For indie, DIY, and unsigned artists, the music business primarily exists in the online space, therefore, using the power of social media can either help or hinder artists. The bottom line is, most artists don’t know what the fu©k they’re doing when it comes to social media and the following are common mistakes that have been repeated for so long that they are now deadly sins.
1. Facebook Post Hijacking
Imagine that you are excited about finishing a new song in the studio, and as the session begins to wrap up, you take a moment to update your Facebook status to let your friends know that you are working hard on new music. Now for all intent and purpose, this seems like an innocent enough statement to make until you are suddenly attacked by a Facebook Hijacker.
What is a Facebook Hijacker you ask? Well a Facebook Hijacker is any asshole artist that decides to post his or her video, song, article, or bullshit rhetoric in the comments of your original post. I’m not sure if they are aware that this is a jackass thing to do, but they do it nonetheless, and it’s quite disrespectful.
I understand that artists want to cease everything opportunity possible, but hijacking a Facebook post in order to push your bullshit agenda is juvenile, unbecoming of a professional artist, and plain asinine. By doing so, you will not only piss off the person who created the original post, but also anyone else who was engaged in commentary with that person regarding the post.
If you are attempting to promote your music for free on Facebook, might I suggest that you start by joining the million and one music groups that are already there, and posting your music and whatnot on those pages, as oppose to alienating yourself and potentially losing friends, fans, and Likes.
As a music business professional, I’m probably subjected to this offense a bit more frequently than most; however, it is no excuse why this continues to happen. Sure, I get it, artists think by doing this, myself or another professional will take a look at their material, but who wants to be date raped? Not me, not you, not anyone. To avoid this, artists need to understand that people cannot be forced into taking notice of their music. If you want to approach someone you want to listen to your music, approach them with respect and kindly ask them in an inbox message if they would be interested in listening to your music. Once they respond in agreement, send them either a link to your EPK (Electronic Press Kit), website that displays your music, your SoundCloud, or ReverbNation page, but not all of them.
2. Too Much Information of Instagram
Since the invention of the camera phone, every self-important artist on the planet has felt it necessary to bless the little people (fans) with the most candid pictorials imaginable. From a publicity standpoint, I agree with the importance of showing fans that as an artist, you are still a human being, but enough already. No one except for maybe stalkers and fanatical recluses want a blow-by-blow photomontage of the mundane activities of your life. Okay, Chris Brown is in rehab (where he should have been a long time ago), but is it necessary for his girlfriend to post a picture of her visit with him in rehab? Hell no! Is it necessary that artists upload pictures of every meaningless event in their lives ranging from getting their toenails painted to getting a blowjob from a groupie? Of course, not, yet this is the goings on at Instagram every day of the week.
Dear self-indulgent artist, fuck you and your selfie! Now, before all of my critics shit a brick, I am by no means saying that every artist on instagram is in violation of the laws of tactfulness, but I am saying that there are quite a few that need to take it down a notch or two.
As an artist using Instagram as a method of promotion, use it wisely. Post pictures of things that your fans can relate to, or something they would enjoy because they wouldn’t ordinarily have access to. For example, post a picture of you doing a sound check, recording in the studio, the countryside from a tour bus window, inside the offices of a record label, outside of a venue, or backstage of a tour or festival.
By sticking to the basics and keeping a professional veneer earns you respect with your fans as an artist, not disdain for being an over privilege narcissistic asshole. Not everyone should know everything about you that should be left to friends and family. Sharing too much information makes you extremely vulnerable; therefore, you must hold back so you can add to your artistic mystique; in the end, you will be glad you did. I don’t know about you, but I can name a least 10 artists I had respect for, before they went on reality TV and showed their true colors.
3. Wasting YouTube Views
When you were a little kid, you probably looked forward to Christmas and dreamt about all of the awesome toys that would be under the tree with your name on them. As it got closer to the holidays, your grades got a little better, your room was a little neater, and perhaps you even volunteered to do extra chores around the house to ensure you’d be on Santa’s nice list.
Christmas morning arrives and your heart is swelling with expectation, until you’re slapped in the face by reality after opening what you thought was a new Xbox, which turned out to be the first three volumes of an encyclopedia set. Now that’s f’d up!
The same feeling of expectation and disappointment is prevalent went you upload your music video to YouTube and there is no call to action at the end. The only difference is that in the Christmas scenario, you are the one being disappointed, but in the YouTube scenario, it is the fan. Why is that fan disappointed? It is because if they like your music and make it to the end of the video, they expect to be directed to a website to buy your music, hence “BUY NOW” is a call to action.
Since the early days of radio broadcasting, consumers (fans) have been conditioned to expect a call to action immediately preceding any form of advertisement. Think about it. What would a car commercial be like, if at the end, they didn’t tell you to “go out and test drive one today”?
What if McDonald’s ran an advertisement about a new Eggnog shake for the holidays, but didn’t ask you to come in to try it? I bet you that a least three people would lose their jobs once the commercial aired.
At this point, I hope that you understand why you need a call to action at the end of your video. If you have the opportunity, take down all of your music videos on YouTube. Concentrate first on removing the videos that are for music in which you own the copyrights to, not covers, not mixtapes, etc. Re-edit those videos so that at the end of each video, a message tells the consumer (fan) what action to take. Whether it’s a Free download of the song in exchange for a Tweet or Facebook “Like” or to sign up for your mailing list, or best of all how and where to buy the music they enjoyed. Remember, a “call to action” is the most critical aspect of your advertising. Let’s not forget that a music video is a commercial for your music and television, webisodes, or streaming media regarding products and services are a form of advertising.
4. Having a Twitter Gang Bang
The definition of a “Tweet Gang Bang” is when a person creates a tweet with a bunch of people’s names in it that has no rhyme or reason except for attracting attention to themselves in order to become more popular, relevant, or earn followers. This is stupid for a plethora of reasons, but in the interest of brevity, I will only discuss the greatest reason of all.
Despite what artists think, they will not become popular on Twitter just by tweeting the names of random people they want to notice them. Artists should know that their official artist twitter page should be used for music only, not tom foolery. Yes, in the age of the shameless self-promotion it is quite necessary toot your own horn, but its borders insanity when something that should be recreational becomes occupational.
Speaking more frankly, the people in the music business that can help your career advance are less interested in how well and often you engage them; however, they are interested in how well and how often you engage your fan base. Tweeting a music industry pro may get you an acknowledgement reply, but tweeting back and forth with your fans can get you sales and more fans that want to buy your music.
Rather than focusing on the movers and shakers of the music business, try focusing on the people that make it possible for the movers and shakers to have something to move or shake—-the fans.
When you’re feeling like a tweet orgy or a Twitter version of a scene from a Bang Bros flick, fight the urge. Instead, how about you add a bunch of your fans (followers) names to your tweet and hold a contest, ask a question, answer a question, or just tell them how much you care and without them, you’d be another face on the opposite side of the stage.
5. Sending Too Many URL Links in an Email
When emailing a music business professional your music, do not send them a ton of URL links. No one has time or patience to surf the net from one music website to the next to listen to your music on one website, see your video on another, and read your biography on yet another. By default, some email service providers open URL links in the same page (window) as the email, which closes out the email to open the link.
Most of the time, when artists email URL links they are not done properly. Artists copy and paste the URL link into the body of the email without assigning the link a target. Assigning a URL link target is telling the internet browser to open the link in a new tab, new window, or the existing open page.
Opening a new page or window is never really a problem, but when a URL opens in the same page, it takes the user out of the email, which is bad news. The reason why this is bad, is because once a person leaves the page they were on, seldom do they hit the back button to return or by the time they do, the email has timed out and closed. Do you think they are going to log in again and search for your email, think again?
It is wise to keep your URL links to three at most and keep them organized by relevance. For example if you are sending music links, keep them all on SoundCloud, all videos on YouTube, or avoid both by sending a professional attachment of an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) on Reverbnation or perhaps on your own artist website.
6. Abusing Your Mailing List
On some days, the sun even shines on a dog’s ass, so I’m never very surprised when artists have their shit together—-at least in terms of social media, yet no artist is perfect social media machine. It is impressive when artists create mailing list and use contact management software such as, Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, and AWeber to name a few are great low cost solutions to maintain ongoing fan engagement via email marketing.
However, it is important to respect your fans that request to be deleted from your mailing lists. Also, never add someone to your mailing list without his or her knowledge or consent. I receive tons of emails from artists that I know I’ve never made contact with yet they have added me to their music marketing lists because they found my email posted somewhere online.
Sure, email marketing is a great form of permission-based marketing, but once the consumer has informed you (multiple times, as if once wasn’t enough) that they’re not interested respect that and remove them from your list. If they don’t like you on Tuesday, chances are, Friday they’ll feel the same way.
Now that I’ve gotten this off of my chest, I will breathe easy noting that I have done my service to the music industry by pointing out mistakes artists make and how to fix them. If you are committing any of the six deadly social media sins, cease and desist immediately or you will destined for isolation, rejection, and ultimately failure.
Written by Sahpreem A. King