People are social creatures. They want to be connected to things.
Face The Face
There are a bazillion Social Media platforms out there. Each has it’s thing it gets used for. Find no more than two that you can understand, relate to, and your fans are likely to be happy to be using as their local hang out. No point picking a platform your potential fans haven’t heard of or wouldn’t want to use. Also as there are so many, you can only ever hope to manage two. If you try to be everywhere you will fail. Take a platform as yours and get good at it. Fans will take what you you do in your local space and take it off into theirs with links etc. Most music posted in YouTube is from fans sharing what they love.
What I do: I have YouTube as it is video and a place where people do look to find music. I also (finally) use Facebook. I won’t say I am good at either but I am there. People can find me if they go looking. I also am engaged in a musician’s forum. I won’t pretend it will build me a fanbase but I feel connected to some similar people. Where I focus most of my efforts are in my Website/Blog (what you are reading now). I talk about what interests me and that may interest others who may like my music. If nothing else it provides a large resource that means that I Google well. I was #1 till the Pope and that Cumberbatch fellow ruined it for me. I have outlasted the Pope and I will outlast you Cumberbatch (I actually like his work).
Here In The Real World
Some bad marketers talk about using social media to drive a strategy and gather email addresses to blast subscriberswith crap every time you take a dump. Don’t fall for this. Facebook lets people join you by being your “friend”. WordPress lets people subscribe to your content. That is all you need. Also don’t fall for friend-making strategies (or even buying them). You will lose that way.
Here’s a good (and succinct) article on how Social Media isn’t good at lead generation. They are right. I have seen plenty of sales made from websites but virtually none made by Social Media.
Remember always that you really want people on your website as that is where you are in control and can convert people and make sales.
Your’re A Friend of Mine
If you haven’t already worked it out, Facebook etc is really just a way of making a local hangout on the internet. You must treat it just the same way. If you come over aggressive and one-sided people won’t engage with you for long. Don’t pop up in locations only to say “so I dropped a new set of beatz, vote for me”. Why should anyone care? You don’t.
Just be a normal person.
Find a community that is about about what you are about. If you are a Goth then find Goths. If you make Folk Rock then find people who talk about Dylan (check their stance on the electric guitar thing). Whoever you are, find people who are like you and share their passion with them. Only then they will start to be interested in sharing your passion. If you have a link to your website in your Profile “signature” then some curious cats will go look and some may buy your record. Some may even post to the community that your band is ace.
That is it. There is no more. Hang out, share the passion and if you are making good music then you will get spotted. Once you are known and accepted then you may be able to let people know you just happen to have a new record coming out.
You only need to be in one central community and other people will spread your news for you. It is best this way. You will be far more excited if your trusted friend Bob48 tells you my new record is great than if I tell you. BTW my latest record, see the cover on the right at the top of the sidebar, is really great. Go click it now. This is article is too long for you want to read anyway and there is money in PayPal you need to get rid of. Hasn’t worked has it 🙁
Dirty Old Town
Social Media seems to thrive on popularity and the trivial. That makes Social Media a tricky one. Do you follow the trend to be trivial or do you be professional and serious? Well I guess the answer is purely dependent on the course that you take. If you are a follower of the trend then seek to be shallower and more ridiculous then the last poster – make your ball to the groin gag have a bigger ball, a more pained expression followed by bigger laughter. If you are serious about your thing then steer well clear of any and all controversy, novelty or crassness. In the early 80’s Rock moved to New Wave with synths and that sound. It wasn’t good for Dire Straits who weren’t remotely like that. But they stuck solidly to their sound and they went on to do quite well (well incredibly well is more accurate).
I think that whatever you do in public, make sure you avoid being tacky. Sure it may get headlines to be naughty or tasteless but I know of no artist who has ever really come back from making themselves the but of tabloid jokes. Once you are famous for being a messy junkie or public nude then the public don’t have the space to see you as anything else. If your career needs a shot in the arm then make a better record – or give the fans what they want by playing the old material they love and be happy that you have that option.
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This ends the series of articles on Self-Promotion for musicians