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« How to avoid serious mistakes when choosing an agent | Main | MusicThinkTank.com Weekly Recap: How To Make Your Music Career Highly Profitable & More »
Monday
Sep172012

The Best Social Media Site for Bands

I often get asked: what’s the best social media site for bands? My business clients ask the same thing using different words: what is the best marketing channel to promote my brand? The idea that there is a magic formula or single solution to take care of all your needs is a misnomer. Where you should be promoting and the tools that you should be using should revolve around one main concept: where your target audience is. It’s as simple as that.

We often make things more complicated by adding in our own hurdles to success. We ask, what about fans who use multiple sites? What about our own website/mailing list? What about getting new fans? Those answers all are solved when you really understand who your target audience is. This is why I always say that buying followers is a bad idea…because not only are you buying spam/fake accounts, it does nothing for your real target audience.

Here are some helpful hints to help determine where you should stake your brand:

  • Your target audience is already there: If your fans/potential fans are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Mixi, Pinterest, etc. chances are that you should too. It’s an easy way for people to share about you and for content to become viral. However, it’s important to understand the nature of each of these sites..just because people are on the sites doesn’t mean that they’ll care about what you do on them. Whatever you do, it should resonate with the target audience there. I write about that here: How to Develop a Hardcore Fan Base.
  • When you have more than one audience: The same principles apply above if you have more than one target audience. For example, promoters are more likely to check out your ReverbNation than a casual fan.
  • Can you do it well?: If you don’t have time/the ability to create something of quality, perhaps you should wait until you can (or at least grow the skills before pushing the site). You don’t want to fragment your brand by creating several poorly managed, out of date websites. These do reflect on your band. Instead, focus on what you can do well and have time to keep fresh, relevant, and looking good.
  • Bring it all home: Whatever you decide to do with social media, make sure you loop those fans back into your own website/email list. Social media sites come and go but people should always be able to rely on your website and mailing list to get reliable content when they stop using social media sites. Don’t wait until Facebook becomes the next Myspace before you jump ship. Make your brand-controlled sites the ultimate destination for fan related content.

Remember, you shouldn’t have a Facebook or BandCamp page just because other people have one. You should have those pages if that’s where your fans (current and prospective) are hanging out at. What sites do you use? Any unusual success with lesser known ones?

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Simon Tam is owner of Last Stop Booking and author of How to Get Sponsorships and Endorsements. Simon’s writing on music and marketing can be found at www.laststopbooking.com. He is on Twitter @SimonTheTam 

Reader Comments (6)

This is interesting and I'm glad you're writing about this topic. The conundrum of how emerging bands can acquire fans is what led us (Music Xray) to embark on a one year development cycle for our new Fan Match service, which we rolled out in beta last week.

We saw all these bands buying fake Twitter followers, ghost Facebook likes and YouTube views. In most cases, the purpose was to impress a real potential fan or an industry professional with their supposed "traction". So, it turned out the real problem was how to get attention. Most bands believe (rightly or wrongly) that if they could just get the attention of potential fans in their target audience, those potential fans would become actual fans. So, what you end up having are tons of bands out there creating a lot of "check us out" noise. Potential fans eventually just tune it all out; which just exacerbates the problem of not being able to get the attention of potential fans.

We thought it would be really cool if a band could easily and quickly test their theory; i.e. know if they're as good as they think they are. If you could expose a band to an engaged group of listeners from among the band's target audience and none of them became actual fans (defined as subscribing to the band's email list), the band might have to face a hard truth about themselves. If they did acquire fans after such an exercise, they would get the validation they're seeking while actually acquiring fans.

But again, the problem was the same; how to get the attention of potential fans and turn them into engaged listeners in the first place.

But then it dawned on us. For a couple years, we'd been experimenting with a service that enabled bands to conduct focus groups. But it was a laboratory. We began asking ourselves if we could tweak the service a bit and move it into the real world. What if the money bands were spending buying fake followers could be used to buy the attention of a real, targeted potential fan - as in "we'll pay you to listen. If you like us, become our fan. If you don't, thanks for listening anyway."

The more real fans a band could acquire per dollar spent, the more compelling they would be proving themselves to be. If a band spent some money and acquired no fans (or few fans), they'd be proven not to be very compelling.

Fan Match is still in beta but so far, it has been exceeding our expectations. In the first 24 hours after launch, bands had acquired over 1,000 new fans with Fan Match. Real fans with real email addresses and real interest in discovering new music.

We're still working through some rough edges but the product works like this: http://www.musicxray.com/acquire-fans

September 17 | Unregistered CommenterMike McCready

Hi Mike,

It just depends. In my experience, sites like that have hit and miss...I'd also include sites like Jango (which is like Pandora or Spotify, matches music based on genres or artist and you pay to have more radio plays), Ourstage (a "social networking site geared towards bands/fans), or even ReverbNation (which has social elements to it). Generally, what you find is a lot of bands signing up (because they all want to make new fans) and little average fans spending actual time there (because they're busy on sites they actually care about on a day to day basis like Facebook, YouTube, etc.).

However, like Google + some artists have found sites like this to work well, some have not found success at all. It all rests on the target audience: are fans spending time there, is this what they're interested in, and will they continue supporting beyond the seldom log-in, etc.? I'm not saying sites like musicxray, Jango, etc. are bad, but we need to understand our audience as well as what drives our audiences so that we can direct the appropriate resources more effectively. It's another reason why I tend to stay away from the "vote for my band" type of contests.

This blog has an excellent post on avoiding "music service" sites that claim to get new fans but are actually scams: http://zirconmusic.com/tutorials/text/how-to-detect-and-avoid-music-scams/

September 18 | Registered CommenterSimon Tam

I started a local band page so local bands in Chattanooga area to share their events and ideas. The reason I built the page a couple yrs ago was to help my brother promote his band and it took off from there.
https://www.facebook.com/chattanoogalocalbands?ref=tn_tnmn

post events and I will do my best to help promote your band

September 19 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Posey Smith

My idea is one website that unites music fans for the purpose of supporting and raising awareness of independent artists. Fans would join the site for free and receive recommendations and special offers based on the type of music they like. As a result, artists would make sales, gain mailing list subscribers, etc.

September 19 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Pavone

Hi Craig,
There are several sites like that already - in fact, the now defunct Myspace did an excellent job of that. Pandora, Spotify, Jango all do something similar in terms of internet radio. However, why reinvent the wheel? Potential fans are already everywhere, from Yelp to Facebook, YouTube to Linkedin. It's just a matter of finding the right ways to connect with them.

September 23 | Registered CommenterSimon Tam

It's true that the best social media sites for bands are the ones where your potential fans already hang out. If there's a readymade audience on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or wherever, then it makes more sense to focus on that audience than trying to create one from scratch. The thing to remember, though, is that social media should be social. There's no foolproof approach. It's all about organically building a fan base of real people who are genuinely passionate about your music. Always strive to connect with the person behind the profile.

September 25 | Unregistered CommenterToby Rogers

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