5 Social Media Fails By Musicians

image from www.google.com

Artists have a myriad of possibilities when it comes to social networking. The way these are utilized is often woefully misguided and as a result artists become their own worst enemy.

Musicians so often fail to realize the fact that potential fans are not interested in what your music means to you, they are only interested in what your music means to them. Similarly this approach should be taken with you status updates, you need to ask your self, why would anyone care about what I am about to say? Just because you want the world to know, doesn’t actually mean the world wants to know.


Twitter works well for two sets of people. The first is the already famous. These people have done the hard work away from Twitter, they have a kick start on follower interaction because they are already somebody. The second is people who create regular interesting and sharable content, or alternatively, have a nose for sniffing out and sharing poignant content to read and watch. So if you are using twitter and don’t fit into these two categories, you are wasting your time. 


In an attempt to create interactions with their “likers”, bands have taken to asking benign and hollow questions. You know the ones “The Beatles or The Stones?” Or “McDonalds or Burger King?”

Who gives a crap? Grow some balls and actually offer up your own thoughts, pose a question to inspire proper debate. Small talk is for people who are socially inept; if you want to get ahead you’ve have to be socially bold. Ask the difficult questions and embrace the debate. 


If you don’t have something interesting to say about yourself, say something interesting about someone else. These days self-promotion is not all about you, it is about people identifying with who you are. Share something you really love and inspires you, not something you think you are supposed to love – leave that to the Hipster wankers who fail to realize the irony of their own irony. 


“I had such an amazing day, I am so lucky to be able to make music and express my inner feeling with such wonderful fans”

Urrrrggghhh. Puke. What this really says is “I am so woefully and blissfully unaware, and I love the fact that daddies expense account allows me to never actually have to work a proper job.” Or alternatively – "I am hiding all my real emotions behind a veil."

If this is the case, why will people want to listen to your music? Positivity is awesome, but fake or forced positivity will only alienate the people who just got home from a 18 hour work day, and then have to deal with their teenage daughter who got arrested for shop lifting in Walmart. Social Media is occupied by the 99%, they want to share in your success from hard work; they don’t want to be a voyeur to your entitlement issues or failure to grasp reality.


Go an admit it, you have done it haven’t you? I know you are desperate to look smart in front of all those people, but just because you know who Camus is, doesn’t mean you share his intellect – this can also be filed under the Hipster wanker category.

It has become commonplace for people to share quotations, especially pasted on an accompanying picture. However, you are the artist, you are supposed to come up with the quotes, not copy and paste them. If you don’t have anything original to say, maybe you shouldn’t be writing songs.

Robin Davey is an Independent Musician, Writer and Award Winning Filmmaker. Follow him on Twitter @mr_robin_davey

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  1. Pretty safe to ignore the majority of this “advice”.
    #1 – Perhaps focussing too much could be a problem in the sense that you will be neglecting other networks but to suggest that the only people who should use Twitter are lady gaga and the bedroom infographic maker is just nonsense. We’re talking about musicians. Telling real fans about gigs, writing sessions, recording, mixing, radio, press… It’s all good and a great way to generate interest. Regardless of whether it’ll all go viral and get meme status overnight. Hypebot should really start moderating these guest posts. Half the time artists are being told they MUST be on Twitter and the other half is spent contradicting themselves. Pinterest being the obvious example.
    #2 – Your definition of lame is fairly vague when you’re telling people that asking questions is actually a good thing to do. What question should they be asking? Favourite track on the album is just as lame as mcdonalds or burger king, in my opinion. Asking difficult questions is awful advice. Just don’t ask any. Nobody wants to see a massive PR tailspin on your page after trying to ignite a political or religious debate.
    #3 – The main issue with being branded a hipster is that some people DO actually love fashion and new music. It’s not just a popularity contest. If you’re sharing what you genuinely love and being branded a hipster then that’s just bullshit. If you’re sharing something that’s totally unrelated to current trends, you’re more likely to alienate new fans than bring them in because they think “well, at least he’s not a hipster”. Share what your fan base will love. After all, your fans like you and they like you because of your image and your music. If the whole thing is a package, it will be a success. If you genuinely love crochet it’s probably not worth sharing it through your death metal band.
    #4 – Never even come across this. I can’t ever see an act saying any of that. The closest I’ve seen is “great recording session/gig/radio show last night! thanks guys!” hardly an issue.
    #5 – “If you don’t have anything original to say, maybe you shouldn’t be writing songs.”
    If you don’t have anything helpful to say, you shouldn’t be making guides.

  2. This is written by a insecure cynic who see these actions as why they failed and not releasing that they were probably just shit at music, and probably life with that approach to things.

  3. Really terrible advice for the most part. #1 is totally asinine. I have worked closely with multiple bands, whose calculated use of Twitter has opened up many doors for them, and connected them to the most vocal of fans. Twitter users like to talk, and isn’t marketing about getting people to talk about what you are selling? If you are a true “networker”, then Twitter is way more powerful than FB for a young artist trying to spread their music.

  4. So true. Especially #2. Also add in tagging — how many Facebook posts do we need to see involving a conversation between only a small group of people. DM and private messages, people!

  5. I said it is for people who create regular interesting content, by replying like you did I presume you feel the bands you represent don’t create regular interesting content?

  6. I’m surprised by the negative comments. I think the list is good advice. I see a lot more failures at social media by musicians than I do successes. Many either don’t want to talk to fans or don’t know how.
    There are a few who do it well. Amanda Palmer comes to mind. She loves to exchange ideas, has great insights, and seems to have unlimited energy.
    But I see far too many, “Look at me and please come to my next show” posts. I see musicians I know personally who are interesting when you talk to them, but who don’t come across well at all online.

  7. I’ll suggest a #6: “Acting like a defensive, hostile crybaby when total strangers disagree with you in the comments section.”
    Especially if you make it a point to specifically mention how little you care about what they think. (You were about to respond with that, weren’t you?) Thanks for taking the time to tell me all about how I’m not worth your time!

  8. If you take offense to my list it is probably because you partake in the things I advise against, or more likely, try to make money off musicians by “advising” them to do these very things. I give all my advice for free.

  9. The whole idea of acquiring fans using social media is a fail, a myth created and maintained by so-called social media “experts”, who are mostly experts at making their income by thriving on the naivety and inexperience of musicians.
    Social media can be great for maintaining and nurturing a fan base that you ALREADY acquired by other means.

  10. Good advice. MOST musicians use social media poorly. I hide artists/bands on FB and unfollow on Twitter when all they do is SHILL 🙁

  11. Damn why all the negativity.. this guy is trying to Help US get to a better position maybe some of these things won’t work for u but maybe they would work for someone else,, and regardless of what you think of them.. this person is taking time out of their own busy schedule to help others work towards something they want.. so stop being so petty and argumentative

  12. I don’t presume that at all. I don’t really see Twitter as a content distribution platform. Facebook has a handle on that with all of the various apps that you can add to your page. Twitter is about the conversation. You start the conversation, and interact with like-minded individuals on Twitter, and when they are ready you point them to your other web 2.0 properties that hold your content(FB, Soundcloud, etc). It’s about creating a network of friends, who organically become fans because they care about what you have to say, and take the initiative to see what your brand is all about. They are the most loyal fans you can cultivate. Just my 2 cents.

  13. I find it funny because some folks like myself are greatly behind the proverbial learning curve as far as the proper way to utilize social media as a musician. I’ve focused so hard on making the business work for other artists in my group but marketing has been difficult despite having great material. However, the focus is put on every social media because without an online presence you’re not a true artist. Keep up with the good tips.

  14. This is mostly good advice. However, #1 seems a bit overgeneralizing. Prime example: The Civil Wars. Their rapid growth can be contributed largely to their presence on Twitter starting out, despite not having much regular content being put out for months other than one music video and a free live album. This might be an exception more than a rule, but it does happen at least every once in a while.
    Also, I agree with a few others: despite the good advice, your responses in the comments section have been pretty biting and arrogant. Yeesh. You must write for Pitchfork.

  15. I agree with the majority of Robin’s article.
    In any case, bands/artists should focus on delivering decent content (GOOD SONGS) via social media platforms before worrying about eloquent twitter or self indulgent facebook posts.
    The Civil Wars got somewhere due to their songwriting skills. Which is far more important that the volume of tweets/posts that are put out.

  16. haha, aww, you are hilariously defensive and insecure, poor dear.
    For the record, I think it sounds like you, like many other people, are trying desperately to come up with a definitive set of rules where none exist – the acceptability of one type of online behaviour varies extensively from context to context and from one day to the next as tastes, tolerances and avenues of expression develop and change at an extremely rapid rate.
    So accept that regardless of your ‘credentials’ and however much time you spend working on this list, you’re no more of an expert than anyone’s 14 year old sister, and your advice is entirely based on your own personal knee-jerk reactions to online content. there’s no shame in it.

  17. Hi Anna
    Ahh the belittling tactic. This of course only displays your inability to process what has been written and makes you as hypocritically dismissive as you claim that I am. Funny how in any other professions ‘qualifications’ like time served on the job are regarded as positive aspects, whereas in the arena where everyone is a self appointed marketing expert, they suddenly become null and void.
    It would appear your reply is the only knee jerk reaction. Unless you want to come from behind you veil and not be anonymous so we can all see your credentials.

  18. The bottom line to me is that good music speaks for itself. The more people like your music, the more popular you or your band become, the more these rules don’t apply to you. 🙂

  19. I think the best advice for Twitter ever is to just be YOU! Why the hell are you trying to give us a formula on what to be on Twitter? I, personally, post whatever I want, whenever I want. The purpose of Twitter for me is to network with people and “meet” new people, maybe if I’m lucky inspire some. All of my followers know who I am simply based on my posts. I don’t even have to think about what I post on there because it’s basically exactly what’s on my mind. I’m not ashamed of who I am and I have nothing to hide, so my Twitter’s purely me. Sometimes I’ll post something regrettable, but in my opinion, that’s still a part of who I am and a part of life. I stick my foot in my mouth in real life too, so it’s all part of the Jess-experience.

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