The rise of social media over the last decade has proven to be a boon for those in the arts. It has opened a variety of opportunities for them to promote their work to a large audience. At first glance, social media marketing for musicians who are starting out might seem daunting.
If you are one of those musicians, this guide will help you better understand various platforms and use them to let the public hear your music.
Before social media, musicians spent a lot of time creating demos to woo record companies. Or they had to play dozens of gigs to attract a following. While these routes are still important, social media has given new acts an easier route to music stardom.
Your journey can be as simple as uploading your songs to YouTube and waiting for someone to discover them. This was the road taken to stardom by Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, and Arnel Pineda of Journey:
Even if you don’t land a record deal like them, social media still gives you the chance to share your music as an indie act. This setup actually affords you a lot of advantages, such as having full creative control of your work.
Attracting listeners is arguably the biggest challenge for any new musician. During the days before social media, getting even a dozen was hard …unless you had the promotional machinery. With social media, you have that promotional machinery. Social media sites, particularly the more popular ones, have considerable audience bases. YouTube alone has over a billion viewers each month.
Even if you don’t get the people those numbers to listen to you, the audience base on social media is incredibly varied. The global reach of social media will also help you expand your reach further than the local bar ever could.
Remember those days when the only way to get your music out to the public is to literally beg the radio stations to have it played? The advent of digital music and the Internet has pretty much done away with that. Now, you can have your music played and promoted online without begging.
Social media adds more to that, as it opens new marketing opportunities for your songs and sounds. With the right platform, you can promote in a variety of channels, all at the same time. You can also get creative with how to promote, such as doing special performances via live streaming.
— HPMNews887 (@HPMNews887) December 2, 2016
All of this help to push your music to more people and are great shares to keep your audience interested.
As you already know, fans are the lifeblood of any musician. Whether it’s just a few dozen, or several million, they are there to support you. You want to get in touch with them as much as possible to show your gratitude.
Being on social media lets you do just that in real time. You also get new ways to interact with them, such as the aforementioned live streaming. There are also real-time chats, replying to their comments, and polls like this one:
•TOMORROW'S GIG• – Finalising my set list .. would you rather see? ….. VOTE BELOW !!
— Sammy Leighton Clay (@SammyLClay) September 24, 2016
All of these help bring you even closer to your supporters, building an even stronger fanbase.
One common question with social media marketing for musicians like you is where to start. As there are dozens of sites out there, this can be really confusing. You don’t have to be on all of them. Instead, you need to know the ones that will give you the best marketing mileage for your music.
With around 175 million users a month, Soundcloud might not be as large as the more popular social media sites. Considering that the site is a dedicated platform for musicians to share their sounds, this is certainly the place you want to start.
While you can use the site with a free account, paid accounts to provide you with more features that you can take advantage of for distributing your music. A Pro account:
A Pro Unlimited account gives you:
After investing in either one of these plans, the next step is investing a few dollars into buying SoundCloud followers. This service will help improve your account’s immediate impact on fans, grow your account faster, And maximize your investment into your Pro or Unlimited account.
The next thing you should consider is your branding. You want to make yourself stand out even before listeners get to hear your tunes. A good profile picture will help greatly. It should show your face, or your band logo, clearly. You will also want to use your header image as an opportunity to convey more information about what you have going on. Here is a good example from James Bay:
Once you have your account set up and your music ready to be uploaded, your next question is where to share them. Unless you already have a following even before jumping on SoundCloud, just having your songs on your account page won’t do. You have to spread them out.
Here’s one little fun trick from SoundCloud themselves. This comes courtesy of their close ties to Twitter:
Pro tip: link you Twitter account on your profile and get a Twitter mention when someone favorites your track http://bit.ly/fIhh0q
— SoundCloud (@SoundCloud) January 21, 2011
Twitter may be the most important social media marketing avenue for musicians. A quick way to popularize your tracks is by buying retweets for them when you share them on Twitter. This will prompt more of your fans to retweet your SoundCloud songs, and it will prompt strangers to listen when they see how many retweets they have.
A unique SoundCloud feature you want to take advantage of is Stations. Stations is a new feature introduced by the site that lets users create their own virtual radio station from tracks they like. From there, they can discover new tracks that they might not have heard before. Take advantage of this by encouraging your followers to create stations based on your tracks.
One common question when it comes to Twitter is how do you even promote your music with just 140 characters. Some useful tips to remember when writing your tweets are:
All of these will help you create tweets that are not only attention grabbing, but also retweetable.
Another aspect of Twitter and sound cloud integration this means that you can now embed tracks and playlists directly into your tweets. Here’s Nervo embedding a podcast they joined:
— NERVO (@nervomusic) January 9, 2017
Use this to do previews of your upcoming songs and albums. You can also be a bit more generous and link the whole song. Or you could create a SoundCloud playlists of select songs and tweet about it. Don’t forget to encourage your followers to retweet that playlist.
Youtube can be thought of as the Internet incarnation of MTV (back when MTV played music videos). What sets it apart from MTV is that you don’t have to wait for your video to get played. All you have to do is create your account, upload, and promote.
As is with any videos uploaded on Youtube, you want your music videos to be easily searched. For that you should:
All of these will help not only make the videos themselves be more visible, but also direct your viewers to your other online spaces to get more of your music.
Playlists are also something that you should put out often. Create one for your albums, cover songs, and singles, as well as your tour videos and other activities. Additionally, you can create a special playlist for other artists’ you like. This last one could help you catch the attention of the artists you feature such that they might return the favor and feature you on their own.
If Eminem wasn’t already famous, this playlist featuring a number of other artists in his genre would help him get their attention:
Speaking of other artists, collaborating with them can help expand your reach. In fact, this is a great strategy for new acts to help each other out. Collaborations can range from co-produced pieces, to entire albums bringing together several acts. You can even take advantage of YouTube’s live streaming feature and do online concerts.
If you choose to use our YouTube Views Service, be sure to have great tactics in place for what you are going to do afterwards. Often times, this is a great way to go viral on other social media platforms by pointing out how popular you are on YouTube.
You won’t be using Facebook just to promote your music. Instead, your page will be used as an interaction tool. You want to be as active as you can to get them hooked.
Posting a variety of content is one of the ways you can keep your page active. As videos are the highest ranked type of posts, you would want to have a lot of these. But it shouldn’t be just your music videos, you can use:
You can also go further and give them an even better fan experience by posting personal videos. That’s what Britney did here in this endearing video:
You will also want to use photos in the same way, be sure to use one when you are not sharing a video.
Your next stage of fan engagement is to take the time to read through the comments on your posts and respond to them. Tag the person you are replying to for them to know you answered. This will certainly get them all excited, since fans love it when their favorite artists reply back to them.
ReverbNation might not be as popular as the above sites, but when it comes to social media marketing for musicians you definitely want to take advantage of new platforms that emerge.
Much like SoundCloud, ReverbNation is a platform that is oriented towards music creators. It goes further and provides users with specific tools for managing their music marketing. This includes:
The pricing for ReverbNation varies from a free account, to $9.95/month, to $19.95/month for the Premium version. The more you pay, the more features you get.
As it is with other kinds of social media marketing, for musicians to succeed here they need to have a good strategy. This strategy needs to focus on understanding who your fans are in a number of ways.
You already know what kind of music your audience wants. After all, they won’t be fans if they don’t like your sounds. But that’s not the end of it, as you also need to know what type of content they respond to better on social media. One group of fans might love videos, while another loves your backstage photos.
Of your fans. This will help you plan your next posts, and better direct traffic to your website links.
Social media is useful for building hype prior to the release of your new song. One way that you can build up that hype is by making interactive posts about the upcoming release. Even something as simple as getting them to use your hashtags for their tweets works well in hyping the release. David Bowie’s marketing team hyped up #Imablack star so well people are still using it now a year after his death:
Joining @eops ending the year as it began, listening to the album of the year ★
— ★ Unklerupert (@unklerupert) December 31, 2016
The key here is to learn how your audience wants to help you hype your music. For instance:
They are going to be different considerations for each social media platform and its promotional tactics. But what you have to understand on each one is what really gets to your fans active. Knowing what activates your fans is the true key to viral marketing.
Don’t think that you are on social media just to promote your albums and songs. You are here because you want to connect with your fans. This goes beyond asking them to listen to your songs.
What you want here is to establish a friendlier and more informal relationship with your fans. Be sure to regularly address them whenever you go online. Take time to read through the comments and messages you receive and respond to them accordingly.
One popular way to do this is through a Reddit AMA. It can work on every single social media platform, it’s just the one which is most often used. Here is a brief taste of music comedy trio The Lonely Island’s AMA:
Getting into some friendly banter with your social media followers is always a good idea. You are, after all, a musician and not a politician. You don’t have to take yourself so serious.
Marketing your music on social media does not have to be a huge challenge. With the right tactics, and consistent work ethic, you can build a large audience on nearly any social media site. Your keys to success are:
If you are making great music, and you know that you are, social media can step in and take the place of the record deal that you do not yet have. If you do have a record deal, it can be a way to take direct control of your marketing instead of relying on the PR guy who already has 10 other bands that he manages. At its best, social media marketing for musicians is a way to take control of your music online, and determine your own success.