As a new artist, using social networks to promote your music is essential. Creating a Facebook fan site, MySpace music page, ReverbNation profile, Twitter account, Sonicbids, LastFM, and YouTube channel all help to spread the message of your music. These music promotional tools are free, fairly easy to use, provide you (the artist) the chance to network with other musicians and actually connect to your fans. It’s almost impossible for you not to find some success if you use social networks. However, there are a few assumptions that artists make about social networking.
First, they assume all they have to do is upload their material (photos, music, bio, etc.) and that’s it. The minute you decide to use social networks to promote your music, it becomes your responsibility to maintain your site. Also, you should not use a social site you don’t know how to work. Pick one site to maintain, once you’re able to master MySpace, for example, then move on to Twitter and Facebook. You would be surprised how many people don’t know how to properly set up and maintain a social site. My suggestion is once you establish your new social site, spend about an hour three to four times a week noticing who is visiting your site, what songs their listening to, what area your fans are concentrated in, what they’re saying about your music, and spend some time reaching out to your fans and other musicians you would like to work with. Always approach people with sincerity. Whenever you do this, people are more likely to respond to you positively. On a side note, there are companies that maintain social sites on behalf of an artist but they do charge handsomely. Only consider this option once you become so popular that you literally do not have time to keep up with all your social sites.
Second, a lot of artists assume that because people are following them on Twitter, befriend them on MySpace, or are fans of their Facebook page that they will actually support them. There are two different types of “fans.” There are active fans and passive ones. Active fans listen to your songs, download them, and attend shows. Passive fans follow you on Twitter and are fans to your Facebook page, they may even listen to your music (through internet streaming) but do not contribute to discussion about your music or feel compelled to download your latest project. These two groups are very different but both contribute to your overall success. Active fans can actually encourage passive ones to become more active. Passive fans may only stay passive in the beginning and eventually become active on their own. As an artist, you don’t have to promote yourself differently to appeal to each group but you should be able to spot which fans are what type.
Third and most importantly, your promotional journey may begin on the internet but eventually you’ll find yourself in the real world interacting with real people. Let’s say you’ve gained enough buzz to tour locally and you anticipate around 50 people at your first venue, if your live performance is not as captivating as your recorded music, you’re dead. Even if only 10 people go to their social networks to talk badly about your performance it can destroy everything you’ve built virally. That’s one thing to be aware of. Now, let’s say you’re a great performer and you’ve landed the opportunity to meet with an industry executive and they start talking about a publishing and distribution deal. You have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about but you’re so excited to be meeting with this person that you pretend you do. This could present a big problem. A new artist should know damn near everything about the business side of music. If you don’t, go to your local bookstore or library and educate yourself. You never want to get yourself into a bad business situation because you don’t know something. Do you remember The Lox? They were a rap group on Bad Boy Records that ended up completely screwed out of their publishing because they didn’t take the time to try and fully understand the deal that was being presented to them. Don’t put yourself in that situation.