For DIY artists, social media is something of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it has made self-promotion much more accessible, but it can also be a challenge to know where to begin. Here we look at some of the most important tips for gaining a following of fans online, and promoting your merch and music to the digital hordes.
Guest post by Kayla Rigler of DIY Musician
Social media has made self-promotion for indie artists easy. The main problem is that there are so many different platforms, it’s difficult to know where to start. You don’t have time or money to waste. You want to get potential fans hooked and buying tickets and downloads.
Before social media, bands and musicians had to wait on the goodwill of their record label for promotion. That’s if they [even] had a recording contract to begin with. In the past, DIY music production and sales were unheard of. In the post-Myspace era, bands can now record, produce, distribute, sell, and promote their music without an A&R rep ever darkening their door.
Here are the top tips for creating a following, gaining fans, and promoting your music and merch to the masses via social media:
1. Create a YouTube Channel
YouTube has replaced MySpace for band promotion. It’s one of the most-used social media platforms for music fans. The search features make it a powerhouse for finding a new audience. YouTube promotes you in “Related Videos” to the fans of bands in your genre, making it easy to capture an ever-widening base of music lovers. You might find you’re getting more traffic from other bands’ channels than organic searches.
Tip: Be sure to enter a description and tags that’ll help people who like your kind of music find your videos.
2. Create a Facebook Fan Page
Although not as popular with the under-35 demographic as it once was, it’s still the social media platform that most people go to connect with artists. Twitter is great, but it’s no Facebook. Set up a fan page for yourself or your band, and put the time it to make it look good. To engage fans, consider the following:
Schedule content updates.
You’re going to want to share several different types of content on your Facebook page. Upcoming events and new releases are vital, but fans also want to see candid shots, rehearsal videos, even some personal day-in-the-life content. Make sure you have a regular stream of content by using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite. Keep it relevant to your work, but make it relatable and fun.
Interact with your followers.
Take some time out of your day to respond to fans commenting on your Facebook posts. Let them know that you’re paying attention to their feedback and that you appreciate their support.
Use Facebook ads.
Set up your gigs as Facebook events and use the Facebook ads manager to zero in on your target audience and sell more tickets. You can narrow your audience by age, location, gender, even income. Then target your ads at those who like bands like yours.
3. Connect Your Facebook and Instagram
Save time by integrating your posts to deliver to your fans on both Facebook and Instagram. These social media platforms have different strengths, but combining them saves time.
- Instagram is more casual and fun, so use your feed to plug other bands in the lineup and selfies with fans.
- Instagram relies heavily on tags for targeting content to the right audience, and even Facebook is somewhat responsive to tags, so don’t forget to tag your posts.
4. Learn to Livestream
There are several ways to livestream your performances online. Gain new fans by broadcasting performances, signing events, even fan chats. Fans love to feel that they have a direct connection to their favorite musicians, and letting them in on your day as you rehearse, record, even pick up new equipment can be a memorable event. Facebook allows you to livestream right from your band page or personal profile.
5. Get on SoundCloud
SoundCloud is one of the biggest audio file-sharing services around. You can share your tracks with fans, potential fans, and music reviewers anywhere on the web. The widget allows play on a variety of social media platforms to share exclusives with dedicated fans, and it even keeps stats on plays, so you know where to focus your marketing efforts.
6. Distribute your music
All the social media promotion in the world won’t help you much if people can’t access your music on the platforms they already subscribe to (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) So make your music available globally! With CD Baby, it’s simple — and there’s never any annual fees!
7. Use Social Media to Create an Email List
Social media has become swamped ― even your grandma has signed up. But email marketing is so old-school that it’s new all over again. People love free stuff. People also want a sample of something before they hand over their hard-earned bucks. It’s been a tough economy out there for everyone. Offer incentives to get potential fans to sign up for your mailing list.
People blank out on ads, most still scan their inbox daily. Use your social media platforms to put together an email list by offering some cool exclusives only available to your most devoted fans ― those willing to part with an email address.
You can offer subscribers exclusive materials:
- Recording studio video footage
- Pre-release access to new music
- Exclusive or free-to-download songs
- Song demos
- Early ticket access
- Merch or other swag
Don’t Just Create a Product, Create a Culture
Music is more than a product, it’s a lifestyle, and genre identity is a thing. Become a social media influencer by offering your fans more than just your music. Plug other bands on the lineup for every gig.
Livestream interaction with other musicians and fans at the venue. You’ve probably already targeted your market, and you know what other bands will appeal to them. You might even have an idea of what clothes, movies, or video games they like.
Find your niche and give your potential fans the whole experience. Recommend venues and boost other musicians on their road to success ― they’ll probably return the favor. You’ll find that marketing your genre is a lot more effective than just advertising your latest song.