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Case Study: Higher Rhythm’s new vision and website

CEO of Higher Rhythm, Steven Mundin, shares his experience of working with the Digital Culture Network in January 2021.

Screenshot of Music Industry Yorkshire website

About the organisation

Higher Rhythm Ltd is a not-for-profit organisation based in Yorkshire, established in 2001. We provide music and media industry services and opportunities across the Yorkshire region including two recording studios, a licensed radio station, a record label, digital distribution, events promotion, artist development programmes, enterprise support, courses (including national and higher national diplomas) and volunteering opportunities. Higher Rhythm is also an Arts Council England-funded NPO (National Portfolio Organisation).

What did you want to achieve?

Last year as the first Covid wave landed, we were developing a new vision and website for Music Industry Yorkshire (a strand of activity we first launched as the music industry development network for Yorkshire in 2010). We looked at other industries and asked ourselves; why do builders, electricians and just about every other trade have a digital community where people can find services, but the music industry doesn’t? Why is there no single location to search or post music industry jobs in a region as big as Yorkshire? What can we do to support the sectors outside of just artists (studios, engineers, PA, lighting, retailers, manufacturers, etc)?

Alongside rolling out new activity across Yorkshire in 2021 and beyond,  we came up with the new Music Industry Yorkshire website: where anyone in the region who works or wants to work in any sector of the music industry can join for free. Being a member provides access to music business-related information, resources and exclusive opportunities. The new website also has some free support tools, and members who run a music business can advertise this free of charge. Additionally, the site includes music industry jobs in Yorkshire, a calendar of key music industry support events, and signposting to support organisations and funders. After being live for just over a month, we now have over 300 registered members. More than 30 of these members have listed their music business services publicly on that section of the website.

What led you to contact the Digital Culture Network?

We are familiar with Yoast for optimising site SEO (search engine optimisation), and previous incarnations of our various company websites (we have six…) have placed at number one for specific searches. But we also know the online landscape for searchers has moved on significantly over the last few years. We felt that we had not kept pace with these changes, so were unable to get the best search performances for our sites.

How did you do it?

We were initially referred to the Digital Culture Network by our Arts Council Relationship Manager. We have had multiple sessions with different Tech Champions, taking the form of Zoom meetings exploring specific practical problems and solutions. The support we have received from the Digital Culture Network has been outstanding! The level of knowledge of the Tech Champions is way above anything we have experienced from tech consultants.

What happened?

Our discussions with Digital Culture Network Tech Champions were specifically focused on driving traffic to specific pages on our main website higherrhythm.co.uk, but given we were in the middle of developing the new Music Industry Yorkshire website at the same time we were also able to use the advice to improve the structure and performance of this new website.

Learnings

We learned that SEO is now more about ‘dancing to Google’s tune’, as much about external factors driving traffic to your website as it is about optimising individual pages. We are much more confident in developing our websites as a result of this. Now we can confidently invest in professional PR and SEO campaigns with an external company, and are able to deliver a clear brief of exactly what we hope to achieve.

The signup for Music Industry Yorkshire has happened a lot more quickly at this early stage than we anticipated. We now realise that reaching the tipping point where the momentum of the site becomes its own advocate, and the fact that we get multiple member registrations every day suggests the visibility of the site is building. It also clearly indicates the offer and user experience of the site is perceived as being positive.

Given that we ask people which specific sub-sector of the music industry they operate in and also the sub-region of Yorkshire, we are already gaining a better understanding of the current make-up of the Yorkshire music industry. With every member who joins, that data becomes incremental and more robust. This kind of data is obviously essential to music industry development organisations such as ourselves.

Would you recommend us?

100%, WITHOUT A DOUBT! Thank you!

What’s next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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