The music industry seems to have a love-hate relationship with the digital world and especially social media.
While artists can be connected to their fans in a way they couldn’t have dreamed of before, social platforms also bring challenges of 24-7 connectedness and dealing with negative posts. Therefore many artists rely on their management team, label or agency to post on their behalf, rather than engage themselves.
Successful relationships by their very nature are two-way. However, on social platforms it’s really easy to broadcast to audiences and also to build up irrelevant fans and followers just to boost numbers, sadly these can even be bought.
Social audiences are also expecting to be connecting with the artist themselves, not just a paid employee. Neil Finn singer, songwriter and founding member of Crowded House, is a great role-model on social media for artists, tweeting himself, following and engaging with fans on the twitter.
So how can an artist successfully further build relationships and business through social media?
Over two years ago I spoke at Darker Music Talks about Social Business Models in Music and the importance of connecting, being social and engaging with and rewarding fans.
One example of this, is a model where artists are looking at “free” as a way of connecting with fans and potential fans. By offering free downloads, on platforms such and noisetrade, fans provide a valid email address or social connection in return for a download e.g. live tracks, demos or older material.
As part of that artist’s community, fans have first insight into tour dates, CD or vinyl releases and other merchandise i.e. things you have to pay for, via social posts and email updates.
But the relationship doesn’t stop at the download for connection stage. How does an artist engage and build relationship with their social communities?
Too many artist accounts broadcast and never engage with their social media audiences. While many of these may have large fan or follower numbers, relationship isn’t being built to any depth. A lot of artists revert to broadcast because of lack of time or fear of negativity.
Like Neil Finn, some artists are learning to listen to their social audiences and engage with them. From James Blunt’s hard and comic comeback on twitter, mainly to haters to those looking to co-create and collaborate with their audiences.
Boston-based indie band Guster show no fear in engaging with their social media audiences. I really loved what they did during their recent autumn 2015 tour, where one of their fans’ slightly negative tweets about who’s at the Guster gig was turned into a bumper sticker by the band.
Beyond the bumper sticker, artists have embraced their social audiences for crowdsourcing videos to accompany their songs, creating album artwork and even new remixes for tracks.
Socially-aware artists have looked to further evelop their relationships with their fans by embracing new platforms and new features.
2015 has seen widespread use of live streaming apps such as Meerkat, Periscope and Blab and artists have been quick to realise the potential of these in connecting and engaging with fans.
US singer/songwriter Matt Wertz was one of the first musicians to experiement with live streaming app Periscope, hosting a live Q&A session and demoing new songs to fans.
Social media and its continuing development and innovation offers a huge opportunity for artists to get closer to their fans. If you’re a music artist, how have you used social media and what success have you had?
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