Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category
Featured image by scottchan for freedigitalphotos.net
I began teaching a social media certificate class this month to 31 adults in downtown Seattle at the University of Washington’s Continuing Education Program. I’m really enjoying it – the students are enthusiastic and operating all at different levels of social media expertise and experience. Creating material for a three hour class on a weekly basis is no walk in the park, but I love it so far! It’s an exercise in visual, rigorous, accountable, consistent long form weekly content creation.
At the same time, I’ve also been working with some fabulous musicians as a marketing consultant, helping them develop their marketing plans, define their music career business goals, and then execute against those goals.
AND I’ve also been trying to keep up with the fast paced and ever changing worlds of both social media and music. Oh, and then there’s the new set of songs Stevie and I are working on for 2015 release.
I got to thinking a few weeks ago about how to distill down the things I see as vital for musicians – and any small business owner – to attend to as part of their social media for the coming year.
So here is what I would tell you to do in 2015 with your social media if you were my music marketing client:
- Understand your primary social media business goals. Don’t jump into social media just because you feel you “need to be on social media.” Are you promoting a new album release, an event or tour? Is your primary goal to increase followers or Likes? Or are you trying to get the attention of bloggers, press or industry influencers? Are you trying to win a music contest or raise money via Kickstarter or Pledgemusic or some other platform? Is your goal to promote coupons or discounts to encourage fans to buy your music or merchandise directly from your website? Your goals will help determine both what social media channels to focus on, and what kinds of activities (posts) to engage in. Set some reasonable, concrete, realistic, numerical social media goals for 6 months and for a year from now – goals with numbers and a timeline. It’s easy to get lost, sidetracked and overwhelmed in social media. If you’re not aiming at something, you won’t know if you’ve succeeded.
- Know who your target market is. What are the basic demographics (age, sex, location, artists they like) for your super fans? If you don’t have a big fan base, research the demographics of bands you consider your competition. I also wrote a blog post on identifying your super fan that includes some great online research tools.
As 2014 winds down, I find myself both excited and bemused to write a final music marketing blog about a Seattle indie artist I first met a few years ago. His newest project, Margaret, hot off the press this month, impresses me both musically as well as promotionally (although I hesitate to use that word, and he would probably cringe at it, too). One of the things that characterizes this artist is a fierce allegiance to the creative much more so than the commercial, but perhaps that is a large part of what makes this music project such a great example to discuss.
Watching the way the marketing and promotion of this album has unfolded since I first heard about the project in April of this year has taught me a lot, and I hope you take something from my analysis.
Good music and creativity are at the heart of successful music marketing. I have never seen that embodied so clearly. The marketing is important, and executing well is important, but without good music, marketing only takes you so far. First and foremost, I believe that what drove Jason’s project was making good music that was meaningful to him.
What is good music? Ah well, that is a subjective thing. All I can say is, I know it when I hear it. And I know when I don’t. And so do you, and so do fans. Marketing is just the icing – it doesn’t disguise a bad cake, but it sure makes a good one taste better. Now, it is true that music is subjective, and there are many tastes, many genres, and many niches. However, some music is just well written and well-performed, and even if you don’t like the genre, you can appreciate the musicianship. Most importantly, good music moves the audience emotionally. Passion, combined with creativity and craft, make art that is magical.
The second most important thing to get from this article is that being flexible and listening to what your fans want from you will go a long way. If you start with a great live performance, and then get a clear message from your fans to release a CD, do what they say and they will buy it.
There’s a bit more to what Jason did with this project, however, so I’ve outlined below the 10 elements I think were most effective at propelling the project forward at such speed and with such success.
I interviewed New Age artists Ricky Kej and Wouter Kellerman recently about how they marketed their newest collaboration, Winds of Samsara. The album debuted in July at No. 1 on the Billboard New Age Chart, and then spent the following 12 weeks in the Top 10.
*** UPDATE December 5, 2014 – Kellerman and Kej’s album has been nominated for a Grammy! It just goes to show what can be accomplished with great music and hard work!
Ricky, Wouter and their team are a hybrid indie artist marketing model: neither the artist nor the label does 100% of the marketing. Most of the marketing strategy, however, is planned and driven by the artists and their managers, with similarities to how Macklemore (Ben Haggerty), Ryan Lewis and Zach Quillen drove the charting success of Heist in 2013.
While Ricky and Wouter are not technically 100% DIY indie artists (they signed this project with a label), they recognized from the start that the label wasn’t going to do everything needed to promote the album. The artists themselves needed to pitch in, especially with social media promotion.
I’ve seen first hand on social media how Ricky, his wife Varsha Kej, Wouter, and Wouter’s manager, Tholsi Pillay, persistently promote Winds of Samsara. All four fluidly mix the creative with business. In addition to being Wouter’s manager, Tholsi played keyboards and synth on the album, and Varsha is Ricky’s manager as well as a sitar player.
I wanted to hear more about how this marketing dynamo planned and executed their marketing, and what has gone into debuting and maintaining Winds of Samsara’s Billboard chart status over the past weeks and months. I also wanted to know what kind of promotional team they have behind them (distributor, PR, etc.)
Stevie and I have been honored to be asked to help judge the last two annual Hard Rock Rising Global Battle of the Bands here in Seattle. In 2014, 10,000 bands entered this international competition, and 750 bands subsequently participated in live battles around the world at Hard Rock Cafes from Dublin, Ireland to Atlanta, Georgia. One winner went on to score an all-expense trip to Rome, Italy to perform in front of 40,000 fans.
This year, Stevie and I were asked to be two of the four judges in the finalist round here at the Seattle Hard Rock Cafe. It was very exciting. Even more exciting: this past May, the band which we helped judge to the number one spot in Seattle, a most excellent female-fronted band called Joyfield, went on to beat all the other bands from around the world, and win the entire 2014 global competition!
Brad is not only a fantastic live event MC, his day job is DJ at local Seattle radio station, Click 98.9. Brad is fast-talking, energetic and funny,. He’s also just a really straight-up, honest, friendly guy, AND (it turns out) he also has a lot of insider knowledge to share about radio and the music business.
I thought it would be very cool to interview Brad and see what words of wisdom he might have for indie artists when it comes to radio as well as media and PR in general. I was not disappointed.
I think you will enjoy this interview. Brad has some great advice to share, from how to get on the radio, to how to market yourself as a musician, to the role of social media for indie artists.
I recently participated in a group discussion with Christine Infanger (@norabarnacle) and a few other music industry people about musicians who send automated Direct Messages (DMs) on Twitter when someone follows them.
The result was a light-hearted compilation of all the reasons we all hate it when musicians Direct-Message us. It was posted on the CD Baby DIY Musician Blog, and I thought you might want to read it if you haven’t already. There’s some good advice here!
I cannot restate this enough- Do Not send bot/automated DM's. It's spam, everyone ignores them, & it's annoying. Trust me, musicians.
— Christine Infanger (@norabarnacle) July 29, 2014
It began innocently enough; a tweet was sent which read “I cannot restate this enough- Do Not send bot/automated DM’s. It’s spam, everyone ignores them, & it’s annoying. Trust me, musicians.” From there, an onslaught of musicians and others involved in the industry in various capacities got to retweeting, favoriting, and corresponding.
This innocuous tweet touched on a subject which seems to have been gnawing its way to the top of many pet peeve lists as artists are becoming further removed from personal engagement and replacing it with automated direct messages.
What transpired was a fascinating two day conversation amongst a group of people all very active in the music industry and all very knowledgable about social media and the common sense behind using social media to interact. The conversation then necessitated more than 140 characters and moved to email where the group decided to compile a list of what to do, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do when sending direct messages on Twitter. [Read more here…]
Tis the season for indie album releases (perhaps the Grammy submission timelines are driving some of this).
As some of you know, we recently mastered our second Solveig & Stevie CD, Fire and Other Playthings. Before we release it, of course, I am writing up my promotional plan. In the midst of my best practices research process, it occurred to me, wait…
What about consulting the collective brainpower surrounding me in the virtual online cocktail party that is the Internet of All Things, those brilliant music industry people (some of whom I am now honored to call Friend and many of whom I have met In Real Life over the past several years)?
Then came another Lightbulb Moment: I should compile these tips into a blog post to share with you, my faithful readers!
All of these folks are people I have interacted with on social media or in person in some way or another, so they are real people with real experience in music marketing. Many have written entire books (or at least ebooks) on the subject, which I have downloaded or purchased and read.
The links below are not affiliate links, they’ll just take you to the author’s website or blog. All I ask is that if you do visit my friends, please let them know I sent you.
Don’t forget to read all the way to the end – there are some real gems here. Some are a bit more, ahem, detailed than others. Some are practical lists, and some more philosophical. I didn’t want you to miss anything, so I edited just a bit for obvious redundancies. There are some recurring themes.
[By the way, if you’d prefer this post as a PDF, I am thinking of creating an ebook from this blog post. Let me know in the comments or email me via the contact form to let me know.]
So with no further ado, in no particular order, except as they came in to me, here they are:
I recently came across a young female country artist, Polly Baker. I checked out her music, and her music videos, and it was good catchy stuff – nice. Then, as I am wont to do because I teach social media, I checked out her Twitter profile. Okay… She’s been on Twitter since March, 2012. Wait, wow – 49.3K followers?
I was immediately curious to see how many of Polly’s followers were fake. I ran her Twitter handle through the SocialBakers FakeFollowersCheck tool.
This is a free app you can use to check anyone’s Twitter handle to see how many suspicious, “empty” or inactive followers someone has on Twitter. It’s a pretty reliable indicator of whether someone has bought Twitter followers (I wrote a post about How To Grow Your Twitter Following and explained why buying Twitter followers is a bad idea for musicians).
To my surprise, Polly’s Twitter followers were 97% good. That is an amazing number. 49.3K Twitter authentic followers? In just over two years. Impossible to do organically.
I have friends who have been on Twitter for 6 years or more, and they tell me it was much easier in the beginning to grow a following of tens of thousands in the early days. Now? Not so easy without buying followers, using automation tools, or hiring a social media agency with a college intern to sit and follow people for hours a day.
Now I was intrigued.
Curious to know how Polly got this large authentic Twitter following in such a relatively short time, I emailed her and asked her to share a bit about herself, her social media practices and perhaps also some of her Twitter secrets. She graciously agreed.
Here’s our interview:
In today’s 35 minute episode I talk with my friend, music business consultant, newly published music marketing author, and just a lovely, genuine, and interesting human being, Aaron Bethune (@PlayItLoudMusic).
Aaron and I talk mostly about his new book, Musicpreneur: The Creative Approach To Making Money In Music (you can get a few chapters for free by signing up on the book website).
Eric Alper, Director of Media Relations for eOne Music Canada, has said, “This book might just be all you’ll ever need to read.”
Aaron and I discuss what makes his book different from most of the other music marketing books I’ve read, including:
- Why Aaron started the book with a personal story about the time he came within 200 meters of one of the world’s seven summits, Cerro Aconcagua, and what that has to do with a career in music
- Fan profiling, storytelling, being authentic and how to connect with fans
- The reason 99% of musicians don’t manage to make a living in the music business, and how to be one of the 1% who do
- The biggest obstacle to success for most indie musicians
- Real life examples of how Aaron approached marketing two very different musicians whose music is in the same genre or format
- How to identify possible sponsorship opportunities
I think you will enjoy our conversation as much as I did. Let me know in the comments!
In this week’s 12 1/2 minute episode, I talk about a local resource, Songwriters In Seattle, a group that organizes open mics and songwriting workshops for musicians via Meetup, an often overlooked social media resource. I also discuss a Slideshare presentation by Stan Smith (link below) with helpful tips for musicians trying to get their music and their message out in an online world crowded with competitors.
[If you listen all the way to the end, you’ll also hear my simple trick for figuring out what makes you unique. This is a critical element in defining your story and marketing your music.]
Tomorrow I’ll be attending a Songwriters In Seattle songwriting group. Workshops and songwriting circles are a great way to
- hone your songwriting skills
- network with other musicians, and
- find co-writers.
Co-writing music is a hot subject these days, and very common in music-centric cities like Nashville and LA. This article, Tips For Finding & Creating Successful Co-writes, from the Nashville Songwriters Association website has some good tips about songwriting. I also follow Brent Baxter (@razorbaxter), who has a lot of good songwriting tips and ideas on his blog, Man vs. Row.
Finding your unique story is an important part of your music marketing. The online marketing presentation I reference in this week’s podcast is called 25 Ways To Get Noticed by Stan Smith of Pushing Social. Stan poses some great questions to think about when you are crafting your personal brand as a musician, such as what makes you unique? and what challenges have you overcome?
The three key parts of Stan’s presentation are:
- Defining what makes your story unique
- Delivering your message in a unique way (content and process)
- Being consistently persistent in getting your message out
Listen to the end, and you’ll hear my simple advice for defining what makes your story and your music unique.
Please feel free to leave your feedback on this podcast below, or suggest other resources my readers may find helpful.
In today’s 13 minute podcast, I mention that I will be traveling to Portland, OR this weekend to attend the World Domination Summit 2014, an “unconference” for creative types and internet geeks that was started by Chris Guillebeau, author of a book called The Art of Nonconformity.
The main subject of today’s podcast, however, is women in music. Now, I have written a blog post about the challenges of being a female musician, touring, and having children, but the issue that I wanted to address in this podcast is the intense focus on sex and titillation versus the focus on brains and musical talent that seems to follow female musicians in the press more than male musicians.
For those of you who don’t follow the music press much, Taylor Swift wrote an editorial piece this week in the Wall Street Journal about the future of the music business, and was promptly slapped in the industry press about her naivete. I also read a pretty scathing response from industry insider Loren Weisman on his Facebook page (see below).
Now, I am not here to critique the content of Swift’s piece, but rather the manner in which her opinion piece has been trashed. I think it is part of the undue focus the press has on female artists and their relationships, what they wear, and scandal around them instead of on their music and what they have to say.
Kudos to Taylor Swift and her team (because let’s all acknowledge that she didn’t get where she is by herself) for having something intelligent to say – whether you agree with her assessment of the industry or not. And kudos to all the other female musicians like Amanda Palmer and Sinead O’Connor and Zoe Keating for trying to articulate points about issues that go beyond how much they are wearing or who they are dataing.
What do you think?
The headlines I referred to in the podcast are: