Photo Courtesy of The Lights Out
Follow the right people
You’re a band, not an aspiring social media consultant. Don’t waste time following tech-heads or celebrities just because everyone else follows them. Instead, think about following:
- Other bands – especially ones in your own local music scene. See what they’re up to. Support them and network with them.
- Music industry thought leaders like Andrew Dubber, Ariel Hyatt, Derek Sivers, Ian Rogers and Mike King. They’re always sharing helpful advice for independent bands.
- Clubs and club promoters in your home city, and in cities where you’re working to establish a foothold.
- Festivals and conferences you’d like to play.
- Instrument companies and music stores for when they announce special deals.
- Companies that serve DIY musicians, like Sonicbids, TuneCore, CD Baby, ArtistData and FanBridge. Hear when they’re releasing new features or offering up tips from their staff.
- Independent music bloggers, like Eat Sleep Breathe Music
- Traditional music writers at national magazines, major-market dailies and alt. weeklies.
- Consumer brands you’d like to establish relationships with for music licensing.
- Potential fans using Twitter Search
Use Twitter Search as your research department
Twitter Search is the resource marketers of anything – shoes, coffee or music – have been waiting for since the dawn of time. People chattering away about where they’re going, what they’re doing and how they’re experiencing your brand.
Run a Twitter Search on the name of your band the morning after a gig and see what people in the audience had to say about your performance last night. (Or encourage the Twitterers in the audiences to do this from the get-go so their friends know who they’re seeing.)
Before you hit a new city, run a Twitter Search on the name of the venue you’re playing to uncover who’s been talking about seeing shows there over the last month. By doing this, you’re getting a snapshot of that small subset of the population who regularly goes to indie rock shows. The beautiful thing is this same service that’s showing you who they are also gives you a means of connecting with them. Send them an @ message and ask about a good record shop in town, or what diners are open late for a bite after the gig. You’re talking to them, they know you’re coming to town, and as you continue your conversation with them, even if they can’t make it this time, they’ll tell their friends about it.
Use Twitter Search as your street team
“Who do you sound like?” is a question all bands have to answer from time to time. Rather than getting yourself down about owning up to your influences, turn it to your advantage. The next time that “national band you sound like” comes to your city and sells out a stadium, run a Twitter Search on their name and the name of the venue. You’ll see people from all around your area tweeting about “going to see X!”, “I’m at [VENUE], seeing X!” and “X blew my mind last night!”. Follow them. In the past, you’d have to stand outside that venue with a box of stickers and CDs. Today you can engage everyone in your boxers from the comfort of your couch, with zero material costs. And instead of handing them a sticker they’re going to toss on the ground seconds later, you’re working your way into their daily stream of information. Powerful stuff.
Use Twitter Search to create hashtags/live channels for organizing events
For big events – a CD release or a video shoot where you need people – determine a Twitter hashtag (#), and create a spontaneous live channel. You’ll pique the interest of your fans’ friends who may not have known about you and might like to participate in what they’re realizing is becoming a community event. It allows your event to take place on a whole other level, and adds a new dimension to it. This can be an especially powerful community-builder and communication tool at events and conferences with many bands showcasing.
Tell a story; don’t promote
Above all, be interesting. Blatant self-promotion on Twitter is like walking into a bar and slapping your band’s sticker on everyone’s forehead. It won’t win you any new friends or listeners. Twitter is a promotional platform, where the promotion happens through networking and storytelling. Tell your story as it happens. Give glimpses into your works-in progress. Share pictures of your time on the road or in the studio. Let people into your world. Don’t tell them to go buy your new record. If you’ve been telling your story effectively, your followers will have been watching you put that record together for months, already anticipating it. Don’t tell them to come to your show. Give them a reason to be there by sharing what makes that show different or special. If you’ve posted a new blog entry, a compelling Flickr photo, a video clip from last night’s show, a fresh mention in the press – share it – they’re all pieces of your story. Your story is a moving engine that constantly needs fuel. And nothing attracts fans like momentum.
The Lights Out takes on a new market using Twitter
This spring, the band played its first show in Syracuse, N.Y. We opted to work the whole thing using Twitter alone.
We spoke with the promoter, arranged the gig and secured a guarantee – using Twitter
We reached out to the music writer at the city’s major daily to set up an interview – using Twitter
We ran a Twitter Search using the venue name, identified local music fans, engaged them in a conversation and got them to our show – using Twitter
We built a relationship with the college radio station, got them our music and set up a live interview – using Twitter
We arranged for a local indie music blogger to live-blog from our show – using Twitter
On the drive to the gig, we were pulled over by a State Trooper. We Twitpic’d the incident (it’s part of our story) and received the condolences of our fanbase – using Twitter
When we got back, we recapped our whole experience on our blog with all the multimedia bits and pieces we’d created, and shared it with our fans – you guessed it….