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Rock On: A Social Media Toolkit for the Striving Artist
All artists and musicians enjoy sharing their creations with their communities and the rest of the world. However, sometimes it can be difficult to ascertain just what it is that can help them spread the reach of their creation. Luckily, there are numerous social media tools that can make this much easier.
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to take the position of a band named The 301 Redirects that is looking to spread the word about their tunes while interacting with current and potential fans.
It’s All in a NAME
I see this frequently and it drives me crazy. Before you think about creating a social presence, please, oh please, check to see if your band name has already been taken. Honestly, I come across bands all of the time that didn’t take the time to use a little thing called Google, and this could lead to potential problems down the road. Another thing to keep in mind is while you might think your idea would make a fantastic band name, somebody probably already thought the same thing.
To see if your band name is already in use, try an advanced search query, since anyone performing, creating or aspiring under that name will most certainly be visible in the SERPS. The following search query will suffice in almost all situations:
“Potential Band Name” “band” OR “music”
After checking to see if the name The 301 Redirects was already taken, it looks like no one has had this idea yet. Let us nab up the real estate and try to secure custom URLs with the band name in them.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s site is obviously the most necessary network to be on, since it can provide the most visibility and reach for a band. To create a Page for your band or music group, head over to Facebook Pages and select the “Artist, Band or Public Figure” box.
It’s important to note that I was able to create a custom username for the Page without having any likes, which is a rather recent development.
From here, you can access the account from your personal Facebook dashboard. While visiting your Page, find the Manage tab in the Admin section, and click on “Use Facebook as [Your Band Name]” option to get started. By using the Page as The 301 Redirects, we can engage with other Facebook Pages as The 301 Redirects vs. an individual person. This makes it easy to “like” and @mention other bands and venues participating in your show next week, as well as comment and engage as your band Page.
By selecting the “Edit Page” option and “Manage Admins,” you can then add or remove Page Admins, which is a useful feature in case you have a falling out with your drummer due to “creative differences.” If you’re looking for other ways to optimize your Facebook Page, check out Georgia’s post about Timeline for Facebook Pages that can help you understand all of the different customization options for Pages.
After learning how to customize your Page, you can start to get creative with your promotion efforts. Let’s say you just booked a gig at the Soda Bar, and you want to notify your friends and Facebook Fans. You should create a Facebook event for the show and add other Hosts to the event so they can invite their friends too. To add Hosts, first create the event, and then click the “Edit Event” sprocket in the right corner of the event page. You will then see the option to add Hosts, which could be other band members, bar owners, club promoters or just people with lots of Facebook friends.
I also recommend creating a fun flier with all of the show info, and using it as the event photo. Since there’s no option to zoom in on the event photo, attach a high resolution version of the flier in the comments that people can share on their Page or Profile. Also include links to the participating bands’ Facebook Pages so others can listen to their stuff before the event. Next, invite all of your friends and encourage them to do the same.
Once you have added all of the show details to the event page and invited all of your friends, you can do even more to promote it. Consider @mentioning the venue page and other bands during the promotion process to encourage RSVPs and sharing. You can also comment on the invite, asking for song requests, sharing venue information FAQs (like parking and drink specials), handing out free tickets and giving updates on set times. You can even attach videos or photos from previous shows to instigate conversations and get people pumped!
After the show has concluded, you can still reap the benefits of a Facebook event invite. Thank everyone that came, share the evening’s highlights, post a link to the Facebook album, and let people know that the next show is coming soon.
The interaction and networking opportunities provided by Twitter are phenomenal ways to establish an online presence.
Following and interacting with other bands, promoters, and industry professionals in the area is a great way to build rapport. A working online relationship in an industry that is often about “who you know” can mean the difference between a solid gig at a great venue and a night at home with only your thoughts to keep you company.
If you are a relatively newer band in a city, an interesting way to find influential people in your space is to search for a well-known venue and check out their Twitter lists. Take The Casbah for instance. It’s one of the most well-known venues in San Diego, so let’s check out the lists they’re subscribed to and are members of.
By digging around like this, you can find the influencers in the San Diego Music Scene, follow them, and start some sort of conversation with them. Consider adding them to your own lists, and @mentioning them with valuable insights on the local scene, answers to their questions, and thoughtful commentary on their daily or weekly lineups. This can lead to gigs, free entry to shows, and valuable contacts.
Once you’ve built up your Twitter community, don’t be afraid to get creative with your Twitter followers. Creating a contest or scavenger hunt and asking your followers to search the city for a pair of concert tickets is a fun way to get them involved and interested in your show. You can even ask followers to use a certain #hashtag or Retweet for more chances to win, thus spreading the buzz about your band to a new community of Twitter users.
Near the bottom of your Twitter Profile you’re also given the option to integrate the Tweets with your Facebook Page. In my experience, it’s best not to automate Tweets and to post information individually through the different networks. While it’s fine to update about the same thing, if you post a status on Facebook that is longer than 140 characters, some of the information would be omitted on the automatic Twitter version. Likewise, your Facebook fans won’t know what to do with a Twitter @mention or a #hashtag. Creating unique updates for each network doesn’t take much time, but it can definitely pay off in the long run.
While I’ve only recently become a member of the Instagram community, the opportunity for bands is immense. The 301 Redirects have an opportunity to link their Instagram with their Facebook Page and Twitter Profile, and share their experiences with current and potential fans.
The best thing about Instagram is taking people on the ride with you. Sharing pictures of things people outside of the band’s circle might not normally get to see helps the fans become emotionally vested in the band’s experiences. Pictures can then be shared on the bands Facebook & Twitter.
In these examples, we can get a sense of the band’s life on the road, experiences at different shows, and where they might be headed next. This is another great opportunity to get creative and put on some sort of contest where you offer concert tickets to the first fan who finds the photo’s location. The possibilities are endless.
The ease of use on Soundcloud is among the web’s finest. It is to audio what Imgur is to pictures. If The 301 Redirects want to share their new hit single “Duplicate Content,” then all they have to do is upload it through the main dashboard. From there, it can be shared among different users and across multiple platforms, allowing for a great deal of exposure. It is by far one of the fastest resources available to get a song from the studio to listeners. If you have a rough sounding unfinished demo and you want a quick opinion, it’s also a great way to go.
The SoundCloud DropBox feature is killer because it allows you to send people different tracks, even if the recipients aren’t on SoundCloud. Tracks featured on your profile can be easily submitted for music festivals, events, and other opportunities.
ReverbNation is a social platform that is definitely more geared towards artists, managers and promoters. It’s an online forum to showcase your EPK (electronic press kit), which includes everything from artist bios, song or video samples, past and upcoming shows, press, and venue requirements. Others are then able to view your profile and get a taste of what the music is about. Syncing with The 301 Redirects’ Facebook Page allows visitors to see any upcoming shows, song uploads, and to helps users see how they rank amongst other local bands.
One of my favorite features of ReverbNation is the distribution packages. They will distribute your music to all of the major online music stores like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and more. A lot of different music festivals accept entries through ReverbNation and usually will want song submissions. The majority of them will allow you to submit either through your profile or using the SoundCloud DropBox.
Bandcamp is an online marketplace that makes it easy for people to buy merchandise and music from your band either through digital downloads or mail orders. Another benefit is that you have the opportunity to link to the other profiles from the aforementioned social networks. The customization options available make things more interesting. The Facebook App also allows users to play songs and search for merchandise through a tab on the Page.
Bandcamp’s customization options make for a valuable tool in a band’s arsenal. The pro version even comes with Google Analytics to track the different inbound traffic metrics to your band’s Bandcamp page.
In the realm of a musician’s social networks and what is relevant, MySpace has all but gone the way of the Dodo Bird. I’ve only ever encountered problems with them and don’t foresee them returning to the level that they once were. If your band has an existing MySpace page, just keep it and add a link to your Facebook Page.
Onward and Upward
These are the FREE social platforms that I consider to be absolutely necessary to an artist’s promotional efforts. Many paid options exist that can supplement initial efforts, but a solid campaign foundation can be built using these tools and by engaging often with fans, promoting without arrogance, and showing appreciation for those that do listen. Oh, and it helps if you have some talent too.
Can you think of any other Social Platforms that have been useful for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.