SEO for musicians: Is there any career impact?

SEO is the bomb. Or so we’re told. If you spend any time posting content on websites, you’re probably obsessed with search engine optimization, the practices and tricks that will bring your content as close as possible to the top of any web search on Google, Bing and all the rest of them.

This sight, for example, constantly nags me about SEO with every post I make–something I appreciate because high search ranking equals more traffic.

Then this email popped in from Danny Fournier who runs an Edmonton-based music promotion company called Oddball Productions. He has some questions that I just couldn’t answer.

Hi Alan,

Does Search Engine Optimization really have any impact on a musicians career? I mean, I know the impact it can have on businesses, web pages, etc. And yes, being a musician is a business and a lot of that business is now done online, but I guess the reason why I’m asking is that whenever I read an article on SEO it just doesn’t resonate with me as something that will help a musician grow an audience.

Here are a couple things I’ve noticed and I’d love to know if I’m not wrong on my assumptions or am I off my rocker thinking this way and need to get back on the SEO bandwagon again.

1. It’s hard to find an article about how important SEO is that isn’t written by a tech company that happens to also provide SEO services or other webpage related services. Finding an unbiased opinion online about SEO has been impossible.

2. Everything points back to Google. It’s all about doing the right things to ensure search engine optimization with Google. Everything I read says Google pretty much controls your rankings and you have to do all the right things that Google wants you to do to increase your ranking. So if two artists are trying to push traffic to streaming options, one is pointing to Spotify the other Google Play will Google rank the Google Play artist ahead of the Spotify one?

3. Who uses Google to search for music (outside of Google Play). If I’m into metal and want to find some new metal music, doing a Google search for “Metal Music” gives me a couple Wikipedia links about metal music, some links to metal webpages, but no actual artist web pages. Iweb page searched “Bands that sound like Motley Crue” and got a bunch of webpage that list a bunch of the standard hair metal bands, but again no actual artist webpages. Now if I just heard about an artist for the first time and searched them, I’ll use Kane Incognito as an example, I search them in Google and stuff related directly to them comes up, including their webpage, facebook, youtube, etc. Everything I would need to find out more about the artist.

So that was a long way to get to my actual question:  Why would SEO be important to musicians if search engines aren’t how people search for music? What got me thinking about this is I’m finding there is a growing number of SEO ‘experts’ telling musicians (at all levels) that they NEED to improve their SEO. For veterans it will help keep them on top and for new artists it will help them get there.

I feel like I’m missing something here, but my gut says my suspicions are correct. I could go on about how music impacts people emotionally and SEO has nothing to do with emotional impact, but I’ll leave that for now.

Can anyone help Danny?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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