Thursday, February 27, 2020

Using Social Media to Promote Your Music

If you were a musician back in the 70s or 80s, you couldn’t have imagined using a tool like the internet to promote your music. But you’re not a musician of the past--you’re a musician in 2020, and in today’s digital world, the internet is immensely important to the music industry and the people who work within it. (After all, you’re reading a website right now, aren’t you?) 

Whether you’re a solo performer or part of a group, having a social media presence is an essential tool for promoting your music to a wider audience. In fact, many professional musicians such as Shawn Mendes, Adele, 5 Seconds of Summer, Tori Kelly, and Ed Sheeran used social media sites such as YouTube to successfully build a career. And with platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, Spotify, and TikTok now ubiquitous, it's in your best interest to form a presence across the board. Yes, we know that having a social media presence for your music will not make you an overnight success, but if you engage regularly with a community of loyal fans, they will definitely want to support you!

Here at North Main Music, many of our students use social media platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to share their music with a wider audience. Check out Alana Perry's and Raina Schroff's YouTube Channels!

There are so many platform options and no “perfect” way to present your music online, but there are a few basic do’s, don’ts, and pointers to consider when sharing your music online. To help you get the most out of your social networking strategy, here are some ways to promote your music on social media that can help you engage with your followers:

1. Make it interactive and interesting

Social media is a terrific platform to interact with your fans. A new popular method of engagement is asking your followers to interpret your music and inviting them into the creative process. You can ask fans to submit artwork or videos inspired by your music, or if the music is instrumental, submitting poetry to go along with the release.

Be sure to also keep your content varied. From a user’s perspective, nothing is more boring (and eventually, annoying) than seeing repetitive posts over and over. You’ll get more followers by mixing up your content to contain all sorts of material. And be sure to always promote an upcoming song or video release with a teaser post before sharing the full length version.

Don’t just blast your followers with requests for likes or retweets – give back! Upload videos, share photos, make creative use of hashtags, offer giveaways, share sneak peeks, discuss albums or equipment you enjoy, and be sure to interact with your fans. Right before you post something, spend 20 minutes or so scrolling through your feed and engaging (liking, commenting, etc.) with other people’s posts. After posting content, someone may like or comment on your content, so it is compulsory to reply to them as soon as possible. They have invested time to comment so they deserve your attention.

2. Speak with genuine excitement

This sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many musicians don't speak with genuine excitement. They speak with an apathetic tone (and grammar), such as, "heres our new single. hope u like it." On the other hand, some speak with too much excitement, like, "OUR NEW SINGLE IS OUT NOW!!!!! SHARE IT WITH ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!!!!!!!" There's a sweet spot in the middle, but again, it needs to be genuine to be effective. You wrote a song, recorded it, and should be thrilled to share it. So communicate that in a post. “We're so excited to share with you our new single, "XYZ." This track is personal because [insert reasons here]. You can download it here! Let us know what you think." You don't need to write a novel on why it's personal or why you're excited, but your fans will be receptive if you speak from the heart with authentic passion.

3. Offer an incentive

Incentives are a great way to engage your fans via social media. For example, you can invite fans to submit their art, upload videos, or simply share their opinions. Another incentive could be making a campaign about your new album and offering a free download to the first 25 people to like a video or picture that you post. Keep in mind that you need to budget what a give away will cost you, and plan for the risks you might take in giving things away.

4. Post in moderation

One of the most annoying things a musician can do is drown their followers in content. It seems like every day we're getting an event invite from the same person or seeing the same music video posted over and over and over by some budding musician. Don't drown your followers in content they really don't need in their newsfeeds. On the other hand, don't fall silent and disappear for months at a time! You don’t want your fans to forget about you. Try to be active in your branding by sharing positive, engaging content. Start by posting a minimum of one to three times per week.

5. Make it personal

Fans want to see what's going on behind the scenes and feel like you're speaking with them personally. Talk in a conversational manner, post pictures of yourself and/or your band doing average things, such as shopping for guitar strings or a new mic, or having ice cream with friends. Being relatable will resonate with your followers. Would you rather see Sam Smith post a link to buy their new album or a picture of the original handwritten lyrics to your favorite songs, telling you how much they mean to them? If your content is personal and genuine, your followers will feel more connected to you and the meaning behind your music. But don’t take "personal" too literally – we're not suggesting you bash political candidates or take a stance on contentious social issues. Make it personal and relevant to the music.

6. Be patient

Social media is one of the best ways for word-of-mouth publicity, but establishing yourself as a musician on social media takes time and effort. So keep on posting and sharing as much as you can and you will eventually see your efforts pay off!

This article was inspired by and adapted from this one on, this one on, and this one on,

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Tips & Advice for Beginner Songwriters

Maybe you’re practicing piano one day, playing around with different chord progressions, or plucking a riff while tuning on your guitar, when suddenly you get that feeling. Perhaps the chord progression has pulled an image from your memory; or maybe a phrase that’s been stuck in your brain fits the riff you’re plucking. Either way, you’re sure it’s a breakthrough—this could be the beginning of an original song!

Many of our music students write original songs and they love how amazing it feels to create their own music and express themselves through lyrics, chords, and melodies. Knowing that there are lots of music students out there who are curious about how to get started writing their own songs, we wanted to share some tips about songwriting for beginners. One of our most prolific songwriting students, Heather Skinner, and her instructor, Sibvon Rose, agreed to help us with this article. Heather, age 12, started writing songs when she was 9 years old. She was 5 when she performed in her first musical and has been in 7 musicals total. She has played the lead role of young Anna in frozen, Pepper in 101 Dalmatians, and a few other guest starring roles. Aside from voice and ukulele lessons she has taken piano, guitar, and violin lessons.

Here is Heather talking about the songwriting process:

Thanks, Heather!

While there isn’t a surefire method to write a great song, there are many helpful hints to spark creativity, get out of ruts, or nudge us in the right direction. As we share our tips on how to write a song for beginners, feel free to skip around to different sections as you see fit. Find whatever gets you “into the flow” of your artistic self, and go from there! We hope you might better understand your own process, or how to write music, with the following songwriting tips.

Songwriting: Deciding where to start

The process of writing music is different for everyone. Some write the lyrics first, some the chord progression, and others a melody. Some might start with a title and build from there and others may start with an emotion or a personal event that they want to share through the art of song. All of these methods are perfect for writing songs.

Sometimes this is more of an organic discovery than a conscience decision, but figuring out the first piece of your song will help set you on your creative journey. Do you begin with a chord progression or a melody? Maybe you have lyrics already written that you’d like to set to music, or perhaps there’s a drum pattern you want to build a song around. Whatever the case may be, finding your starting point builds a solid creative foundation from which you can continue writing.

Take advantage of moments of inspiration

How many of us are fully prepared to record whenever we have a moment of creativity? Some of the best ideas come while we’re at work, sitting in traffic, or simply handling our day-to-day lives. It isn’t always convenient, but taking advantage of spurts of inspiration is crucial.

If you’re not at home and set up to record your ideas, grab your phone and hum that melody into a voice memo. Whether physical or digital, keep a notepad handy to jot down lyrics or any other ideas you can flesh out later--even a one-word title is worth writing down, so that you don’t forget what it was later on.

Of course, if you’re free to get in songwriting mode at home, don’t let fleeting moments of motivation pass!

Express yourself freely

This is one of the hardest things for any artist to master. We’re inevitably our own worst critics, and battling self-doubt is one of the biggest hindrances to creativity and motivation.

It’s important to sit down with the intention of self-expression and intrinsic joy rather than the goal of writing a hit record.

Improvise, make mistakes, embarrass yourself, and you’ll surely find gold flecks within the raw expression. Most importantly, you’ll allow yourself to grow as a confident artist if you first allow yourself to fail.

Write what you know

When it comes time to write lyrics, personal experience is a fantastic place from which to draw. It sounds cliché, but it’s so obvious that it often eludes us altogether.

Some of the greatest timeless records were, of course, written about the artist’s own life. Heartbreak, loss, and moments of joy and triumph are universal experiences that inevitably lead to relatable, emotive lyrics.

Determine your song’s structure

By analyzing songs you enjoy, you can get an idea of some of the different structures that you can use. And as you learn to write songs, you can play around with different types of song structures until you find the best possible match.

If you’re not familiar with how song structure works, here is quick tutorial video: 

Commit to creative choices

Don’t overthink it! When we’re lucky, songs seemingly write themselves. If it sounds good, trust your creative intuition and refrain from over-embellishing or heavily editing a section or part.

Committing to choices early in the process might even lead to great ideas you never would have considered otherwise.

How to write lyrics

As you begin to write song lyrics, keep in mind that there’s no right way to get started! You might already have a few words that you’ve written down, a story or message you want to get across, or perhaps even the full chorus figured out.

Wherever you start, it can be helpful at some point to describe the entire scope of your song in a single sentence at the top of your lyric writing page. This will help you stay focused. For “Ticket to Ride,” for example, the sentence could be “My girlfriend is moving away from me and I am sad, but she doesn’t care.”

A song is a “little movie,” a very short form of art, so it is essential to tie it together with just one idea. If you have too many ideas, break them apart and write a different song for each idea that you have instead of trying to pile too much into one song.

And remember: you don’t have to create an entire song in one sitting — you could just create one verse or one chorus and keep coming back to add more lyrics as you become inspired.

Work with other musicians

In the era of bedroom producers, most of us are holed up in our project studios alone. We might hit a speed bump in a song and shelf it as a “bad” idea. Learning how to write a song from other musicians is a valuable asset. At North Main Music, we encourage our students to get involved with our variety of group programs, such as rock bands, themed rock shows, acapella, and musical theater, because it not only helps us build a strong and connected music community and motivation, but being in these groups helps musicians bounce ideas off of one another, which is arguably the best way to foster creativity and a productive songwriting session.

Take Breaks!

Perhaps one of the best songwriting tips we can offer is that it’s okay to take a break! Whether it’s 15 minutes or even a couple of weeks, focusing on other activities and a life outside of music is so, so important.

Some of the most technically proficient players sometimes take a month or longer away from their instrument entirely. Sometimes we have to rekindle our love for something by forgetting how much we enjoy it in the first place!

Write Often!

By far the most important thing you can do as a songwriter is to do it as often as possible. The only way to improve at anything is to dedicate yourself to it, ideally making it a habitual practice.

Try to set some time aside each day, or at least several times a week, to work on music.

You may not write an entire piece in a half-hour chunk of free time, but you can accumulate enough material from short sessions to stitch something together over time.

Simply doing it is the optimal way to learn how to a write a song!

Final Steps

Once you’ve finished your song, set it aside for a few days and don’t think about. When you come back to it with fresh eyes and ears, you’ll be able to identify lyrics that need tweaking, chords that need adjusting, or other small details to really make the song pop.
After that, consider testing your songs out live! Performing in front of others — whether at an open mic night or simply in front of your music teacher — can help you get the kinks out. At North Main Music, our music instructors *love* supporting their students’ creativity and are happy to both listen to their original songs and offer them constructive feedback on what works and what could use improvement. 

Another great idea is to record your song. Options for recording range from booking a session in a recording studio, taking a stab at recording in a home studio with the equipment you have, or simply making a recording with your smartphone. With technology today, it’s easy to record your own songs with the right software and a quality microphone.

Not a singer or performer? There are still lots of options available to get your work produced. Check out Tunedly for example. The tool allows you to connect with professional musicians to create quality songs suitable for placement opportunities.

Having a recording of your song, even if it is just a demo, will open many doors, especially if you want to become a singer-songwriter. You can publish your song on YouTube, iTunes, or Soundcloud so potential fans, other artists, and established people in the music business can have access to your songs. (Stay tuned for a future blog post about how some of our North Main Music students are using social media to share their music with new audiences!)

Finally, if you’re really feeling confident with your song, consider entering a songwriting contest!

Good luck, and have fun!

Special thanks to our North Main Music instructor, Sibvon Rose, and student, Heather Skinner, for their contributions to this article!

This article was inspired by and adapted from this one on, this one on, and this one on