RAVN Radio » Musician’s Guide to Social Media

Musician’s Guide to Social Media

by ravenmaster
Published: Last Updated on
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The Independent Musician’s Guide to Social Media

1. Backstory

Musician’s Guide to Social Media. The arts are no exception. Platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have broken down barriers for artists in almost every field. But for all the good social media does—connecting musicians to fans, building brands, challenging gatekeepers—it can hinder as often as it helps.

As vital as social media is for an indie musician, it also takes time, dedication, and resources that many don’t have starting out. So to help independent and up and coming artists on their journey, here are some tips to make sure your social media presence stays on point.

2. Don’t think that you’re ever too good to respond to a fan.

Only following your well-endowed wife on Twitter won’t cut it. In the beginning, every follower counts. If someone is willing to take out time from their busy schedule to respond to your inane ramblings, you’d better hit them back with the quickness.

Fans willing to follow you before the fame are the ones you want to cultivate. Chances are half of them will say you changed once that first Pitchfork review comes in, but the remaining few will always represent your core. No matter how potentially famous you think you’ll be one day, you’re still starting at the ground floor in the beginning. Taking time to respond to your early supporters is what helps you gain traction later down the line.


3. Do build a relationship before you slide into bloggers, critics, and publicists’ DMs.

Nobody likes an opportunist. Music bloggers, writers, critics, and publicists are people, not favor machines. Phrases like, “Let’s build fam!!” don’t work. Very few people get satisfaction from hungry artists clogging their DMs and notifications with links to their latest single or music video. You don’t ask a girl out the minute you meet here. There has to be some type of finesse.

Instead of trying to immediately get a blog post as soon as an influencer hits you with the follow back, try sharing their content before you try pimping your own. Better yet, when you ask for that blog post over Twitter, get all of your fans to retweet and favorite your request. Numbers don’t lie. People are a lot more willing to believe in you if someone else does first.

4. Don’t buy followers.

Never say never, unless you’re on the brink of purchasing followers. This is known as phoniness and phonies are universally disliked. Invest in plastics or buy a bunch of whoppers from Burger King or do literally anything else with your money. Please.

Appearances are everything in the entertainment business, a prerequisite to survive. But two things tend to occur when an artist buys supporters that don’t exist: interactions fail to reflect the thousands of followers the account suggests he or she has, which makes both everyday users and industry insiders suspicious, and their situation doesn’t change in any meaningful way.

Imaginary friends will not stream your album, download your song, purchase your project, cop tour tickets, order merch, or provide intrinsic, emotional satisfaction. Gaining living, breathing fans takes a lot of time and a lot of work. Just remember one real person who loves what you do is worth more than a hundred bots lacking a pulse.

5. Do share your personal life.

Pusha T’s dog and Drake’s dad have Instagram accounts. Before you laugh, CJ Thornton and Dennis Graham get more engagement on one Instagram post than your band probably gets in a year. As creepy as it sounds, your fans want to feel like they’re an intimate part of your life.

If you’ve ever listened to Pusha T, you most likely understand how cruel and unforgiving he could seem from his music. Watching King Push’s love for CJ Thornton, however, gives the Virginia MC a much-needed dose of humanity. Similarly, watching Dennis Graham stunt on the Gram gives Drake fans another peek at where Aubrey gets his undeniable charm.

Any new artist would do well to learn that people won’t always care about what you have to say, but add a cute puppy or a goofy parent to the mix and you’ve basically won the internet.

6. Or don’t..

Sharing where you went and what you ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is all well and good for some artists, but it’s not the only way. Musicians have been hiding behind veils of mystery for years, but, maybe to counter omnipresent smartphones and the internet, there seems to have been a recent surge in artists sharing very little about themselves.

If you go down that route, make sure you stay consistent, you can’t be tweeting moody pictures of empty rooms and artful poems one day, and then be posting memes the next.

7. Do avoid the money phone.

Fake flexing on IG and Snapchat is the worst. If you’re a new artist, no one believes that you’re throwing racks at the strip club every weekend, or that you’re a regular patron at The Spotted Pig. Instead of coming off as successful, you’ll generally be viewed as the lowest common denominator: an off-brand poser.

8. Don’t think you need to be on every social media platform.

Social Media Apps

Trying to be on every social media platform is like simultaneously trying to hit on every girl at the bar. There is the slim possibility that you might get a few numbers, but you’re more likely to fail miserably and bruise your ego in the process.

Only being on Facebook is fine (if your band’s target demographic is your mom, aunt, and all those companies you liked in eighth grade). If Twitter and Instagram is where you find the most traction, then invest all of your time in that.

Having more social media accounts than songs is never the look. Independent musicians need to spend as much time as possible perfecting their craft; having too many social media accounts can ultimately distract from that.

9. Do have the same name for every account.

Don’t be TRVPXLORD5 on Facebook, vvtraplordxxy on Twitter, and gangbang72 on Instagram. That type of inconsistency is as annoying as it is pretentious. If someone wants to follow you, have the decency to make it as easy as possible. While The Beatles didn’t have to worry about SEO, you do. Search engines, like people, are a lot more kind to those that show some type of consistency in their web presence.

10. Don’t be afraid to Lil B yourself.

There’s absolutely nothing like waking up in the morning to some mental gems from the BASEDGOD. Lil B is the living embodiment of the internet and how to effectively use its power for good. Lil B is unabashedly himself and that’s the biggest rule anyone can teach you about social media.

If you have something unique, celebrate it. If you want to shout out your female fanbase, make your own “Girl Time USA,” if you have the power to curse NBA stars (you don’t, only Lil B does), curse some damn stars. Above all else, stay positive on the timeline and don’t hesitate to share some words of wisdom.

11. Do be familiar with analytics.

As much as people say music and math go together, I’ve rarely found musicians interested in singing about the quadratic equation. Despite that, if you’re trying to build a following on social media then analytics is vital. Most of the information out there is free (e.g. Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, Iconosquare, Klout, etc.) and you don’t need a degree in statistics to understand it.

If you’re consistently updating your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr then you need to understand basic information like impressions, engagement, click through rate, and a host of other things if you ever want to improve. Defining your social media goals by how many followers you have is an act in futility. Social media is more than just how many people follow you in a week. If you’re posting 10 pictures or tweets and are struggling to get a like or favorite, then you’re doing something wrong. Analytics is the key to understanding how to bridge that gap.

12. Don’t post about your new song, video, and tour every 5 minutes

There is a fine line between social media and whoring. Your music shouldn’t be working the corner 9 to 5 looking for a retweet, favorite, like, comment, or reblog. Treat your newest song, video, tour, or major announcement like a delicate flower; its beautiful and won’t stand up to the brutality of the elements. In basic terms, put your music out there and see what happens.

Updating your audience about your latest banger once a week is better than once every other hour. Social media is way better at communicating your life then promoting it. Fans want to see what’s behind the music, not be told to listen to it.

Artists like Grimes and Tyler, the Creator are perfect examples of musicians that have used their emotionally vulnerable and wry humor to give fans another access to their art. This type of connection means more than simply selling your art as a product.

13. Don’t think social media is everything.

The internet is expansive, almost infinite, but a physical world awaits, away from the network of ISPs, servers, and screens that simultaneously connect and separate us. Organic movements brew beyond poppin’ Tumblr pages, and sharing genuine conversations with fans means more than a follow-back.

Creating and nurturing a sustainable fan base by solely operating online isn’t impossible, but an artist who pulls it off is an anomaly. Slap some stickers on lamp posts, perform from the back of the homie’s pickup truck, and get out there. In an industry where artists, managers, writers and A&Rs come and go, nothing is more important than showing face.

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