The Gaslight Anthem: World Tour Dates 2013
I’ve been personally manning the Jaden Social Facebook and Twitter pages since starting the company in my bedroom back in November 2011. And let me say straight up, getting my hands dirty right from day 1 has been one of the most valuable and eye-opening experiences I could ask for as a business owner, musician and marketer.
In 18 months I have gone from checking in barely a couple of times a week to deal with a handful of interactions, to spending upwards of 12 hours a day monitoring and managing more than 100 interactions 7 days a week (thank you Chrome for the ability to permanently pin tabs to the browser window).
Now I would say I’m a pretty chilled out dude for the most part, but there are some things that musos do (and say) online that really make me cringe. Since I too was once a blissfully ignorant and, at times, cringe-worthy muso, I’m not going to sit here and get self-righteous about it. No, I’m going to do the next funnest (that’s a real word, I swear) thing and compile a list of 7 deadly sins I feel are damaging the online efficacy of all my musician friends’ content & promotion strategies on Facebook & Twitter.
This is without a doubt one of the biggest no-no’s that exists on EVERY Social Media platform today. It’s one thing to use your page to dutifully inform your followers that you have new music, videos, or shows coming up, but completely another to ram the self-promotion stick so far down their throats that they get rushed to the emergency room with a ruptured spleen.
To be clear, it’s perfectly fine (even advisable) to post your links several times a week to achieve maximum reach, but for every promotional post you drop on your page you MUST be posting 3-5+ pieces of valuable content to break up the noise (believe me when I say your promo posts are NOISE, contributing to the deafening roar of that ceaseless waterfall spilling down your followers’ timelines).
Just like you would when writing and producing songs, try to blend a variety of elements (content types) in your marketing mix, and above all be both sparing & tasteful with your promo and the impact will be far greater!
OK, so maybe there is no such thing as posting at the wrong time – every post will be seen by at least a few people, which could never be considered a waste. But there is certainly such a thing as posting at the RIGHT time.
Instead of spitting out posts whenever you feel the itch, make use of your Facebook page analytics and a free Twitter tool like Tweriod or FollowerWonk to work out exactly where in the world your audience is and when they’re watching their timelines. This will both increase the reach of each post and reduce the number of times you need to post a piece of content for it to reach your entire fanbase.
I could fill an intercity dump truck with examples of the self-promotional garbage that currently pollutes Social Media – posts that are crammed with tacky buzz words, cliches, superfluous dollar signs, and highly questionable claims of the house being “ON FIIRE!!!”
People will feel much less like you’re trying to sell them shit (and much more inclined to buy your shit) if you present yourself as genuine, unique, and legit about your music. Why not show a little personality and package things up with a joke and a wink. Who knows, people might even end up loving you!
In a world brimming with unpredictability, it is inherently human to find comfort and security in routine; the daily routine of a 9-5 job, a weekly routine of exercise at the gym, and so forth. So many musicians (including myself) are guilty of neglecting this golden rule; often just posting when we feel creatively inspired or have something exciting to say. By failing to form regular posting habits on your Facebook & Twitter pages, you are putting up a barrier to entry for a large chunk of the population.
If you leave your audience hanging and with no idea when they might hear from you next, what hope can they have of forming any kind of lasting online relationship with you? Let’s also not forget about Facebook’s very own vigilant citizen, the Edgerank algorithm, who takes great pleasure in punishing you for failing to provide regular content to your fans.
The bottom line here is, keep your content regular and give your audience a fair chance to connect with you. And if this is too difficult to manage with your busy schedule, our good friends at Buffer have created a stunning piece of software that will bring the equivalent of world peace into your turbulent life.
I have absolutely no qualms with you promoting your content; I mean, how else will I find it? But don’t expect me to care unless you GIVE me a reason to care. Telling me what you want me to click on is a great start, but how about telling me why I should click on it.
Will your new video clip teleport me back to the late 80′s, and my days as a cheeky schoolboy spending his lunch money at the local videogame arcade instead of going to school? Will it give me glimpses of the hardships endured by a twenty-something hustler out of Brooklyn?
Let me say it again – don’t expect me to care unless you GIVE me a reason to care. Treat every single post as an opportunity to reveal your character and interests, share your unique value proposition (what is different about you and your music), and intrigue your audience.
The state of your Facebook or Twitter timeline is the first thing I have to judge you on when I drop onto your page. If your Twitter is a mess of personal conversations and in-jokes I’m bouncing. If it’s a string of ugly links and Tarzan-style chest beating promotion I’m bouncing. If your Facebook timeline is composed of nothing but pictures of your stupid cat in different coloured lace bonnets, you better believe I’m bouncing.
Make a habit of looking at your timeline a few times each week through the eyes of a brand new follower or fan who is trying to make up their mind about you. Does your timeline accurately depict your story? Does it spark curiosity and make you want to find out more?
Take your Social housekeeping seriously and make every impression one that counts.
The last but certainly not least of the 7 deadly sins is that of treating your Facebook and Twitter pages as equals when they are not! This is not to say one platform is better than the other, but rather each has its own strengths, weaknesses and nuances.
As an example, Instagram pictures look and behave beautifully when posted to Facebook, but appear nothing short of hideous when pushed through to Twitter. Hashtags can be used to great effect on Twitter, but don’t let me catch you dropping those soul-less, italicized naughts & crosses boards into my Facebook feed.
Rather than simply linking your Facebook & Twitter accounts together (possibly the worst crime against Social Media there is) and posting the same things at the same times, learn the differences between the platforms so you can capitalise upon their strengths. There are many, many unique characteristics of both platforms, and having a good understanding of these can dramatically improve the reach & reception of your content (feel free to hit me up on Twitter for a prod in the direction of some great resources).
Well, I feel like that’s enough typing for one day, so now I’m handing the mic over to you – feel free to get back at me with your thoughts, and more of your own deadly Facebook & Twitter sins in the comments below!
Until next time, thanks for reading and stay creative.
Jerry Greenberg on Bite Me! makes a major statement on how to build your fanbase. Here is!
The piece said, “Bud Prager—who managed Leslie West in the old days and Felix Pappalardi—he’s a great producer who I have the utmost respect for. One day we went for lunch, it was 1979/1980 and MTV had just started. Warner Communications funded MTV in the very beginning along with American Express.
Steve Ross had a vision of creating music on TV and having it be a marketing tool. Bud said to me as MTV progressed that he felt MTV hurt the record business. His whole philosophy and, I have to agree with him, was that we broke bands by them going out and getting a fanbase – a real fanbase. AC/DC started out in a little club called Max’s Kansas City then they worked their way up to the Fillmore then the Forum and then the stadiums. They built a fanbase, but so many of these artists just became these video stars and you could see them on video. The only way you could see AC/DC, before videos, was to wait until they went on tour.
Bud felt that in the long run it hurt the artist and hurt their career and then it also created a lot of what we call “The One Shot” video artist – who were really acts that people got because of the video but when they really had to go out and do it there was no substance.”
It’s obvious really isn’t it?
You need a fanbase
If you are hyped and leveraged into the national (or international) consciousness, you’re going to have to be spectacular to make it last. All the kids who get the big break on the TV talent shows cannot sustain the level that those shows give them.
Why not? They just aren’t actually talented enough, but, more importantly, they haven’t built a fanbase. They get instant recognition but it fades in the public interest when the next series comes along.
I can see that the same was true with MTV – and the same is still true for major label artists today that are over hyped and simply manufactured. Sign someone half pretty and get them a load of songs from the current writer / producer du jour. It all sounds good enough but 99 times out of 100, there isn’t anything to back it up. I’ll accept that there will occasionally be an exception.
BUT – if the right thing to do in order to build a career is build a fanbase, then how do you do it?
Look at Arcade Fire – how did they do it. Quality material, no bullshit, slow build of momentum, unreal live shows, true talent.
No-one wanted to sign them when they started, so they did it on their own!
The message is the same now as it was for AC/DC when Jerry Greenberg remembered how they started.
Get your material strong and go out and play it. Watch this video of legendary Island Records boss Chris Blackwell telling how a live show and word of mouth is all you need.
So now that the music industry has changed and everyone wants music for free, how do you build that fanbase and why is that change a good thing?
Well, you can still do what AC/DC did and go out and play. You must! You’ll improve, you’ll bond as a unit and you’ll find champions who will tell everyone how good you are.
BUT – you now have an advantage that outdoes MTV in it’s heyday and will allow you to build momentum slowly, reach a global audience, perfect your style and sound – all the while sticking two fingers up to the old music industry hegemony.
The internet. You must use the internet to build your fanbase.
10 steps to building your fanbase
Here’s what you do:
1. Get your act straight. Right people, right look, right sound and BRILLIANT material. Not ‘good enough’ – brilliant is what is required.
2. Buy a domain name for your band’s website (we use Namecheap – it is!), and then buy hosting for it. Use Hostgator. I know you have loads of choices, but, trust me, this works really well and I have never had a problem.
3. Build a website – Use WordPress, hosted on your own domain (that’s downloaded from wordpress.org not hosted at wordpress.com). Personally I always use Thesis as the theme for the site for a host of reasons that I won’t go into here. It is awesome. If you think you can’t build a site in WordPress and/or Thesis, you will be able to. Honestly – there are loads of videos on YouTube to talk you through it and if you get stuck, find someone at your school, college or even on Elance to do it for you.
4. Build a list of fans using serious email software. You can use Fanbridge – it works fine – but if you are really serious, there is only one choice – Aweber. It will do more than any competing mailing list software and it will last you your whole career.
5. Give people something really valuable in return for joining your mailing list. Sure, give them mp3′s of a few tracks. But, you can do so much more. Give them a whole album and ask them to get their friends to come and sign up for it.
I love Pretty Lights and what he does – 3 albums, 2 EP’s and some live material. All FOR FREE. How does he make a living? He sells merch and has a massive live following. If he hadn’t given this music away he would not have gotten anywhere. The free music gave him the momentum. Now he makes more money from his music career than if he had signed to a major – by a factor of 20 or more. Plus he gets to be a true artist and do exactly what he wants, when he wants with his art.
6. Put the sign-up box for the free stuff on the top right of every page of your site – what designers call ‘above-the fold’. Why? Because it works. Also – have a dedicated ‘squeeze page’ on the site or even on another domain that you can send people to. He doesn’t do this, but Pretty Lights could have a squeeze page at freeprettylights.com. It’s easy to remember and you just put a single page site there with just a small pitch and a sign up box for your Aweber list.
7. Build a quality profile (and interact – don’t ignore any of them) at MySpace (yep, still – it is the music directory and you need to be there), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. This is the minimum – there are others that you might wish to add.
8. Shoot LOADS of video of your band. Writing, rehearsing, gigging, in the van – goofing off. It doesn’t matter. Send emails to your list at least once a week telling them to check out something that you have posted somewhere online. DO NOT just email them the week of a show asking them to come. Be in regular content. Put those videos on your YouTube channel and all over the place.
9. Post on Twitter and Facebook all the time. Not inane stuff but things that your fans will want to know.
10. Develop a healthy interest in music blogs. Find ones that might support you and start to build rapport with the bloggers. This is a key way to spread your name when you have material being released. Chris Bracco has the best guide to this currently available – which is free – get it here.
11. Don’t neglect the art! Keep writing. Write much more than you record and rehearse as much as you write. Recording is important and you need tracks to give away, but it is having great material that is going to make your fans talk about you to their friends and build that fanbase. Writing is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing.
12. Play live. Anywhere for anyone. Not to the extent that your fans can’t keep up. But spread wider, cross genres, make new fans. Obviously, collect every name and email address that you can at gigs. Go to other band’s gigs – hand out cards with your site address on them at those gigs. Hang out, meet other bands and meet their manager, agent, sound guy – whatever.
13. Be tired. No, really. If you’re working a full time job and you’re doing enough to succeed, you are going to be exhausted. The people who can keep going when they are exhausted will win.
There you have it – I think that’s a blueprint on how to build your fanbase. I’ve just read it over and, in essence, that is all there is to it.
Of course, I can and will expand on many of those points and go further another day – how do you move from this point to selling records, how to go up a level etc.
But, right now, that’s not important. It’s not important since you MUST build a fanbase to get started and to achieve anything – whether that is DIY and Direct-to-Fan success or the aim of getting signed. Either route will happen much more easily if you have built the fanbase yourself – that’s what other fans will see so they will want to be in the in-crowd – and it’s what agents. managers and record label A&R will see that will help take you to the next level.
One last thing. This is not ‘selling out’. This is ‘selling’. It does not cheapen the art. It gives you a chance.
It will only happen if you do it – start now.
Step one is critical! But as soon as you have something ready for the world to hear, build your website at the heart of your efforts. Go and get a domain (Namecheap) and hosting (Hostgator) right now if you don’t have that sorted yet!