Google is constantly developing nifty applications and technologies to enhance the way we communicate and work online. Because Google survives on advertising revenues these products are all offered at the amazingly low low price of FREE. As a musician in a rather competitive market, it’s important to know and use tools that increase the efficiency of your marketing, managing, and networking efforts. The goal is less time pulling your hair out in front of the computer screen and more time making beautiful music!
1. Google Docs
Google Docs is similar to Microsoft’s Office suite only simpler and completely online. This allows you access to your important lyrics, schedules, and accounting docs from any computer anywhere on the internet. Use Google Docs to share your lyrics with your band mates and even upload and share mp3s. Use a spreadsheet doc to manage band expenses and income. Use the form maker doc to create a booking form. Use the word processor doc to create a set list or the drawing pad to sketch your stage set up. You can then share your documents and allow multiple users to update information. You can also choose who does or doesn’t have access to these documents. The possibilities are endless.
Besides being a reliable and easy to use email provider, you can also use Gmail to manage your band email addresses @your-domain-name. Learn how to set that up here.
Gmail also features handy filters and labels to organize your email and almost unlimited storage. So you can easily archive email as well as separate your fanmail from your family mail etc.
Gmail also has a built in IM and video chat feature right in your inbox–which can be useful when you need feedback from an absent bandmate when you’re in the studio. This chat tool can only be used with other Gmail users, however.
3. Google Analytics
Google Analytics will show you dizzying details about how your fans interact with your website. Find out which of your songs is the most popular, how many people visit your site on a given day, or which search terms people use to find your site in the first place. You can find thousands of additional down and dirty details and statistics about how people use your website.
Ever find yourself late for a show and you just can’t find the venue or you don’t have the phone number? Google offers a nifty voice activated Google Search. Just call 1-800-goog-411. Google will not only find the business your looking for–it will connect you to them for no charge.
5. Google Calendar
Use Google calendar to manage your tour, practices, and concert dates. You can give all your band members admin access so they can add their own schedule at their leisure. Set up email reminders to remind you about your next show, radio interview, or practice. Best of all, you can integrate multiple calendars (work, home, band, etc) using color coding. Keep some calendars private while making others public.
6. Google Reader
Google Reader is a great way to have all your industry news in one place. Subscribe to the online magazines, news sources, and music blogs that cover your genre. So when you open Google Reader each morning (coffee in hand) you’ll you’ll see all the most recent articles from all these sources in one place. It’s like a personalized digital newspaper.
7. Google Alerts
This one is a must. Ever wonder what people are saying about your online? Create a Google Alert and get an email every day or every week with a synopsis of who’s been talking about you or your band online. Google Alerts will provide you with a list of links where you or your band is mentioned. This way you can reach out to people giving you props and defend yourself against internet slander.
This is a great photo editing suite with lots of features. It also allows you to publish photos and share them online. Edit, crop, enhance, and clean up your band photos and share them with your fans. Picasa has a new face recognition feature built in and can automatically tag photos with the names pf people featured in them (pretty cool).
9. Google Blogsearch
One of the best ways to find success online is to be promoted and talked about on popular music blogs by the taste-makers in your genre or style. What are the blogs to be reckoned with in your field of expertise? Use Google Blog Search by searching for terms relative to your niche. Once you find a good blog site, subscribe to it in Google Reader so you can keep up to date on the newest posts.
10. Google Voice (in Beta as of this writing):
Google Voice is great way to manage your voicemail and text messages. Currently it is invitation only, so ask one of your Geeky friends if they have any invites left. Everybody gets 3 invites (sorry I already used mine).
With Google Voice you can access your voicemails and texts via the internet in text format. You can even set up a unique Google phone number that is specifically for your band and rings to multiple cell phones. Google Voice also turns voicemail into email that you can read or listen to from your computer. You can even send a text message via email and make specific outgoing messages for people on your contact list. Pretty cool!
Share your favorite Google tool in the comments!