Imagine this – you have the gift of a great voice and your friend is an amazing drummer. You meet another who is a wizard with the guitar. So, you get together, make beautiful music and perform at the college festival. You become an instant sensation on the campus! Even post college, you and your band mates want to continue making music and make a living doing so. And now, reality hits you. How should one go about doing this? How should one promote oneself? You neither have enough money, nor a ton of contacts. How does one spread the word (and the music)?
Alternatively, picture this scenario. You are an already established band or musician. And now you want to connect with your audience on a more regular basis. But you don’t really have a big marketing budget for that. What are your options then?
In either scenario, your best and most cost effective bet is social media.
The Sensory Challenge of today’s Social Media
The greatest challenge to promoting your music on the social web is the social web itself. Most of the existing social channels these days are designed to be visually stimulating. For e.g., Facebook, Twitter or blogs are all visually oriented platforms, that rely on text and/or video/pictures. So, how do you overcome this sensory limitation and promote auditory content, such as your music?
Let’s explore some social media tips for musicians
The YouTube Legacy:
This is one obvious channel that lets you step beyond the limitations of the primarily textual and visual nature of today’s social media. If you are in the world of music you must have a YouTube channel. In fact, YouTube should be the hub of all your social media activities.
Now that you have a channel, what can you do with it?
- Upload videos: Obviously! But what kind of videos? It can be anything. Your live performances, certainly, but videos of backstage activities don’t fare badly either on YouTube. Plus, videos of your jam sessions and maybe recording sessions could also generate a lot of views. It would also be great if you can put up some trips, tricks, and how-tos on YouTube for the musicians-in-the-making.
- Ask for help: Not quite sure about how that little tune buzzing inside your head would fit in with the lyrics you have thought up? Well, put the whole thing on YouTube and crowdsource. Ask for suggestions from your audience
- A video blog: Might not be a bad idea to create a video blog about say, the making of your latest and greatest track.
- Engage: If you don’t do that on social media, you die a digital death. Be vocal, comment on the works of others. Or, pick up a viral video of the same genre and shrewdly slide in a link to your own work in the comments thread.
- Follow others: Subscribe to the artists’ channels whose genres and/or works are similar to you and/or interest you. This way you can start getting inside the “gang”.
- A technical nit, tagging: That’s what the search algorithms feed on. They don’t know the quality of your music. So feed the spiders properly. Tag your videos with the right keywords and key phrases.
- Unify the center: Let’s assume you are on other social networks as well. Be absolutely sure to post the links of your YouTube videos to wherever else you are, Facebook, your blog, Twitter…
Facebook: Getting face to face with your fans.
The problem with Facebook, if you are a musician, is that it’s an inherently visual medium. However, with its 901 million users it is almost certain that you will find most of your fans here. So how do you spread the word about your stuff on the big blue social monster? Some ways could be:
- Create a Facebook Page: First things first, create a Facebook Page. Choose the category you want your page to be in. Though the “Artist, Band or Public Figure” section might seem the obvious choice, do explore the options in the other categories from their respective drop downs. You might be surprised .
- Using the elements: You must have a discussion forum here. Other obvious elements could include photo and video sharing options. And obviously, an event element.
Alright, now that you are all set, how exactly would you go about promoting your work here? Some quick rules:
- Don’t over-share. Be judicious. You don’t want to clog up the feed of your followers, even if you are the greatest artist on the planet. In simple terms promote, but don’t bombard your audience.
- Engage. Engage with your audience. The idea behind posting in Facebook is to create dialogue, a conversation.
- Share others’ stuff. Occasionally share stuff that’s not related to you, or your music. Talk about things like the upcoming event of a famous artist.
- Event promotion. Promote your events. Add a ‘call to action’ statement like –“see you there.”
Twitter: Create a Peer-to-Peer Network:
It’s an inherently textual platform. How do you leverage that to promote your music?
Our suggestion? Use this space for community building, rather than fan-base building. The reason being, people generally don’t approach Twitter the same way as they approach Facebook. By and large, Twitter is treated more as an interest network more than a personal, plus interest network like Facebook.
So how can you leverage this 140 textual character string-based social network?
- Promote your events – Tweet about your upcoming events.
- Tweet quirky stuff – For instance, tweet about that great track you heard in on one of your long drives last Sunday
- Engage – Engage with your followers. Follow them back.
- Follow others – Follow the bigwigs in your space. Re-tweet some of their stuff.
- Use hashtags – Choose and use a special hashtag for your music
What about Blogging?
Yes, you can add value to your social media music hub via a blog, but this is not absolutely necessary. If you still want to go about it, we suggest setting up a blog in Tumblr, or WordPress and then posting quirky as well as quality content on it. Such as –
- Create a tour diary: A tour diary can be a great idea. People always like to get a sneak-peek at the lives of their idols. What are you doing when you are not playing music? What happened at that road-show? Nuggets of information that can be very interesting.
- Go visual: Post photos of you or your band. Ideally taken by others, on your blog.
- Embed video links: Rule of thumb-embed the YouTube video links of all your performances and gigs here.
An honorable mention, My Space.
Facebook did the same to My Space as it is doing to Flickr. That is slow poisoned the once much loved social network to a virtual (pun intended) death. Still, like Flickr, remnant of the good ole’ time are still scattered around My Space. So if you have enough time and bandwidth, give it a shot. What can you do here? Beside creating a profile and sharing your works, we suggest join and leverage the potential of the My Space groups and use the nifty bulletin board feature.
The road ahead?
Try and plan your social media activities well in advance. Other than the last minute interesting tidbits that you might want to post, most of the content should be planned around your music and your performances. And don’t forget the times you might be on the road – your social media activities should not go into hibernation during those times. Hire a professional social media person, or make use of a friend who is social media savvy to keep posting your activities and keeping your fans updated on all your activities. In a nutshell, have a clear plan of action in advance and follow it.
Strum it the social way!