Sometimes, finding the appropriate websites to utilize as you seek to market and have your music be heard can be very difficult. On the surface, it seems as simple as hosting your music and letting it "run wild" on the internet. This simply does not happen, and very much like an individual who is marketing a business; music needs to be marketed (regardless of whether or not you want to sell it). I have compiled an overview of 3 music hosting websites which I find to be most useful to musicians. These have my seal of approval, as I use them and have benefited from them greatly in my own life.
I will be frank, Bandcamp is currently my favorite music hosting website. This is due to multiple reasons. For one, it has an extremely slick and simple user interface. The entire website is very streamlined, and for the most part it is strictly about hosting your music.
What is particularly intriguing to me as a musician is the variety of selling options they provide. You can host physical goods, as well as the primary audio downloads (which come in a variety of formats from basic .MP3's to more complex ones). The "set your own price" model of selling is also fantastic. I have released some music via Bandcamp at the price margin of "pay what you want" (some may see this as a donation sort of price). Some individuals purchase albums/songs for free, while others are willing to pay a few dollars. I find this to be an excellent way to gain publicity as well. My new album, which will be released in the next month or so, will be sold at a price between $5 - $8 dollars. This will allow me to make some money off of my work and fund future music. Additionally, almost every penny goes into my own pocket, and selling full length albums as this price range will certainly be the undoing of the record industry, whom sell albums between $15 and $20 dollars.
So, ultimately the name of the game is simplicity when it comes to using Bandcamp. Browse any music forum, and you will likely see many, if not a majority of users, flocking to Bandcamp for future music releases. And while the layouts may not be nearly as elaborate as Myspace layouts of old, they certainly have a simple aesthetic sense which gets the job done for many artists.
One other thing to mention is the included ability to track song plays, album and song downloads, amongst other things through the "stats" button. I find this to be incredibly useful when gauging interest in my own musical project, and it may also allow me in the future to gauge if I wish to sell my music at a different price point (higher or lower). As may be evident, the website is very simple to use and appears to be very simple; however there are many tools in place which allow the artist to engage an entire user audience.
Here are both of my Bandcamp pages for those in checking out the layout, or simply music:
Ethereal Morning Rise (black metal)
The Horizon of a Dream (electronica/folk)
Myspace is an interesting addition to this list, in that it has begun to fade slowly from the public eye. This is for a handful of reasons. First, Facebook is utterly dominating the social networking world. Hordes of people began moving their social networking life onto Facebook, for varying reasons. As it currently stands, I honestly have absolute disdain for Myspace in its current state. It is riddled with bugs and extremely irritating to work with. They have done away with old formating, causing every musician who developed their own layouts (often paying for them no less) to start from scratch. Though, returning to the previous point, Myspace is simply filled with bugs, spam, and scams that it is a completely irritating interface to work with.
Despite all of these negatives, music profiles on Myspace are perhaps a few remnant things in which people consistently search for. Search any band and you will likely find their Myspace in the top 10 Google searches. It is for this reason that Myspace is a prime marketing tool for musicians looking to have their name seen. I would not advise that you put too much effort into your Myspace, though. In time, Myspace will completely go under and all of it will be for nothing. For the time being, however, Myspace can easily drive new traffic to your music; and potentially to your other websites as well. This of course will translate into additional album and song downloads, as well as sales if you are selling your music!
I find Facebook to be a unique way to promote your music. The impact of being connected socially with many other individuals is great. Facebook's simple system of "liking" comes in handy when it comes to reaching an audience. All it takes is for a few individuals with a lot of friends to like your band, then all of the sudden many others are reading about your project on their information streams. If your music is good, they will undoubtedly click "like" and keep this cycle going.
In addition to this, Facebook is an excellent way to get in direct contact with your fans. Recently, I have begun acquiring some fans of my own who have managed to find my personal Facebook profile. This is a cool experience because I then have the opportunity to personally interact with these individuals, and build connections that I may otherwise have never had the opportunity too. This would be viewed as social networking in its finest form. For many smaller artists like myself, this can really be a booster in your morale as you attempt to get your music heard. Additionally, you may stumble upon some other musicians who would be interested in collaborating or teaming up in some way for advertising. I have done this myself with a few artists, and I can personally say it is a fantastic way of connecting with others.