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How musicians can use social networks effectively

on September 12, 2011

Too many people look at social networks as just a marketing arm rather than a true way to connect with their fans and super users. The other problem of using social networks inefficiently. At the SFMusicTech conference, I attended a session entitled “Effectively using social networks” that was led by a panel of musicians who’ve become very successful utilizing social media.

On the panel were:

  • J Sider – RootMusic (moderator)
  • Jack Conte – Pomplamoose
  • Zoe Keating – Cellist and composer
  • Lincoln Parish – Cage the Elephant

Here are some of the items that came up during the discussion:

  • It’s not about growing your fan base, it’s about getting in touch with them and creating new communications to keep them interested and coming back.
  • Be yourself to as many people as possible.
  • You need to come up with a strategy for people to find you. Jack Conte realized he could increase visibility for his band through cover songs. They saw another musician get more listens to their Beatles cover than the Beatles did of the original on YouTube. That helps with visibility in addition to YouTube’s recommendation engine. If someone watched Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” a recommendation for Pomplamoose’s version will pop up.
  • Your audience won’t be interested if they think your managers are doing the posting for you.
  • If you want to have a more active social media presence then you have to have a more active social media presence. Conte discovered the more time he just spent on YouTube the more opportunities he found. He threw himself into the service that eventually built the success of his band.
  • People fear that making your music free will make it less purchasable. Conte’s videos have become not only advertising for his audio tracks but also content in itself.
  • You can create value now and worry about conversion later. It can be hard to convert in social media. You can focus on building the brand now and you can worry about monetizing down the road.
  • The Facebook conversion rate is much better than Twitter.
  • Soundcloud gives you stats on where people are listening to your music. Can be valuable to determine where to extend your efforts and also where to tour next.
  • On YouTube you can see ages of people who watch your videos. Conte saw that in California the majority of fans are under 21 so that information lets him know that when he books a gig in California it should be at an all ages club.
  • The days of the $.99 song is going away, but what’s not going away is people’s need for music. There will be a new way to convert listeners and generate revenue from them.
  • You need to be OK and happy with the fact that more people listen to your music than purchase it. Ultimately, that distribution will help you.
  • “Go ahead and illegally download our album. I’m not going to see any money from it anyway,” Lincoln Parish said.
  • Tiered pricing really works to get the most money out of your super fans.

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