The Only Three Social Media Platforms Musicians Need
No independent musician should be spending their time trying to gain followings on all the social media platforms all the time. It’s frustrating and exhausting and distracting and usually doesn’t get you the results you want, let alone the results you need. But there is a strategy we suggest for social media for musicians in 2020. And it consists of only three platforms.
Is Social Media Good For Musicians?
You have got to do your Facebook, you have got to do your Instagram. You have got to do your Twitter, you got to, you got to… And you have to build huge audiences in all of these places. Who has the time to do that?
I don’t think anybody does.
It’s just super frustrating.
And then you feel like you’re further away than where you were when you started. And I really hate that advice because that advice to me is just imagining that you’ve got an infinite amount of time. You’ve got an infinite number of people helping you out.
And it’s just not true. It’s just, it sucks. And meanwhile, you make no progress. But if you can build an audience by just focusing on three social networks – just three – you can be rid of the frustration and actually start making progress.
But what is progress? And why does it matter?
Progress is growing your audience. Think of your audience like a funnel. You perform for 1000 strangers, you might expect to make 50 of them fans. Of those 50 fans, you might expect 5 of them to buy your t-shirts and albums and otherwise financially support you.
Now, you can’t just wake up in the morning and know you’re going to perform for 1000 strangers (at least not MOST mornings).
Social media is the same, but different. You CAN wake up in the morning and execute a plan to get in front of 1000 strangers. You could get in front of 10,000. Or more. But the calculus is different. Where you might turn on 50 of 1000 you perform in front of, you might only turn on 50 of 100,000 you get in front of on social media.
But you can do it every day.
And all before you put on your jeans in the morning.
And if you are an artist looking to gain the interest of a booking agent or record label or media outlet, those numbers are extremely important. They are doing the same calculus. How many of those likes / follows / subscribers can we turn into money?
So a media outlet will do a feature story on a band with 100,000 Facebook followers before they’ll do a feature story on a band with 50,000. They’ll do a review for a band with 10,000 Instagram followers before they’ll do a review for a band with 1000.
And labels and booking agents look at these numbers too. The running joke is you can’t get a label or a booking agent until you no longer need one. It’s kinda true.
Musician Social Media Strategy
All this effort into growing a social media following can be challenging. Especially when you’re putting lots and lots of energy into more than just these three social media platforms.
When you focus on just three platforms, you’re going to grow those audiences instead of just treading water. You will grow. If you put the energy into these three social networks and forget about the others, you can focus those efforts and grow where you most need to. In fact, I’m going to start there. You want a presence on every single social media that there is. You need a presence on all of them. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re posting every day to all of them. It doesn’t mean that you are constantly doing stuff on there. Not at all. It just means you have a presence.
Make sure that you hold your account in your name.
If there is a tool like a HootSuite or a TweetDeck or tool like that where you can set it up so that when you post a one at post to a bunch of them, that’s a great thing to do. Social media for musicians in 2020 is greatly helped by automated tools that link accounts together so you can make one post and it goes to several platforms at the same time.
There are even things that are barely a social network that I would recommend trying to get a presence on. Like Twitch.
Having a channel on Twitch that is yours is highly recommended. Own it before somebody else owns it before you. You then own it.
And what also is kind of cool about these new social media networks that social networks that pop up when you can get in at the beginning and just be present, what happens is that people come to you because you’re one of the few. You end up being a little fish in a little pond. But as that pond expands, and most of them don’t, but those ponds that do expand, you will expand with it because you were early in and now you end up being a big fish in a big pond.
Social Media For Musicians Has Changed
Now this isn’t as advantageous as it was, I dunno, 10-15 years ago when you had lots of social networks trying to fight for who’s going to be the big one. Now that competition is pretty much over. You’ve got your Facebook and your Instagram and your Twitter and they own it but it’s still alive and kicking. I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more people start getting into it. I signed up just this past week to be on the waiting list for some social network that one of the co-founders of Wikipedia is putting together just for this reason. Who knows? Maybe it does grow into something. Maybe not.
But having a presence is important for multiple reasons. First, you own your own brand on that social network and second of all, you also will grow with it.
How Can Social Media Promote Musicians?
I’m going to talk about you needing to have a presence on just three social media platforms. And the definition of a social network kinda has to change a little bit. I mentioned Twitch earlier. Twitch people recognize and go “that’s not a social network. It’s a bunch of people streaming game or videos and streaming their podcasts and stuff like that.” But it is a social network in that there is a lot of ability for people to follow each other and there’s conversation and there’s chat and all the stuff that social networks do.
So expand your definition as to what a social network is to include platforms where social interaction is a major component of that platform.
Best Social Media For Musicians 2020
By that definition, the first social network that you need to have a presence on is Spotify, obviously.
Now, why do I call Spotify a social network?
It’s for what I just talked about. There is the ability to follow people. There’s ability to share stuff back and forth. And the truth is, , it will help you. Now, some of that social aspect may have to happen outside of the platform of Spotify, but it’s with people who are also on the platform of Spotify.
So the idea that when you reach out to people who are perhaps putting together playlists that you want to be on, that sort of thing, you’re gonna want to use email, you want to use the other social media platforms where you can reach out to them and ask them, “hey, will you play my song or put my song on your playlist?” It’s a huge thing to do on a daily basis and that’s the first of the three social networks that I highly recommend you have a presence on.
How Do Bands Use Social Media?
The second social network is YouTube. YouTube is huge. And not just in terms of the numbers of potential fans on there. All the big social media platforms are big enough for that. It’s huge because of the opportunity.
The reason I love YouTube is because it’s such an awesome opportunity to represent what you do in all ways. It is extremely flexible. You can do short videos or you can do long videos. You can just post a message. Or you can do a little post just like you would on Facebook or any of the others.
Now, obviously there are billions of people on YouTube. I think that if you can drive and treat YouTube more like a social network and less like it’s just the place you put your music video, it is going to impact the viewership that you get to that music video when you launch that music video.
What Musicians Should Post On YouTube
Rather than waiting for each music video, instead go for it. Build the social media following on YouTube. Follow Mike Mowery’s advice for “great content, done consistently, over time.”
Post to YouTube often with great content. Playthroughs, behind-the-scenes glimpses, live performances, self-interviews, parodies and sketches, confessionals, lessons and how-to’s… whatever you can create quickly and with a certain level of quality, make it and post it regularly. You’re a creative person. Be creative! I recommend posting weekly, at least.
And eventually, when you do that music video, you’re going to have a much, much larger audience for it.
YouTube is a Fan’s Dream
Another thing that is great about YouTube, YouTube is a dream. So, back in the day there was MTV. And MTV would play a whole bunch of videos and you’d sit around watching and waiting for something that you wanted to hear. And that was the only way that you got the videos. Right now you go to YouTube, it’s awesome. Whatever you want to hear, it’s there. It’ll throw stuff at you you didn’t know you wanted to hear. It turns out after you have heard it, you want it. “I wanted to hear that. That was great.” And that’s really key. You want YouTube to suggest your videos to potential fans.
But the other cool thing is that, as a fan (and you have got to always try to put yourself in the shoes of your fans), what’s cool about your YouTube channel for your band is that it really is just like a TV channel dedicated to your band. Now, think about that from a fan perspective. Imagine sitting down in front of your TV and instead of there being the… what did I see the other day, it was like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader channel and Dog the Bounty Hunter channel or some other crap like that. Well, why isn’t there a, “my favorite band” channel?
I want to see music videos. I want to see a bio pic of behind the scenes footage. How about a cooking show?
I want everything, but I want it to be my favorite band.
How to Build Your Band’s YouTube Channel
If you treat your YouTube channel like you’re building a TV channel that is just dedicated to you and to your music, that is an awesome amount of power. And as a fan, that is going to just get me so much more excited about you and your band. I talk about this all the time about the high idea that in order to get a career in music that is sustained by the income that’s provided by your fans, you really do need to start with those casual fans and you’ll need lots and lots and lots of casual fans. Then you bring them up to being big fans. Big fans spend a little bit of money and that’ll help.
And then you’ve got your superfans.
But to make superfans you’ve got to pull people up this ladder. And your YouTube channel is an awesome way to do just that. To bring them up from being casual fan, to big fan, to your super awesome fan. Your super awesome fan is the one who’s going to fly into your hometown to see your release party.
When you put out your ultimate bundle, they’re going to be the one who pre-orders that. That’s the sort of thing that you really, really want out of your fans. In order to get your career going, you have got one fan who spends 500 bucks a year, you’ve got 20 fans who spend 50 bucks a year and then you got a thousand fans who won’t spend much of anything. They just love to click the like button. The like button ain’t going to pay your rent. It’s those people above that will. And so you need to get some of these thousand people, you need more and more of them to pull them up the ladder. In my opinion, the best way to do that is with a really kick ass YouTube channel.
How Do Musicians Build a Following?
The third social network that you need to work on daily is a social network that you choose.
There is a social network that represents how you are motivated and how you will best interact with your fans. So, for example, if you’re a visual band, have a visual presence, you’re proud of the look, you’re proud of what you look like in motion, things like that. And you get motivated to take pictures. You are motivated to record quick little videos. Instagram. Go all in on Instagram. Put all your energy into Instagram. Let’s say that you instead you connect with your fans on an emotional level.
You like to have conversation, you get motivated by that conversation. You like to have the back and forth. You’re inspired by the idea of sitting down and doing almost like a public diary entry where you’re going to give people an opportunity to really connect with you on an emotional level. And that’s a big part of your brand, of your band, and the music that you make. Then obviously Facebook is a great place to be.
However You Want to Connect is How You Should Connect
And there are many others. Whatever it is that you think is the best way that you’re going to connect with fans, go do it. Now other people are going to tell you, “Facebook is dying off, so you’ve got to avoid Facebook. And Instagram is growing, so you have to do Instagram.” Well, if you wake up in the morning and you’re not excited to take pictures, like.. ever, then why bother?
If you’re not a wit that’s good at putting together a quick little joke or quick little comments and things like that, that format doesn’t excite you, then Twitter’s not the place to focus on. Who cares about how many people are on all these platforms? There’s billions of people on these platforms. You only need, I dunno, a few thousand, out of that entire huge platform, you only need a few thousand to start to build a career on.
If you’re going for a recording contract and you’re trying to excite booking agents, things like that, then yeah, you’re gonna want 100,000, 200,000, half a million, millions of people following you on these places. And so therefore we still have tons and tons of people that are gonna fit who you’re targeting and who will get excited by your music and get excited by what you do on that platform, no matter which platform you choose.
Every Social Media Platform Is Big Enough To Find An Audience
Because they’re all huge. They’re all too big. So who cares whether it’s going up or going down or moderating or “well, this one’s got 50 billion and this one’s got 100 billion, so you’ve got to go where the hundred billion is.” That doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s all too many. So you’re never going to get to everybody on those social networks. You just need to get to a few thousand or a few hundred thousand.
Which, in terms of what we’re talking about, that’s not that many people. Maybe it ends up that you’re going to kick butt on Reddit. Are you going to kick butt on Quora or those social networks?
If that’s what gets you excited, that’s where you should try to build, build, build that audience.
How Do I Get My Music Noticed?
What happens when the record label goes “Well, yeah. All right. So you’ve got half a million followers on Twitter, but nobody follows you on Facebook.” You know what? Find the next label. Find the label that will get excited to sign you because you have got half a million people following you on Twitter. Because that’s a lot of people who care and that’s all that the labels really, really want to see.
If you build a following on one platform and a label wants you to have a following on another, tell them to give you somebody who’s an expert at it to really make it happen on that other platform. And since you’re already established on one, at that point it will be easy for them to build you on another. That’s the sort of thing that’ll happen.
But don’t worry about needing to have a huge following on all of the social media platforms because it’s really hard to build all of them at the same time. Focus on three. Focus on Spotify. Then Focus on the one of your choice. And always focus on YouTube.
Social Media Campaigns For Musicians
Social media for musicians in 2020 is hard. If you’re focusing your energies on doing Spotify every day, on your chosen social media platform every day. and your YouTube channel every day and thinking about your YouTube channel as if you are producing a channel on cable TV or satellite TV, that’s awesome. And if you start doing that now, there’s a couple of reasons that it’s so cool.
Let’s Talk About Queen
I went and saw Bohemian Rhapsody when that was out. How cool would it have been if we actually had footage of when the guys in Queen met Freddie Mercury? That footage doesn’t exist, but any day, any day in the early part of your career, it’s not just a moment that’s going to pass. If you’ve got your camera on and if you’re recording it and keeping track of it and sticking it up on your YouTube channel, when you capture all that stuff, someday when you’re packing arenas all over the world, your story can get written and put up on the Hollywood screen. Then you’re going to have the actual footage that you can turn over to a screenwriter and director and go, “this is exactly what it was like, man. This is what you got to act like.”
That’s just amazing amount of value that comes out of that. And as a fan, to be able to see you grow and get awesome in real time, that’s just, irreplaceable.
Nobody is doing it great. You should do it great. You should do it. I want to see your cooking show. I want to see you learning how to ride a motorbike. You name it. I just want to see you in the backyard blowing stuff up if necessary.
But if it’s you and your band and I’m a fa, I will become an even bigger fan the more time I spend on your YouTube channel going, “This band’s awesome.” And the same goes for Instagram or TikTok or Snapchat or Twitch or any other social media platform.
But focus your energy on just three, but have a presence on all of them. The rest will sort itself out.