Social Media Marketing For Independent Music Bands & Artists

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications,Exhortations And Musings,Music Business

I once unfollowed a lady on Twitter because she tweeted every song she listened to on the radio — day in, day out. She cluttered my Twitter timeline for an hour or two at a time whenever, presumably, she was listening to tunes. Don’t be that girl. That’s Rule #1.

Read my Social Media Marketing For Churches” post. The same points – Keep It Simple and Keep It Real – apply. There’s Rules #2-3.

Now here are some other points to consider if you are a singer-songwriter, musician or band looking for tips on social media marketing.

Go easy on the marketing, heavy on the social.
Like I wrote in Social Media Tips For Churches, it’s social media, not broadcast media. Sometimes artists join Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or another service and go haywire with posts like:

Buy my new album — it’s got the greatest songs ever!

Several times a day, for weeks, oblivious to the fact that their follower count is shrinking and that less and less people are clicking the link each time.

Then some artists swing to the other side, refusing to act like artists. They just post random quips and food photos.

If someone buys your album, loves the songs, comes to a show and starts following you on social media networks, you should assume she wants to know when you’ve released a new project, when you’re going on tour, when you’re back in the studio, when a magazine or website has given you a great review, when you’ve written a new song that you’re pleased with … you get the picture.

So while you shouldn’t spam everyone’s Timelines and Walls with your sales pitch, also don’t use your influence to do nothing but tell the world what you ate for breakfast and what your three-year old shouted at the restaurant. Tell us about your creative work in moderation. Tell us about your cute three-year old and your tiramisu pancakes in moderation.

Other subjects to write/tweet about:

  • Converse with people. The promise of social media is interaction. You can chat with fans of your music, and then others in your network and their network can see it.
  • Retweet or “Like” helpful comments. It isn’t just about you. Other people make comments that are wise, witty, humorous, and thought-provoking. Let them see your appreciation, and share the posts with your audience.
  • Become a trusted source at recommending other music. Tell us which bands, songwriters and vocalists inspire you. Share playlists on Spotify. Link to music shows like World Cafe, reviews in Paste Magazine, profiles in Rolling Stone or interviews in Relevant Magazine.
  • Help out other artists – whether bigger, smaller or equal to your fanbase. You probably have friends who are also trying to get their music “out there,” right? Then don’t be stingy — tell your friends and followers about them. Especially when they release a new song, start a new blog or record a new album.

So is it okay to talk about my own records, songs, videos and appearances?
Of course.

For instance, use your iPhone, Flip camera or any basic digital video recorder to record basic “How-to-play” videos of your songs. A lot of your followers are probably also musicians — or at least, they enjoy playing their favorite songs at home. Offer stripped-down acoustic versions of your songs that teach them how to play simplified versions, by themselves. Even many of your listeners who aren’t musicians love “unplugged” performances by their favorite artists, because it feels like you’re sitting on their front porch, singing to them.

And for fun, you can even show people different arrangements of your songs (different tempos or time signatures, for example). Here’s one Kristen did, teaching keyboardists how to play our My Song In The Night on just the piano, utilizing a slow, waltz-time version of the song (to compare, hear the studio version for free in the player to your top-right):

Link to these kinds of videos in your social media pages, and embed them into your blog posts.

You can also write “Story Behind The Song” posts and link to them in Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Not only can you publish your definitive “This is how/why I wrote my song” article, but you can revisit each of your songs time and again, using them as helpful demonstration pieces. Here are a couple ways I’ve used Kristen’s My Song In The Night to explain songwriting techniques:

You can also use your blog, video channel or podcast to tell an interesting story from one of your concerts, band practices, recording sessions or interviews (whether the interview took place on radio, podcast or someone else’s blog).

Note that these are all more interesting, beneficial, insightful and fun than if you just re-tweet compliments or links to favorable music reviews – not that there’s anything wrong with those things (which people often call “The Humblebrag”) as long as you don’t overdo it.

Do I Really Need A Website If I’m Rocking Social Media?

Yes. Remember Myspace? How many singer-songwriters and bands invested tens or hundreds of hours getting “fans” on Myspace, most of which are lost to them now.

Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp and other companies may not go the way of Myspace, but we can’t know that. We don’t know how they will evolve, or how important indie artists will be to their business strategy in the coming years. Handing the control of your marketing over to another company isn’t smart. Use these services, but develop and work your own “home” on the web. It’s crazy to cede control of your musical destiny to a third party.

Should our band hire a firm to run our social media marketing?
Maybe, but only if:

  • you can afford to do so
  • you’ll actively consult with the firm
  • you’ve reached the point where you’ve done all you can on your own
  • social media marketing is taking too much time away from songwriting, recording and touring.

If you can say “Yes” to all these points, then it may be wise to talk with an entertainment marketing firm for your band. I can personally recommend Miles High Productions at (note, this is a different company than and

Wait, I Have Some More Questions …

This is a bigger topic than one blog post can explore. What other questions do you have? Leave a comment here or contact Kristen and me using the Contact Form that you’ll see if you hover over the “About” section of this blog. If the response is short enough I’ll comment directly. I’ll write my thoughts on larger topics in future blog posts here on My Song In The Night.

Photo used via Creative Commons license, from opportplanet

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