THE EXPERTS Ari Herstand (AH) writes “Ari’s Take,” a music business blog (http://aristake.com) that helps independent artists. The blog is based on his experience as a working musician (over 500 shows), as well as his artist development company, Proud Honeybee Productions. Bob Baker (BB) is an author, musician and social media marketing expert (http://bob-baker.com) who is dedicated to helping musicians connect with fans and sell more music. His books include, Guerrilla Music Marketing Handbook and Guerrilla Music Marketing Online. Bobby Owsinski (BO) is a music industry author with 23 books in colleges across the nation, including Social Media Promotion For Musicians and Music 4.0: A Survival Guide For Making Music In the Internet Age. Hunter Scott (HS) is the founder and head of LaFamos PR & Branding. He also teaches “Internet Marketing” at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, and hosts workshops that explore “The Secrets of Social Media Success.” His company recently formed a new division, “TrendSocial,” dedicated exclusively to social media. (See http://lafamos.com.)
Can Artists Do Without Social Media Today?
AH: We’re in a new era––everything has shifted to a DIY indie mode. Now artists have to manage their own careers and fans determine who is successful. And today social media is the best way to connect with fans. But to do that you need to manage your time and devote at least an hour every day to your social networks.
BB: Social media is very important. It’s a big chunk of any marketing campaign. And although people say the playing field has leveled in the music business, it really hasn’t because everyone plays the game differently. If an artist uses social media the right way, they will have an advantage over their competition. But, artists shouldn’t make social networks their only online presence. They should also have their own personal website as the hub for all social media.
Do Artists Need Their Own Websites Anymore?
BO: Absolutely. A social networking medium can change the way it operates without notice. We see that with Facebook on a regular basis. And don’t forget all those other sites, like MP3.com and Myspace, that were so popular but now are either gone or near dead. With your own site you have total control over content, your image and how you interact.
HS: At the very least artists should own a domain name, even if they can’t build their dream site yet. Even something simple is better than nothing. That way they can have a professional looking email address and have a landing page.
Must Artists Be on Every Social Network?
HS: Most acts try to use all the popular ones, but you should really focus on where your fans go, the sites they frequent. Different sites attract different types of people, and artists need to know what sites their fans like.
BB: They should at least have a profile on the most popular ones. But, they don’t have to spend equal time on them. Artists should think about how they communicate best. That will determine where to focus their efforts. There are four methods of online communication: text, audio, still images and video. Figure out what works best for you and go to the site that suits it.
How Do Artists Misuse Social Media?
AH: Too many acts use it like a megaphone, constantly promoting themselves and asking people to do something for them. That gets old fast and it’s no fun [for fans]. You should encourage conversation, ask questions and give people a reason to engage.
HS: Sometimes acts can sound like used car salesmen––always selling. That turns people off. You must engage people if you want to build a fan base. The “80/20” rule is a good start: 80% of the time you should be socializing. Then, you can spend 20% of the time promoting something.
BO: Some acts don’t have a clue as to who they are and can’t brand themselves. They’re just like everyone else, there’s nothing distinctive. If an act lacks self-awareness they should ask other people for feedback. It might inspire them. Even using consistent colors and fonts is a start toward an identity.
AH: Posting too often and blasting it to every social network is irritating and insulting. Besides, each social media community has its own etiquette and nuances. You need to work each one differently to get results.
How Should Artists Use Social Media?
BB: It’s not always about the music––it’s about relationships. Find people with common interests (food, animals, art, etc.), make a connection and go from there. Also, photos, quotes and videos generate more responses than text posts.
HS: Social media can provide invaluable analytics. You can find out who your audience is and where they’re from. That’s important information for touring and distribution.
Should Artists Buy Numbers?
AH: It’s tempting because you get immediate results, but it’s really smoke and mirrors. If you want a sustainable career, you have to have real fans
HS: Buying numbers is the worst thing an artist can do. Their viral rate will go down because fake fans don’t like, share, tag or post. Industry is especially sensitive to it, since they’ve been burned before. Furthermore, Facebook will punish you for it and YouTube will take you offline.
BO: FB ads are a much better way to boost numbers. They can be targeted and are very effective.