4 Social Media Shortcuts Worth Avoiding

While social media has done a lot for the music industry in allowing artists and fans to connect with each other, it has also given rise to some unfortunate number chasing that, ultimately, does little to help one’s music career. Here we look at four common social media “shortcuts” you’d be better off avoiding.

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix

There are a lot of tricks for improving your social media stats, but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Social media has given us many gifts. The world is more connected than ever. People from all walks of life can share thoughts and feelings with anyone willing to engage them. Complete unknowns can become famous with one great idea. Anyone can be anything they choose, both for better and worse.

But the problems with social media are numerous. Rather than focusing on the miracle of our connectivity, social media has cultivated a culture of attention-seekers who lack the patience or work ethic traditionally associated with success. Many people believe there are shortcuts to getting the attention they seek that replicates the work generally required without the effort.

Sadly, lies and deceptions about the ability to scale the digital social hierarchy have been greatly exaggerated. Anyone hoping to get ahead in music today should realize their online presence will be under review. You can amass as many followers as you need to feel important. That said, unless you can show those followers are actively engaging with your creativity, the numbers associated with your social media mean nothing.

Before you fall victim to thinking there is a way to game the system, please make it a point not to fall victim to these negative social media trends.

The Follow/Unfollow game

One of the oldest tricks for building a social media following is for artists to follow as many people as possible who could potentially take an interest in their work. If they play punk music, for example, they might spend hours following people who follow other, more popular punk bands. After someone follows them, the artist then unfollows that individual to keep their “Following” count as low as possible.

Promoting in the wrong place (artist/label/festival feeds)

A popular way for artists to promote their music is by comparing their art to the creative output of someone more famous. That method of promotion is as old as the music business, and it works perfectly fine in press releases or conversations.

However, artists come across as desperate when they begin sharing their music in the feeds of the artists, labels, and industry events they idolize. If you look at any tweet from Billie Eilish, for example, inevitably, you will find numerous artists replying to her tweets, encouraging Billie’s fans to give them a chance. Maybe they sound similar, but that isn’t always the case. Either way, it’s not a good look, and it does not impress anyone in music.

Don’t DM anyone

Social media is a public place to engage with private citizens. You do not need to send your music to anyone’s direct messages on any platform without first receiving a request from the recipient. No one is logging onto Twitter or Instagram with the hope someone they have never met nor heard of is dumping new music into their direct messages.

You want Billie’s manager to hear your music? Send them an email. You want her label to listen to you? Send them an email. You want Billie to hear from you? I don’t know how you would find her email, but go ahead and send one if you acquire it.

Sliding into a music professional’s DMs out of the blue is a quick way to get written off as another desperate artist spamming the industry because they are too lazy to develop meaningful relationships.

Don’t shame or criticize industry professionals (unless it’s necessary)

There are very few good reasons to shame a fellow music professional publicly. Did they abuse you or someone you know? Are they a threat to someone? If so, make sure you have all the correct information and utilize every possible path toward resolution before making a fuss online. If you don’t, you may position yourself for blowback and backlash that will damage your reputation more than theirs.

That said, if you are mad that someone isn’t returning calls or emails, that is by no means a substantial justification for harassing them online. The same goes for unacknowledged press kits. Very few, if any, music professionals ignore people for the sake of being mean. Everyone in the business of music is busy all the time. The industry never stops, and the same goes for the people in it. Be respectful of people’s time, and if they can respond, most will.

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company’s podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.

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