With more than 800 million active users on Facebook according to Facebook’s statistics, and Twitter just recently passing the 300 million mark according to independent watchers, it is clear that Social Media is here to stay. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and even the recent rise of Pinterest, millions of people are engaging daily on social media sites. These social media facts can be especially useful for Musicians looking to gain exposure and take their marketing into their own hands. As the old saying goes, “Go where the people are,” and the people are online! By tweeting daily, updating posts and pictures to Facebook, and uploading original music videos to YouTube, musicians around the globe can effectively market themselves for free.
Other useful social media management sites like Hootsuite can help the music entrepreneur update all their social media statuses in one place, instead of having to login to each site individually, thus creating more time to create music or do other things towards their career. Klout is also a helpful site to track a person’s true social media reach, and every music entrepreneur would be wise to sign up on these sites to effectively track and manage their Social Media pages.
One of the best ways for an up-and-coming artist or band learn how to effectively market themselves online is by learning from artists and bands who are successfully maneuvering the social media landscape. Artists like Ingrid Michaelson and The Civil Wars have built their fan base over the last several years by utilizing and connecting with their fans online. By maintaining consistent marketing and branding through their websites, social media pages, and blogs, both bands they have grown their fan bases considerably. See slideshow below for examples.
However, looking at these two famous bands, as well as the numerous other famous acts that have their own marketing teams, booking agencies, and labels helping do all their work, can be very intimidating for a musician running all their own booking, marketing, and every other music related thing. Although a musician or band may be completely DIY, they can still have hope to market and brand themselves alone by using successful musicians as examples and guides on how to market successfully online.
Kurt Hunter is an excellent example of a truly independent singer/songwriter who has garnered a lot of success on his own by being smart and savvy with Social Media Marketing. Kurt Hunter is a singer/songwriter based out of Orange County, CA that has been pursuing his music career and marketing himself since 2003. Kurt has his own cool vibe with sounds reminiscent of Jason Mraz and Train. From booking his own gigs, sailing around the world performing on a cruise ship, and even garnering Film and TV placements with his original songs, Kurt is a true DIY musician.
Tiana: How long have you been promoting yourself as a singer/songwriter?
Kurt: I’ve been at it since I first uploaded my songs that I recorded myself up on myspace.com, which I guess was around 2003.
Tiana: How often do you use Social Media to promote yourself?
Kurt: Every day! Sometimes I use Social Media twice a day on multiple sites.
Tiana: What social media site (s) do you use the most and what do you like about it?
Kurt: I use Facebook (of course) most often, and YouTube second most. I also use Jango.com every day too, but that one’s automatic. I use twitter too, in conjunction with Facebook.
Tiana: Is there a social media site that is confusing or not as useful to you at this moment?
Kurt: I have a Google plus site that I don’t think I ever use, and I’m not sure what Pinterest is yet.
Tiana: Have you garnered any specific success because of social media (a certain gig, press, etc.)?
Kurt: I definitely have made a lot of new fans though Jango.com, which is a sort of pay to play Internet radio station. I’ve seen my digital album sales go way up every month. I have to assume that it’s related at least on a small scale. Also, YouTube has been great exposure as well. I definitely am making new fans everyday. I actually landed a gig on a cruise ship for four months because of the Esurance thing. The guy who was answering my emails said it was a big favorite commercial of his.
Tiana: Would you consider telling people how you got your Esurance gig and anything you learned from that and/or any other success stories from social media!
Kurt: The Esurance came about because I actually read the email I got from Esurance about the contest they were having, instead of pushing it in the delete pile. I happened to be the only entrant that wrote a song for the contest, so it made me stand out. I think only a few hundred entered, so it was good odds! I think I was successful, because I had a good product, and there wasn’t a huge hoopla over the competition. I made sure that my jingle was only 30 seconds, so if they picked it, it would be easy to make into a commercial. I did use social media (Facebook, MySpace) to get the word out for voting though, which I think made a big difference too.
Tiana: Any other info you’d like to share that you find interesting/helpful to others?
Kurt: I’ve found that non-exclusive licensing sites like www.pumpaudio.com, and jinglepunks.com, are great for getting music on television shows, movies, and other great opportunities, plus, it never hurts to garner some extra cash. I know my song Bright Stars would not be my top download on iTunes without jinglepunks.com. I’ve gotten a lot of placements by also uploading my instrumentals to these sites too. They always need background music for shows. It’s awesome to hear my music on shows that people are watching all around the world.
Another successful DIY singer/songwriter who has used Social Media outlets to book her own international tours, perform at Sundance Film Festival, and connect with her fans daily is Melinda Ortner.
Melinda shares her view of Social Media: “Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are the big ones that are fantastic for outreach. They’ve replaced my monthly newsletters, by accident really. I think it’s allowed for a less intrusive and less cumbersome way to notify fans and potential fans of my shows, releases, and news. It’s also a more consistent way to keep them intrigued on my daily epiphanies or stream of conscience without being an additional burden to their inbox collection.”
While on a European tour in Fall 2011, Melinda explained that “social media was not only vital for getting the word out about my tour dates but essential in keeping my US fans and family up to date while I was always limited on time to send personal emails or make calls. It’s so easy and it still amazes me that I’m able to connect so easily all over the world.” Melinda was also able to garner more than 45 thousand views from her music video for her song “Heartbeats” just by uploading it to YouTube, resulting in placements of her song on Film creating song royalties for her.
Social Media is an essential element to all musicians actively pursuing a music career, and not just for bands and artists. All kinds of music business entrepreneurs can use social media to increase their business and clientele. Ken Caillat, best known as a producer for Fleetwood Mac and his daughter Colbie Caillat, shared that he uses social media to promote his business and products. Ken Caillat recently released his new book, “Making Rumours- The Inside Story of the Classic Fleetwood Mac Album.” Caillat confessed, “I’m using old fashioned PR combined with social media. I wish there were teams of kids who could be hired to do mass SM.” Although Caillat may prefer old fashioned PR he still sees the importance in New Media and uses Social Media daily, particularly Facebook, as a way of promotion for his new book and his production business. Check out the video below for ideas and ways that musicians can use their “old school” media outlets like radio and TV performances to connect with new fans through social media!
From connecting with fans, promoting a new book, or announcing tour dates, Social Media is a unique and essential way for music entrepreneurs to promote their brand online. The Social Media landscape is always growing, and can be confusing or daunting for any entrepreneur. However, there are a lot of online tools, articles, and books available to guide musicians on their quest of Social Media awesomeness. Below are some links to helpful articles on growing a musician’s online fan base through Social Media.
In closing, it is important to remember that people still relate to music through an emotional connection. That is something that no kind of media can ever change. First, musicians should make great music that they are sincere about, and then they should utilize social media marketing to help them along on world and online domination.
*I’d love to hear what you think, and if you have any questions please use my contact page and email me! Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.
Special Thanks to my Interviewees:
The Social Media Bible by Lon Safko
Pay With A Tweet- Charge your Fans a Tweet for a new song- Awesome Idea!
How to Develop a Social Media Plan- by Mashable
- Musicians and Social Media (tianastarblog.com)
- Why your business should be interested in Pinterest (marketing.yell.com)