Funk Volume may be best known for being Hopsin's label, but it's got a full roster of indie artists who are pursuing the dream of making it on their own terms. I spoke with Funk Volume CEO and co-founder Damien Ritter yesterday about the role social media has played in their success. He shared not only what's working for them but what can work for those getting started. In particular, he says there's no special sauce. You've just got to put the work in and build that direct relationship with fans.
Ritter, who received an MBA in Business from Stanford, says he had been laid off from his position with Goldman Sachs and his brother SwizZz wanted to get into music fulltime. SwizZz also knew Hopsin who wanted out of his Ruthless Records deal.
Though Ritter had never planned to get into the music business, he seized the opportunity and has gone on to build a solid indie label.
Independent Living - The Funk Volume Documentary (Trailer)
Ritter says they began building on social media right away with an initial focus on Facebook. It was obvious to him that that's where the fans were and they began growing pages for each individual artist and for the label.
Over time they expanded to include what many would consider the other core networks, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, where they have the bulk of their social media following.
Ritter says that, though they are on SoundCloud and it has been more useful than they expected, it isn't a main network for Funk Volume.
I asked if recent changes at Facebook, including reducing the organic reach of posts, had affected their approach.
Ritter said it had alerted them to the need to consider new approaches. Now, though they remain active on the above four networks, they focus on driving traffic to their site and gathering emails and phone numbers for direct communication.
For Funk Volume social networks remain a great way to reach new fans and do promo campaigns such as contests and releasing content for an email or social media action.
But given that Funk Volume and their artists have strong social media followings that they established over time, they're in a much better position than artists getting started today.
Ritter notes that their strength is not just in individual numbers but in crosspromoting to all accounts when something important is happening even if it's just for one artist.
So I asked him what he'd suggest newcomers do who don't have the strength of that history and collective action.
Social Media Notes for Newcomers
It Takes Time
Remember that Funk Volume and their artists have been directly connecting with fans daily online for over 5 years. And it takes a lot of time because what you're looking for is not a Facebook Like but a connection with a new listener who may become a fan and then, over time, maybe even a superfan.
Keep It Visual
Ritter feels having creative music videos has been particularly important to their success. And keeping it creative can also be a way to make cool videos while keeping costs down.
Ritter noted that if you see a lot of artists doing the same thing in videos, that's exactly what you want to avoid.
Make Sure Touchpoints Are Connected
Your social media accounts should be crosslinked so that listeners who find you in one spot can connect to you elsewhere.
This is especially important given that folks are usually on multiple networks which means you can have multiple points of contact or touchpoints.
In particular, Ritter has found that videos are an excellent way to capture attention and connect viewers to other accounts as well as their main site.
There Is No Secret Sauce
At the end of the day Damien Ritter's approach is pretty basic and he says there are no real secrets. You just have to put the work in.
Next up for Funk Volume: Dizzy Wright has an upcoming EP sponsored by Scion, due April 15th, and he'll soon be going on the "State Of Mind" tour.
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch) posts music crowdfunding news @CrowdfundingM. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.