Social Media Marketing for Musicians: Let’s Build a Fanbase! (Updated)
Nice! You’ve gotten a few tracks released and now you’re ready to promote them.
You’ve created a Soundcloud, a Twitter, and even a Facebook page and now all you need is an audience.
With the insane amount of new music being promoted on social media every single day, how do you stand out?
The last thing you want to look like is the cliche broke rapper trying to promote your mixtape by spamming their followers.
Today, we’ll be talking all about cutting through the noise and what it takes to build a real, authentic following via social media.
A Note To Beginner Musicians
It's important to say that you shouldn't worry about marketing your music if you are still a complete beginner. Improving your craft is a much better use of your time at this point
If you are at the point where you are creating music that you are quite proud of improving your music marketing skills could be very valuable.
Why “shortcuts” don’t work
I’ve run into many quick ways to get followers and I'm sure you've been tempted by them before too.
As a beginner, I once fell into the trap of only caring about follower numbers - Even though most of the "followers" weren't true fans are were just barely-active accounts.
After reading the book, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk, my whole perspective of how to effectively use social media for business purposes changed.
Stop looking at your follower count.
Let’s say you have 100 fans. These fans are super engaged with everything you do. You spent a while getting just to get up to that number. It involved having conversations with them and helping them out over a period of time, building a strong relation.
Let’s say your friend has 10,000 fans. He took the "fastlane" to get them by consistantly using spammy tactics such as mass following and auto-liking.
You take a look at his or her page and guess what...They get less engagement than you! He has a beefy number of fans, but none of those "fans" are truly fans. So, what's the point of that big number?
Obviously your 100 fans are a lot more valuable than his 10,000 in this situation.
The #1 spam method I disagree with:
Many artists on Twitter do what is called the follow/unfollow method. They basically find a famous artist with 10s of thousands, all the way up to millions, of followers and they follow a few hundred of the famous artist’s followers. After that, they cross their fingers that they receive a follow back.
Then, the next day they unfollow all the people who haven’t followed them back.
I used to love this method and it gave great numbers, but the problem was few of the people that followed you back actually engaged with your content.
I recently came across a user who has 100k followers and is also following 90k people. It’s clear that he was using this method. I took a look at their tweets and noticed that they had no engagement. Every once in a while they would get a retweet or a like, but that was it. On the other hand, I have noticed many people with only a few thousand followers, that build their following organically, who get a crazy amount of engagement.
The moral of this story? Stick with building your following organically. You won't have the sexy numbers that spammers in as short a period of time, but you will have a fanbase that cares about you.
What strategies are at your disposal?
Twitter is one of the best platforms for getting organic discovery.
I’ve already gone over ways that you SHOULDN’T use Twitter to promote your music, so here are some ways you should.
Spammers on Twitter never engage in other users’ content. For this reason, there is tremendous opportunity for you to get some new followers.
Go to Search.Twitter.com and search terms that are related to what you do.
For example, if you’re a Tropical House producer, search “Tropical House”, if you make Trap, search “Trap” or “Trap Music”.
Now, when searching genres you’ll find plenty of music publications and artists posting songs. We can use search operators to filter out links.
Make sure to also click the “Live” link and not the “Top” link when using this method!
If you were a Tropical House producer, you could search “Tropical House -http -www -.com -.ly“.
Adding a minus is how you tell Twitter to not include any tweets that have those certain words. I added “-.ly” because I noticed some Bit.ly links that slipped past the filter. This solved it.
Now you’ll finally experience Twitter for what it was made for. Joining conversations with people from around the world.
Start responding authentically to what others are saying. Don’t get impatient and say something like “Enjoy Tropical House? Check out my Soundcloud!” Of course, you can share your music with them down the road, but first start up a conversation with them.
The best analogy I have heard about Twitter is that it is like a giant cocktail party. You’re not going to initiate a conversion by blasting your brand in their face; you’re going to start off with talking about something more relevant.
Tip: Don’t limit yourself to genre-based searches.
You’ll find that a lot of the people interested in your music will be fellow producers.
You can always try to help out newcomer artists. They will always come back to your music for inspiration and will be happy to share what you create.
Some music-production/musician related search terms are:
- “Music Production”
- “#Ableton” (or whatever DAW you’re experienced in)
Tip: Using Twitter to find artists who need help
On Search.Twitter.com, click the advanced search link.
Input the search term just like we would otherwise.
Now click on the question button.
You’ll be able to find people that are looking for a solution! So many people ask questions on Twitter only to sadly get no response. You can be their hero by helping them out.
It also helps to set the language to your native language to avoid a lot of unnecessary Tweets.
Summary of Twitter:
This platform alone is very powerful (and my favorite one out there!) I recommend any musician to take time and engage on this platform. Help other users out and you’ll have a great time building up a following.
Remember, the size of your follower count means nothing when you get no interaction.
Facebook is the largest website on planet earth so it’s hard to ignore.
Having a Facebook page used to be a lot easier to get interaction.
A while ago, Facebook needed a solution to display relevant content to its users.
When you create a post on your Facebook page, not everyone will receive it on their timelines. That is because Facebook deployed an algorithm that displays everyone their own content based pages they most interact with.
In other words, if your content is getting likes, shares, and comments, it will be displayed most often to the people that are liking, sharing, and commenting.
Facebook is nothing like Twitter where you can easily get followers(likes) within the platform.
Here are your options for getting likes:
- Cross promotion
- Facebook ads
- Facebook groups
By this I mean asking people to like your page on other platforms such as your website and Twitter.
For a few dollars a day, you can get some pretty good results. I recommend doing some research on creating effective Facebook ads before jumping into this.
There are a lot of groups created in similar topics towards what you do. You’ll find a lot of music-sharing groups as well as music production and music composition groups.
In these groups, of course I wouldn’t recommend blasting your links. Try to actually join the conversation (just as you would with Twitter) and more subtly ask people to check out your music.
Video: Facebook Marketing Strategies by Jerry Banfield
If you have 53 minutes and 56 seconds to spare, definitely check out Jerry’s tutorial on marketing with Facebook.
There’s a lot of great tips in it. He talks about his course in it, which is probably high value, but he already provides so much on his Youtube channel for free.
I love Soundcloud for the reason that people come to it to hear music. There’s not much else you can do on Soundcloud besides listening to music, and yet it still maintains a rather large user-base.
Soundcloud is similar to Facebook where it is hard to gain a following organically within the platform.
I recommend cross-promotion (as discussed in the Facebook section) to build up your following.
Another strategy you can use is messaging popular accounts to ask if you can get your music featured on their Soundcloud account. There are many music curation accounts on Soundcloud. Make sure to look carefully before sending a message. They could have specific music submission guidelines.
You could either direct message them on Soundcloud or try to find their email/contact-page on their website and hit them up!
Some tips for promoting music on Soundcloud are:
- Don’t repost songs. It tends to cloud up your profile feed.
- When releasing an album, post songs separately on separate days. A bit later you can add all of those songs to a playlist and it will bring them to the very top of your feed(more traffic to your older songs :D)
- Promote your Soundcloud through other social networks
All-in-all, Soundcloud is a great place to park your music. They have a nice integration with Beatport. If you are selling tunes, you can treat Soundcloud almost like an e-commerce shop.
Instagram is insane when it comes to organic reach.
I’m not going to talk too much about Instagram here, but here are the main steps to getting more exposure to your images:
- Post a nice-looking image/video
- Comment on your own image with 5–30 relevant hashtags.
- Wait about 2–5 minutes and watch the likes/comments/followers roll in.
I’d say this strategy is borderline gray-hat, but it seems to work really nicely. I might change my mind about this strategy a few months to 1 year from now, but for now I think it’s a great way to get exposure without really spamming.
UPDATE: Instagram has had a lot of algorithm and hashtag related updates. This strategy does not work as well as it used to. I will update this post with better Instagram tips when I decide to invest more time into Instagram promotion.
Whether you use Snapchat for your music or not, it’s a huge platform that is only getting larger.
You can only get followers via cross-promotion on your other networks/website.
The engagement rate is really high here, allowing you to quickly connect with your fans.
UPDATE: Snapchat is still very popular and a great platform, however they have made their users a bit angry with an update. With Instagram adopting Snapchat's main features, there are a lot of people jumping ship to Instagram.
Do I even need to mention how powerful YouTube is?
Many people have built businesses that solely depend on Youtube. Producers such as BoyInABand, Andrew Huang, SeamlessR, and SadowickProduction have built massive audiences by doing what they love.
Below are some ideas to utilize YouTube as a musician:
Remix music or create covers
A great way to get more views to your videos is to do remixes or covers of songs. You could do a bit of niche marketing here by looking for songs that don’t have a lot of competing remixes/covers. If the first results for “(song name) remix” or “(song name) cover” are terrible, or you think you could do a better job, go for it!
Are you a DJ? Make a mix!
Mixes are extremely popular on YouTube. If you are a DJ, it couldn’t hurt to make mixes that target a specific genre/sub-genre or vibe. Combine some of your own music in that mix!
Forums are not dead. When it comes with music marketing, forums are best for getting track feedback.
Forums like Future Producers and IDM Forums have a track feedback section for you to post your latest creations.
There are various subreddits as well that typically have weekly "What are you working on?" and "remix competition" threads as well. r/EDMProduction, r/WeAreTheMusicMakers, and r/MakingHipHop are the biggest I know.
Using forums will help you meet musicians that make a similar kind of music. You’ll be able to get tips, do collaborations, and perhaps get heard by another musician’s audience.
How often should you post?
Based on my experience and what other pros in the social arena are saying, here are some estimates of how much you should post for Facebook and Twitter:
- Facebook Page - 1–2 times a day
- Twitter - As much as possible (at least 3 a day)
- Instagram - Same as twitter unless you post very high-effort artistic posts.
Of course it can take a lot of your time to post this much. For this reason, I’d recommend a tool like Buffer, which allows you to schedule posts. There is a free plan available.
A Final Tip: Owning The Platform
Create a website and start building an email list.
Creating a Newsletter will allow you to have a direct line of communication with your fans. Imagine finishing a new song and being able to send that out to your 100 fans and be able to get instant feedback.
With a free tool such as MailChimp, you can build an email list. It will allow you to create an HTML email form that you can quickly add to your site.
Using an email list, you can inform your fans about album releases, places you'll be performing, merch that you create, and much more. When done correctly, email lists are extremely powerful (and profitable).
Remember that it’s important to focus on a few social networks when starting out.
It can easily get overwhelming if you go too crazy and sign up for 10+ networks.
I hope you have enjoyed this article!
Make sure to share it to show your support!
Thank you for reading.