Over the last 20 years, nearly everything about the world has changed dramatically. The Internet, smartphones, social media and other technologies have shaped the modern world into a Digital Age and this has changed everything about the way humans interact, learn, communicate and do business. Like technology, music is one of the rare fields that is defined by constant change, but even musicians have had to make some dramatic changes over the last few years.
The Business Has Changed
When it comes to the music business, social media has had a bigger impact on the industry than anything since the invention of the CD player. The way that social media has shaped our culture and music has had a number of obvious benefits for musicians, potentially allowing them to reach a wider audience than ever before in a matter of seconds. Especially for new bands and musicians, social media is a godsend, allowing them to bypass past expensive marketing strategies and directly reach out to millions of potential fans.
Of course, not all of the changes brought on by social media have been good for musicians. Although bands and artists are able to reach a wider fan base and achieve popularity more quickly, it is now more difficult to actually make a living off of their music.
Once upon a time, musicians made the bulk of their income from record sales, but total worldwide CD sales have dropped from $9.4 billion in 2006 to only $1.5 billion in 2015. With the growing popularity of streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and others, sales from digital downloads have also dropped dramatically in the last couple of years.
While most musicians do not like to dwell on the business aspect of it all, you can only get by for so long with small venue ticket sales and $20 t-shirts. At some point, any person who hopes to make a living in music has to accept that it is a business and begin to seriously analyze this element of the game. And if they have not realized it already, it is at this point that musicians will realize the importance of embracing digital services and marketing.
Social Media and Music
Of all the digital marketing possibilities for new and/or independent musicians, none are more beneficial, effective and crucial than social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other traditional social media sites allow musicians to communicate directly and build relationships with fans, and music-specific sites like SoundCloud and MySpace provide a platform and helpful tools for musical marketing.
Aside from the direct contact with fans and other obvious benefits of these sites, smart musicians will learn how to specifically tailor social media marketing campaigns to gain popularity. This will require some marketing knowledge, a lot of detailed planning, a decent amount of effort and a willingness to market yourself and/or your band as a business. This does not mean blatant self-promotion (in fact, musicians should use obvious self-promotion techniques very sparingly), but it must be understood that this is a way of making a living.
Using Social Media Effectively
Musicians should be subtle and clever with their social media posts and marketing efforts. Special events, exclusive content, links to different artists and other elements will need to be combined to create an overall strategy. Lately, one of the more popular techniques is the “secret show” where bands will release information about an event only on certain social media platforms, giving fans the feel of exclusivity. Even when musicians and artists like Ty Segall shun social media, they cannot stop the promotional effects of these techniques, like when this Ty Segall live video at The Griffin show was captured by Janky Smooth. Sorry Ty! This shows a great example of how effective this technique can be even if not used personally.
It will always be important to remember that even though this involves promotion and marketing, your social media posts, comments and interactions should always be designed to build strong relationships with fans, first and foremost. Keeping this in mind may be the most effective technique of them all.