Guide to Social Media for Musicians and Music Businesses
Written by TMO fellowship intern Rebecca Rosenberg and Marc Fort
(All links and information current as of September 2011.)
The nature of the music business has changed dramatically in the past decade. Due in part to the development of social media, music fans now enjoy greater access to more varied styles of music, and fans are discovering and sharing music in new and different ways. User-driven digital tools provide artists with the opportunity to market directly to their chosen demographic at little cost. In the Music 2.0 world, if a fan likes your band, they have a variety of ways to share it with friends and other music fans using the Internet. Music spreads virally, as exemplified by the careers of OK Go, Neon Indian, and the Octopus Project.
Tech publisher O'Reilly Media defines social media as that which is guided by (among other things) peer production, the harnessing of collective intelligence, and services that get better the more they are used. These characteristics must be considered when developing your social networking profile.
Social media is more than just Facebook. It also includes Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, Last.fm, Flickr, ReverbNation, Instagram, Spotify, Pandora, and Vimeo, as well as innumerable blogs. Depending on the size, popularity and experience of your band or business, you can strengthen your web presence using some or all of these platforms.
Here are some things to remember when developing your social media strategy:
There are several developers creating platforms, services, and apps for creating customized Facebook band pages and social media widgets:
- RootMusic's BandPage - Allows fans to listen to songs, view tour dates, customize layouts.
- Artistdata by Sonicbids - Allows Sonicbids members to update their Facebook profiles and pages with information they are entering into Sonicbids.
- ReverbNation's MyBand - Allows ReverbNation users to customize the colors, button location, visualization options and content on a band's Facebook page.
- Fan Bridge - Assists bands in creating media-rich Facebook fan pages and in developing effective viral marketing strategies. Allows users to feature music and videos prominently on a band's Facebook page, moderate discussions and comments, track page views...and manage and export emails (for an additional premium fee).
Social media site rankings change often as new social networking websites with new capabilities become the flavor of the month (consider, for example, the quick exodus and migration of users from Friendster, to MySpace, to Facebook).
Facebook re-launched their "Music on Facebook" page. They've also created a 40 page guide - The Musician's Playbook - that explains in great detail how a band/artist can best utilize a Facebook band page to engage their fanbase and promote shows. This guide is a "must read" for any artist creating a band page on Facebook.
You can download a .pdf of Facebook's "Musician's Playbook" here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/61079111/Musician-s-Playbook.Music on Facebook - Best Practices: http://on.fb.me/musicbestpractices
Additionally, within Facebook's re-launched Music on Facebook they've delineated two other resources for musicians:
Music on Facebook - Resources: http://on.fb.me/fbmusicresources
- As technology, trends, and website application development funding fluctuates, it's important to keep abreast of new developments concerning the newest and most efficient opportunities to market your music.
All social media sites are not created equal. Know your medium by doing some research. Analyze each site to determine how other bands use it. Once your Facebook page has gained more than 25 fans, visit http://facebook.com/username/ to create a unique URL for your Fan Page, providing you with a URL that reflects your band or business name, for example facebook.com/myband. On Twitter, posts tend to become buried relatively quickly due to the constant influx of new content. In comparison to Facebook, your Tweets should be posted closer to the time of the event.
You can't control what others post or say about you.
Be careful what you post, especially if your band is under contract with a label. Make sure you own the rights to the content you are posting. (The band OK Go got into trouble with their record label over the embedding of their famous YouTube videos and subsequently parted ways with EMI over the disagreement.)
Give something back or offer a peek behind the scenes. People flock to social media because they get something back when they use it: a personal connection, entertainment, a discount, a personal anecdote or little-known fact about your band or business, or content such as a free mp3 or an exclusive track.
Multimedia is king. If you can add a high quality photo, video or audio clip, do it!
- ReverbNation is an extensive tool for artists, labels, management, venues, and fans, currently serving more than 950,000 music entities. The site connects artists with venues who book similar acts, exposes musicians and businesses to millions of viewers by offering free profiles with site integration for Twitter, Facebook and Myspace, and collects detailed statistics for labels and artists, such as the number of fans plus their location, age and gender. Familiarize yourself with it and use it to your advantage.
- Quality over quantity - It doesn't make sense to try and garner 1,000 friends or followers if none of them are engaged.
Follow influential people in your industry and learn from them. Ask yourself "How are they using social media resources?" and "Who are they following?" This is also a good way to find potential allies in the industry. Many people are "mind-casting" on Twitter, so by following the right people, you could become privy to some highly useful information. However, don't expect everyone you follow to follow you back.
If you have a website, link it to your social media page(s) using social media widgets. Most are free and allow you to link users directly to all your sites and share your content (songs, photos, and videos) with others. A Facebook "like" button allows users to become fans of your page via their Facebook account without ever leaving your website, and is easy to add to your page. The code used for embedding the Facebook like button can be downloaded here.
- Don't create a social media profile unless you are dedicated to maintaining it. Commit to posting news, photos, videos, songs, contests, or helpful information about your band or label at least once a week to keep fans and followers engaged, interested, and remembering who you are.
Again, be careful what you post! These platforms allow you, the artist, to forge a more personal relationship with your fan base. They will read what you say...and it's easy to unintentionally polarize your fans by writing something controversial or political. Then again, controversy can attract the attention of music journalist and blogs.
Consider creative ways to use social media to your advantage: If you record your live shows, why not let the audience know you'll send them a link to the audio or video? Those interested can leave their name and email, potentially providing your band with multiple new contacts and exposing new fans to your music. Or, follow the example of Brian Eno, Nine Inch Nails, DJ Shadow and countless others by uploading songs to your site and inviting fans to remix them. Of course, you'll need to create a Creative Commons license for this so you can protect your material and your fans.
Suggested Further Reading:
- Hyatt, Ariel. Music Success in Nine Weeks.(Ariel Publicity).
- Hyatt, Ariel. Cyber PR for Musicians (Ariel Publicity).
- Miles, Jay. Conquering YouTube: 101 Pro Tips to Take You to the Top (Studio City, CA : Michael Wiese Productions, 2011).
- Shih, Clara Chung-wai. The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, c2011).
- Shirky, Clay. Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations (The Panguin Group: New York, 2008).