Although necessary, promoting your music is usually an pricey proposition. Social media platforms, however, provide a largely inexpensive, risk free space for artists to hawk their wares. But, as CD Baby's Chris Robley explains, this still requires a careful, measured approach in order to be successful.
By Chris Robley of CD Baby from the DIY Musician blog
The five most important factors when considering social and ad platforms for your music promotion.
You want more people to hear your music. But how?
PR is expensive. Radio promotion is costly too. Playlist promotion? Yeah, add that to your growing list of big-ticket promo campaigns. Now you’re broke with no guarantee of results.
On the other hand, social platforms provide a free or cheap way to get your music out there.
Risk is low, results can be measured in real-time, and positive outcomes can be scaled up according to your budget.
So you compare the popular platforms for music promotion, including:
- YouTube & Google
- Facebook & Messenger
- Instagram & IGTV
- Periscope, or Houseparty, or Twitch, or…
- Spotify (yes, there are social and advertising features)
- Pandora (Artist Marketing Platform)
And now you’re overwhelmed. Which is best? How can you manage it all?
Well, hopefully I have an answer that provides some peace: YOU CAN’T MANAGE IT ALL! AND NONE OF THEM ARE “BEST.”
Focus on one or two platforms that are right for you.
If you’re here for a prescription, I’m sorry.
There’s no RIGHT platform, only platforms that are right or wrong FOR YOU.
For instance, some musicians kill it on Twitter, while others find it’s a waste of time. Same goes for any platform. So much depends on your genre, your audience, and your own personality.
What you should do is find one or two platforms where you can make a dent. How do you decide where to put your concentrated energy though?
Look for four things:
The platforms you use to promote your music should provide…
The platform you choose should inspire you to stay active there.
It shouldn’t be a mystery how your voice can come to life in that space. If you can be “authentic” (sorry for the buzzword), it’s probably the platform for you.
However, if you hate the experience after familiarizing yourself with the platform, your energies are better spent elsewhere. You have enough chores in your day; don’t make communication one of them.
2. A means for follow-up messaging
Sometimes it takes a little work to figure out HOW to reach specific segments of your audience on these platforms, but re-targeting should be an established feature of any platform where you’re going to spend time and money.
What good is an ad or post that simply goes into the ether? Don’t you want the ability to serve a follow-up message to anybody who engaged with that content? Yes, you do. Or should.
3. An easy way to drive traffic off-platform
Some platforms are cranky about anything that takes a user somewhere else. (I’m looking at you Instagram.) I mean, do you ever get tired of writing “Link in Profile?”
Don’t get me wrong, Instagram is probably my favorite platform, and it’s good for a lot of things — but it’s also stingy about attention unless you’re paying them or have enough cred to get verified.
On the other hand, Twitter has no qualms about live links on its platform. In fact, most Twitter feeds are almost entirely external links! YouTube enables you through cards and end screens to drive traffic off-platform (to your website, merch store, crowdfunding campaigns, etc.) Even Facebook lets you share links, though posts with off-platform URLs are downgraded by its algorithm.
The obvious upside to platforms that allow you to direct fans wherever you want is that you face fewer barriers to merch sales, email signups, and so forth.
Now none of the criteria I’ve listed above needs to be make or break; they’re just considerations. As I said, Instagram still scores high for me on fun and remarketing; I just don’t look at it as an effective place to share YouTube videos or drive traffic to my website.
Are your current and future fans actually ON the platform?
EVERYONE is on Facebook, even people who say they aren’t. But NOT everyone is on Snapchat, Twitch, or Habbo ; )
Facebook and YouTube aside (because they’re pretty much ubiquitous), demographics and genre will play a part in how effective you are on a certain platforms.
Before you try to share your music on a platform, figure out if your audience is even active there.
5. Tangible benefits over vanity metrics
How many followers you have on Facebook doesn’t matter if none of those followers see your posts. How many passive streams you have on Spotify doesn’t matter if those listeners aren’t engaging with your music in a deeper way.
As you choose a platform, be sure to look past the WOW and OUCH factor of vanity metrics (publicly visible stats that make you feel cool or crappy) to see what else the platform offers.
Look under the hood. Sometimes the car with the fresh coat of paint and wax might not be able to get you past the city limits. The one that looks like a beater could go another 100,000 miles.
Again, no prescriptions here. What works for one artist won’t for another. Mileage may vary. And every single platform above CAN be a powerful place to promote music, depending on you, your audience, and what you hope to achieve.