Musicians And Social Media: Is Communication More Important Than Talent?
While ability and a marketable product are unquestionably important when it comes to making a career out of one's music, the crowding of the industry on social media has rendered effective networking and communication skills more important than ever.
Guest Post by Sunny Stuart Winter
In the modern day music industry, with an abundance of social media platforms, it appears it is becoming harder and harder to get your voice heard above the din of thousands and thousands of likeminded musicians, both local and worldwide, vying for attention (…and a short attention span at that).
The difficulty, as an artist, doesn't come from the production of art (be it songs, murals, theatre or other), but by the communication of the art.
Within music, artists tend to mostly ignore the communication of their defining characteristics, of their unique selling point. I realise, in the digital era where we're still making sense of social media marketing and their regular platform upgrades, it can seem daunting and alien, but artists must realise that it is the communication that is the difference between being unknown and gaining popularity, to become a recognised name within the industry.
Yes, the end product of creativity is obviously vital (not only for its potential to be accepted by listeners but for arts sake), but I feel like artists completely underestimate the additional art they could create in alternative marketing, in alternative communication, in collaborative projects.
Take Creeper's latest campaign…
The disappearance of social media content might be an all too common occurrence (see The 1975 & Radiohead) but the 'disappearance' of the band itself by way of a 'murder mystery' (left & below) and clues on this website, leading fans on a wild goose hunt, is certainly a new one and one that sparks the imagination (and adventure) of the many. Cue social media posts from fans engaging in the hunt for clues, sharing photos of what they found, the next clues and discussing ideas with fellow fans.
Think about it. Why is it that we heard about the Creeper campaign? A little imagination, something unusual for the music press to write about; of course it's going to stand out and of course it's going to get them plenty of press, let alone all their fans spreading the word as advocates to their followers.
So why doesn't your band think of doing something unique?
Yes, Creeper have a healthy backbone of gigs and contacts, but any band, singer or artist could create such an engaging piece of communicative art as them, they just need to understand the stepping stones from artistic idea (song, EP or album) to press (bloggers, websites, zines) by way of communication of a clever idea (why you're doing it, how it will get potential fans involved, how you'll measure it, how you'll capitalise on those who are interested).
Plenty of music which would generally be considered 'average' becomes one of the artists of the year; plenty of music that has the potential to be genre-defining remains unknown. It is the communication of artistic ideas that can be the difference between your band being the next household name or fizzling out.
So where should I start?
My advice to you is to start with building the initial relationship with press. Support what they do, engage with them on social media, politely ask them if it's okay to contact them and request their email address if it is not easily found on their website. Do your research, don't ask for information that is readily available on their website; it looks lazy and unprofessional.
Give them the details of your idea for your marketing campaign, explain how it is unique and why you believe they should include it on their website. However, and this is one of the defining points that has the potential to destroy any relationship you could potentially build with press (especially me, this happens far too often and I have zero tolerance for it), do not, I repeat, DO NOT sign them up to your mailing list without their permission.
The mailing list is a brilliant tool when you have regular, relevant information being sent out to relevant parties but it is all too common for bands to share pointless information with reputable contacts because they feel like they should be sending another mail out, rather than because they have the information to share. Treat your contacts with respect and don't waste their time.
Finally, don't be scared of getting in touch with press, just make sure that you have a reason to get in touch with them and that that reason is well described within the email. The Music Industry is a game of relationships. The age old cliche that it is 'who you know not what you know' is painfully true, so start making relationships but do not try to cut corners, it's more obvious to see than you think.
If you enjoyed this blog post or have any questions regarding contacting press and best practices, tweet me @sunnynorwich or comment below. I'd really appreciate you sharing this on social media too. Thanks!
- Don't include a long visible list of contacts in one email (unless BCC'd) – it looks impersonal
- Don't sign contacts up to mailing lists without their permission – it's really irritating
- Don't try to cut corners - it's really noticeable
- Do work on growing relationships with press and music contacts
- Do think up creative marketing ideas to promote content / release
- Do your homework on press to check their suitability – not all press is relevant to your music