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Editor's note: has provided the following article, one of a series of marketing articles written with unsigned bands in mind. The articles, which will be reprinted at MTC over a period of several weeks, cover topics such as social networking, email marketing, press releases, forum creation, blogging, and other step-by-step guides.

Nine Steps To Online Forum Creation For Band Websites

Online forums play an increasingly important role in online music promotion. Not only do forums get people returning to a website, but they also get people talking. Word-of-mouth promotion of your music is the most effective way to create a solid fan base. There are two basic parts to starting a forum: creating the forum and promoting the forum.

Creating an Online Forum 4 Must-Do's

Step One: Make forum topics with the audience in mind. Do not just create the topic around your music, but rather build a forum focused on what the audience wants. Create a forum where your fans can discuss their best concert experiences, or take two hot artists currently out and have people comment on and compare who is better.

Step Two: Provide relevant links, pictures, video, etc. within the forum to not only encourage discussion but also help the participants. In addition, link to blogs or other forums with similar topics. Your audience will greatly appreciate the links and graphics. Remember, when you think about your audience, your audience will then promote you through word-of-mouth.

Step Three: When designing the forum, stick out. Do not just blend in with the thousand of other forums that use the same forum creator as you. Distinguishing yourself from other forums presents a great way to do subtle promotion. For the background, use your theme colors or make the forum font the same as your album cover font.

Step Four: Allow people to comment on your forum by signing-in or anonymously. People who just stumble across your forum might not have time to create a profile, so let them comment. Any form of discussion is great so do not prevent people from commenting. On the other hand, encourage people to sign-up so you can get their name and email address for fan clubs. (Have a box they can check if they want to receive fan mail to avoid being turned in as a spammer).

Promoting an Online Forum 5 Must Do's

  • Step One: Submit your forum to various directories, including general forum directories and music forum directories. Frequently visited directories will generate a lot of traffic to your forum in the beginning days.

  • Step Two: "Hire" your friends. To get the conversation rolling, make your friends log onto your site (with their own unique ID) and post comments. If others view your forum, they will see people already talking and be more apt to join the discussion than if they saw nobody posted any comments (SEO Warp).

  • Step Three: Have a link on your forum that says, "Tell a Friend" so users can easily send your forum URL to their friends. The easier you make it for you users to spread the word of the forum, the more comments you will see.

  • Step Four: Comment on other similar forums with meaningful comments that will help those forum readers out somehow.

    • Focus on writing about topics you know, like your favorite rapper or how you made it in the rap business.

    • Talk nicely to and about others. Do not get the name of "the person that bashes on everyone else."

    • Watch the kid stuff. Some swearing might seem harmless but you never know when the mother or father of a potential listener sees your comment and refuses to buy your CD for their child.

    • Create a unique signature for your comments that includes your website or forum URL to attract people to your site.

  • Step Five: Fill out your forum profile with specific details about yourself or the group for both your own forum and other forums you comment on. Include a picture, your URL and any other pertinent details, like the date, time and location of your next performance.
On-going Quick Tips
  • Read your forums daily and comment on them. If people in your forums ask a question, respond back rapidly.

  • Update your forum with new topics daily or tri-weekly. People expect to see your forum updated regularly.

  • Do not overdo anything. Do not push your music on them. Do not over advertise your forum. Do not force people to sign-up. People do not like to feel pressured into anything.

    Subtly promoting your music through your forum is fine, but if you build a successful forum, your music promotion will automatically follow. Create a forum that will stand out and promote it in unique ways. Music creates such a huge buzz that forums updated regularly and using these tips will surely see increased participation as well as an increase in website views.

    By Lance Trebesch

Copyright © 2007
Reprinted with permission.