10-Point Social Media Strategy For Bands To Interact Online – Part 1
I previously wrote about how bands were kicking ass at using social media and how your brand or business could take note of it, but what if you’re not an influential rock band and need to find your own social media strategy?
All of us strive for something when it comes to music, whether it’s performing for hundreds of thousands of fans at the year’s biggest festival or playing your heart out to a couple hundred die-hard fans in a small, overheated club in downtown L.A. For now, you’ve got your first album recorded, have your bandmates ready and a ton of gear to play your hearts out in your first gig to a few hundred people. First live performance. Nervous? You should be: you don’t even have a Twitter account yet!
1. Get Social And Interact
Engaging fans using social media is critical for any band; it’s the new MTV. Gone are the days when your band hopes to get play on the local music channel because YouTube is your new video outlet. Radio playback? Last.FM, Pandora, Facebook and word-of-mouth are all your promoters. That doesn’t mean the old school channels are obsolete; they’re just not as effective as they were a decade ago. Getting social will help promote your band through local channels as well as the national (or international) scene. The basics will be needed: Facebook music page, Myspace page (if you’re in to retro social networking), official band Twitter account, YouTube/Vimeo channel, SoundCloud/bandcamp profile, Flickr profile, iTunes/Amazon/Tune Core account (to distribute music) and of course, your very own official website. Sound daunting? Social media may come off as a huge undertaking but it’s more than worth it in the long run. To have a massive social presence, it would be wise to hire an ad agency or independent just to manage it all.
The more social media outlets your band connects to, the easier it is to engage fans and promote new work. It also creates a more intimate experience knowing anyone can send an @reply to get some sort of feedback. In the era of Prince, KISS and Van Halen, such a concept would seem ludicrous and would tear down the veil of mystery that enhanced their image. Today, social media outlets are tearing down the curtains and bringing artists off to the stage right in to the crowd. John Mayer, Pearl Jam, Cold Play, Taylor Swift and even Snoop Dogg have all taken up Twitter and often Tweet about random musings, concert info and music releases.
2. Interact With Your Community
So your band is on every social media outlet known to man and actively engaging fans. You can’t just stop at the occasional fan who leaves a comment on Facebook saying how great your latest single is. Bring them into your band’s community. Social Media should be the tool you use to bring in fans and potential fans to your band’s website. If you’re not sending out that .com or, worse, you don’t have one, this leaves fans sprawling for info across all these outlets you don’t own. If you’re lacking a site for your band, invest in a good website design company to code up something great. Twitter is awesome for sending out updates, Flickr for posting live shots, YouTube for hosting your next video but when your next release drops, are you going to inform everyone through a Facebook status? All of these social networks should tie in to your band’s main website and work together. Create a gallery of live concert shots that streams appropriately tagged content from Flickr; catalog music videos through embedded YouTube and Vimeo videos; add a media player courtesy of Sound Cloud or create a flash equivalent. These networks will bring in fans, allow them to interact with your content and spread it by word of mouth when they leave.
Your website should prominently display concert information and be the “go to” place for ticket info and other offers. When a band announces their new tour, misinformation can spread across blogs and other news outlets, rumored ticket prices often confuse customers. You’ll need to take control of how ticket information is disseminated before other outlets do. Same goes for media distribution. If you don’t have information on your newest release and Amazon is already showing a track listing complete with description while Pitchfork has a scathing review in the works, you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Even if it’s leaked out piece by piece from any of your channels, your website needs to be the go to place for ANY information concerning media distribution. In short, if you created it and I can buy it, it needs to be acknowledged by you in some form. Amazon shouldn’t be the one giving me the only details.
Maintaining a blog adds additional content that goes far beyond what Facebook and Twitter can do. By having a central location that transcends the 140-500 character limit of Twitter and Facebook, you can get in to more details about any aspect of your music or band. Sending out a Tweet saying “New release – September 15th!” then linking it to a blog post with a full track list, release information, retail specials, digital download opportunities and recording information is the icing on your social media strategy. It is key for your website and social media outlets to interact hand-in-hand to bring in fans, engage with them and give them a reference for ANY information on your band. If you’re leaving discography info and a bio to Wikipedia or Facebook and not your website, this will create fragmentation of your band’s image. How Facebook sees you, how Twitter sees you, how Myspace sees you and how your website portrays you should be uniform.
3. Document And Archive Your Content
If your band has been around for a decade or is looking to stick it out in the long run, all of your content, whether it be photos, music, live shows, anything needs to documented in some way. You can loosen the reigns and let fans have some control of this. This might sound contradictory to the hardline stance of taking command of every social media account you can get but this approach has worked. I mentioned in my previous post how Nine Inch Nails is innovating in the social media space and that they’ve been one to let fans have a significant place in their online presence, one of them being a fan run wiki dedicated to archiving the band’s concert dates, live recordings and information hard core fans would be interested in. The reason this works is that it’s maintained by truly passionate fans. The casual fan may not care about finding an obscure live recording or information on an ultra-rare release that only had 400 copies put out but there are people who do. These people will be dedicated to maintaining wikis and live recording catalogs online, they should be embraced as they are an essential part of shaping your band’s community. Other fan run sites should be credited in some way on your band’s website and receive some interaction on your end.
Bands such as The Grateful Dead (or simply “The Dead”) have garnered a massive following of fans that actively tape and distribute their live recordings online. While others have taken stricter stances on concert recordings, it’s still an area that needs to be acknowledged whether it’s shunned or embraced. Even if you ignore the taping community and try to instate restrictions, fans will always find a way to circumvent these bonds and sites that embrace the tradition of taping will flourish. While I can’t say which approach you should take in regards to this, you should at least do something about it. If you’re not willing to host or extensively catalog live material, at least let the fans take over in this area and assist when you can. Bands such as Metallica and Dave Matthews Band not only embrace live recordings, but monetize them through officially run websites that allow you to download any recorded performance in lossless form for the cost of an average CD.
4. Interact With Your Channels
You have your social media accounts set up, your website running and eager fans listening to your latest release. The next thing is to utilize your social channels. Fans are always looking for the latest information on their favorite bands; they’ll search through social channels and it’s very important to keep these organized and give them a definitive purpose. Keep all video content contained to one channel on YouTube/Vimeo and create playlists for music videos, interviews, fan interactions, teasers and trailers etc. Your Flickr account should be organized the same way; sets for live shots, album artwork, promotional images, original artwork, etc. When using Twitter you have more wiggle room. You will need an official account for your band to send out updates such as ticket info or other important tidbits. Individual members could have their own Twitter account but that is an optional decision. If you decide to go down that road, make sure each account is properly identified and differentiated from the official band feed. The same goes for Facebook: ensure each member’s profile (fan page or personal) is differentiated from the band’s page.
5. Use Tune Core
If you’re looking to expand how your music is consumed, you’ll want to set up an account at Tune Core, a company that handles online distribution of music through a variety of outlets. Tune Core does the one thing every band needs a record label to do: getting music out to the masses. Tune Core deals with the most popular online services such as iTunes, Amazon MP3, Myspace music, Zune Network, Emusic and a bevy of other online retailers. The upside to using Tune Core is its ease of use and affordable rates, something the modern day record label giant can no longer claim. While mainly used by smaller independent artists, Tune Core’s repertoire includes notables such as Zack Gross, Aretha Franklin and Trent Reznor (see the social media pattern?).
This concludes part 1 of the 10-point strategy your band should be using to promote themselves online. Part 2 will be coming shortly but in the mean time, tell us YOUR experience in using social media with your band.