As a performer having a strong "story" can go a long way towards shaping your identity, your brand, and how you are perceived by potential fans. Here we look at some important tips on how to shape your story in order to communicate what you want it to.
[Editors Note: The following is an installment in our monthly series of a partnership between TuneCore and students at Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University. In an attempt to offer new insight and educational content for independent artists, we’re excited to give these music industry professionals of the future a journalistic platform.]
WWOD? (What Would Oprah Do?)
Oprah’s strength is listening to people’s stories. So what is your story as an artist? Ask yourself questions that tell the story of your life. Answer those questions in less than 30 seconds, drawing out the most important, impactful, and life-changing moments. How did you grow up? How did your childhood impact you? When did you start making music? Why do you make music? Does your music tell your story?
After asking yourself these questions, think of where you would like to take your music. What is your goal as a musician? What are the biggest challenges that you currently face? Try to understand why these challenges are so pressing to you as a person and figure out how they influence your artistry. The changes you make will help you further understand why you make the decisions you make, and hopefully they will push you to establish your values and what you believe is morally correct. In the long run, this development of your ‘story’ will help you stand out. Going even further, ask yourself: what makes you unique? If you’re stuck at a crossroad, to whom do you look to guide you? What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths?
Once you figure out your story, use it to augment your brand and improve your image! In the words of Oprah, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Use those things that you view as weaknesses to improve your image. Weakness and vulnerability make you relatable as an artist and gives your fans something to connect with.
As long as we’re mentioning celebrities, think about Taylor Swift. One thing many associate with Swift are her breakup songs. You’d better believe that her label and management know that breakups are relatable. Maybe breakups aren’t your thing, but be yourself and use your story to be relatable.
Content, Content, Content
One of the most important things you can do as an artist to boost your career is create and share social media content. You want to develop adiverse content marketing plan for all social media channels you choose to use. The content you post should follow the “80/20 Rule”: 80% entertainment or engaging, and 20% promotional. Make sure the content is interesting to your followers. Integrating pictures and videos and even time lapse effects can be very eye-catching.
Be sure to post frequently and consistently. Have your content prepared two weeks in advance and schedule your posts accordingly. This will become a lifesaver when you begin touring or are otherwise too busy.
Staying active on social media channels is essential in keeping fans engaged and informed on what’s going on in your life and in your music. These platforms are tools for artists to convey details not only about their music and careers, but also their personal lives.
Editors note: Be sure to check out our “Social Media For Musicians: A Beginners Guide” PDF!
Here are a few quick tips to make the most of your social media:
- Focus on the four major platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Learn these inside and out. Try to make your profile on each site resemble the professional touch of the artists you look up to, but with your own unique twist.
- Think about when you visit social media most often. Now, try to make sure you are posting during these high-traffic times! Frequently engage with other artists, celebrities you like, and anyone with similar interests. Consider creating a “post schedule” to make sure you are delivering quality content on a consistent basis. In the world of social media, more is more.
- Don’t spam! The last thing your followers want is a human advertisement. It is advised that you strike a balance between music promotion and friendly engagement. Ensure your followers know about your releases, but make them feel like genuine friends, not just fans. Follow back regularly and always say thank you when someone gives you a shout-out. These strategies will definitely increase the chances of your followers reposting your music and attending your shows.
- Sites like Twitter and Facebook have incredible integration with Spotify and other outlets; make sure you take full advantage of this. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to hear your music.
- #DontForgetTheHashtags. These will add you to different pages exposing you to different audiences with similar interests.
Let’s get to posting!
“Drop a Single…Like It’s Hot.”
In the fast pace world we live in today, music consumers constantly want the newest release. This is in part why the music community is moving away from releasing an album every year or two and towards dropping a single every couple months. Having an extended amount of time in between your music releases allows your fans to have time to grow tired and possibly lose interest.
Instead of building hype up for an album and letting it die out by the time you are ready to release your next project, keep your momentum going by having something new to promote by the time your audience starts to get ready to move on to the next thing.
Apart from the benefit of keeping your buzz alive, releasing one song at a time is typically easier on an artist financially, especially if you are doing so independently. It’s almost as if you were paying for your album with an installment plan; only having to pay for one of the songs every couple of months. Don’t forget, with every release you should utilize every marketing tool you have. Tease your single by posting a short clip on your social media accounts.
When your song is released, make sure you have posted it on all platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, etc. There are an endless number of streaming or music purchasing sites now, and if you want to make sure your music is heard by as many people as possible, put them everywhere.
Come out of your artist cave and make friends.
Making yourself a household name does not happen overnight. It takes personality, strategy, and connections. Local radio stations can be your goldmine because they tend to host lots of events that you could attend, which could be used as networking opportunities. Getting to know people in the industry is crucial. From the outside, the music industry looks like a huge industry but realistically, everyone knows someone. People like to know that they are acknowledged and it makes you stand out.
Regardless of the outcome, networking is always a step in the right direction. You will never lose anything from putting yourself out there. Having business cards, CDs, pins, stickers, etc. with you to give to industry folks you come across could take you a long way, as you’re giving them something to keep and bring with them.
A major plus to face-to-face meeting is being able to showcase your charisma. Potential fans want to know that you have a personality and are a good person to support. Industry professionals want to know you are in this because you want to be. All of this is so simple yet so overlooked, so start when the opportunities first arise.