Are you frustrated trying to figure out how to use social media for artists and musicians?
Do you want more followers that actually turn into real fans that support you and your music?
Every artist I know wants to get more fans and followers to their social media accounts. That’s always the number one concern. It’s a simple question but the answer is far from it.
If you desire to pursue music solely as a hobby and you don’t care about making money, you don’t need to worry about having much of a strategy. If you want to be in the music business and build a career, you’ll need to start thinking more strategically about exactly how you’re going to do that.
You want more fans and followers that actually convert to paying customers at some point or else you won’t even be able to afford those noodles that you eat every night.
Download The Social Media Checklist
Page 13 of The Indie Artist’s Guide to a Successful Music Career has a website checklist and the following pages cover some basics for social media. You’re going to need it to get maximum value from this article. Download it now.
If you prefer to listen than read, you’ll want to stream or download the audio version of this article below. Make sure you subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Disrupting The Music Biz, to stay in the loop with brilliant guests and content that will help you build a career in this business.
Mistake #1: You Don’t Know Your Target Market
It’s crazy to imagine but 99% of bands I know have zero clue who their target market actually is. They often assume it’s people “just like them” but that’s almost always not the case. Once you know who your target market is and the other artists that they love, it’s VERY easy to find and interact with them.
Here’s a simple three-step solution to fixing the target market problem:
1. Don’t Assume That Your Influences Are Your Target Market
Two of my favourite artists are The Beatles and Radiohead but I sound nothing like either and most die-hard fans of those bands are very unlikely to like my music. You need to figure out what random people think your music sounds like and use that information to target people that can turn into true fans, aka people that buy your music, merch and go to your shows.
2. Figure Out Which Major Artists You Sound Similar To
Any true artist is going to hate figuring this out because it’s a pain in the ass but so important. When I say major artist, I really just mean an artist that has a decent enough following that has people actively seeking out their music online.
I’m going to share a mini-market research exercise you can easily execute to help you do this below but here are a couple examples in the meantime to get my point across:
Bad example: My music is punk rock meets hardcore disco mixed with reggae and funk.
Good example: My music sounds like a rock n’ roll version of Maroon 5 meets Michael Jackson
3. Determine Which Major Artists Your True Fans Adore
You need to find the common denominators about your fans. What are the most common major artists that your fans tend to love? You can use this information to easily target people that are sharing content from those artists on social media (more on this later).
The Mini Market Research Test
- Ask your friends to casually play your music to someone you don’t know
- Get an honest opinion of what they think of it before your friend tells them that it’s someone they know
- Ask them which artists they believe it sounds similar to
- Do they like it? If so, which other artists do they like?
- Do they dislike it? If so, which other artists do they like?
- Use this information to start creating an objective perspective on your music and the potential people you should start targeting
Mistake #2: Your Content Doesn’t Appeal To New Fans
Fans of your music already know they like you but the fans that haven’t heard of you yet aren’t looking for you, so how do you get their attention? You give them something they are looking for.
Yes, I’m Talking About Cover Song Videos
The simplest way is to record high quality videos of yourself performing popular cover songs of artists that share a similar target market to you.
Some artists get cocky and feel above it but there are so many great artists that built insanely massive global audiences exclusively on YouTube and social media. You don’t have to be Justin Bieber to be successful – there are artists like Walk Off The Earth, Mike Tompkins and Tyler Ward that have built incredibly successful careers that all started with their home-produced videos.
Do you remember when this video skyrocketed Walk Off The Earth to global fame?
PRO TIP: If you want to intercept a large amount of traffic in your target market, do a cover of a song by a major artist that is similar in sound to you that hasn’t yet been released as a single. Listen to the latest, hottest records and try to pick out the singles that haven’t been released and create killer cover song videos before they’ve blown up. This will give your video a huge advantage once people start searching for that song.
How To Title Your YouTube Covers For More Views
Make sure you title your cover song videos like this, “Song Title – Original Artist Name (Cover)”. This is how someone is most likely to search for a cover of their favourite songs.
Don’t worry about the fact that your name isn’t in the title. Remember, people who haven’t heard of you don’t know they are looking for you yet. In the event that someone does search for your specific cover, they will find your video as long as you’ve properly named your channel. Check out the example pictured below.
Start Thinking Outside The Box
Cover song videos are great and for most artists, that’s all they’ve needed to attract a huge audience but you might decide you want to spice it up with other ideas. This is where your creativity can really set you apart. A great example is a friend of mine, Andrew Kesler, who created a YouTube video called How To Make Sexy Music that’s a hilarious comedic video that shows off his musical talent and chops as a legit artist at the same time.
What makes Andrew’s video so brilliant is that it’s shareable and people that see it pop up randomly on the “Suggested Videos” area on YouTube are likely to watch it, even though they’ve never heard of Andrew before. Consider the possibility that it’s far more likely that a video called “How To Make Sexy Music” is going to get shared than a random music video. It has a wider appeal and opens the door for you to win over a new fan so they become more receptive to hearing your other material.
Whatever you do, just try to be yourself and find your element. That’s where you’ll make the greatest content.
Mistake #3: You Don’t Understand How To Engage People
You may have heard people throw around the word engagement when describing what’s important on social media. What do we mean by that? It’s definitely not the examples laid out by our beloved local bands in the video above, it’s something deeper than that.
Social media for musicians can be thought of as a house party, except with much less booze. You don’t meet people at a party and start pitching your band off the get go and shoving your iPod earbuds in their ears to make them listen. Why would you do that on social media?
The Rule of 7
The rule of seven is an old advertising saying that a customer needs to see your advertisement a minimum of seven times before they take action. This applies to hearing your song on the radio and seeing you pop up on social media. Now I’m not prepared to say someone is going to buy your music because you bonded over a few tweets about the Tim Horton’s Oreo donut (kick ass, btw). The point is that it will keep you top of mind and build trust as they become more familiar with you.
It might seem counter-intuitive but valuable engagement often starts out as seemingly insignificant conversation. Maybe you’re commenting on a song they shared or agreeing with the fact that Krispy Kreme donuts are (almost) always far superior to Tim Horton’s (duh). This is the same stuff that you do with the connections you have in real life.
It’s About Who You Know…So Start Meeting More People
Forbes reports year after year that the best way to get a job is through networking. We’ve all gotten a job through a friend, family member or acquaintance of some sort over the years and succeeding in music will depend on similar skills in this sense. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know and you’re going to need a lot of friends to succeed in this business.
Build relationships on social media through trust and being genuinely interested in connecting with new people. People can sniff out a fraud with an agenda immediately and ignore them. No, it does not happen overnight but if you’re in this for the long haul, you want to start doing it right now because in a few years you’ll have a serious asset when your social media following has grown to higher numbers while maintaining a high degree of loyalty.
Alright, as much as I could keep going on and on, I don’t want to overwhelm you with information. Make sure you are signed up for our email list to get the social media checklist for musicians on page 17 and to be informed when the next article in our social media marketing series comes out.
Social Media Workshop For Musicians In Toronto – October 18, 2014
Zedd Records is hosting a 5 hour social media intensive for musicians, singer songwriters and bands in Toronto on Saturday October 18, 2014 from 12PM-5PM. Tickets are limited and $25 for early bird ($30 at the door). Email us to RSVP and save your spot!