It is an interesting time to be a musician. While many ask themselves, “how am I going to make money when people are just going to steal my music?”, there is an increasing number of opportunities for them to eliminate some of the marketing and distribution costs.
Actually, there’s an overwhelming number of free marketing tools online that enable artists to connect with fans. Once you break through the wall of no-brainers like MySpace and Facebook, it can be kind of intimidating with all the other networks and tools out there, especially when you run into someone like me and I geek out on you about things like Twitter.
But are these things really going to help you out? Is using Twitter going to sell you albums or increase your fan base?
I say yes. Others may disagree. It’s your job to look at these new technologies and ask yourself if you think your fans use them too. Or if the people you want to hear your music use them.
First, let’s clear some things up for those who are unfamiliar with Twitter. Twitter is a free “micro-bloggging” social network that let’s it’s users update their followers with short sentences regarding their “status”. You login to Twitter and type a quick blurb about what you are doing, and those people who have joined your network can read.
Now, the service is HUGE and has millions of people using it. Some use it to update their friends on worthless activities; others use it in a conversational method; others to provide resources to their community.
Their are different ways you can make your Twitter profile interesting and resourceful enough that people will want to follow you and communicate with you through the service.
People follow me on Twitter because I use the service to reinforce my “brand” and what it is that I do for a living – teaching others about the Web and how to use it to your advantage in your career. Check out my list of “tweets” and you can see that my focus is on music and marketing.
Now, not every tweet is about music and marketing, and this is where you must understand that Twitter is casual conversation at the same time. It’s like sitting at the bar with your tie pulled out after a long day of work, but you’re shooting the shit with the bartender about the work you actually did accomplish.
Every marketer and their mom is trying to use Twitter to get the word out about their products and services, and some are using the service in a smart way. Many are not and are just using it to spam us with links to some web page hawking some product, or even worse just updating us with random, pointless information about their day that no one cares about.
You see this happening a lot with entertainers, especially musicians. Their marketing team tells them to get on Twitter and update everyday. I know, because I’m one of them.
Unfortunately they’re not teaching them how to really use the service properly, and what you have is a whole mess of musicians updating us with meaningless talk about what they had to eat today and the shit they just took afterwards.
What they are not understanding is that yes, while every once in a while it’s the random “in the moment” tweets that we might find funny or interesting, it’s all the resources and information that you provide most of the time that people listen and react to.
It’s no different than your blog – people want to read good, fresh content that they can walk away from with something that will help them or get their mind asking questions – stuff like news, informative commentary and resources.
The same needs to happen if you’re a musician and are going to be using Twitter to help “promote” yourself; you’re not using it to directly promote a song or album, but rather to bring people into the processes behind it.
A good use of Twitter for a musician would be to Tweet about all the things involved when you’re writing a song – what is inspiring you (and why)? what distortion pedal did you use to create a sound?
Maybe you’re on tour and you figured out a great place to grab a taco near the club; it’s a random comment, but another band playing that club might stop by there and try one for themselves.
I was reading a recent post from Lefsetz that discusses Twitter, and technology in general, and whether or not you need to to succeed. Here’s a quote worth really thinking about:
That’s your marketing. Your fan base. It isn’t about hiring a PR firm or using Twitter. Actually, Marty pooh-poohs most technology. He says you’ve got be wary that the technology doesn’t get ahead of, doesn’t overwhelm the act. He doesn’t use Google Analytics to find out where each and every fan is. Marty goes on feel. He, and his uber agent Cass Scripps just go into a new territory, and although the first gig might be soft, the one after that never is. Because Corey delivers.
He has a great point – ultimately it’s not the MySpace’s and Twitter’s that are going to make or break you – it’s the fans that will.
And my only argument is using these tools properly is a means to interact with those fans, to get them involved. There are a million ways to communicate with people to bring them into your world; it’s not the tools themselves, but HOW you use them that will dictate whether or not they will help you succeed.
You can have a million MySpace friends, but it doesn’t mean squat if none of those “people” actually checked out your profile or read your updates or leave you comments. You can Use Twitter all day long, but if the conversation you’re having isn’t interesting, then no one is going to give a shit.
Learn how to use technology to engage people, and learn what kinds of technologies are being used by what kinds of people.
Twitter is being used by a lot of business professionals, marketers, and industry insiders – use this information as a basis for your decision to use Twitter as a conversational tool.
Not all technologies are going to be used for all kinds of people – know and understand the different demographics of people are using a specific tool, and mold your conversation accordingly.