We are witnessing a golden age for independent musicians. The industry had historically been directed by record labels; putting the careers of musicians and songwriters at the mercy of massive, soulless entities. Artists are now able to make their music directly available to the public, putting the power in the hands of fans rather than companies.
This can mean fabulous opportunities for aspiring musicians, but it also means a greater saturation of the market. There are countless online venues for fans to hear and purchase music, but when the listener has so much to choose from, how do you make yours stand out? Knowing which sites to use and how to make the most of them is the secret to success in the ever-growing online marketplace.
First let’s address the Big Four.
Facebook – If you haven’t already, you need to sign up to create your personal profile and musician fan page. It’s free and relatively easy to do. Facebook has over 400 million users worldwide, spending more than 500 billion minutes on Facebook per month. Pretty impressive. The site gives you the ability to get your music and your name out to the entirety of this broad-ranging audience. You can also inform your fans of upcoming shows and releases, interact with them on an individual basis, and offer them exclusive content. Facebook is also easily integrated with other social media sites. If you are looking for free and easy sources of online exposure, Facebook is one of the first places to look.
MySpace – Although Facebook has overtaken MySpace as the number one social networking site; MySpace is still a great resource for musicians. You can make your music readily accessible to anyone online by setting up a Music Profile and uploading your tracks directly through their music player. You can easily customize your profile, and gather a large fan base, as well as network with other musicians. MySpace also offers a handy Tour Calendar to show your fans where and when you’ll be playing, and how they can purchase tickets online.
Twitter – Another free online resource, Twitter is a type of microblogging tool mixed with a social networking site. Fans who are interested in getting your latest news can become your follower on Twitter. It allows you to send updates, called “tweets”, to your followers, using posts of 140 characters. You can connect to your fans by letting them know tidbits about your personal life, or give them information on events.
YouTube – A public bank of user-submitted videos. Using simple software, such as Windows Movie Maker, you can create your own music video using your tracks and images of your choosing. Create something kitschy or unique, and it could go viral literally overnight.
These guys are massively influential tools that, once mastered, can prove to be successful in helping you to promote yourself. As an artist/musician/songwriter, you may be looking for more ways for your music to be heard. There is an ever growing number of resources available to the independent musician; here are 5 tools for the independent musician from Mashable, an online blog specializing in social media.
Going back to the beginning of this article, you may be wondering, with over 400 million users on Facebook, how am I ever going to get my page noticed? While it can be overwhelming with a lot of clutter and white noise, the fans you’ll need to be successful heavily use these tools.
First of all you need to make sure you have a recognizable and eye catching profile photo, up to date contact information, a way for fans to hear your music, links to your other social media profiles as well as a link to your band/artist website.
Staying active and fresh is huge. If you aren’t posting on a regular basis, you won’t register on your fans radar. You need to be posting fresh content at least once a day to keep followers engaged. Be mindful to keep your posts concise and to the point, but at the same time eye-catching, interesting, and useful. Fans love to hear about exciting news, events and activities.
In blogger and social media PR extraordinaire Miss Destructo’s post about using social media to your advantage, a key focus is offering content that is only accessible if users become a fan or follow you via social networking sites. This could be the location of a secret show, a downloadable new track or special remix, web chat or online stream of a live performance. You could also give fans incentives such as discounts when purchasing tracks or your latest CD.
Keeping your fans engaged is vital to successfully utilizing social media. It can help them find you and your music without having to go through a long-armed label with a highly targeted audience. It takes a little bit of effort and upkeep, but if you stay diligent and active, you can make social media, and your fans, work for you.