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 sonicbids.com, this one on planetarygroup.com, and this one on dottedmusic.com,