Beyonce demonstrated social media's music marketing potential when her unpromoted December 2013 iTunes exclusive set records and sold more than 800,000 albums in three days. Beyonce's feat encouraged Apple to acquire Beats for $3 billion in a partnership intended to replicate her success, insiders told the New York Post. Other sources told Billboard these moves signal Apple's intent to take over the music industry and squeeze out competitors such as Spotify. These trends herald a sea change where social media is becoming the key to successful promotion for both albums and concerts. Musicians who know how to engage their fans with today's technology stand the best chance of becoming tomorrow's chart-toppers.
Not all musicians are enamored of today's technology, as with the case of Peter Frampton, who responded to a fan's refusal to stop taking pictures during his concert by grabbing the offender's smartphone and tossing it across the audience. Taking a less confrontational approach, Paul McCartney recently teamed up with Kayne West, creating much online amusement when West's fans tweeted him thanks for discovering an unknown artist. McCartney's move set the stage for an exclusive Record Store Day 2015 release that will expose his music to a generation of new fans, showing that it pays to keep up with the times.
Define Your Brand
Successful social media promoting is all about branding, and smart musicians realize that the key to distinguishing your brand is creating an image that stands out. One proven branding strategy for musicians is adopting a distinctive look, a move that artists such as Victoria Beckham, Adam Levine and Jessica Simpson have leveraged into successful clothing lines to supplement their album sales. Marina and the Diamonds singer-songwriter Marina Lambrini Diamandis, who will appear with other stars at the upcoming SXSW festival, has brilliantly taken this strategy a step further by creating distinctive fashion personas to dramatize characters in her songs who represent different archetypes.
Build a Fan Base
Beyonce's surprise promotion succeeded because she already had attracted nearly 54 million Facebook likes and over 13 million Facebook followers, Forbes observes. But you don't necessarily need a huge following to succeed socially if you focus on building a small but loyal following — think of this as the online equivalent to the Grateful Dead's signature promotional strategy. Attract a following by regularly posting content that's not just self-promotional but touches on other interesting topics that stimulate social conversations and sharing.
An engaged fan base gives you an opportunity to invite your following to buy your albums and attend your concerts. Kylie Jane Wakefield provides a checklist of tactics for social media concert promotion. Strategies she recommends include posting sharable previews, running photo contests and encouraging in-concert shares. The DIY musician suggests telling your following when you're about to premiere a new song from your latest album at an upcoming concert.
Apple sees the future of music in more exclusive promotions modeled on Beyonce's, according to industry executives quoted by Billboard. Accordingly, Apple Insider reports that Beats is seeking to arrange more exclusives with other artists. You can adapt this strategy by offering free or paid exclusives to your following to promote your newest album.