not an audio engineer. An audio engineer will know these things and know how to get the sound you desire while coming up with some unique and interesting tones. All you need to do is sit back and give the audio engineer a little faith and room to breathe.

On the flip side, someone with tons of knowledge on the topic knows that the engineer knows what they are doing and tends to just trust it. The same is true of someone who doesn't know anything, as they may not even know what an SM57 is! People in both of these categories are more willing to accept the proven fact that the gear doesn't make the record, the engineer makes the record. Someone who has a little bit of knowledge, but doesn't really know what the hell they are talking about, tends to get hung up on the gear the engineer is using rather than the end product that has been presented to the client in the sales meeting.

The same can be said in a variety of industries. I'm using a recording studio because this is what I know, but I've also witnessed it when discussing marketing campaigns for artists. The artist gets an idea of what it will take to get somewhere, but your marketing knowledge says that won't work. Despite this, the artist acts like you don't know what you're talking about because they are armed with a little bit of knowledge on the topic and think they are right. I've encountered this situation many times over the years.

The biggest problem with musicians who possess a little knowledge is that they tend to be counter productive. They start fights, create tension, and are constantly being combative. Obviously, this isn't the same in every case, but in many cases that I've encountered it has been the case. What I'd like to see, but rarely do, is an artist who has a little knowledge but they know they don't know everything and henceforth are willing to sit back and absorb what they can from your professional knowledge of the subject.

So if you're working with someone who has shown proven results, but you're finding yourself questioning their every move, try to take a step back and let them do their thing. Odds are that things will go smoother if you have a little faith in them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Spinning it for the press.

Press coverage helps raise awareness to the rest of the population to what we're doing. But how do we get it?

The founders of the Mid Ohio Rock Show have figured it out. Here's a clipping from their full page article in the Mansfield News Journal.

Upon seeing this on my Facebook feed, I read the article. Then I searched for their YouTube channel and realized a few things. None of these things are in any way an insult to anyone, and I do have a point. That point is that you need to play your strengths up to the press to get that coverage. This is going to dissect the strengths and weaknesses I found in this article to show you why, despite what you may think is a not so newsworthy article, someone may still find it newsworthy if you play on the right facts to the press.

So let's begin the dissection. And again, this isn't meant as any sort of slight at anyone, just an analysis of what I find.

Let me explain. The article calls the show a YouTube "sensation". However, the most viewed video on the profile was a video of Charlie Sheen driving a train. They superimposed information about the Mid Ohio Rock Show at the tail end of the Charlie Sheen spot. I think this was wise, but risky.

You see, if someone is going to search for Charlie Sheen, they may find this commercial and watch it. This would explain the 14,000 views on this video. Where this was a smart move for them is that it created content on their channel that would appear when someone searched for Charlie Sheen. Then at the end, they place their show information, helping to increase the likelihood that people interested in this type of show might tune in to the rest of the channel and find content they like. Here's an example of the content they provide.

Where I find this risky is that they tricked people into finding their page by searching for Charlie Sheen, then placing their show's promo at the end of that video. This could create a false expectation in the viewer that they are seeing the original piece, then they could get frustrated when they find that it's actually someone else using Charlie Sheen to advertise their show. That's the risk involved in this type of advertising.

The point is that it did generate views for their channel. The newspaper article touts that the channel is a YouTube "sensation" because it's been viewed in over 140 countries. This is likely due to the fact that they included Charlie Sheen content in their page, hence increasing the number of times that their content appeared in YouTube searches (can we say SEO?). This could have the effect of bringing people to their channel to check out the music featured on the show, but the evidence shows that may not be the case.

When I look at their original content, there's less than 1,000 views on almost all of the other videos. These are the videos that feature local bands. I'd be hard pressed to tout that as a "YouTube sensation", but their channel HAS been viewed in 140 countries. Therefore, it could be said to the press that the channel has reached worldwide exposure, hence creating interest to the media.

The creators of the show, knowing what press potential there was in the fact that their channel has received so many views in so many countries, took that information to the local press. The local press published an article talking about the worldwide reach of the channel. This increases the likelihood that people in the Mansfield area will be aware of the show's existence, and will increase their likelihood of tuning in. Therefore, even though the views for the videos of the local bands on the show aren't really that high, they found a factual piece of information that would create a buzz worthy story in the local press and ran with it.

The point I'm trying to get across is that you want to find ways of using your stats or other information to help generate a buzz about your band. There are journalists looking for that interesting piece, even if it's just to act as filler on a slow news day, but that piece could turn into you gaining press exposure! Take advantage of that where you can!

Are live shows still as important as they were?

Before I get into this post, I'm not saying that performing live isn't important. I'm merely bringing up a point to consider when marketing your music. Many musicians play out like there's no tomorrow, and it works for them. Some find more effective music marketing comes from social media and exposure via YouTube/Pandora/Spotify/iheartradio. All are viable options, but this begs the question: are live shows as important as they used to be?

Each town has a scene, and it's possible to be making waves within your local scene but also be largely ignored outside of your home market. It's also the case that you could be incorporating tactics that are causing you to earn a reasonable income from your music based on internet campaigns, yet no one in your local scene knows who you are.

We'll explore the internet options that are available and define briefly what the ideal roles of various social media sites are. We'll start with your music. When you record a new release, you have options for mass distribution online at a relatively low cost. For example, you can use sites like Pandora and YouTube to drive up exposure for your music.

If you post your music on Pandora, then you may be included in the radio stations of anyone listening to anything similar to you. Get heard a couple of times on this, and if the listener likes it they may seek you out. Meanwhile, if you post an interesting video to YouTube for your music, there's the possibility that people will stumble upon that video when browsing the site. YouTube is the #2 most utilized search engine, so if your song can be linked to another topic it may be helpful to tag it as such. For example, if someone searches for Steven Slate Drums EX 3.5, they'll see in the first page of results a myriad of videos that have tagged Steven Slate Drums 3.5 EX in them. So if someone wants to see how good SSD 3.5EX sounds, they may find your video in the results and watch your video.

Now that people are listening to you on Pandora and watching you on YouTube, the next step is to give them a place to seek you out. Spotify is great for this, as you can tune in to just the music you want and listen to it as often as you want. But what happens when the person who found your music on YouTube or Pandora is tired of listening to it on Spotify, and they are ready to purchase the song?

This is why you put your music on iTunes and Google Music. Most smart phones are either an iPhone or an Android, and being on these two digital distributors will enable anyone anywhere to buy your music and download it directly to their device.

So if we can discover music we like via the internet, become passionate fans of the music via the internet, and then purchase our own copy of it via the internet, how important are live shows in this day and age? I'd argue that they are definitely an important factor, but are more practical when you've attained a larger fan base and therefore can gain a larger live audience. That said, there's nothing wrong with playing live, as it adds to the human face of the artist and builds a personal connection to the artist in the mind of the fan. Just don't overplay in one area, which could burn your fans out and cause show attendance to drop.

But that last paragraph touched on a couple of functions of certain social platforms that are key to any musicians career in this day and age. Notice that I said nothing about using Facebook or Twitter to gain fans? Well, there's a big reason for that. Let's explain.

Twitter is a good place to post quick links to interesting content. For example, when you post a new YouTube video, you can post it to twitter to gain exposure for that YouTube video. Essentially, twitter makes a great place to act as a spam wall, so feel free to post to twitter often and provide links to what you're doing (just don't over-do it).

But Facebook isn't a platform for gaining new fans. It can be used as such, but most people who log on to Facebook aren't searching for new music. Most people who log on to Facebook are trying to see what's going on with the people and pages they like, and interact with them. So you should definitely try to get your fans to like your Facebook page, but do not use this as a spam wall. Facebook is the place where you talk to your fans, engage them in conversation, and solidify them as loyal supporters of your act. After all, if they love your music AND feel a personal connection to you, it'll be far more difficult to get your band out of their stream of consciousness.

Long story short, even though it's entirely possible to have a career in music without playing live shows these days, it's not something that should be totally ignored if you're capable of it. If you're not capable of it, don't sweat it. Learn about the online methods of exposing your music to new fans, and do whatever it takes to get your music listed there.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Doing YouTube Covers:

Doing cover songs on YouTube is a great way to get your act noticed……if your cover stands out from the crowd of covers that are already out there. Let's look at a few examples.

First, we'll start with a classic. Michael Jackson's "Beat It". Here's the original.

This song was a pop icon on a million levels. It's without a doubt a classic. Classics spur imitation, and this song has been covered a million ways to Sunday.

Some of those covers were intentionally bad, in an entertaining way.

Some of them are critically acclaimed.

Some were done by celebrities.

…..and some of them…. Well, they leave me wondering what they were thinking, but I know that musical taste is all subjective, so I won't point the finger at anyone. Just search YouTube, you'll find them.

Some songs are so well done that it's hard to find another way to do them. Ask any die hard Queen fan (like this blog's own Autism Mom), and you'll get the opinion that no one could do it better than Freddie Mercury. But that's beside the point. If you're going to cover a song, you have a choice to make. You can either find your own way to do it, like the Michael Jackson covers above, or you can pay homage to the original version. There is a plethora of covers of Bohemian Rhapsody on Youtube, and we'll examine what the differences are.

First, here's the original version, the classic video from Queen:

Some of the covers I've seen try to put the artists individualistic spin on the classic, and that's a wise move in my opinion, but it's also risky territory. You could risk pissing off the hardcore Queen fans. Case in point, here's William Shatner's version.

In an even bolder move, here's a self professed "redneck" version.

In a more interesting crossover version, The Muppet's put out their own version of this classic. It went almost instantly viral on youtube.

The majority of covers I see for this song are taking the more traditional approach, opting instead to try to re-create the classic without modifying it. Here are 2 examples I've found.

Now I've focused this blog on two classic songs that were covered, but I'd like to make a point. That point is that you're not the only one who has covered that song, no matter what it is, and if you want it to stand out, you'd better make it stand out. You've got a lot of competition in the YouTube covers market, as there are a lot of people trying to get the public to listen to their covers of the song you thought you were being so original by covering. So you've got options. Play it safe and replicate the original, or you can make the song truly your own.

I feel that the Muppet's did an interesting variation of both tactics. They did the song as though they were Queen, but they did the lyrical content in their own way. Regarding the Michael Jackson cover, I feel that the most creative path was taken by Pomplamoose, who took the song in an entirely new direction.

So if you're going to do covers, figure out how you're going to make your version of that song stand out.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Video is so Important to Your Music

We all know that Youtube can help your band gain exposure, but I'm starting to realize that it can also help gain interest in your music by stimulating the visual AND the audio senses! Maybe it's because I'm finally dabbling in video production that I'm noticing this as much as I am, but hear me out.

Project DIVIDE have released a videosong teaser for an upcoming EP, and through the first verse of the song you can see what goes on in the studio. When the second verse of the song comes in, the screen changes to a black background with white text to describe the upcoming EP. The same song is playing, and the energy of the song is still there, but the energy all of a sudden just feels different. It's like the video helps to stimulate your senses to get you more interested in what you're hearing, but when it's gone the audio just seems like it separates itself from the video and becomes a separate entity.

Here's the video in question:

Here's another example: We'll take a song from Jack Conte, then compare that with Dumbfounded. Both create videosongs, like Project DIVIDE is doing, but I can't find any Youtube audio of either act's music that doesn't include the video. So I challenge you to watch each of these videos in full screen mode, then watch them again and either close your eyes or turn off your monitor. The second time, I just want you to listen to the music without seeing the visual stimulation.

First we'll do Jack Conte:

Then we'll do Dumbfounded:

I always knew that video was a helpful tool, and maybe I'm coming in a bit late with this "AH HA!" moment, but I thought it was worth sharing. In my view, having video content for your songs on Youtube will help increase your web traffic by increasing the likability of your music. It doesn't have to be a videosong, it could be any sort of content. But it has to stimulate the visual senses in some way.

If you're interested in the Videosong format, check out http://videosongsblog.com

Why Facebook "Like Ladders" Are Bad For Bands

I remember when I first got on Myspace, and I started trying to get as many "friends" as possible. One day, I went through competing with a friend in Pittsburgh to see who could get the most new friends in a day……..he won. lol.

But there I sat with 2000 friends that I never connected with.

I'd occasionally get my band listed on a "friends spree" list, which would get people to come to friend my Myspace page, and made me feel important because in my head, I had that many new fans.

This was completely erroneous. I didn't have any new fans. No one new came to my profile and listened to my music. No one new interacted with me on Myspace. No one new knew who I was...but I had a lot more friends on my artist profile, which made me feel like I had a lot more fans.

What I didn't realize at the time was that the number of friends you have on your Myspace profile wasn't the important factor. How many people were posting about our music? How many plays did we have on our music player? How many times was someone writing me on Myspace to tell me what song x meant to them? Those were the important factors, and truth be told, the numbers in that regard were embarrassingly low.

Now it's 2012, and I've started to see something emerge on Facebook that just annoys me to no end, and reminds me of the "friends spree" on Myspace. I speak, of course, of "Like Ladders". This is where someone posts a bunch of pages that you're supposed to go through and "like", which will increase the number of pages that you've collected as a Facebook user. This does nothing for the bands that are on the like ladder, unless the fans are trying really hard to connect with each person who clicks the like button on their page. If someone hits the like button without listening to the band, then why would they engage in conversation with a band they know nothing about?
Like Ladders artificially inflate the number of Facebook likes on an artist’s page. They aren't the important number. I'd almost go as far as this blogger and say that Likes are doo doo, but I won't. But the blogger in question does have a point, which is that the important number lies in the amount of people talking about your page. This reflects the number of people who like a comment, comment on a page, share a status, or in some other way interact with your page. When they interact with your page, this shows up on their wall for their friends to see, and has the potential to bring curious outsiders into the conversation, which increases your chances of being genuinely listened to by more people.

To my knowledge, there's no way to fake the "Talking About This" number. Nope, you're going to have to actually talk to your fans and engage them for this number to go up. In theory, the higher this number goes, the more people will be exposed to your page. Also, the longer this number is up, the more likely those interacting with your page will be to become dedicated supporters of your band.

So while "Like Ladders" may make you look good, if they aren't increasing the number of people who are "Talking About" your page, then they actually are doing you no good. If you're not properly interacting with your fans on Facebook, then the new fans from the "like ladder" aren't going to help you any because they are just an empty number. However, if you are using your Facebook page to connect with as many of your fans as you can, then perhaps a like ladder could generate more exposure for your band. The catch is that you HAVE to connect with the people who have liked your page or they will always be empty likes.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


If you really want to make it as a band, you need to be committed. You can’t treat your band as something you can brush off or put off for other commitments. Barring emergencies, your band is a priority.

Imagine how well you’d do at your day job if you decided it was optional. Sure, you’re supposed to be there at 9 a.m., but you stayed up last night. Go ahead, sleep in until noon then just roll in to work once you’re well rested.

Your girlfriend called you up and said she’d like to go see a movie tonight. You’re supposed to be at work at 6 p.m., but you decide you’ll just not go in and take her to see the movie. You don’t even bother calling to let them know you’re not coming in.

You would probably never dream of doing these things to your day job, but somehow some musicians think these things are okay to do with band commitments. Whether it’s blowing off a practice session, showing up late to a venue, or not showing/showing up late to a recording session, bands or certain members do these things on a regular basis. Often they don’t seem to be aware how counterproductive these behaviors are.

This isn’t marketing related specifically, but it is about professionalism. If you aren’t professional, venues, producers, recording studios, and other bands/artists aren’t going to want to work with you. This will certainly limit your career.
Not only that, but you are wasting valuable time of the others who rely on you for their livelihood as well. It’s not just irresponsible; it can be financially damaging to others who treat their chosen career as professionals.

Think about what you really want to achieve. If you aren’t committed to being a professional, perhaps you should reevaluate your priorities and decide how to proceed.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The importance of a mailing list

This one should be obvious, but show after show I see bands failing to collect contact information for audience members who liked them. Admittedly, without someone telling the band of the importance of this action, they may fail to see the point. But that's why I'm here: to tell explain why it is important.

You should be collecting contact information for those who enjoyed your music at your shows because it's far too easy for someone to forget who you were after the show. Maybe they were drunk or there were several bands and they won’t remember your name the next day, so they let you slip into obscurity and never pay attention when they hear your name. You've just lost someone that you could've become a part of your core fan base!

It works like this. If you collect so much as an email address, then you'll be able to reach out to that person via email and inform them of what you're doing next, and when new music will be out. You'll be able to give them a direct link to where your music is for sale and to your online content. You'll be able to direct them to your Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube profiles as well as your web site. In other words, you'll be able to reach out to them after the event to ensure that you don't slip off into obscurity in their mind’s eye.

It's easy to do. Just take a notebook to your shows and after the show go around to each person in the crowd to ask them for their email address! You could offer an incentive to get them to sign up, such as offering to email them free mp3's of your music. I once held a Facebook contest designed to collect email addresses. The contest involved offering anyone who signed up for my email list a chance to win free admission for two to one of my shows, as well as a $10 Wendy's gift card (people love free stuff). This got some new contacts on my email list, and I was able to get the winner added to the guest list of the show. The $10 Wendy's gift card I had lying around unused, so I re-gifted it to the contest winner! Essentially, getting the contacts didn't cost me anything, and it guaranteed two people came to my show that wouldn't have otherwise.

I haven't played a show since then, but I'm working on an EP. I plan to reach out to the email list after some of my recording sessions later this month to spur some interaction. Maybe I'll offer a contest to allow them to pick the name of the EP or something else cool. But the point is that I'll be reaching out to them to spur interactions with me.

That said, DO NOT SPAM THEM. Only reach out when there is something to actually say.

Now you may be asking why you can't just reach out to them on Facebook? You can, but the thing about Facebook is that if you post something to your Facebook wall, not everyone who can see that feed will see that post. What if they don't get online for two days, and your post is now so far back on their timeline that they never see it? You're taking a gamble that they'll see it and interact with you as a result. You shouldn't ignore Facebook, as I do believe it to be a very valuable tool, but your primary mode of contacting your fans with news should be through direct contact via an email list.