One Industry That Doesn’t Need SEO

I tend to think that almost every industry would benefit from SEO…but lately I have been realizing that there really are some whose spirit would be quite crushed by something that leads to mass exposure, namely the independent music scene.

Indie music, for instance, IS so fantastic because it’s, well, it’s INDEPENDENT and not mass-produced. There are obviously many benefits to not being on a major label and many artists going this route don’t do so simply out of the inability to secure a major contract; they do so because they don’t fit into mass-market slots and they don’t want to lose their artistic integrity by being shaped and sold as a package. That’s the way I like to see it in any case…so if you think this is untrue keep it to yourself. I like to think that there really are musicians in the world who create without thinking solely about financial rewards.

It’s not just the music itself either; it’s also the clubs that promote these bands. I was pleasantly surprised, after being a bit irritated, that I was unable to easily and quickly find tons of information about indie music in Vegas. A few MySpace results popped up but I don’t like young people so I didn’t click on them, and really there wasn’t much else. It was only by reading about a trashy dive bar in a book that I had that I was able to find a venue that has 5 punk bands on for the Friday night when I’m there for WebMasterWorld. That’s actually pretty cool.

Years ago independent bands were something that seemed to be almost a luxury to find. You’d have to go out to a club and catch an act, or get someone’s crappy cassette tape that would usually give you the idea that the band had driven over it several times after recording it in mono. You’d learn of bands by word of mouth: someone’s older brother would drive an hour away to see a show, you’d hang out in the local record shop and ask a billion questions about new garage bands, and you’d feel like you’d really accomplished something by finding a great new record. I was lucky enough to know two fantastically knowledgable record shop clerks that got me into everything from Scruffy the Cat to Christian Death, and I am still thankful for their influence.

Indie music IS a bit easier to find these days…and I really am glad for that, since I don’t have the same amount of time to search for it. AND, lest he reads this and has a cow, my good friend Gene does his part at attempting to keep me posted on anything good when it comes out. I just think that it’s kind of nice that this is one industry that hasn’t been taken over and SEO’d to the max. All those grungey flannel-shirt adorned bands might not be so happy about this but if they were making tons of money and on the radio constantly, it wouldn’t be the same.

So go search for some new bands…just don’t search online for them. And please, please let me know when you find something good. I actually discovered Sparklehorse by reading a Tom Waits interview where he mentioned them and I liked their name and thought I’d give them a listen. They’re utterly perfect too, the best band I’ve heard in years and years. So take that as a recommendation if you do like non-mainstream music. And yes, I do realize the irony of promoting them on an SEO blog but I’ll think of it more as word of mouth.

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23 Responses to “One Industry That Doesn’t Need SEO”

  1. DazzlinDonna says:

    If you’re wanting to find indie music, you really should check out You won’t find the likes of Britney Spears there (at least I don’t think so), and most of the artists are probably people you’ve never heard of, but if that’s up your alley, then emusic has a large selection of mp3′s at the right price (and it’s all legal).

    If you don’t want to buy, but just want to listen, something like might be the way to go. It’s a great way to discover music similar to music you already like.

  2. Julie Joyce says:

    Donna…as always, you rule. Thanks!

  3. I try my best to drag Julie into this century of music, but its awful hard to convince a red head (as I’m sure others can agree). Its like watching her and Adair argue over the fashionability of Uggs… i.e. itís almost hopeless (Julieís in the pro camp)… but still I keep at it.

    Anyway, finding good music is not hard these days. Some of the best sources are radio stations such as KEXP and KCRW, which offer on-line access to large archives of in-studio sessions. World Cafe on WXPN, the Lounge Act on WOXY and The Current on MPR are so strong and recommend sources.

    Blogs can be just as valuable. Tullycraft (, a great band from Seattle, regularly posts a MP3 song of the day. These are generally older bands, but its always nice to discover a band that you overlooked in years past. Skatterbrain ( is another excellent blog. Heís an unbelievable resource for bands from all over the world. How he does it, I donít know but he and I are pretty much on target as musical tastes go. I would also recommend you monitor Pop Will Eat My Blog ( because he regularly posts complete CDs of music.

    I canít do Pitchfork, Blender or any of those higher profile sites. The closest I come to one of those is Three Imaginary Girls ( Their CD reviews are quite reliable.

    Lastly, for some unique performances I would recommend Daytrotter (

    I hope this helps.

  4. bernard says:

    there is actually more seo in the indie scene than you’d think… I’m hired by several bands and magazines to seo their pages to the max so that they would be found quicker. And I can tell you that it is often a not so easy task especially when bands have unreadable names and sound like something you can hardly describe…

  5. Julie Joyce says:

    Bernard…that is cool to know actually. I still prefer to hunt for the bands but then again if I were in an indie band I’d want to be found easily. I can imagine describing a band’s sound would definitely be tough to do.

  6. bernard says:

    There are a few tricks though to help increase ones searchability especially once a cd is out. And speaking of Christian Death, I mainly work for that indie style :)

  7. Julie Joyce says:

    Note to all other Chicks fans…Bernard is my new best friend.

  8. Ste. Goldie says:

    “I have been realizing that there really are some whose spirit would be quite crushed by something that leads to mass exposure, namely the independent music scene.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. Independent music thrives on niche markets. And in one physical community (like Portland, OR) it can be painful to even get a meager following because there are something like 6,000 indie bands. So online tools and SEO are VITAL to independent bands. Finding a moderate fan base online means you can go on tour.

    “itís also the clubs that promote these bands.”

    I wish this were true.
    Most clubs could care less about promoting a show. Flyers are not promotion. Most indie bands lose that fantasy after they book their first show at a cool club and expect to be greeted by at least 100 people pysched to hear their sweet music.

    I am learning about SEO. There are so many things I don’t understand and hope to find out about. If SEO isn’t really going to help all of the bands I talk to Should I just shut up and let them sink into obscurity?

  9. Julie Joyce says:

    @Ste. Goldie: yes you should shut up.

    OK just kidding. No of course not…my post was quite tongue-in-cheek really. First of all, when I said “it’s also the clubs that promote these bands” I didn’t mean that clubs were promoting the bands, I meant that the indie clubs weren’t showing up in search results either.

    I’m also speaking purely as a spectator of indie music. I’m in no way associated with any bands…I just like to hear good ones that I have never heard of before. I grew up in an era that didn’t have SEO, so the joy of finding a new obscure band was seriously addictive. I do understand that these bands need to make money and need to get visibility…but I do think that bands today can make it without SEO. Don’t you? They certainly did before.

  10. Ste. Goldie says:

    Hi Julie -
    “do think that bands today can make it without SEO. Donít you? They certainly did before.”


    They certainly did before? You mean back in the days when there were these things called Record labels?

    Okay you win. This blog is clearly about you spouting off ideas with no real goal of finding understanding of the subject you are talking about.

    I do not doubt your knowledge on SEO but to say the Industry of Indie Music can not benefit from SEO because you want to haphazardly come across bands you’ve never heard of without using the internet then fine. Go ahead and do that.

    The bands I work with have HUGE QUANTITIES OF INTEGRITY AND TALENT. This is not lessened by their desire to get the word out about their music. I am also sharing information with a beautiful venue that is on it’s way to exploiting SEO.

    I wish I would have known that the tone of this blog was tongue-in-cheek. But that is what I get for never having ever come across your blog before.

    Have fun at the record shop. I am sure record shops are here to stay. You can’t download vinyl. Oh wait, but you can buy it online…

  11. Julie Joyce says:

    You’re right about this blog being a place for me to spout off ideas…sorry that offends you so deeply. With convictions like you have, you should spend your energy on opposing the war or wiping out ebola though.

    I have a very simple point, which I will state again since it seems to have escaped your grasp: it used to be fun to find new bands by word of mouth. That’s it. Finding them through Google just isn’t the same for me.

    On the upside, thanks for not doubting my knowledge of SEO!! That really means a lot. OK I’m off to the record shop!

  12. Ste. Goldie says:

    I’m really embarrassed. I am still learning how to use my Google reader (like have coffee and a cigarette before I start) and learning about commenting (like read all of the comments and get the jest of things). A friend of mine pointed out that i missed the whole tone of this and I swear I do have a sense of humor! You are a great blog writer and I look forward to checking out your other posts about SEO.

    Goldie Davich

    I do have a blog that highlights some indie bands if you are interested in taking a look :-)

  13. Julie Joyce says:

    Don’t be embarrassed…I am embarrassed that my writing didn’t immediately come across the way in which I intended. It happens a lot actually now that I think about it. In any case, I think I’m much funnier than other people do so don’t worry about it. Thanks for being open-minded enough to even argue with me! Seriously. It’s all meant in the spirit of learning more and having a discussion. All my posts should be written with emoticons but unfortunately they would all be the one of “dry wit” to best explain my intent. And I have checked out your blog…naturally. Keep reading ours and keep arguing with people. You made me think…so thanks for that.

  14. “Indie” is such a loaded term these days regarding bands and labels and such… conotatively, some peeps think one genre over another genre… I always classified in me head such bands like Xian Death to be more…well, goth or dark oriented rather than indie… and for that matter, there was a time in the nineties that “indie” implied a small label… which, I kinda feel has gotten stretched too…

    With that said, whether or not a completely unknown in the middle of the Arctic Circle leverages the tools of online resources to work for their marketing campaign… why not…’s so similar to buying ad time and commercial air time….

    I like the reading the wide spectrum of blogs….there are deeply personal blogs and there commercially driven product oriented blogs which try to pass themselves off as someone’s “selective” tastes… but really, we know … we know it is insidious….

  15. Matt Davies says:

    You’d be surprised how many SEOs are properly into their music… I expect it’s down to the amount of time we spend at our computers, no doubt listening to tunes. That’s why I started my SEOtunes blog… it seems like an odd combination to write about, SEO and Music, but they’re the two interests I tend to spend the majority of my work and free time on and I’m hoping (once I get used to regularly posting – finding it a struggle to keep up with just writing the gig reviews a the mo) that it’ll become a good read for the SEOs out there that share my interest, like you obviously do Julie!

    Alright, plug over.

  16. Julie Joyce says:

    @Gabriel: you’re absolutely right. Period.

    @Matt: There are quite a few SEOs who are into music…computing and music have always gone together well luckily. Think of Kraftwerk at the very least. I do wish that I didn’t care quite so much about music, since I was out til the wee hours of the morning seeing Polyphonic Spree and feel like hell now. If you get the chance to catch them, DO NOT miss it. OK plug over for that one too.

    Will check out your blog Matt…and let’s all note that I did NOT mention Gary Numan in this post.

  17. Matt Davies says:

    Polyphonic Spree are good, yeah. Do you know of/like Broken Social Scene? HIGHLY recommended. Give The National a try while you’re at it. And The Guillemots. And Kings Of Convenience. And… oh, I could just keep going…

  18. Julie Joyce says:

    I do know Broken Social Scene but not the others…Gene, if you’re reading this you better stake your claim on my music advisor. Matt’s quickly becoming favoured.

  19. Matt Davies says:

    Oooh, so have you heard the Broken Social Scene present: Kevin Drew album? What did you think? I saw them again a couple of weeks ago (review to be blogged and back-dated soon, promise!) and they were spot on as ever. If you see them playing in your hometown, beg, borrow, steal or whatever else it takes, just make sure you get a ticket.

  20. Julie Joyce says:

    I don’t think I have honestly…I’ll speak to Gene about it though. I can recommend Yo La Tengo to you with the same vigor. That sounds bad.

  21. Broken Social Scene is excellent. I played the hell of their Feel Good Lost CD and nearly the same with You Forgot it In People. I have the Keven Drew CD, but it has not moved me as much as the earlier work (but that could be my mood more than anything else).

    Most of the bands on the Arts & Crafts label (such as BSS) are worth a listen. I would highly recommend Apostle of Hustle’s Folkloric Feel and the Most Serene Republic’s Phages.

    I’m not a fan of The National (but nor am I an anti-fan). For me either a band has hook or they don’t… (unless we are talking about Rooney — heaven help us all)… and the National don’t. I can’t speak to the other bands.

    Going back to Canadian bands I would recommend everyone give the Miracle Fortress CD a listen (entitled Five Roses). It has to be one of the best CDs of the year from a band who are probably flying under most people’s radar. I have to thank Sonic Boom for bringing them to my attention (my once-a-year record store visit when in Seattle).

    Frankly, whether you label something Rock, Indie, Alternative or Soap Flakes for that matter, the only thing that counts is whether you like it or not.

  22. Laura Design says:

    Search engine optimisation can help benefit a website immensely but for one market there is simply no need to implement this. The music sector does not necessary need SEO. Yes, some bands use websites to promote themselves but bands tend to publicise themselves via word of mouth or simply playing at concerts. For many company’s over-exposure can be linked to their website. The question is do bands want to use SEO as a means to attract their audience and over-expose their music, or should they opt against SEO and in the long run be considered an independent non-mainstream band that could potentially be more favorable amongst the public?.

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