What if I told you there’s a platform that strips away all the pretentiousness, favoritism, and even algorithms of those other platforms that are wasting our time and energy? It’s called Discord and it is simply a place to create, build, and nurture your community. You know,…like social media used to be.
Before I get into it let’s rewind…
Social media is for most of us, an albatross around all of our necks. We must use it to stay “out there” and noticeable and it disappoints us with its tricky algorithms and shape shifting ways. What started off over a decade ago as a fun way to keep in touch with friends and post pictures of our food has taken on a life of its own and turned into a never-ending game of “how many likes can I get?” and “everyone says the ONLY way to make it as an artist now is by breaking on TikTok”
I have been up many nights feeling icky (This is a massive understatement) because I strongly encouraged anyone who would listen to join all socials and share. But that was in the early days. I still believe in social media for promotion and marketing and brand development and I still think it can be beneficial. If it could take up less of our time. This is one of the many reasons why I have also been delving into the world of AI Marketing.
I get it. It’s easy to feel burnt out from giving your all to a platform that just doesn’t seem to love you back. Even if you love Instagram (which, of course you do, we all do) it can still occasionally feel like you’re shouting (or sending photos) into the void.
So, what’s a musician to do? When it feels like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are the only choices, and they’ve been alluding you, how do you make your next move?
What started in 2015 as a way for gamers to communicate, has quickly taken over as a powerful way to make new connections, nurture fans, and create true communities around your music, and across all industries. Plus, it’s pretty great that Discord doesn’t require you to post on a schedule or agonize over a caption. It’s a community in the truest sense, which, after the last few years, is pretty refreshing.
While it’s still early days for Discord, that also means it’s a huge opportunity for those that decide to invest some time into it. Are you ready to learn a little more about why it’s so powerful for musicians?
What is Discord and why should musicians be using it?
Right now there’s a lot of buzz around Discord. Similar to what happened with TikTok just a few years back, I hear the quiet murmur of chatter around the music community asking things like “what is Discord?” and “how are musicians using it?” And as far as I can tell the answer is largely “we don’t really know—but we want in.”
It’s a fertile ground for community building and fan acquisition and retention and yet most musicians have been slow to warm to it. Until now.
If you’re like many who assumed TikTok was just a trend and would soon fall by the wayside, you’re probably still kicking yourself and don’t want to make the same mistake with Discord. This is different. Not only because we’ve been trained to see the value in up and coming platforms, but it’s different because it’s not just another social media space. It’s truly community based.
Discord is different–and that’s a good thing
Visiting Discord for the first, second, or fifth time, is a little disorienting. New platforms take some time to get used to. Don’t get discouraged! Even if it feels a little overwhelming at first, you will get the hang of it quickly. The best way to get familiar is truly just to dive right in and start using it.
If you’re at all familiar with Slack, it’s kind of like that. There are different Servers (which is what Discord calls its communities) that you can join and within those servers are channels—just like in Slack. So you can interact in different ways throughout a server. Meaning, if you’re in r/wearethemusicmakers you’ll see channels for mixing, marketing, and sound design. You can explore all these topics within just one server.
We’re going to explore this more in another article, but there are currently a lot of indie artists breaking ground in Discord and building thriving communities. Even major artists like Harry Styles and Avenged Sevenfold have been on Discord.
There’s plenty to get inspired by on there, and a lot of that inspiration comes not only in the form of how to nurture your fanbase, but how to build a whole eco-system around your music. Discord really has become HQ for many artist’s fanbase and having that kind of control in one place is game-changing for artists.
That’s because it’s a place to capitalize on the things that make you unique—not just your music. You get to go beyond the song and share your personality, your brand, and that’s what’s going to attract your superfans over the long run.
Discord is may just be the next thing to change the music industry. Period. The same way TikTok did, Discord will become an essential tool for musicians and their fans. The question is, will you get in on the ground floor and learn to navigate it and use it before it blows up?
How to set up Discord
Getting started on Discord is easy. You go through the usual steps, selecting a username, filling out your bio, adding a photo, all the things. Make sure you don’t skip this part. Just like you want your Instagram bio to reflect who you are in short punchy sentences, your Discord bio should do the same. Don’t forget to include a link to your website.
Ok, I’m here…now what?
Time for the fun part. It’s time to discover Servers. Servers are what Discord calls their communities. If you click the compass on your home screen you can enter search terms to find different groups. It’s a good way to get started but you’ll soon find some of the best kept Servers are invite only or at least, not easy to find. Reach out to your network, post on socials, and ask people to send links to their favorite servers. I’ve also included some here.
Once you’ve joined a server, take time to browse the individual channels. Those are the things on the side that start with hashtags. Usually there’s one that says #start-here or #welcome. That will explain a bit more about what to expect. From there, do some exploring and start to introduce yourself and interact. Don’t forget to check out the roles you can adopt on different servers. Think of them like “flair” on Reddit—a way for you to share your personality within the confines of that community.
5 Discord servers to join Now to Get Started
Sure! If the search function and your friends have not produced the results you wanted, try some of these.
How long should I be spending on Discord?
The great news about Discord is that you don’t have to spend countless hours on here or create original content for Discord like you do on socials. Of course, the more time you spend the better results you’ll have, but it’s about using your time wisely, which, on Discord, is pretty easy to do because it’s all conversational. There’s no choosing filters, cropping photos, editing videos or agonizing about time of day to post. It’s all pretty organic.
My suggestion try to stop in once a day for 30 minutes or so. And join some servers that are not music related so you can get the feel without letting the stress of “marketing your music” creep in – join one that will teach you something or if you have a hobby start there
Like anything, you’ll get the most comfortable with Discord from simply jumping in and using it yourself. Find a few active communities to engage in and start talking. The whole thing can seem a little foreign at first, what with all the different language around things like “servers” or “channels” but before long you’ll have the hang of it, and you’ll know which communities are best for you and how you can start to build your own.
Discord moves fast so if you’re in an active Server, a lot can happen in a few days. But, if that’s not possible I recommend at least a few times per week for 30-60 minutes to catch up, comment, engage, and share.
Should I start my own server?
Probably! But it’s ok if it’s not right away. Discord can be a really great way to nurture an existing fanbase, as you can see in these examples. But if you’re still building your fanbase, take some time to do that off Discord, or in other servers before you start pouring time into your own.
Note – You Need a Fanbase Before You Can Start Your Discord! AKA No Fanbase – No Discord!
Discord is a great place to nurture fans and strengthen relationships, it’s not meant for finding new fans the way TikTok or Instagram might be. So, be sure you have a base who are 1. used to using Discord and 2. Are willing to engage regularly. This also means you must take the time to 3. Go on at least once a day to keep up with what you have created and interact.
If you start too soon without a core base of fans who are willing and interested it probably won’t work.
Think of Discord like a big party that’s never ending. You can pop in and out as you wish, but the more time you spend in there, the wider your network will grow and the more opportunities you’ll see popping up for you.
By simply showing up to Discord frequently, you’ll start to get a handle on it and if you’re like most of us, you’ll probably really like it and find yourself wanting to spend more time there! Which is great news, because as it continues to gain popularity, your opportunities will grow.
It’s a whole new world out there, but it’s a fun one—so enjoy it!
Need some support in identifying your real fans? Download our Free How To Identify Your Ideal Fan Exercise Now!