Category: Music and Social Media

Flipagram: The Music Focused Social Network

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

At Source, we want bands to build sustainable careers. The path to a long career in the music industry is a difficult one, but we’ve found two things that are key for independent musicians: great content (music, video, graphics, website, art) and great fan engagement.

We know that in the modern music industry, the intersection of these two keys elements is often social media

We get that posting to social media can be tedious and keeping up with all the new trends and sites can be like drinking water out of a fire hydrant.

That’s where Source comes in. We want to review these services, try them out for ourselves, and then let you know when we think a new social media site is on to something. And that brings us to…

You might not have heard of Flipagram yet, as it is still a growing social network. However, it’s gained traction in recent months, especially with musicians and music fans.

Flipagram’s main use is to make montages of pictures and video, and set them to music. You can also create a montage and record a voiceover. Or choose music, and film a funny video of you lip syncing.

It was designed specifically to integrate with music, so it has some benefits for musicians that other social networks don’t. If your music is available for download in iTunes, a 30 second preview of your song will probably be available for Flipagram users to sync with their “flips.” If your song is used in someone’s flip, a link is posted in the caption to purchase that song on iTunes or listen on Spotify.

Even if your music isn’t on iTunes, if it’s downloaded to your phone, you will still be able to use it in your Flipagram.

Flipagram as a Social Network

Flipagram’s first purpose is as a social network. They have millions of users and all of those users have one thing in common: they love music.

Or at least, they like adding music to their videos and pictures.

Which makes Flipagram a great social network for musicians!

Flipagram also makes it easy to share content. You can follow other users, like their content, and “reflip” their videos.

Flipagram’s demographic is very young, so if your target age group is over 30, this might not be the social network you want to invest your time in. But if teens are listening to your music, it might be worth it to see if your fans are on Flipagram.

Even if Flipagram isn’t your social media bread and butter, it can be used to create good content for your other social sites!

Flipagram as a Content Creation Tool

Flipagram’s visually appealing videos can be shared across almost all social platforms. They are a great way to show off pictures from your last photo shoot, or recap each night of your tour. You can create a flip of all your awesome studio selfies, and use it to preview your unreleased single.

You can even get silly and record an embarrassing lip sync video to make your fans laugh. Try promoting a show by adding text to a picture, and playing one of your songs in the background.

Since visual and video content gets higher engagement rates on Twitter and Facebook, feel free to share your flips to both those networks.

Flipagram will even time your videos specifically to Vine and Instagram’s limits, if that’s where you want to share your flip.

So if you’re ready to experiment with a new content creation tool/social platform, Flipagram is probably the right place for you!

Do you use Flipagram? Has it helped to promote your music? Let us know in the comments below!


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Musicians on Instagram: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Artsy photos, shameless selfies, and filters galore! Instagram has become a top social network with over 300 million users, and over 70 million photos posted per day. The scope of Instagram’s reach, especially within the younger crowd, means it’s important for your music to be represented on the social network.

But what happens when Instagram goes wrong? We’ve found five profiles that are prime examples of what never to do on Instagram.

Private Page Pete

Pete’s a really great guy. He’s a singer-songwriter who almost always performs solo. He decided that he would just combine his personal Instagram account and his music account to save time! But Pete posts a lot of pictures of his family, and he decided he didn’t want just anyone seeing those pictures, so he set his profile to private.

peteprofile

Having a private Instagram account is perfectly fine, but only if you have another–separate–music account that can be viewed by anyone. When you decide to get up on stage and make music your career, you give up a little privacy. It comes with the territory. So if you are using your Instagram account to promote your music, make sure everyone can see it.

Super Spammy Sam

Oh, Sam. Such a sweet, excitable girl. It’s hard for her to find something she doesn’t think should be posted. So, every day, she posts over 10 pictures! And sometimes, if something really exciting is happening, she will rapid-fire post tons of pictures only seconds apart.

samspam

Sam does a great job of consistently posting, but her constant flood of pictures will probably annoy most Instagram users, especially when she goes on a posting spree. A good rule of thumb for Instagram is 1-5 pictures a day, but the most important thing is to post consistently. If you always post 2 photos a day, try to keep up that schedule.

Hashtag Hoarder Henry

Henry knows that hashtags on Instagram are a great way to get a random person to click on your post. Instagram is full of awesome, searchable things! But Henry gets a little crazy sometimes, especially if he is posting about a show. Sometimes, he’ll add 20 hashtags to the caption of his picture!

henrypic

You can definitely use more hashtags on Instagram than you do on Twitter, but filling up the entire caption of your photo with tons of hashtags could make you appear desperate for likes and followers. Try keeping your hashtag count under 10, and make sure that the hashtags that you use are relevant to your music and what you are posting about. Or funny. Hashtags can be funny.

Always Absent Annie

Annie created an Instagram for her music and posted her first photo more than a year ago. Since then, she’s only posted four photos. She still mentions at all her shows that fans should follow her on Instagram, but when they get to her page, there’s nothing there to make them want to follow her.

annieprofile

If you’re going to have a social media account for your music, you need to use it. Don’t have empty (or not recently updated) accounts floating around the internet. If fans are searching for you, they need to be able to find good information and social media profiles that make it clear your band didn’t actually break up six months ago.

Mucho Mysterious Michael

Michael loves to take really awesome artsy photos. He has a knack for photography, so naturally, Instagram is his favorite social network. He posts consistently, doesn’t spam, and uses the perfect amount of hashtags.

But he’s never in any of his photos.

Michael isn’t the worst offender. You might even choose this approach as a marketing strategy if you are in an avant-garde jazz fusion collective.

mikepic

But for most musicians, never being in any of your photos is a bad idea. People want to connect with you, and that’s harder to do if all you do is post artistic pictures of leaves. So occasionally, have someone take a picture with you in it! Post a selfie or two. Post pictures of you performing, or with a landmark in the city you’re playing that night. You don’t have to be in every photo, but you should be in most of them.

So What Should You Do on Instagram?

There are three things you must do on Instagram:

  • Be Yourself
  • Be Consistent
  • Be Engaged

If you need some in-depth tips on how to utilize Instagram for your music, you can check out this article that we wrote a few months ago.

Do you have any horror stories about Instagram users, or using Instagram yourself? Do you have any tips to help musicians engage with fans on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below!


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Musicians and Social Media- How to Market Your Music Like a Pro

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

It’s a struggle almost all artists face. You need social media to market your music, but it keeps eating up all your time. Or you’re so fed up with updating all your profiles that you hardly ever post. Both of these problems can be helped by one thing.

A plan.

But not just any plan. You need a plan to make your social media profiles engaging to fans, and you need to spend less time doing it.

Creating a Social Media Plan

  • Step One: Decide what you want from your social media profiles. Do you want to create more personal interaction with fans? Do you want to drive sales of your album or traffic to your website? Having an end goal gives your social media profiles purpose, and keeps them from being useless time-eaters.
  • Step Two: Determine where your audience is, and how they want you to communicate with them. Meeting your fans where they are will help you engage better. If I know the majority of my fan base is on Twitter, then I should probably put a little more effort into Twitter. This doesn’t mean you ignore your other social profiles, it just means that you spend the most time on the sites that are going to help you meet your goals. For more information on that topic, you can read this blog.
  • Step Three: Take a look at your social media profiles. Briefly analyze how you use them. You probably already know off the top of your head which ones need the most work, and which ones you are already keeping updated well. This is also a good time to make sure that on each network you have filled out your profile completely, and that the information is current.
  • Step Four: Write down your plan. Put down what you think is going great, and what could use work. Write down the social network where your target audience is spending the most time. Then write down three goals to focus on this month.

Here is an example of a simple social media plan that took me about 10 minutes to create:

socialmediaplan

Creating Good Content

Great content is the key to a solid social media presence. Musicians usually have more content than they realize. Your original songs, the stories you tell between songs, the merch you sell, and even interacting with fans after a show can all become good content. You just have to convert it to something that fans can see on the internet.

Creating good content doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be a little time consuming. Try to set aside a few extra hours at the beginning of the month to create some of the content you will be using that month. Record a couple videos of covers you’ve been playing, or work on creating some graphics to share. You can use these things as backup content for days that you may not have anything else going on. After you’ve created your backup content, you can look for everyday things that enhance your brand and use them as content!  Pictures with fans, or a live video are great things to post, and you’re probably already doing half the work needed to turn them into great content.

Deciding What To Post

When creating content, remember the numbers 10  7  2  1.

Out of 10 posts on social media:

  • 7 posts should be content that builds your brand
  • 2 posts should be shared from other brands that are relevant to your own
  • 1 post should be self-promotional.

Brand Content

These are the things that make you who you are, and your music what it is. These posts help people see you, or your band’s, personality. This can be a funny picture, a behind the scenes video, a tour story, or a music video. Basically anything that shows off who you are. Posts promoting shows can even fall under the brand content category if they are done creatively.

Shared Posts

Building community is important. Sharing posts from other bands, or giving a shoutout to a local company can be a good way for you to make connections, and it lets your fans know that you are looking out for them by recommending things you’ll think they’ll like. If a band you’ve played with in the past is playing a big festival, give them a shout out! If your favorite local cupcake maker just gave you a fantastic cupcake, let your fans know.

Self Promotion

This is your place to shamelessly ask people to buy your stuff. If you’re already posting other things that they are interested in, your fans won’t mind when you ask them to buy your album, or get the new t-shirt you just designed.

Put Your Content into Action

Now that you know what your plan is, and you know what your content should look like, you have to get out there and actually post.  Having a posting calendar can be a great tool to keep you accountable and help take the guesswork out of posting. You can be as general or as broad with this calendar as you like. I recommend scheduling at least 10 posts every two weeks.

Here’s an example I’ve created of what a simple posting calendar can look like. This took me about 15 minutes to create.

postingscedule

Building a great social media presence takes hard work. But with a good plan, you can give your followers the content they want without spending all of your free time on social media.

Have any other great social media marketing tips? What’s worked best for your band? Let us know in the comments below!

 




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Should You Use ReverbNation?

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

ReverbNation is a music-specific social network that over 3.5 million artists use. From digital distribution and web hosting to gig opportunities, ReverbNation seems to have it all. But do you need a ReverbNation profile?

To decide if ReverbNation is a good fit for you, you have to ask yourself this question:

Is ReverbNation actually helping my career?

ReverbNation has some useful tools. But some of its features might do more harm than good to your music career.

What Not to Do On ReverbNation

We want you, the artist, to market your music effectively, engage with fans well, and have a successful career. Part of that is using the tools available to you wisely. So we’ve outlined some things to steer clear of when you use ReverbNation, and a few things that ReverbNation might be able to help you with.

Don’t let ReverbNation’s automated social media posts replace your personal interaction with fans.

ReverbNation easily syncs with major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. ReverbNation can automatically post information about your shows to other social networks. It will continue to post show information as it gets closer to the show date. While this sounds like a great thing, ReverbNation won’t let you control when those things are shared, or how often.

This is a problem.

ReverbNation’s posts tend to fill up your profile with impersonal concert notifications.

While it’s great to let fans know when and where you’ll be playing, these impersonal post soon begin to look like spam. This can frustrate and annoy fans, which is the last thing you want to do.

If you let ReverbNation post to Facebook, it can also lower your position on your fans’ newsfeeds. Facebook has a very specific algorithm that dictates what gets placed into newsfeeds. Numerous duplicate posts could get flagged in Facebook’s program, and mean a lower fan reach.

Do have a regular social media posting schedule.

A status that you took the time to write is better content than a computer generated post about a show. When your social feed is full of automated links, it can make you look like you don’t care about interacting with your fans.

ReverbNation’s automatic posts won’t harm you if your newsfeed has lots of organic posts.  When the automated updates are interspersed with personal content, fans can get excited that you are announcing shows, instead of frustrated that their feed is full of unwanted notifications.

Don’t sacrifice a great website.

ReverbNation has the ability to create a good looking website, that is mobile and tablet friendly.  But I have a major problem with ReverbNation’s website builder.

There are only three templates, and almost no customization.

While Reverbnation’s website design and hosting is easy to set up, the lack of personalization cuts down on the usefulness of this service. You want your website to be an accurate representation of who you are as an artist, and you want it to be a place where you can interact with fans. In my opinion, ReverbNation’s sites don’t allow you to do that.

As a quick example, let’s check out one of the bands that ReverbNation uses to showcase it’s website building feature: Skyward.

reverbnation website builder

Skyward is an independent alternative rock band from Harrisonburg, VA, and I reached out to talk to them about how their band utilizes ReverbNation. The first thing I asked them about was web hosting. They told me that even though ReverbNation features the Skyward website on their information page about site building, Skyward does not actually use the ReverbNation website tool, instead they use a design/hosting platform from Wix for their homepage.  If a band that is featured on ReverbNation—specifically on their information page for site building—doesn’t use the service, that tells me that something about their web design platform did not meet the expectations of Skyward.  ReverbNation may want to update their information page with a band that is actually using them to design/host their site.

Do have a website.

If you don’t currently have a website, ReverbNation’s website builder might be a good place for you to start. Having a website with almost no customization is better than having no website at all, and if this fits your need, then ReverbNation offers a good solution for beginners.

Social media profiles, including your ReverbNation profile, are not a substitute for good website.

So if you don’t have a website, and aren’t sure how to go about creating one, ReverbNation might be a good place to start.

However, if you are willing to spend a little extra time, you can have a much more custom website with the same tools at about the same price. There are lots of web hosting and design services that have comparable prices to ReverbNation, and allow you to fully build the best website for you. I recommend WordPress, Square Space, or Wix.

Don’t expect hundreds of new fans.

While ReverbNations boasts that they have 3.5 million bands signed up on their site, they never let us know how many fans have profiles. There’s no doubt that some music fans are on ReverbNation, but is it a site that hoards of fans visit to find new artists? Probably not.

The majority of users on ReverbNation are other artists. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a ReverbNation website will generate fan traffic and get you noticed. Try this simple test – ask the next 20-30 people you meet how they listen to music. Track how many tell you they log onto ReverbNation to find new music, I think you will find the number is small or possibly zero.  When I tried it not one of my people said ReverbNation.

If you want genuine interaction with fans, new and old, ReverbNation is probably not the place to do that.

I asked Skyward if they’ve had success connecting with new fans on ReverbNation, and their guitarist Jordan Breeding said:

I’m pretty sure no casual music fan ever hops on there, creates a profile, and then looks for new bands. It seems that most of the members are just other musicians. That limits its usefulness in my opinion.”

Do spend time creating relationships with fans

ReverbNation probably isn’t the best place to connect with fans. Finding out where your target audience communicates will help you build meaningful relationships with fans. Try Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or Patronage.

Don’t spend all your time randomly submitting to gig opportunities

There are thousands of live show and press opportunities on ReverbNation. In theory, having thousands of potential gigs at your fingertips is wonderful. But there are problems. One issue is simply sorting through them all. You have to find the opportunities that are relevant to your band that you actually have a chance of booking.

Remember, there are literally millions of bands on ReverbNation trying to compete for the same opportunities as you.

You also have to pay to submit to many of the opportunities on ReverbNation. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you don’t get the gig, that money is gone. So if you choose to submit to these gigs, make sure you are paying attention to the cost.

Do submit to opportunities that can genuinely enhance  your career.

When looking for opportunities on ReverbNation use your time—and your hard earned cash—well. Spend it on things that are actually going to enhance your career. Some people successfully find gigs on ReverbNation. Other artists don’t.

The guys in Skyward have had some moderate success with ReverbNation opportunities. They recommend looking for opportunities based on geography. You’re much more likely to have the chance to play at a local festival that uses ReverbNation than at a festival thousands of miles away. You always have to keep in mind that you are competing with thousands (or millions!) of other musicians. But if you’re smart about where you spend your time and money, and it might pay off!

Useful Tools

There are things you probably shouldn’t be using ReverbNation for. But it can be a great tool when you use it wisely.

ReverbNation offers digital distribution at good prices, and their services are comparable to many other aggregators.  And if you are already paying for the premium tier of ReverbNation, digital distribution is included.

They also offer a great rate when you sell downloads from their online store. Selling downloads is even available with a free membership! Musicians keep 87% of the revenue they generate from selling their music on ReverbNation. That’s quite a bit more than the 70% you’ll make from iTunes.

Reverbnation also offers a great looking Electronic Press Kit. If you need something simple, effective, and streamlined to send to promoters, ReverbNation’s press kits are good looking, easy to set up, and offer great tools like integrated fan stats. You can even see who opened your press kit, and exactly what they clicked on.

Another advantage of ReverbNation is that it keeps everything in one central location. This is Skyward’s favorite feature. Guitarist Jordan Breeding says:

“It’s definitely very helpful as far as being able to hold all of our music/videos/photos/schedule in one convenient place and then incorporate that stuff onto our Facebook and personal website. It can also be a helpful way to contact certain venues or other bands in the places where we travel.”

Thanks to Skyward for their input in this article. You can checkout their music here, and their ReverbNation press kit here.




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Apple Music Streaming: What It Means for the Independent Artist

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Yesterday, Apple unveiled its new music streaming service. While Apple’s release of iTunes revolutionized how the world buys music, they have been slow to enter the world of streaming.

The announcement came with all the bells and whistles that normally accompany Apple’s tech releases… but, for independent musicians, the announcement likely raises more questions than it answers.

The Basics

For the new service, Apple will charge $9.99 per month for streaming and radio services. Alternatively, users can choose a family plan (for up to six people) for $14.99 a month. Apple Music streaming will offer curated playlists, radio stations, complete integration with iTunes, and a new artist-to-fan social feature called Connect.

What Will It Pay?

Noticeably absent from all information offered by Apple is the amount that Apple Music will pay artists.

Unlike other streaming platforms, there is no free tier on Apple music. This is good news for the makers of music, as it should increase the amount of money paid to rights owners. However, if the payment structure looks anything like those of Spotify or Pandora, independent musicians will still be getting the smallest piece of a very small pie. The music streaming industry as a whole is not friendly to independent musicians.

It appears that Apple Music will not be much different, despite their claims in the announcement videos to help independent musicians build sustainable careers.

Will “Connect” Actually Connect Artists and Fans?

It seems that Apple Music is trying to compete with Jay Z’s Tidal by offering fans exclusive content at no extra cost. Actually, they are offering “exclusive” content at no cost at all. Anyone— even nonmembers of the streaming service—can access the videos, pictures, and music files that artists upload. This is not good news for independent musicians.

If you are working hard to create exclusive content for your diehard fans, you should be doing it in a way that creates income for you. (Ever heard of patronage?) By making Connect available to everyone, Apple completely negated the “exclusivity” of that content. In essence, it’s the same as putting a video up on YouTube. The key difference is that this content will link directly to your music and artist profile in Apple Music. It’s an important distinction, but it’s not enough. There’s no real way for your content to work for you on Connect.

Apple also did not address royalty payments on Connect. If you upload a demo of your new single, are you being paid whenever fans listen to that demo? Or are you cutting your losses? You spend the time creating a song and recording the demo—not to mention the money you spent on the equipment to do those things—and Apple hasn’t given any indication on whether or not they are going to pay you when fans listen to your “exclusive” content.

Connect also offers nothing new in terms of fan engagement. Fans can comment on the material you upload, and you can comment back. This is exactly what is offered on Facebook and Twitter. Connect is a downgrade when you look at its social media competition (Twitter and Facebook); even Spotify allows private messaging. The only benefit in Connect is that fans don’t have to follow you to see your content and comment on it.

Independent Friendly?

Did I mention that there is a MAJOR problem for independent musicians in the very structure of Apple’s Connect? As an independent artist myself, with music currently on iTunes, I decided to claim my Artist profile on Connect. This is what I found:

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 9.49.00 AM

I am a fully independent artist with no management company or label. Normally, I would just submit my information the management information and leave the label portion blank, since I am not signed to any kind of label. However, there was no option to communicate that I was not affiliated at all with a record label. I was not able to push the submit button to claim my profile until I had entered information about my (nonexistent) record label.  If Apple is touting that their service is indie-friendly, requiring artists to enter their record label information in order to claim their profile is not the way to go about it.

So far, I have seen nothing about Apple Music that is truly attempting to help independent artists.

What Should Independent Artists Do?

Apple Music’s launch simply adds to the ongoing discussion about streaming and its sustainability. Streaming is great for fans of music, but is this form of music consumption beneficial to the music industry in the long run? How can artists create long-term careers when their sources of income are decreasing in number and scale?

Independent artists have to change the way they think about streaming as a whole. When you look at streaming as a revenue stream, it falls short. No one (not even Pharrell) can make a living purely from the income generated by streaming. It simply isn’t generating enough money.

However, when artists look at streaming as a marketing tool that pays them, the game changes.

If you want people to discover you using streaming services, great! Put your music on Spotify, and Pandora, and Apple Music. Just don’t add your full catalog. Let fans get a taste of your best stuff. Post on Apple’s Connect like you would any other social media tool. Just don’t let these third party websites be the primary way that you interact with and sell music to fans. There are other, better ways to connect with the people who love your music.

In the End

Is Apple streaming a game changer for the music industry? I don’t think so. At the moment, it appears to be nothing more than a company formerly on the leading edge of innovation playing catch-up. Apple Music is not going to revolutionize the music industry.

Instead, changes and revolution will come from independent artists and the choices that we make as content creators.

For more information on Apple Music, check the following websites:

 




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Creating a Strong Profile on Pinterest

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

So you think that Pinterest might be a good tool to keep in your proverbial marketing tool belt? Great!

Let’s get into the practical ways you can effectively use Pinterest to connect with fans and increase traffic on your website.

Creating Your Profile

The first step is to sign up for a Pinterest Account. There are now two types of Pinterest accounts: personal and business. The business accounts operate exactly like personal Pinterest accounts, except you get free access to analytics. This is a valuable tool once you learn how to use it, so I recommend signing up as a business account. If you already have a personal Pinterest account, you can convert it into a business account. However, unless everyone and everything connected to your personal account fits with your brand as an artist, I recommend that you keep your personal and business accounts separate.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.19.21 AM

After you sign up, you will confirm your account through email.

Once your account has been confirmed, you will need to edit your general profile information. To do so:

  • Click on your user name in the top right to get to your profile.
  • Click the “edit profile” button just below your name.
  • Upload a profile picture. The picture should be in focus and not pixelated, easily identifiable, and tied to your brand as an artist. This lets followers instantly recognize a pin as yours.
  • Add a link to your website. This is important, as you are on Pinterest for marketing purposes. Without this link, people who discover you through Pinterest have no easy way of finding out more about you.
  • Choose a custom domain for your Pinterest account. Consistency is key, so try to keep your custom domain as close to your name, website, or other social media custom domains as possible. 

basic info

And that’s it! Your profile is created. Now, let’s make it a strong profile! How do you do that? You add content… the right content.

Building Your Boards

After you’ve edited your basic information, you should begin to create boards. To create a board, simply go to your profile page and click on the “Create Board” icon on the left.

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.13.11 AM

Your boards are where you will pin your content. Topical boards are the best way to organize your content (this is helpful when people are browsing your pins to find content or learn more about you).

When creating your boards, it’s important to think ahead to the content you will pin on them. It’s also important to keep this mantra in mind: Get personal.

You’re here to genuinely connect with fans through shared interests and to give them a glimpse of who you truly are. If all you do is promote yourself, you have missed out on the most useful parts of Pinterest. Your pins, therefore, should reflect who you are as much as (if not more than) what you do.

The key is to strike the right balance.

For boards reflecting your personal interests, some good ideas (topics that consistently trend on Pinterest) are recipes, fashion, DIY projects, and art. If you’re personally interested in something, create a board around that topic.

In terms of boards for marketing your music, you can create boards for your music and videos, tour posters, promotional pictures, live shows, pictures with fans… pretty much anything that can be translated into a visual medium, you can create a board for.

You can (and should!) also have boards that tread the line between your music and personal tastes. Create a board that shows your fans the inspiration behind your music; it could include quotes, poetry, art, or photography. You can even create inspiration boards for specific release, whether a whole album, a single, or a music video.

You can also create shared boards that your fans can pin to. Want to know what your music inspires your fans to do or create? Create a board for fan art. Not sure what to wear for your next music video or photo shoot? Ask your followers! Not only will you get great ideas, but since they were engaged with planning, they will be more likely to share the finished product.

Katy Perry’s page is a good example of fan interaction. Many of her boards allow fans to pin their own content to them. This helps her fans to feel like they are involved with Katy on a personal level. However, Katy’s profile is mostly self-promotion, which is not the way we recommend independent artists use Pinterest. Personal and authentic content is the best way to add and keep followers.

Branding Your Boards

Your personal branding doesn’t have to stop at your website or your profile picture. Pinterest allows for a lot of flexibility and customization. You can create boards around any theme you want, you can name the boards whatever you want, and you can set the main image for each board. Play around with this to tie in your existing branding.

Actress/Pop Singer Vanessa Hudgens does a really good job of consistently branding her boards. Her board titles are simple, and she has uploaded a custom cover photo for each board using the same font and style.

vanessa hudgens boards

Adding Pins to Your Boards

Your content on Pinterest is the point of connection between you and your fans, so make sure that it is well thought out. Remember that people follow you because they are interested in who you are. Show them that with your content.

You can do this with a good mix of original content and repins. If you blog regularly, pin the images from your blog posts. Repin recipes of what you want to eat for dinner alongside an original pin of your new music video. Pin tips for caring for a sore throat and maintaining health; after all, you as a singer should know how to care for your voice. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, re-pin recipes you want to try alongside photos of drinks from coffee shops you visited on the road.

One benefit to pinning original content is that it gives you greater opportunity to drive traffic back to your website. (Pinterest is well-known for its click-through rate.) This works best if you pin directly from your website or point people back your website, where they can buy your music or a T-shirt or get signed up for your mailing list. You can also pin from your other social media accounts. This isn’t as ideal as sending traffic directly to your site, but it could increase your opportunities to interact with your fans. We mentioned Vanessa Hudgens for her branding earlier, but she also does a great job of directing the traffic back to her.

You should also brand your original content. If you have a logo, place that logo somewhere unobtrusive in the picture you’re sharing. That way, even if the link to your original page gets lost, people still know where the content they liked came from.

If you are repinning content that others uploaded, be conscious of what you are pinning. Respect other people’s work. Just like you don’t want someone else to get credit for your songs, a food blogger doesn’t want someone else to get credit for the chocolate cake recipe they worked hard to create. Make sure the picture or recipe links back to the site where it originated. Also be sure that the creator is open to having their content pinned (i.e., look for a “Pin This” prompt on their website or for original pins they have uploaded directly). We’ll use Vanessa Hudgens as an example again. On her Music board, almost all the content is pinned directly from the artist’s website or social media accounts. This drives the traffic back to those artist, giving them credit for their original content. When used correctly, Pinterest is  great way to cross promote, and other independent business will likely be grateful for your appreciation of their content.

Adding Quality Content

Pinterest is primarily a visual medium. Good images are key to increasing engagement. Text should be legible. Photographs shouldn’t be out of focus or pixelated, and they should be well-lit and visually interesting. What does this look like in practice? Instead of pinning a photo of your new merch shirt on a hanger or sitting in the box, ask a friend or fan to model it… but go to a pretty location with good lighting (often indirect lighting) instead of your garage or spare bedroom. Got a new album coming out? Take your favorite line or two and turn them into a gorgeous graphic. If you like it enough, it might be something you turn into an art print to sell as merch!

On a side note: make sure that when you are creating these graphics, that you are not using copyrighted material. You can gets lots of great stock photos at decent prices from sites like fotolia.com and Shutter Stock. Or, if you have a photographer or graphic designer friend, ask if they want to collaborate and make graphics that both of you can use.




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Finding New Fans: Why You Should Be On Pinterest

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I have an idea of what you might be thinking: Pinterest? For my music? Isn’t Pinterest for girls planning their weddings?

As a musician, using Pinterest for your band may sound a little strange, but just give me a minute. There is a chance you are missing out on a great opportunity to market your music.

Pinterest Basics

If you’ve never used Pinterest before, its concept is simple. Users create topical pages called “boards” and add content to their boards by “pinning” pictures, videos, or audio files. Much like bulletin boards of the past, a user’s pins are a mishmash of images from their own life, items they want to purchase, things they want to try, places they want to go, and things that inspire them, spark their creativity, or simply make them happy.

Unlike a private bulletin board, Pinterest is a very social system. You can find and follow other users by searching by name or by linking to your other social media accounts. A user’s pins show up in the home feed of everyone who follows them; likewise, the user can see the pins on boards of users they follow. When following other users, you can follow one of their boards, all of their boards, or only their boards that interest you. Most boards are curated by only their creator, but boards can be shared among multiple users, allowing for easy collaboration on projects. Users can also create private boards, accessible only to their creator. Lastly, users can comment on pins, repin a pin on their own board, and send pins directly to other users.

Pinterest History

Since its creation five years ago, Pinterest has gained millions of users. Its purely visual format is simple, the content is inherently shareable, and it allows users to collaborate easily. What’s not to like?

Pinterest has an interesting—almost niche—user base. About 75% of their users are female, and most users are between the ages of 24 and 34. The most popular topics on the social network are food-related (recipes) and DIY projects. Don’t be fooled, though, into thinking Pinterest can’t be relevant to you or your music. There is a vast array of content. Yes, you can find step-by-step instructions to frosting the perfect cupcake. It’s right there next to tips on turning wood pallets into coffee tables, makeup tutorials, and the fall line for Marc Jacobs, which in turn are mixed in with humorous memes, pretty pictures of handwritten song lyrics, celebrity snapshots, and photographs of classic cars.

Regardless of what they’re looking for, a large portion of Pinterest users choose the site as their go-to search engine. Which makes it a little less surprising that close to 90% of “Pinners” have purchased something that they pinned.

Pinterest for Musicians

For the musician, Pinterest has two main benefits:

Connection

What makes someone really truly love a song? Good melodies help. An interesting phrase can catch someone’s attention. But, chances are, someone loves a song because that song makes them feel understood. Listeners feel like they share an experience or emotion with the artist.

If used correctly, Pinterest can be as helpful in building connections with your fans as your best songs are.

Pinterest is a great way for your fans to get to know you and vice versa. Your customized, topical boards let your fans have a sneak peak into your life. Common interests and tastes may turn a casual listener into a real fan who is ready to support someone they feel close to. Chances are, if they already like the music that you make, they will have some other similar tastes that can be a jumping off point for a strong connection between you and your existing fans.

You can also see the things that your fans like. If a particular style is consistently repinned by your fans, you might think about adding a product with a similar style to your merch table. Tailoring your products to the tastes of the people who will potentially buy those products can mean more merch sold and more money in your pocket.

Pinterest is also a great way to reach new people who might enjoy your music. If you have thoughtful content on the site that interests your followers and prompts them to share it, their networks will see it. If the new viewers are interested and look into the pin (i.e., follow it back to the source), they might discover someone new to follow (you!) and something new to like (your music!).

Conversion

Pinterest is an aspirational website. Its users pin content that reflects something they hope to be, or do, or buy.

Pinterest is also inherently viral. The vast majority of content on Pinterest is “re-pinned,” meaning that people are sharing existing content rather than generating original content. Because of this, pinned content stays around for much longer than a Facebook post or a tweet, and something that you uploaded months ago still has the potential of being repinned.

Lastly, Pinterest is effective at sales conversions. Pinterest beats out other social media platforms in terms of links leading to online purchases. It also has more users click through to the source site than any other social media platform.

What does this mean for bands using Pinterest? A few things:

  • Your content should resonate with fans, genuinely hitting on something they hope to be, do, or buy.
  • Sharing existing content isn’t bad, but uploading original content is better. With original content, you can link to content on your website, driving traffic back there. You can’t really do that with someone else’s images, video, or audio. Additionally, original content is something that your followers haven’t likely seen before… which means they haven’t already pinned it and can do exactly that.
  • Your profile should link to your website. That way, anyone curious about who exactly is pinning this amazing content has a way to find out more.

Keep the above in mind with pinning, and you will likely see your website’s traffic and your sales increase.

As With All Marketing

As with all forms of marketing, the first step is to know your audience. Pinterest isn’t for everyone. If your audience is mostly 55-year-old males, Pinterest probably isn’t the best social media platform to use to market yourself. However, if your target audience is 20 or 30-somethings or largely female, it may well be worth the time it takes for you to establish and run an account.

In the end, you have to be smart about the tools that you use to market yourself and make sure that the time you spend on any marketing endeavor is worth your efforts.

Want to learn more about how to use Pinterest as an effective tool to market your music? Check back later this week for practical tips to build an engaging, effective profile.




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Music Marketing Strategies

Better Marketing in One Easy Step: Shooting for a Bullseye

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

You’ve just spent countless hours revamping your website, following and chatting with fans on social media, and sending a hundred—or was it two hundred—emails to add more bookings and press to your schedule. Your eyes are red and itchy, your fingers are beginning to cramp, and when you look away from your screen you can hardly see straight. It’s time to stop for the night.

And what do you have to show for all that hard work? A few new followers, some extra likes, three automated e-mail responses from people who are on vacation… but no real results.

This is a dismal story, but it’s one I hear too often. Musicians, working hard to market themselves, are not getting any real return from that work. It helps to know what marketing is.

What Exactly Is Marketing?

Marketing is a term that gets tossed around often but can be hard to grasp, especially for musicians. Merriam-Webster says that marketing is “the act or process of selling or purchasing,” and “the technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”

To put it simply: Marketing is the work and the strategy of selling something.

All businesses use marketing in some form or another. TV commercials, junk emails, a tweet, and a flyer tucked under a windshield wiper are simple examples of what marketing looks like on the surface. But there’s more to marketing than the public message. Behind those advertisements are people measuring the effectiveness of the ads. They are tracking views, shares, and traffic and pinpointing exactly which ads and strategies are increasing sales. Then, they take that information and use it to create more sales.

So with these definitions and examples in mind, have you actually been marketing? Or just keeping yourself busy?

Marketing 101

There are many different ways to market yourself, and everyone has an opinion on what works best. But it all boils down to this:

Good marketing means tangible results.

I could stand in a forest for a thousand hours, paint myself green, and glue sticks to my arms, but it will never make me a tree. It’s the same story for musicians and all the hard work they put into marketing. If you aren’t getting results, you aren’t actually marketing.

But what exactly are results? To measure results, we have to have goals. To have relevant goals, we need to know what our customers need and want. To fulfill those needs, we need to have products.

Product

As a musician, you probably think you have an idea about what your product is: your music. The songs you create and record are your signature product. Your music is what people are going to remember you for and what they are going to purchase from you. However, the music that people consume in various forms—physical CDs, digital downloads, live performances, etc.—is merely one facet of what you are actually attempting to market.

Music isn’t your only product. It isn’t even your best product. You are your best product! As an independent musician, you aren’t just selling CDs or tickets to shows. You are selling the brand you’ve created around yourself and your music and the entertainment that brand offers to your customers.

While there are countless other products you can offer, it all comes back to you as an entertainer. If no one wants you and the brand you’ve built, they won’t want your music and events and merch.

Customers

So if you are your product/service, who is your customer?

Many musicians make the mistake of limiting their customer base to people who listen to their music. In reality, it’s much broader. Anyone who buys anything from you or pays you for a service is your customer. This means that listeners are your customers, but so are venues, record labels, publishers, licensing companies, concert-goers, and so on.

With each new type of customer, you have the opportunity to create a marketing plan that will effectively reach them. Creating a marketing strategy around a known customer tends to result in more effective marketing.

Goals

So we know what you are selling, and we know whom you are selling it to. Now you have to set goals to get those sales.

Though income may be your ultimate goal, there are also different goals you can set that, while they don’t lead to an instant payoff, can add up to income over time. This type of goal could be fan interaction, like signing a certain number of people up for a mailing list, or getting a new video shared. It could also be a networking goal (meeting someone from a certain music blog) or a creative goal (writing a set amount of new material by a deadline). Your goal could be something as simple as the number of CDs you want to sell at your next show, or it could be landing an important gig. These goals involve you actively doing something to generate more income.

Practical Strategies: Work Smarter, Not Harder

So now that you’ve discovered the three most important things to consider as you market your music, it’s time to stop. Take 5 minutes and write down 3 goals that you want to accomplish and a time line for accomplishing them. Got your timer set? Good. When you finish writing down your goals, keep reading to find out how you can make those goals reality.

Ready, set… go!

All done? Great. Let’s get marketing.

Step 1: Target

Want me to clue you into a little secret? This is the only step. Target the things that are working for you, and spend the most time on those things.

Say for example you’ve posted every day this week on Facebook. But just one of those posts—a video—had significant interaction. So the next week, you create another video, and post it to Facebook, alongside your other posts. Again, this video was shared, liked, and commented on. The next week, you decide to post another video exclusively on your website. Since your fans already know they like your videos, they are more likely to click to your website to watch. One you have them on your website, you can get more information about them, like their email or phone number, so that you can have even more interaction with them. This interaction can lead to music sales or to fans coming out to see you live, and those sales means money in your pocket.

This is a specific example, but the principle is the same no matter what your goals are. Find out what works with your customers, and do more of that.

Don’t be afraid to try experiment a little. Go all scientific method on this marketing thing. Set up a time frame, and try different ways of doing things until you find one that works. This goes for social media, for your website, even for face-to-face interaction with fans and industry contacts.

You want to make your live shows more effective? Book some small gigs and take some risks. Play music for 95% of the gig. At the next show, maybe tell a story between each song. Try different ways of talking about your latest project or the awesome new t-shirt you have for sale. Find what works for you and for the people who are listening to your music.

I’m not saying totally eliminate other things that don’t work as well. Variety is not a bad thing. Just make sure that the things that don’t work as well aren’t taking up much of your time. Don’t get so settled into a routine that you don’t try other things that could work for you, or ignore when your current success becomes a little less relevant. Having varied content helps keep fans interested long term, but your time is too valuable a resource to spend on things that aren’t going to help you meet your goals.

Marketing your music and reaching goals doesn’t have to be a mystery. Be creative, target the things that will get the results you want, and work hard.




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How To Get 20 Million Views: Taking Note of Meghan Trainor

How to Get 20 Million Views—Taking Note of Meghan Trainor

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Two months ago, Meghan Trainor was an unknown songwriter. Even today, she isn’t a big, established artist… at least, not yet. But, if her first single’s smashing success on YouTube is any indication of the future of her career, she will be.

Trainor, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter, is the artist behind the single “All About That Bass.” The catchy pop tune stands tall on its own merits, but the accompanying music video is pure brilliance. And audiences seem to agree. The video, which was released on June 11, already has over 21 million views. Not too shabby for an artist’s first single.

So, what’s the big deal?

You Could Learn a Thing or Two from Trainor

This performance stands out because it has hooks in the video as well as a social message that connects with a large number of fans, not to mention that it also creates a little controversy. The hooks have to do with the unusual way that Trainor portrays herself and the other performers in the video. Not just the fact that they are happy with their size and shape, but some of the unexpected things that happen in the video. They also turn the tables on “skinny” people by using humor, casting, and choreography to make their point.

Take a moment to view the video. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. I bet you noticed Sione, an example of casting brilliance. He is over the top with his dance moves, and he adds a dimension of depth and fun to the video that has helped to propel it into a huge number of views.

Still from "All About That Bass"

After viewing the video, are you compelled to share it with someone else? If so, then you begin to see how a video can go viral.

Note that it does not matter why you want to share it, just the fact that you do. This important point is quite often lost on musicians who make their career in music. Launching a video that is well done, but not compelling, is not enough. By compelling, I mean: what does the viewer feel compelled to do after seeing your video? If the overwhelming answer is to share it with friends, then you have a winner. Otherwise, as a good friend of mine would say, “You have a double handed death grip on a loser”. The world is full of music videos that go nowhere, and they cost just as much to produce as a compelling video. Learn to let go of the loser before you start… or do what it takes to turn it into a winner and then hang on tight.

The song “All About That Bass” by itself probably would not create the kind of buzz necessary to get 21 million listens. It is the entire package—the song combined with the video—that knocks it out of the park.

But let’s face it: video can be expensive. It would be fair to say that an inexpensive songwriting/performing/video-creation endeavor could easily cost tens of thousands of dollars. On the other hand, indie musicians are a very creative group used to working with very few resources. So, why not figure out a way to write and shoot a compelling video without a huge budget? It takes a combination of talent, flexibility, planning, funding, and desire to make all the parts work together smoothly, even more so on a small budget. It is not for everybody.

Let’s take a closer look at Trainor and her video; then, we can explore what indie artists might do to leverage their music in this same way.

What Trainor Does

Trainor writes about a very of-the-moment issue (body image) and has a positive message.

Body image issues are nothing new, but they have become a much more public issue in recent years.

Social media sites have turned into a battleground over women’s bodies. Memes proclaim that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, incredibly thin models are lifted up as ideals (after being photoshopped into even more idealized versions of themselves), and women with “extra” weight are publicly ridiculed for their weight and their choices (in clothing, in food, in living). On the other side, there is backlash against “thinspiration” and excessive photo editing, heightened awareness about the dangers of eating disorders, and encouragement to be healthy and to love yourself as you are.

And that’s where Trainor’s message lies. She sings:

“I see the magazine, workin’ that Photoshop. We know that shit ain’t real. C’mon now, make it stop. If you got beauty beauty, just raise ’em up, Cause every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top. Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size… I know you think you’re fat. I’m here to tell you every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”

Now, Trainor is, admittedly, not a size two. The girl has some curves. She also doesn’t appear to be unhealthy or overweight.

But her weight and shape aren’t the issue, nor are they the focus of her message. Her message lies in her acceptance of her body for what it is. It’s not a skinny beautiful body. It’s not a fat beautiful body. It’s simply her beautiful body. And that message is something that girls everywhere—maybe people everywhere—need to hear. And, as an artist, Trainor does a good job of leveraging this topic by producing a compelling song/video combination.

She stirs up a little bit of controversy.

If you read the public comments on Trainor’s video, you know what I’m talking about. There are a surprising number of hateful comments on a video that has such a positive message. (Well, maybe not surprising, if you’re used to the internet.)

But don’t assume that some negative comments mean Trainor and her message are unpopular. Less than one tenth of one percent (0.001%) of the people viewing the video have taken the time to comment on it publicly—some comments are good, some are not. And for every “thumbs down” on the video, there are almost 22 “thumbs ups”.

Most importantly, a huge number of people have been compelled enough by the video to share it with others. That is all that matters.

Every part of the video—the concept, the casting, the styling, the shooting, the editing—is extremely well done.

The video’s concept is simple: reinforce the song’s message by showing people comfortable in their own skin having fun and loving themselves—regardless of their size, shape, or age. There’s no complicated storyline to confuse the viewer, nor is it simply just another music video of a performer singing their latest release on a stage.

The casting is impeccable. Trainor’s message isn’t limited to one group; it’s for everyone. It’s appropriate, then, that the people in the video are different sizes, shapes, ages, and genders, and they all look like they’re having fun, dancing and shaking whatever they have (or don’t have).

Still from "All About That Bass"

What This Means For You

Trainor is 20, and she’s new. She seems to be pretty talented (especially considering she had a songwriting contract at 18 and an artist contract at 20). She has a label that is obviously willing to invest in her, and she has an extremely talented team working with her.

Your situation is probably different. You might be starting your career in music, or you might have been at it for a long time. You’re likely talented and creative and have music ready to release or that could be re-released with better promotion. You probably have a loyal local fan base, but you’d love for it to be bigger. You’re probably wondering how to branch out—how to get bigger and better gigs along with more visibility.

Given that you’re in a different situation than Trainor, what on earth could she and her video possibly teach you about your career? Plenty.

Songs that strike a chord with you will probably strike a chord with others.

In a behind-the-scenes video, Trainor says, “My producer and I wanted to write a fun song… Why not do a song about loving yourself and loving your body? Because I don’t think girls love themselves as much as they really should. I think girls will really relate to it.” In an interview with the Today show, Trainor says that this is an issue she has struggled with personally. That personal experience and conviction help Trainor come off as a credible source on the subject, which means it’s easier for her fans to relate and connect with her.

What does this mean for you? Well, first, you don’t need a team of professional, award-winning songwriters to write a good song. You can leverage your own life experiences, just like Trainor did, and create music that reflects who you are.

Second, you should try writing about something that resonates with you on a personal level. Pick a topic that moves you, or an experience you’re intimately familiar with, and tell the story in a way that takes listeners along for the ride. If you connect with the song, it increases the odds of your listeners connecting—both with the song and with you.

Most importantly, consider whether that connection will cause your viewers to share the video. Get creative with the process, and be sure to create a hook, something in the video that will make fans take action. Without a hook, it will not work.

If you want a second opinion, try playing the song for the rest of the band, an impartial friend, another musician, or a songwriting group. Be open to their feedback and criticism, and genuinely consider what they have to say. Even if you don’t make the changes they suggest, the advice might come in handy on future songs.

You don’t have to be a superstar to get lots of good attention.

Before this release, Trainor was relatively unknown. She might have had a small local following, but she certainly wasn’t a household name. So, how did she get so many views?

Simply put, Trainor thought outside the box—with her message, her styling, and her casting. Her positive message is on a topic that few artists address. The styling of Trainor’s video is surprising (in that it’s rather different from most other videos out there), but it’s wholly appropriate for the song. In Trainor’s video, Vine sensation Sione makes an unexpected appearance, which helps create a hook for fans of the video because of his unique style. Sione’s 440,000 fans (yes, you read that correctly) on Vine probably headed over to check out Trainor’s video, and I can guarantee that some of Trainor’s viewers headed over to Vine to find out more about the dancing man. Both artists benefited from the collaboration.

That type of collaboration doesn’t take a label or tons of money. More importantly, thinking outside the box doesn’t take a label or tons of money. To be a successful independent artist, you must be creative, flexible, and resourceful; a ton of money to fund your project is not required to make this work.

This might mean you tell your song’s story from an unexpected angle. In Five Seconds of Summer’s video for “She Looks So Perfect”, the characters in the video strip down to their underwear. This in itself is a little surprising (but fits with a line in the chorus). What is unexpected is the type of people who strip down: highschoolers, a store clerk, a middle-aged mom, a cop, a grandmother, a pair making eyes at each other in a diner. Basically, everyone but the young and fairly attractive band members. It’s not just young, fit, beautiful people stripping. It’s everyone. This is the hook for an otherwise unremarkable video that now has over 67 million views.


As I said at the very beginning of this article, Meghan Trainor isn’t a big, established artist… yet. I think she’s incredibly talented, and I think she has a talented team helping her. I’m extremely curious to see how she follows up on this first single. Only time will tell.

As for you, the indie musician with your own style and talent and career, I want to know what you think of Trainor’s video and what you’ve learned from it to use in your own career. What’s your next move?




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Why YouTube Is Important, Even If It Won't Make You Famous

Why YouTube Is Important, Even If It Won’t Make You Famous

By NationWide Source - Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

First thing’s first: YouTube will not make you famous.

(Don’t misunderstand us. It also doesn’t mean that you can ignore YouTube. It’s an important tool and platform that musicians should be aware of and using. We’ll explain.)

There are exceptions, those few performers who gain international fame because the right person saw their YouTube video, or those individuals who—as a result of their extreme and innate wit, talent, and ingenuity—have gained millions of subscribers and even more video views. We don’t deny that YouTube can make you famous… we just argue that, odds are, it won’t. Here’s why:

YouTube Is Not For Being Discovered

After signing in to your YouTube account, the home page shows videos of other users. The list of popular videos on YouTube are videos that already have millions of views. The list of recommended videos are based on videos you have watched previously. Unless your video has hundreds of thousands of views or is similar to something users have watched previously, it probably won’t show up on other users’ home pages.

Let’s assume that the user wants to find something new, so they click on “Browse channels”. The page shows 14 featured channels, 111 paid channels, and hundreds of channels that fall into categories like Music, Comedy, Film & Entertainment, Gaming, and so on. These categorized listings of channels, while extensive, only scratch the surface of what is available on YouTube. Users can enter a search term, but that will pull up thousands/hundreds/dozens of videos that fit that criteria. Even a specific search term (such as “fort worth folk blues”) brings up thousands (11,319) of channels in the search results.

Looking at the statistics provided by YouTube doesn’t paint a more-encouraging picture. Yes, the market of potential viewers is huge, with more than one billion unique users and more than six billion hours of video watched each month. However, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. That’s a lot of other videos for users to wade through to stumble upon yours.

When taken all together, this means it’s pretty unlikely that YouTube will help you be discovered.

You Should Be On YouTube Anyway

YouTube may not be good for gaining random fans, but it does have its uses. When used properly, YouTube is a great way to:

  • strengthen connections with your target audiences
  • learn more about your audiences
  • make a little more money off your craft

These might sound like small things, but they can have a huge impact on your career as a musician. We’ll elaborate on each below.

Using Video to Connect with Your Target Audiences

As a musician, you might think audio should be your focus. In terms of marketing your music, though, it’s widely acknowledged that video is increasingly becoming an essential element of successful marketing strategies. Video allows you to send a message and connect with viewers in a way that text, graphics, or audio alone can’t.

If you’re going to add video, you need to know what your options are. You don’t need to spend millions on a national television ad campaign, but you probably should add a video player to your band’s website or share videos on your various social media accounts. Instagram and Facebook have added built-in video-sharing functions (15-seconds/unlimited time, respectively), and applications like Vine focus on creating video and sharing it (either with your followers on Vine itself or on other social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook). Websites like Vimeo seem to compete directly with YouTube, although their user count is much smaller. Obviously, YouTube isn’t the only method of mixing video into your marketing strategy. However, its size and market dominance make it worth seriously considering. Additionally, it’s simple for you to share your YouTube videos on your other social media platforms.

If you’re marketing your band, you need to know who your audience is. As an independent musician, your main audiences are your existing fans (your first audience) and their connections (your second audience). With your existing fans, you want to use video to connect deeper and strengthen their loyalty to your band. Behind-the-scenes videos can make fans feel like they’re on tour or in the studio with you. Music videos let you visually tell the story behind your song’s lyrics. Announcing band news via video is the next best option to announcing it in person. All of these video uses help strengthen your fan’s connection to your band. The more committed that your fans are to you, the more likely they are to share you with those around them. In terms of your second audience, they are likely unfamiliar with your work and who you are, but they trust the opinion and recommendations of your first audience. You want to hook them, so your videos need to grab their attention and leave them wanting more of you.

Why is YouTube important in reaching your audiences? Well, remember those one billion unique monthly users? Some of them are your fans. They are already on YouTube, watching other videos. Putting your videos where they already are just makes sense. Additionally, YouTube makes it extremely easy for your fans to share your videos, either with their connections on YouTube or with their friends on other social media sites. Below every video is a “Share” tab, with links to the top ten social media platforms as well as the option to embed the video or email it to someone.

Using YouTube to Analyze Your Work and Audience

YouTube provides you with loads of information (perhaps more than any other social media platform) about your content and fans. You can see how your channels are doing by looking at the number of subscribers, the number of views, and the total time spent watching videos from that channel. You can also monitor an individual video’s number of views, amount of time watched, likes, dislikes, shares, comments, and favorites. For shared videos, you can see how often it has been shared as well as where.

In terms of fan data, YouTube provides information on the age range, gender, and general location of viewers. It also allows you to track your subscribers, helping you understand what gains fans and what loses them. You can break this down further and compare overall viewers to your subscribers. YouTube tells you where your videos are played (on the video’s page, on your channel, on other websites, etc). It also lets you see where your traffic comes from and compare organic traffic versus paid traffic.

This data about who your audience is, how they’re getting to your videos, what they’re doing with your content, and which content is most successful is extremely valuable for marketing purposes. To access this information, simply log in, click the down arrow (at the top of the page next to “Upload”), then select “Analytics”.

Getting More Out of Your YouTube Videos

YouTube gives you a way to learn more about your audience and share content with them; both features are great. With the YouTube Partners program, though, it also gives you ways to make money from that content (as long as your account is in good standing and has not been previously disabled for monetization).

First, you can monetize your videos by allowing ads on your content. When you upload the video, you’ll be able to select the ad format you want on your video. You can also go back and monetize already-uploaded videos. The video will then be reviewed (especially looking at the content and copyrights) before any ads are approved. Note: you must either own all the content yourself (you created it and have retained the rights to it) or have expressed, written permission by the rights holder to use the content; this applies to the video itself as well as the music you’re performing in the video. (Visit here for more information.) Also note that you are currently unable to add ads to private videos. To get paid, you will have to link your YouTube account to an AdSense account and then reach the set payment threshold (in the US, that’s $100).  Your profit will depend on the type of ad, the  price paid by the advertiser, and the number of views the ad gets.

Another method of making money is by profiting off of others’ use of your content. YouTube allows users to protect their copyright claims on their material (the video itself, the audio of the video, and the lyrics/melody are all addressed separately) through its Content ID program. When you join this program, you verify that you hold all the exclusive rights to your submitted content. YouTube then scans all videos (past, present, and any going forward) to see if your copyrighted material is used. If results are found, you have the option to block the video (either entirely or just the audio, and with different geographic options), track the video’s statistics, or monetize the video. If you monetize another user’s video because it has your content, the profit from the ads will go to you instead of that user.  Not every user will qualify for YouTube’s Content ID program, and it won’t work on instances of allowed use (i.e., you can’t monetize a video of a cover of your song if you authorized the cover). However, it’s worth looking into, especially if you know other users have been using your content or want to prevent others from doing so.

So, What Should You Do?

It’s hard to deny or ignore the impact YouTube has had on the internet and on the music scene, and it’s unlikely that YouTube will be going anywhere (but up) anytime soon. While YouTube won’t likely lead to your big break or help you gain a million random followers, it is still a useful tool for marketing your music, connecting with your fans, and adding to your income as a musician. Your best bet is to learn how to use it effectively… and then do so.

Do you use YouTube, and are you a consumer of content or a creator of content? How have you incorporated YouTube in your band’s marketing and social media strategies? Have you monetized your account?




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