Why Current Facebook Changes Are Bad News For DIY and Indie Musicians

TitanicWe've been through phases of Facebook reducing the reach of one's fan page and both pro music marketers and industry watchers like myself have focused on the combined strategy of not putting all one's eggs in one basket while still finding ways to improve the likelihood of fan page posts appearing in fans' newsfeeds. So when a well-established music marketer says it's time to start focusing elsewhere, you know that the inevitable loss of Facebook as a valuable marketing tool is approaching.

From a bigger picture, Facebook has made it clear that they're limiting traffic to fan pages and you'll have to pay to get the reach you really want. But that can mean different things for big brands than it does for small fry like many DIY and indie musicians.

Facebook is Privileging Big Brands in the Newsfeed

In fact, in terms of news, some publishers are seeing increased reach and more traffic over the last few months.

This is confusing until you find out that Facebook is privileging particular brands and you're probably not going to be one of them if you're not well known.

It's a "quality" thing and since Facebook math still can't identify quality Facebook is identifying such things at the "source level." This is something Google has been doing for years and it's why SEO pros often point out that certain big brands get a pass on rules that negatively affect almost everybody else.

Unfortunately nobody with any pull or focus has really looked at how this works for big bands vs. smaller acts. But there may be a correlation there as well.

And Things Are Looking Grim for Small Biz Pages

In any case, this post by Mary Green on the effects of Facebook's development on small biz pages led music marketer Madalyn Sklar to write:

"Just another reason why you should start focusing your social media marketing efforts on Twitter, Instagram and (gasp!) Google+. This latest Facebook algorithm change is killing your Facebook reach."

I haven't been keeping up with her approach of late so I don't know how much of a shift this is at the moment since we've all been trying to decide how to deal with Facebook. But it's a pretty clear statement about FB's reduced value.

That said, it's hard to go cold turkey and if you want to squeeze out what value you can, check this whitepaper from CyberPR with a soberly practical take on the situation.

We'll see how this plays out but Facebook is definitely becoming a weaker tool for DIY and indie musicians and music marketers. And that's just how it is.

[Thumbnail image: cover of Titanic DVD.]


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (Twitter/Facebook) is building a writing hub at Flux Research. To suggest topics about music tech, DIY music biz or music marketing for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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  1. funnily enough, we just published a new episode of The Music Biz Weekly this morning that addresses this continual, “sky is falling” Facebook commentary which has been going on for what seems like forever, regardless of the changes they make.
    if you’re interested in our opinion, here’s the link…
    Don’t Panic! You Can Still Reach Fans on Facebook for Free:

  2. So is this also directed at me?
    “Join us this week as we address the non-stop barrage of Facebook fear-mongering from many media “experts” that leaves musicians & marketers assuming the network has “stolen their fans”, forcing users to pay to access them.”

  3. nope, not at all Clyde. this isn’t a personal attack.
    our podcast was recorded two days ago and published this morning, before this post was even published.
    this episode was in response to the countless articles we’ve seen over the past few months on this topic, which started way back when many people were under the impression that only 14% of their fans see their posts, which isn’t true.
    again, this has nothing to do with your reporting, rather the tone of the market in general in regards to Facebook.

  4. Thanks for clarifying. I know some of what we do can get sensationalistic but I don’t say things I don’t believe and I try to do a good job of only saying things that are accurate or are clearly my opinion.
    Regarding podcasts, I just can’t listen to anybody’s. It’s just one of those things not specific to your podcast at all.

  5. These changes to Facebook are fairly frustrating for up and coming musicians and small businesses alike.
    It’s tough because Facebook appears to be the modern equivalent of the morning paper, except significantly more addicting. Facebook definitely recognizes this and wants to fully monetize the space in each individuals newsfeed, which makes it doubly frustrating as those slots for certain demographics will become more expensive over time, favoring big brands with larger budgets.
    However, there might be an opportunity for artists to become experienced with targeted advertising and ditch expensive PR companies and independent publicists whose results are highly questionable?
    E.g. if you have a new release and want to hire a publicist, why not just choose to target fans in your target demographic:
    You’re an electro house producer in los angeles
    You have a new track out on soundcloud and released on beatport
    Create post directing fans to track, run for 2-3 weeks at $5/day
    Post is highly targeted, popping in the newsfeed of 18-24 m/f (ppl who will go to your show)
    Post also targets people who like up and coming electro house artists, and the venues that you’re trying to book shows at (i.e. MAKJ + Avalon Hollywood)
    Yeah, it might cost you $50-$100, but it might give artists who are able to think critically a good way to get in front of the people they want listening to their tracks.
    What do you think?

  6. I think whether or not you want to work with a publicist is a separate issue but targeted ads on Facebook make a lot of sense.
    I don’t usually write about advertising but maybe I should in this case.
    I have to admit my general annoyance at Facebook makes me not want to give them money but the point is how best to reach fans and possible fans and that might be a really good way to do it.

  7. Ali that would be a great idea but Facebook ads just really don’t work as well because of the intent of the end user. People aren’t necessarily on Facebook to find music. Also with any type of laser targeting you will be paying close to $1 a click(When you take into account accidental clicks that you still pay for). So it’s almost like you are selling your tracks to people instead of having them buying it from you. That type of model is not sustainable. The best thing for artists to do is to deal with sites that people actually go to in search of new music. Sites like Youtube. I would say Soundcloud but Soundcloud has the same problem Reverbnation has. They are both incestual web properties so you will only find other musicians on there for the most part. Major artists have listeners/plays/likes on their Soundcloud because their songs get posted on sites that people go to for new music and that is counted by Soundcloud. But the audience just isn’t there for that. And a publicist does much more than just send out a press release. In my opinion publicist is the most important person outside of the actual band, musician, artist.

  8. Hey Clyde, thank you for sharing my thoughts on the latest Facebook algorithm change. I think it’s a reminder to everyone that it’s important to gain knowledge about other network sites (like Twitter, Instagram & Google+), learn how to use them and adjust your online marketing plan as the tide shifts. It’s never wise to focus efforts where you get little or no traction. It’s also a reminder to not spend all your time and energy on one social network because at some point it can change. I think it’s better to diversify even if just a bit. I remember when we all thought Myspace was king and that it would surely never go away. We now laugh at that. My advice: watch the trends, and most important, educate yourself on popular and emerging social media sites.

  9. That’s a real shame, Facebook does open up opportunity’s for smaller bands and artists to pick up fans and find Gigs. Limiting the reach they have will only make things harder.
    We have been together as a band for over a year now and in that time on our facebook page http://www.facebook.com/riptyderockband we have picked up nearly 700 likes. Its been tough to attract people to check us out with current restrictions so god help bands and artists of the future.

  10. This is very anoying…
    i am an electronic music producer, i admin a small page with barely more than 1000 subscribers, i never made publicity of my page, all i did was leave the link in my soundcloud account so that people who like my music to interact and subscribe…
    but now the page its useless, because instead of having 1000 people reading and being interested in my work, only 7/8 people are reached for its publishing…
    and honestly i am going to shut down my page, and my account and try to stablish in other social network, because facebook its allready in his road to become obsolete
    the funny thing is, why is a millionare that becomed millionare with a social network that people used, needs to do what he is doing?? why do facebook needs now to charge money to people to interact with?? i understand that some brands exploited facebook to make money…
    but how about individual artists? bloggers?
    all this is wrong, and i really hope they ill burn with it…

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