Why Music Won’t Be Saved By Social Media

Rescue-me-with-social-mediaBy Wes Davenport (@wesdavenport) from his music marketing blog.

In a guest post for AT&T, Brian Solis drops a bomb: “Hostess baked over 400,000 likes on Facebook and yet the iconic American brand is now shut down.”

Social media gurus/ninjas/mavens hail the power of social media to radically change a business. They write e-books, produce blog posts, and use their own networks to amplify that viewpoint.

Let’s look at the bigger picture. I love social media, and I think it plays a role in any musician’s career. But that role has been grossly inflated.

Social media doesn’t single-handedly:

  • Negotiate licensing, publishing, or record deals
  • Make your live performances better
  • Enhance your studio recording sessions
  • Plot out a tour
  • Send out press pitches
  • Assemble a strong financial plan
  • Prepare you for unexpected growth

Yes, it can give you leverage on these things. Yes, it can open doors in these areas. Yes, social media is an important piece to any artist’s career.

Will social media alone be your saving grace? No.

Any single aspect of running a music-centric business is not enough to buoy the whole operation. It takes a combination of many things, including money, experience, killer music, and a healthy network.

In fact, the most underrated, least discussed aspect of music business success is money!

Financial information targeted at musicians is much less readily available than social media resources. I’m a marketer and publicist, but I want you to be aware of other elements at play in your career.

Jon Ostrow of CyberPR and MicControl is one of the most trusted voices in the arena of social media for musicians. He puts things into perspective, saying, “Social media is a conversation tool – that’s it.”

“It should be a critical component to any brand’s marketing strategy because it helps them to connect and engage with their fans, but if there is no plan to leverage that growth in conversation into something that can actually make money, all is for nothing.”

So next time you see an awesome new social media e-book for sale, buy a boring financial planning one along with it.


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  1. Is getting the word out not pretty much the main foundation of most aspects of the
    industry? You want people to know about your tour/show, about your CD, about whatever it is that you as a musician are up too. A flyer tells someone about a show. An ad tells of a CD. Social media is a way to directly communicate with the fans. Social media isn’t the be all end all, but this article short changes the importance of GOOD USE of social media. Emphasis on good use. Many musicians aren’t using social media to the full potential and that’s the problem.

  2. wes, this is a much-needed dose of reality for too many musicians who think that social media is a short cut, or a way to avoid doing the basic ground work of marketing. it does not replace publicity, or radio promotion, or marketing–it enhances it, something that too many techies simply won’t admit or want to believe. but that is the ground level reality.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. As an industry publicist, I’m actually going back to the old-school methods in the practice of PR, using social media as a resource. SM is conversational, and as in real time conversation, you must truly separate truth from the bull, but it’s much harder to do so here, than in person.

  4. Having just taken an artist with a HUGE social media pretense on for their first non-major release I can tell you for a fact that SM alone will only a move a few units and it takes a whole team working their collective asses with most of it being the ole fashion methods like calling, emailing and showing up at stores saying carry this please. There are no short cuts and SM is still only 6.5 years old so saying it’s tired and true is just stupid.
    PS getting rid of the payola in Radio is something that really need to be looked into cuz that is what is stopping more new artist breaking then any other factor.

  5. Spot on. As someone heavily vested in utilizing social media, I still cringe when I see them touted as a single shot solution to whatever challenge an industry is facing.
    Social platforms are channels and tools, not solutions in their own right. They can be powerful in deepening relationships with fans and better understanding what they desire, but will go nowhere without an overall direction that works alongside other marketing initiatives. Treat anyone who tells you otherwise with the greatest of suspicion.

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