Getting business through word of mouth might work in real life.
But online, people find out about you and your music through backlinks.
Relevant, music backlinks.
Backlinks in the music industry might sound hard to obtain because there's less textual content you can produce to earn links to.
But if you play it smart, look in the right places and use the right methods, you can get relevant backlinks that improve your reputation and credibility as an artist as well as boost your search engine rankings.
This guide will show you how to do all these things without adding stress to your already busy career.
(Because let's face it, your music needs you more than the links do!)
First things first:
Ideally, your goal is to obtain followed backlinks over nofollow backlinks. That's because followed links carry immediate SEO value (i.e. push your Google rankings higher) versus the indirect value of nofollow links (i.e. traffic, visibility).
A followed backlink looks like this:
<a href="https://yoursite.com">Your Site</a>
A nofollow backlink is that plus the rel=nofollow
<a href="https://yoursite.com" rel="nofollow">Your Site</a>
With that out of the way, let's begin this adventure!
8 Places to Find Relevant Music Backlinks
You really need those backlinks and you want to do things right.
It's not just about getting backlinks from some random website. It's getting the right, helpful backlinks from the right, helpful websites that are relevant to your music business.
As a rule of thumb, remember that acquiring relevant backlinks from fansites and profiles will be generally easier than getting backlinks from curated artist directories and non-profits.
This is due to the fact that fans are usually eager to help their favorite musician, and to get a profile backlink all you need to do is register or request a placement as one of the listed artists.
But places like curated directories and non-profits? They have missions and business plans, so getting a link from them is a whole other story.
You might like to start with the easier backlinks, but don't refrain from going for the harder ones too.
A good, strong mix of backlinks is ideal to boost your authority online.
So let's see what kinds of backlinks matter the most to your music business, and where you can find them.
1. Fansites by Fans
I'm talking about fansites—or "shrines"—where fans earnestly discuss their favorite musician and promote new album releases and events.
Here's one for Amy Lee of Evanescence:
You know what fans are like. They keep up with every little piece of news from their favorite musician and they're eager to promote their new content, so these websites are very active and well trafficked due to the constant updates and discussion.
So why are fansites so valuable?
Well, it's because here is where your target audience gathers and where you can get sales, visibility and more people willing to pay for tickets to your next concert. As well as a super-relevant music backlink or two!
If a fansite exists that's dedicated to you or your music, chances are high that you've already been linked back to. But if you haven't, you can quickly request one from the webmaster. Fans are like your group of friends and they'll be happy to help you out.
If the site is dedicated to another musician but you have an affiliation with that artist, those fans are also likely to link back to you and promote your stuff because you're "one of the family." And you never know, they might also become fans of you because of it!
Fans are your friends. Give them a chance because they can give your business a big boost both online and offline.
2. Music Distribution Sites
Music distribution sites like ReverbNation, SubmitHub and Bandcamp allow musicians and indie artists—and even amateurs—to upload their music and build a community of fans.
These types of sites are important because they're a large part of your marketplace, and a good way for people to get to know you. You can sell your music from most of these sites or give it away for free.
Plus, the big perk is the backlink on your artist profile page.
Alissa Musto, a Boston-based musician and singer-songwriter, shares:
"I’ve had amazing success obtaining backlinks to my website by submitting my music through websites like ReverbNation and SubmitHub.
Musicians are able to find opportunities based on their genre, etc. and connect with bloggers, writers and promoters looking to push new music."
The example below shows a followed backlink for the Swedish band Pretorium on Bandcamp:
Bandcamp gives a followed link to musicians, but on other websites this backlink might be nofollowed (with a rel=nofollow tag attached), or not be there at all. For example, Last.fm gives a nofollow backlink, SoundCloud uses a redirect and iTunes gives no backlink at all.
So, take some time to carefully choose the distribution sites that'll help your SEO and not only your music.
3. Music Blogs, News, Websites
There are tons of blogs, news sites and other websites entirely devoted to music out there.
Backlinks from these sites are highly valuable because search engines know that these places are where people go to find the music information they're looking for.
Study these websites and find out what kind of opportunities they offer. Look for recommended channels you could appear on, as well as sponsorships, playlists, hitlists and interviews.
4. Event Sites
If you're running a music event, it's worth getting it featured on event sites like Eventbrite to get more signups and attendees—and the joy of a nofollow backlink, too.
But that's not the only option available to you.
You can get followed backlinks for your event with a hint of creativity. Try:
- Leveraging the Events page of music blogs and fan communities
- Contacting online local magazines
- Contacting your local library website
- Asking music or fan bloggers to blog about your event
Since events are where you make money and promote your business, this is all worth it.
The only downside:
These backlinks have an expiration date. When the event is over, the page will be unpublished.
For that reason, try to set up the event page at least six months to a year in advance to get a quality backlink. Or, make it a recurring event.
Finally, if there's an event that you take part in regularly but aren't the host, you could also ask to be featured on its page as a guest or sponsor.
5. Non-profits and Other Artists
I previously mentioned how it's helpful to get backlinks from fansites devoted to fellow musicians who you're affiliated with.
The same could be said of non-profits you support—you can get a backlink from them as their sponsor or supporter. You could also consider co-sponsoring an event, cause or local school.
For other musicians and artists that you have no affiliation with, this is a good opportunity to start a relationship that could lead to a backlink down the track. Look for other artists in the same genre or that you could collaborate with.
Remember, building links is about building relationships.
6. Music Podcasts
Music podcasts, much like textual interviews and roundups, welcome guests to speak about their music and link back to the music artist's website.
Seek podcasts in your genre and that you feel comfortable being associated with, and that can possibly offer a followed backlink.
One good example is Song Exploder:
7. HARO and SourceBottle Queries
It might be hard for music artists to find highly relevant queries to respond to on HARO and SourceBottle, but not everything needs to be about music to drive targeted traffic to your site and social channels.
Alissa Musto shares that she found HARO to be very helpful:
"Even if inquiries are about something completely separate from my music (but are still relevant), I try to contribute to get my name out there. Many times, they’ll link my name with my website, which drives traffic from people looking to learn more.
For example, I once contributed a Meatless Monday recipe to a vegetarian website (I am also a vegetarian) and it drove traffic to my music website and social media accounts."
8. Music Directories
One of the easiest ways to get a backlink is to submit your artist profile and music for inclusion in music directories.
Some of these directories give followed backlinks on the artist's profile, especially if they're local. Italian Music Export is one such example:
Live Music Hawaii is another example that does the same.
Just Google the keyword "music artist directories" to find the directories that fit your style and genre best.
4 Ways to Get Those Music Backlinks
Now that you know what kinds of music backlinks are worth pursuing and why, let's discuss the four best methods for getting them:
1. Email Outreach
Emailing people has always been a good way to introduce yourself and get the message through.
It works like a charm for link building, too: You can suggest a resource for linking and/or sharing, or offer free extra content to incentivize music buys.
An example outreach email to a fan blogger might resemble the one below:
I noticed that you're a fan of my music and you've written some enthusiastic posts about it. That's so great to see!
You know, I'll be on tour in your region in May and it would be great to meet there.
Would you like to help out, too? I'm trying to spread the word about the event and it would be really great if you mention it on your blog or share the event link on your Twitter.
Let me know if you decide to help. Once again, thanks for supporting my music!
We have plenty more email outreach templates here
2. Interview-based Content
You can get interviewed! Fans from all over the world would love to read more about you and your music, and you get a backlink in return.
Here's a good example from AXS:
3. Guest Posts
Guest posts are a great way to share your experience and expertise as a seasoned musician, how you got started, and also offer precious lessons to those who are just starting their career.
Freelancer Jessica Dais from the TakeLessons Blog advises:
"Look for blogs on websites that offer music lessons. These sites often accept guest posts from experienced musicians and instructors.
One trick is to type something like this into Google to find similar websites: 'tips for musicians inurl:blog.'
The 'inurl:blog' at the end means you'll only see results from websites that have blog pages specifically."
Here are a couple of music guest posting opportunities to get you started:
4. Music Communities
Be where your fans and fellow professionals are. That means these fansites and fan blogs aren't only for backlinks, but for networking too.
Facebook Groups and music subreddits are also helpful for finding more of your fans and audience.
Networking is what gets you talking with the right people—those who can later help your SEO and visibility with a very generous backlink.
Music Backlinks Wrap-up
Like with every niche, it's absolutely possible to obtain good and relevant music backlinks that'll help boost your visibility as an artist on search engines and complement the word-of-mouth work you're already doing.
Keep your goal in mind as you push your link building activity forward and you'll do just fine.
May your music reach many!