There was a time when the music industry had a fairly straightforward business model; an artist records a song and the record label would promote it.
Since the rise in digital, however, the market is increasingly fragmented across different platforms. The people who listen to music spend their time on social media, so it’s become vital that artists both large and small have a presence there. With social media focusing on personality and direct communication with fans works best. As a result, much of the marketing power is now in the hands of the artist. It’s now just as important for Katy Perry and Rihanna to manage their own social media accounts in the same way an unsigned artist would. Getting stuck into social media as an unsigned artist can be a little bewildering but these tips should help to give you an idea of how to get started.
Speak to your fans directly
It can be very tempting to start every update with ‘Hey guys!’’ but this can often seem a little too impersonal and is especially sinful if it’s an email going out to your mailing list. Tools such as MailChimp can assist in addressing emails to the individual by name. When using social media, remember that the update is still going through someone’s personal news feed – so try to be friendly and direct instead of simply drawing attention to the fact that it’s just another message to the masses.
Give your fans something extra
It’s equally important not to be too insular with your messages. It’s great to sincerely thank people for coming to a show but all too often musicians can post an update along the lines of ‘it would mean so much to us if you could come to the show tonight and bring all of your friends’. At best, it’s a bit of a turn off for someone but at worst it just seems desperate. Make sure you include reasons as to why it’s a great idea for people to come. It’s even better if you can give some genuine added value such as free entry before a certain time, or a free gift at the event.
What sort of updates to make
Social media is about creating a genuine connection with people and trying to simply sell your record on Facebook, for example, won’t work. People need to know and trust you so that they feel that they have a reason to follow and engage with your account. Don’t simply spam people’s news feeds with ‘buy our latest album’ posts. Look to provide something that makes them feel more included such as ‘behind the scenes’ pictures and videos of rehearsals, recordings and gigs. This helps to develop more of a connection and break the wall between the fan and the artist.
Marketing is an on-going activity
I know ‘marketing’ can a bit of a dirty word, but the truth is building this voice and relationship online with fans is an on-going process. It does take time, energy and effort but it would be foolish to be inconstant. Building an audience and then engaging with them is key to keeping the momentum – it’s not something to do simply when you have a new album out or a gig coming up.
If you’re in a group, spread the work around each band member. It can be very easy to update a social media account from a smartphone so take advantage of that. It can be a great way to provide fans with those ‘behind the scenes’ style updates at rehearsals. If you’re a solo musician, have a think to see if any friends can help out a little – even if it’s just in taking some pictures to be uploaded.
While there’s nothing quite like being able to respond to something in real-time (The Oreo social team was right on the money when they tweeted the ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ ad during the Super Bowl blackout) but scheduling some key updates can be a good way to make sure you’re keeping your frequency consistent as well as saving you time in the process. It means you can plan for the things you know you’ll want to post about most weeks. You can use it to capitalise on some of the popular hashtags such as Throwback Thursday (#TBT) or FollowFriday (#FF).
You can use tools such as TweetDeck and LaterBro to schedule tweets and you can simply click to ‘clock’ icon on Facebook when making an update to set it in the queue.
These tips are by no means definitive but should help to set you on the way if you’re starting out marketing your music online. It can seem daunting, but getting into a habit of making friendly, genuine updates to fans is a good thing. Remember that it’s not about the hard sell but forming a relationship.