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DIY Rapper Kellee Maize On Building Her Brand With SEO, P2P & Creative Commons Releases

Owl-time-kellee-maizeKellee Maize is a Pittsburgh-based rapper who has the top spot on Google for "female rapper" and has topped both Amazon's free albums chart and held the honor of most downloaded musician on FrostWire. She achieved such status via solid SEO practices, offering her music for free under a Creative Commons license and taking advantage of such platforms for giving away music as FrostWire and Jamendo. She is appearing at midem this weekend with Jamendo's sponsorship.

I spoke with Kellee Maize yesterday as she was preparing to head to midem to perform in Jamendo Night and participate in Artists Speak to Artists.

Kellee Maize - 2012 (off Owl Time)

At midem Maize will be joined by fellow members of Owl Tribe, a name that refers both to the collective of women performers and healers to which she belongs as well as to her fans. The name emerged as a bit of humor related to her interest in Native American traditions and Maize spoke to me of positive symbology related to owls though they are also considered by some tribes to be bad omens.

Such a take on Native American traditions, which vary from tribe to tribe, and her deep interest in Mayan prophecies fit culturally with "New Age" spirituality though she avoids that term. She feels it implies beliefs that aren't necessary for her fans to have positive experiences with such practices as yoga, massage and energetic healing.

The Owl Tribe includes fans of Kellee Maize and associated artists in order to cultivate a sense of community rather than taking a fan club approach in which fans are given a label that does not include the artist.

Though Maize is now focused on doing shows as part of a collective, she is the most prominent member and built with an approach that is available to all artists whatever their beliefs.

SEO: #1 on Google for "Female Rapper"

Kellee Maize is currently the first result on Google for female rapper. She says her associate Joey Rahimi is responsible for the tech end of things and that achieving this status involved his skills and lots of effort from the all-female team of marketers at her company Näkturnal. She mentioned the following key elements of their ongoing SEO campaign:

Starting early (pre-Nicki Minaj, Google loves older websites)

Focusing on outreach to bloggers (who often describe her as a "female rapper")

Regularly refreshing content on her site (Google likes that)

Actively posting on Twitter and Facebook (social proof)

You can also see on her website that "female rapper" is part of the title and also appears on her YouTube account.

A quick check on Google AdWords' Keyword Tool shows an average of 60,500 Global Monthly Searches for "female rapper" so that's one way she introduces her work to potential fans.

Creative Commons Licensing, Free Music & P2P

Maize gives her music away for free, which accounts for some of her achievements though there's so much free music available these days that just making it free is clearly not enough. She makes use of Creative Commons' flexible approach to licensing which allows her to specify licensing terms while giving it away for free.

One of her primary outlets has been the P2P site FrostWire and its associated directory FrostClick. We didn't get into their working relationship but it's clear that they have supported her work. This support for artists has been a big part of the process of P2P sites finding ways to legitimize themselves and Maize has certainly benefitted from such support.

Maize also distributes her music via Jamendo, a platform for free music. Here too she's done well and Jamendo has offered even more support, for example, featuring Maize on the site and taking her and some members of Owl Tribe to midem.

Kellee Maize: Going Beyond Google

There's actually quite a bit more to the Kellee Maize and Owl Tribe story. But the basic combination of building one's artistic brand with a strong belief system behind it combined with smart SEO, free music and partnerships with music tech companies is potentially quite powerful.

This approach has given Maize large download and viewing numbers on a variety of platforms from Jamendo to YouTube but, more importantly, it's given her a base of awareness on which to build. In the long run, Maize will succeed based not on her Google search status but on creating meaninful music, building her brand in concert with Owl Tribe and deepening her relationship with her fans.

New Album and Social Media Accounts

Kellee Maize's newest album, "Owl Time", is available for free streaming and download from Jamendo and free sharing via FrostWire.

You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/App.net) also blogs at Crowdfunding For Musicians (@CrowdfundingM) and All World Dance: Videos. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.