Plenty of Pittsburgh-based musicians are skilled with Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and other standard online promotion tools. But Kellee Maize operates on a different level. Just Google "female rapper," and behold her spot at No. 1.
"That was a goal, awhile ago," Maize says, via phone; an intern with a knack for search-friendly websites helped make it a reality. Now, she estimates that people Googling "female rapper" drives 6,000 monthly visitors to her site.
What does that mean? Well, it means she has the eyes and ears of a lot of people, including 20,500 Twitter followers and 19,000 Facebook fans. (To put that in perspective, City Paper has 1,118 Twitter followers and 4,479 Facebook fans.)
And her mailing list, she estimates, has 200,000 subscribers.
Like Jonathan Coulton and Marian Call, Maize's an independent musician who banks on her unique style and personality -- or more accurately, "personalities." Maize sees her many roles -- which include rapper, businessperson (she's founder of promotions company Näkturnal) and spiritual seeker -- as "archetypes," each with its own web presence, music, videos and photographs. For one archetype, "Ms. Apocalypse, Protector of the Fourth River," Maize dons full-on superhero garb.
Maintaining this online presence "becomes a conflict in terms of how I'm spending my time," says Maize (who once worked for City Paper's marketing department). But the outreach is a priority. She also has support, in the form of advice from boyfriend and College Prowler co-founder Joey Rahimi, and Näkturnal's resources, including its small army of interns.
"My company is very much supporting my music," Maize says. But there's a reason for that: She's "a guinea pig" for developing and testing marketing services Näkturnal hopes to offer other artists and companies.
Maize's trajectory suggests that being an independent, Internet-savvy musician doesn't mean nerdy music or doing it all yourself. But it probably helps when one of your archetypes is a promotions wiz -- and another is a superhero.