With roughly one billion monthly active users, Instagram belongs to the most popular social networks worldwide. The United States alone, has 180 million users online you can connect with right now. Anyone can connect with a few hundred people, forge great relationships, and then market music to those fans who want it and like it. Simple.
What is NOT simple is getting your judgments about yourself and other artists out of the way and just diving in.
So here we are to debunk a few of your (ahem) resistances, and the aforementioned one is #1 on the list.
Top 7 Reasons Why Artists Strongly Resist Social Media
Reason #1: I don’t want to be pushy or over-hype, like all those other artists that I hate (or: “I hate the way he markets and I don’t want to market like him!”).
OK – so talking about yourself is hard. But having people love your music is wonderful. So, our advice is: when you use Social Media, take the spotlight off of YOURSELF and shine it on OTHERS (the people in your community/ fans/friends).
Share things that feel mundane. Don’t even think of marketing yourself or your music for a few months until you get the hang of it; and then after you do, use it to gently lead people to your newsletter sign-up, your website, and to help yourself with Google rankings, to up your Spotify streams, etc.
Keep this in mind: 78% of people trust peer recommendations for products and services that they BUY. Only 14% trust TV/radio/print advertising. You need to be one of the artists that peers are recommending.
Reason #2: Promoting my music on Social Media won’t put any money in my pocket.
Here is what is true: Social media most probably won’t directly put money in your pocket in the short term. But when used with traditional marketing and as part of a plan, it can be integral in reinforcing relationships between you and your fans, which will down the line lead them to a point of purchase (whether it’s a song, a merch item, anything).
Once in a Top Spin training class, Ariel learned that being Googlicious (your Google rankings) and your email newsletter list are two vital components to putting money in your pocket, and without social media you will never grow either.
Reason #3: Social Media and Marketing takes too much time.
OK, we never said that this was fair, easy, or quick. Being successful does and will take hard work, and it always has. These are personal questions: What is your definition of success? How much time are you willing to commit to learning new skills and mastering new tools?
If the answer is “none – I just want to play,” then that is OK.
Derek Sivers wrote a moving piece about this and the comments are very telling (maybe making music for profit isn’t for you).
“Stop expecting it to be valuable to others. Accept it as personal and precious to only you. Get your money elsewhere.”
Wanna Keep Going? Good!
Ariel once attended a seminar called the “World’s Greatest Marketing Seminar,” which was designed to help entrepreneurs market their companies. One of the most successful ones stood up on stage and delivered some horrible news:
To be successful, 70% of your time should be spent on your marketing and sales and 30% working on your business…
There was a collective gasp in the audience.
(Yes this means that, as artists, you still must balance the creation of music BUT you better spend a lot more time on the marketing side)
Reason #4: “Social” Media isn’t “real” media.
It’s nearly 2022. It’s clear that this myth has debunked itself… Bloggers, podcasters, playlisters and people with large followings on Social Media sites are considered influencers. Possibly the biggest influencers in the game at this point. Brands, companies and and record labels alike turn to the largest followed online creators for advice and direction because they have a massive understanding of media and what consumers want to listen/read.
Take a good long look at traditional media these days: approximately once every minute, TV news broadcasts tell you to go to their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, or even ask you to follow them on Snapchat. Many of them have a permanent graphic on the screen with Facebook and Twitter feeds. The “real” media is constantly telling viewers to go to social media and contribute. And note: There are over 200 Million blogs online. One or two of them may just want to write about you. “Real media” is exactly what we make it.
Reason #5: I’m Too “old” to understand social media
Think Again: The average age of a Twitter user is 39. The fastest growing demo on Facebook is 55 to 65-year-old women. In fact, they have become some of the most active Facebook users. Why? Because grandma is signing up to look at photos of little Johnny and then realizing that all of her friends and family are actively engaged and… that’s FUN! No matter the age of your fanbase, their is a social platform that will best service your community and their preferential way to communicate.
Reason #6: Status Updates on Facebook and constant posts on Instagram are stupid. Why does everyone always need to know what I’m doing?
Many artists only feel that social networking sites are made for promotional use.
And when we all came to the party with the first ever social network – MySpace – that was indeed the case. In fact, the GOAL was: Hype, hype, hype. Promote. And add, add, add as many friends as possible. Rack up the plays by any means necessary. Or you wouldn’t get that club to pay attention to you or that record label to sign you!
There were no personal thoughts or “status updates” in the mix whatsoever.
Therefore, a lot of artists become deathly afraid of Facebook, Instagram, or even Snapchat because they don’t feel that people want to know their random or personal thoughts.
Since services like Snapchat and Instagram Stories are more community-building tools than promotional, it confuses them on what they are supposed to be doing or saying on it.
But let’s face it, a performing artist is a PUBLIC FIGURE! This means that whether you like it or not fans are going to want to know about you and even feel like they know you in a more personal way.
Get everyone in your group involved! Maybe one person flourishes on Instagram but doesn’t understand Facebook. Then let them put 100% of their energy into that social networking site alone. You will see when someone is actually doing something, they understand you will get the best return on your investment from your work on that platform.
Reason #7: I’m not an overly open person / I don’t want my fans to see my personal life.
If you really are not a social person, Social Media is ideal for you because you’re at a computer screen, not in front of a live human!
With social media you have the ability to control your narrative; only showing what you want to show, as not EVERYTHING is personal – this means you have created a solid brand. Movies you like, books you read… how about talking about other artists you love and respect? There’s a few to start with.
You can decide when and how to respond to someone, have time to think about what to say, who to say it to, without the pressure of someone sitting in front of you expecting a response at the moment.
Want to learn more about Music Marketing? Check out Ariel’s latest book release Ultimate Guide to Music Publicity!
As a new convert to social media, this article brought up all seven thoughts I've had at one time or another.
The one mention in the article that really made me think was…
“It doesn’t matter if you think that musician sucks. The POINT is that artist managed to identify and relate to enough people who think his music is great and his fans reward his efforts. So, stop judging others and worry about how to make a difference for yourself.
Why? Because there are 500,000,000 people on Facebook to connect with”
Hi Cadyfinlayson, Thank you for your comments! Wow, how I’ve suffered greatly from holding back my music for years. But I have good news, this year I’m really pressing in on myself to release my music despite what I may think others like or don’t like about it. The truth is, I really don’t know what people will think or not think about it, I just have to release it. So comes in the word “courage” and the word “faith” for me. I have heard comments about what fear does from some really awesome speakers, motivators, ministers, friends and my own family. And many of them have inspired me to push past my fears, believe and move forward with it.
I’ve contemplated for many years whether I was good enough or not and have suffered greatly from not doing it. So regardless of what people think or don’t think, I’ve suffered long enough not to move forward with releasing what I’ve written, created, orchestrated, composed and spent many countless hours to produce.
Thanks for letting me just chime in here. No more fear!
One issue with Facebook is that only 20% at most of your followers see your posts. I have 160 followers and when I post a song or video I routinely only get around 30 views. Both Facebook and Instagram will cut your post sends to followers by half if you mention anything about a link in your description. The reason being is they want to stay on their page and not go to Spotify or Youtube, etc.
This is somewhat true – they do only show to a percentage of your followers. I think it is probably less than 20% at this point. But I wouldn’t advise against letting people know there is a link in your bio for whatever you are promoting.
Brilliant post Ariel.
I think they call that 'hitting the nail on the head'. Great post.
And the reason I say that is you’ve hit every ounce of social media and why people’s beliefs around it don’t serve them and aren’t reality.
The truth is social media is the most powerful tool for building relationships. The other barrier to get over is the fact it’s not intimate communication … what I mean by this is because it’s not in person we don’t think it has value. it does have value. Whether it’s Noush’s story of 800 000 followers on twitter b/c she “got it” and also got creative: http://kylemcneil.com/2009/08/30/800-000-followers-in-one-year/
Or personal experience where people send me a message or two a week b/c they read a blog post of mine. They didn’t realize how much they had in common with me … and maybe never would have … b/c we can’t meet in person with everyone. It’s a great way to leverage your time and find who you need to find.
And one of the KEY messages you share in this blog, that is SO important. Is don’t hype. To much hype. It’s like the pesky Realtor who never stops posting about “today’s the day to buy, it’s nice outside”… the same thing happens with artists and it hurts them.
People want to know what you’re doing, but more importantly they want to know you. It’s the relationship. Not the one sale.
Build the relationship. Be real with people and share who you really are. That’s what’s compelling. That’s what will have you survive and thrive as an artist.
There’s gold in this blog post Ariel. Brilliant!
This article was a great reminder like it or not, we’ve got to change the way we view social media. I was glad to hear 55-65 year olds are getting the hang of it. The computer can be frustrating, I can’t get back on my blog on wordpress.com, my password keeps acting up, but I’m told by my friends to be persistent and not afraid to keep trying and to learn. So keep the Newsletters coming Ariel they are very helpful. Lolita R. C.
This is great! I do need to read a post like this every now and then to assure me I’m on track. (a good read on a bad day) As indie artists we all have the tools and the ability to be successful. Just do it!!! It’s not rocket science and Ariel’s Music Success in 9 weeks blogging challenge is just what I needed. I haven’t been this excited about my online marketing ever! And I’ve bought lot’s of books and hooked up with a lot of internet guru’s however, Ariel’s challenge and book is really making a difference for me. Yes, I keep running into road blocks, mostly technical stuff to do with getting an app to work right etc… however, Google is an amazing machine and there is always an answer if you invest the time to find it. I’m really enjoying this type of marketing and the social media work. I love hooking up with people all over the world in person and online. What an amazing time we live in!
John Gilliat – http://www.johngilliat.com
Ottmar with a Twist, Passionate & Fiery Rumba Flamenco Guitar.
resistance is futile. great post.
I was resistant to Facebook as I had enough to deal with Myspace an my own web site. I must say that Facebook is a must! I not only gained fans and bookings, but also been able to reach out to some of my musical role models on a personal level. I have not gained any money, yet, but, oh well. All in good time.
Really great post, Ariel.
I find another reason that artists avoid them is the technological aspect, namely, the time investment that goes into learning these platforms. I get that artists 'just want to perform,' but as label investment dollars decrease substantially, it's essential that artists embrace doing more on their own.
That means learning all sorts of new skills, including technical ones.
Also – as an artist, it doesn't matter if you think Facebook or Twitter are stupid. The point is, your FANS are THERE already, so you need to be, too!
Great article on how essential Social Marketing is in the Industry today, Ariel! I first saw this on Mikey J’s Blog where he quoted you, and I was so impressed by it that I had to track it back to its source. You worded, so clearly, the benefits of social marketing, and, not only did a great service to the artists out there, but to the social media industry as a whole. Thank you. Not everyone is so gifted with words.
I thought, at first that Mikey had written this piece, and replied on his page. Perhaps you will allow me to repost here:
” Great article on how essential Social Marketing is in the Industry today, Michael! I have just one more thing to add. If an artist has a really hard time navigating the ins and outs of the Social Marketing scene, there is a growing breed of marketers and managers, who can take the tech out of Social Media for you.
We go by different names, but whether we’re Social Networkers, Social Media Marketers, or just this generation Online Artist Managers, we can guide you to the social networking sites best suited to you, set up your profile, and have everything ready for you to simply type away. Some of us will also work as messengers, allowing you to email what you would like to say to us, and then distributing it throughout your networks for you. We can then returns comments and emails back to you via email.
Problems writing? Why not have your Social Network Manager author your profile, and maybe even your blog in the form of an interview? There are many creative solutions for every situation.
In the end, you don’t have to spend all your time working on your social presence, but you shouldn’t ignore its potential. Whether you do it yourself, get a hand with the technical set-up, or have someone managing your accounts, it’s time to get in touch with social media.
Director of Talent & Product Management
Phoenix Professional Services
Thanks again for such a great article, Ariel!
All the best,
Right on the money Ariel…
This is very helpful. Helpful and sobering. As you know, since I am doing the blog challenge, I am totally sold on embracing social media as the way to pursue my craft and bring it to the world
(For those of you out there that have heard about ArielPR's Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge, the book is worth every penny and the blog challenge is totally worth it.)
70% of my time on marketing vs. (only) 30% on my craft? This is hard to swallow. But I realize that this is REALITY. And if I want to do what I love, I have to embrace it, not endure it. Embracing it means that I'm willing to have fun doing it while simply enduring it will make it hard to get up in the morning.
KEEPING IT FUN!!!
What if an artist is philosophically opposed to social media because in the long run it could be a socially destructive force?
I think a lot of times musicians are just not sure how to use the tools well. I'm still in the learning phase of how to blend social media into what I do everyday.. How do you establish a good rhythm with the tools and use them well?
Agreed – and you don't want to spend most of your time working on your craft and no time building an audience, and connecting with them (via this amazing tool called social media), or else you'll be playing to small audiences for a long time.
Obviously there's a balance, and I believe that's what you're pointing out. I respect that.
This is absolutely about balance. I was hitting the social media thing really hard throughout the blog challenge and it gave me vision and confidence to work on my next record. That said, until I have the new record finished, the best I can sell is a 10-year old album, so for the time being social media has to take a backseat to content generation. But once the new record is finished, hold on to your horses! 🙂
and you don't want people to forget about you while you record! 🙂
Patricia, you said you have not gained any money, but you've gained bookings… didn't you get paid for some of those bookings? Social networking is definitely a more subtle, but more powerful way to gain long-term fans & relationships with clubs/promoters.
I think that a lot of artists are unaware of the benefits of Social Media because they haven’t been fed in regards to knowledge. The only thing artists care about is visibility and being respected. They employ a shotgun style of marketing that is not intimate. Social Media helps artists find out who they are. It is just a tool and should be used in conjunction with other tools. Artists need to spend more time building relationships and marketing and less time following someone else’s path to success.
Music and fine art are totally different. If you’re not social in music, you might as well give up. Music is about playing with people in front of people. Its one of the most social jobs you could pick. Maybe if you’re scoring films, it could be different, but that work doesn’t grow on trees and goes to many formerly famous musicians.
Fine art is a weird mix of solitary and social life, but these days, I would say you better be a painter or sculptor or glass arrtist, and you better have something tangible and unique to peddle, because inket prints aren’t going to cut it.
Most importantly, make sure you copyright register your work twice a year. That idea that I made it, its’ copywritten is technically true, but registering your work is the main thing that will allow a lawyer to take your case and go after the culprits.
I made a terrible mistake on social media. I shared unpopular political views and aligned my music with an unpopular political cause and it destroyed me… I am permanently banned from Facebook. I even tried making alias accounts and Faceberg tracked my IP address. I encourage anyone who has controversial political ideas to keep it to yourself. Smile and wave. Your fans don’t want to know the true reality of who you are and what you think. They don’t want to know about your messy house, your relationship problems, or your horrifying medical issues. They want a safe, ideal, version of reality so they can escape from their own shitty life. It’s not about building deep relationships. After all, how can you really build a deep connection with someone when you have to censor every thought that doesn’t conform to what is allowed on social media? No, your fans want the APPEARANCE of a relationship with you that they find pleasing. Personally, I must be getting old. I miss the 80s. It didn’t matter if you had unpopular political views like Ted Nugent, or if you were an egotistical asshole like Yngwie Malmsteen. If you were a great musician, your personal faults could be more easily forgiven. In today’s world, everyone wants to be a rock star, and worse… everyone thinks they have the goods. The quality of art is in a state of decay. Oversaturation of the music market has caused the value of music to plummet. Because of certain utopian social ideals, music consumers are confused and their aesthetics and artistic values are erroneous. It’s more admirable to be good at Guitar Hero than to play real Guitar. Thousands of young people attend EDM concerts to watch over dramatized turning of knobs, while genres of music which require more training and skill are considered passe. The Emperor of modern music has no clothes, but if an artist points this out, or worse, if he points out the erroneous philosophical drivel which has brought about the current regime, that artist is shunned, ostracized, and demonetized. I guess you could say that I am still a little bitter about social media.
These are very important observations. And I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do. Sadly we are getting more divided and lonely through social media.
I’m certainly ready to leave it all and go back to making music in the dark, under the mushrooms. Seriously I found more happiness doing that than getting it out there to be heard, the marketing, which is small. But the madness of it is this, why? At least when you are enjoying yourself, you should be happy in that dark place of solitude. I shouldn’t have ever listened to people telling me long ago, you should let others hear your music… I might have made more albums by now if I hadn’t listened to them.
I TOTALLY understand where you are coming from. I speak to so many artists who hate the marketing part and I think more should think the way you do. This article sums it up so amazingly well – https://www.manrepeller.com/2019/02/trap-of-turning-hobbies-into-hustles.html
I find your comment very inspiring. Thank you! I am now off to the do the same. I wasn’t really fitting into the scene I was in or their social media hype scene either. I need to keep doing art, however. The universie or whatever always finds a way to help me share it. I wasted more time on social media doing other things than making art. I hope you are really enjoying your creative process. In spirit!
Thank you. I am a video artist and I finally deleted FB but feel I won’t get to know about events or get intivted to perform unless i am on there. However, because I am more of an artist introvert, the whole thing was making me uncomfortable. I am not about narcissistic self-promotion, which I feel goes on a lot on that platform and honestly, my art posts would just get lost in an endless stream of data like yesterday’s news. I had a few fans who really followed what I was doing, but the whole thing was taking a lot of time and even against my better judgement, I found FB to be addicting in the way it gets you down some rabbit holes. I want to be more of an artist actually making art than having social media on my mind in relation to it.
I also did not really care that much for the music scene I was involved with and I wasn’t into kissing all their asses and playing their games or putting up with their dysfuncitonal behavior, so I think my besst bet is now to just keep making art and finding new places to share it in real life. Maybe make a youtube or vimeo channel.
I admire tha artists who got off of it. It lends me strength.
I think it’s hideous that musicians are being told to spend 70% of their time on marketing or go find a real job. Eff that. The system needs to be changed. I don’t want to be dictated to by a bunch of teenagers with too much time on their hands and fancy phones. I don’t want to court them. I don’t want to play that game. Can you imagine if Amy Winehouse had been expected to build a following on frikkin Instagram before being taking seriously as an artist? It would never have happened. We need a return to the old music industry model, but wiser and more open. We need to return to a world where musicians focused on the music and business people focused on selling it. A world in which only musicians who are good at the business side of things (and willing to spend 70% of their time on it) are the only ones whose music bubbles up into public awareness, is one in which we continue to see the prevalence of crap music on the airwaves, to the point that someone does something halfway decent (Finneas and his kid sister) and everyone acts like it’s the second coming of the Beatles. Horrible depressing reality that makes me feel utterly suicidal. This article did not help alleviate that feeling.
So sorry that you feel that way, Diana. Unfortunately this is the new music business world that we are in. We aren’t the ones calling those shots, just the ones trying to help everyone understand it to the best of our abilities.
Glad you found it convincing 🙂