“Any old Monkey can use social media to tell people about their next gig”
We were invited to speak at a ‘Music and Media’ conference this weekend in central London, hosted by Step FWD. It was a great event, with a lot of discussion around how up-and-coming and established independent artists can use media tools to market their music and develop their careers – we’ve summarised a few of the thoughts we shared.
SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL SHMEDIA
We’re in an unprecedented age – the Internet, social media and a 24-hour (if not significantly shorter) news cycle have all changed the flow of information on a global scale. Artists can now directly, personally and instantly interact with their fans, irrelevant of proximity. Fans from the US, Australia, South America and Europe can all stumble across new music from anywhere and then immediately engage with the artist directly through social media – often a real two-way avenue of communication.
The downside to this level of fan/artist interaction is it’s available to all. There’s a tsunami of artists online shouting about their music, their latest video or gig and if you don’t stand out you’ll just be washed away. Any old monkey can use social media to tell people about their next gig, but how can you do it in a way your fans won’t forget? Or even people who aren’t your fans (yet)? Ploughing your creative energy into how you come across online is key.
USE YOUR CREATIVITY
Artists nowadays have to be their own manager, PR consultant, tour manager, booking agent, distributor…the list goes on. A well-rounded and business-minded approach to making and marketing your music is vital. Using your own in-built creativity to approach how you present your product, music and gigs online gives prospective fans a cohesive thread between you, your music and your marketing. It makes you stand out. How can you tailor your campaigns to stick out from everyone else’s? What has no one done before?
Have you thought about giving away physical products or merchandise for free? Could you run a competition – “Win a day shadowing our band!” or “I’ll give you a private gig AND cook you dinner?”- be as inventive as you can, and use your creative skill. Consumers love a freebie, and the marketing benefit can often far outweigh the loss of income. If you find things that cost you little to give away but can make someone a fan for life you’re laughing. Think outside the box, then outside that again; everyone’s trying to think outside the box already, so try to ‘out-think’ beyond even that.
CUT OUT THE MIDDLE MAN
Thinking about getting a PR agent? Or radio plugger? Why? No one knows your music better than you. No one is more passionate about your product than you. No one can sell your music like you. Why not cut out these middle men and go direct to the sources, particularly to avoid having to fork over a wedge of cash or your kidney. Make direct connections with radio DJs – local BBC Introducing stations in the UK are a great place to start. There’re radio stations of all sizes that you can connect with; some may be online only, but they all have reach, they all have an audience and they’re all looking for music to pass on to these audiences. It’s the same with online blogs and print media: making connections in these realms and building personal relationships direct with outlets will help you no end in promoting your career. Make sure the way you send your music is the simplest possible – mp3s attached to emails or a private Soundcloud link are best.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
YouTube is the world’s biggest music discovery platform (though this may be on the change with the growth of streaming – music, for the first time, overtook video content in America this week). In short, if you release music and want people to find it you need to accompany it with some form of video. Lyric videos are the simplest, though some of the best actual videos out there use the simplest concepts. The quality of the iPhone camera and ease of free video editing software means producing video content is incredibly accessible. Even just a still image with the audio playing behind (branded “Official Audio”) is better than nothing. Why not give it a go, and again let your imagination run wild?
It’s also worthwhile investigating an official VEVO channel – a relatively straightforward process (see links below) that synchronises your video across several different platforms aside from YouTube and gives you a ‘yourartistnameVEVO’ channel on YouTube (a great official-looking stamp of approval). Even if you don’t feel official or legit it’s amazing what effect it has just looking like you are. It’s the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ mentality.
IT’S ALL ABOUT DEVELOPMENT
Consistency, regular updates and syncing across all your platforms are key. You’re trying to build a brand: something that’s memorable, accessible and engages your current fanbase as well as inviting in new fans. If you keep going, keep building and keep a consistent tone/feel you can even develop “super fans”. Think about Apple for example: anyone who owns a Mac product waxes lyrical about how brilliant it is, doing Apple’s marketing for them! Apple have built such a strong brand it now develops and protects itself. Few artists have managed it but with some creative thinking – and a carefully thought through, cohesive strategy of engagement – you could too.
LINKS TO GET ON VEVO
Know how I found these? Just Googled “get on vevo”. Easy.