The correlation of social media and music is ever evolving. With all the resources available online, musicians are able to reach a wider audience and gain recognition faster than the pre-internet days. Because of social media, certain performers within the music industry can skyrocket to fame in the blink of an eye. If you want a prime example of this, just look at Justin Beiber. Whether you hate him or love him, there’s no denying that the social video website YouTube kick started his career. If you’ve read any of my other blog posts here, then you would know that I am an advocator of social media and its integration into business marketing. I feel the same way about music promotion/ marketing but how should a musical performer who is just starting their music career approach using social media?
Social media is still a fairly new concept for most of you musicians out there. To be more precise, I believe that social media etiquette is a fairly new concept for musicians and music promoters. Many industries embrace Social Media but only look at it as a tool for an instant return on investment (ROI) rather than recognizing it as a community. You can’t just barge in on a community without gaining the trust and respect of said community. That goes for both online and offline. In essence, a musician that is selling themselves is the same as a brand selling its product or service.
The thing about marketing music, when you’re an up-n-coming band, is that you’re led to believe that constant updates about your shows through social media are the way to go. Sadly, that’s not the case and is never that easy. Instant gratification doesn’t come from Social Media. You have to invest your time in before you see results and I don’t mean you have a Facebook page for two months and post the shows you’re going to play. You really have to communicate with your audience. It’s the same concept as if someone from the audience comes up to you after your last song and says
“Hey man, that was a great set” and you respond “Hey, thanks man. I really appreciate it. What was your favorite song?”
Building an authentic relationship between you and your audience is critical and giving them a reason to come back is just as, if not, more important. Mark Marshall, a local musician in my area, constantly communicates and nurtures the relationships he builds with his fans. If you ask Mark a question, he’ll answer you back and he has a fair balance of promotion versus communication. This, in my eyes, is what a musician should strive for on Social Media: Balance.
I’m going to ask you to do something pretty stupid: log in to your MySpace, if you can still remember your password that is. More than likely your inbox will be flooded with bands inviting you to one of their shows and your friend requests will all be musicians and “lonely single females” looking “to talk to someone”. Since the masses abandoned MySpace for Facebook, MySpace has become a ping pong tournament of musical promotion. Everyone’s pitching to each other but no one is catching. Even Myspace’s overhaul in redesign can’t save itself from an inevitable demise.
Now I don’t mean to sum up all musicians in the “lacking SM etiquette” category. The fact is, there are so many musicians out there with social media accounts, who desperately want people to listen to their music, that their attempts to be heard become overwhelming for the everyday guy with an account as well. I think this factor helped attribute to the death of MySpace. Facebook came along and offered a a better alternative. Floods of invites and messages can discourage a person even if the musicians who sent them had the humblest intentions. This is why musicians need to be more particularly polite and respectful rather than an over flowing sink of promotion. In my previous post The Problem With Facebook Event Invitations I compared event invites to spam. Facebook now allows you to ignore invites from certain individuals, which means if you invest most of your music marketing into sending Facebook event invites, you’re kinda screwed. Creating an event on Facebook is pretty easy but easy is a double edged sword.
This isn’t a post to condemn musicians for their etiquette. I want to inspire. If you’re a musician who has a similar view on social media than share it with those who don’t. That’s all. In the music world the best promotion can come from in-person interactions, phone calls, and e-mails but you can’t ignore social media. The evolution of social media is as much the social lubricant for the digital world as much as music is the social lubricant for the real world. Both have evolved. Social media is like the new rock-n-roll of internet marketing. It’s difficult to accept but eventually you’ll be caught tapping your foot and singing about it in the shower. It’s time to re-think how you approach this. After all social media and music are both long-term investments.