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The Musician's Social Media Food Pyramid

It happens to me all of the time when I teach artists social media.The face goes blank, the frustration begins to settle in and then the artist says it:

“I just don’t have anything interesting to say.”


I’m shocked by this every time.  You are an artist; you do things we mere mortals are totally enamored by: you PLAY MUSIC, you write songs, you perform them in public!

So PHLEEASE, do not tell me you have nothing interesting to say. I ain’t buying it.

All you are missing is a System for Social Media Success.

Luckily, unlike sheer god-given musical talent, social media is a learnable skill.

As I was teaching my system to a client in my kitchen a few weeks ago over coffee and bagels and it HIT me… and so I created:


Remember that chart they brought out when we were in 2nd grade to show us how to eat well-rounded meals? I have re-tooled it for you so you can now participate on Social Media healthily! And you won’t even have to think about it – just follow along…

You wouldn’t eat only bagels all of the time.  They are a treat once in awhile, but they are not healthy to eat every day – and a diet of only bagels would be boring!

Most artists are only serving their audiences bagels all of the time. Plain bagels. Over an over again.


We want a burger, or a giant green healthy salad, we want some candy, give us protein!

But you keep serving bagels, bagels, bagels!

These are five things that when used in concert with one another can help you ratchet up your social media effectively and manage it easily.

Here’s Your Social Media Food Pyramid:









Use these as a guide and mix and match them to suit your comfort level (just like your diet, eat what feels right for you)

Servings (Recommended Frequency): 3 – 4 out of every 10 posts

Make sure you’re in a two-way conversation with people consistently

Facebook: See something interesting something on their Facebook pages? Don’t just “like”, write a true comment about it and get more involved.

Twitter: Send messages to people or mention you are with them by using the @ sign and their username (For Example: I’m @CyberPR). Retweet (RT) comments you like by others.

Blog Reading: Create a Google profile and join communities of blog readers.  Leave comments on blogs you like.

Video: Bonus! Make custom video comments or greetings with a Flip Camera; post them as comments or contributions. Subscribe to other people’s channels, and comment on their videos.

Location: Create fun spots that relate to your band/ music and check in, interact with others when you are out and about.

Servings (Recommended Frequency): 3 out of every 10 posts

All the best social media users know this and use it well. This takes all of the attention off of you and puts it onto others, and people will appreciate your kindness because you are recognizing them in front of new potential fans and followers and therefore helping them get known.

Quote people you like by sharing their profiles and videos on Facebook and re-post on your blog.  Link to articles and interesting things that catch your attention such as videos, photos etc.

#FF (Follow Friday), #MM (Music Monday) and RT’ing on Twitter -
Reprint pieces of things that they’ve written, or link to music players. Review albums – talk about why and how those albums influenced you
by using to track the effectiveness and to shorten your tweets.

Servings (Recommended Frequency): 2 – 3 out of every 10 posts

Content may be king but content curation is queen!

The best part is you can set up an RSS reader to pull interesting content for you so you don’t have to come up with anything brilliant – just select what you like and share it. And if it’s interesting to you it’s probably interesting to your community

Ask yourself: How do I spend time online?  What do I read? Are there sites I visit daily?  Add them to the RSS reader (here is a brilliant Commoncraft video that will teach you how to set one up. Then all you have to do is grab the content you like and share (remember to always give credit where credit is due).

Music: Use,, Jango, or LastFM to share music

Recipes: Post links to foods you like from Epicurious or TheFoodNetwork

Media: Post book reviews, music reviews or film reviews

Blogs: News, politics, celebrity gossip, parenting, fashion, art, sports – all make good topics for people to connect around

Servings (Recommended Frequency): 2 out of every 10 posts

Visuals are extremely effective. And they mix up your strategy nicely.

Take photos using your mobile, post them directly to Facebook or to your Twitter stream.

Make a photomontage using Picasa [], and post it on your blog.

I love Twitpic & YFrog because they are so easy to use and create instant Twitter integration.

Post videos on your custom Youtube channel, embed them on your blog and link them to your Twitter. They don’t even have to be videos that you necessarily make on your own. They can be videos of artists you sound like or play with, videos that make you laugh, or subjects that are thematic to your music and important to you like a charity.

Like: FATS OILS & SWEETS (Use Sparingly!)
Servings (Recommended Frequency): 1 out of every 10 posts

Of course these are OK to do once in a while, not in an over-hypey, annoying way.  Just like treating yourself to a great pastry or some fries: its OK – but not too often!

It is after all, vital to tell people if you have an album coming out, a new track, a show, or anything that’s newsworthy, noteworthy, and important for your fans and followers to know about.

Don’t forget about your specific calls to actions or these won’t be fruitful.

So – Choose from Groups 1-5 and mix it up and soon you will be fully engaging people easily and naturally, without thinking. Just like eating!

Reader Comments (11)

Would it be possible to get a high res version of the Food Pyramid graphic? It's very difficult to read. Great article!

September 10 | Unregistered CommenterAngelo

I'm sure this would be an interesting and informative article if I could read it. The text of the body cuts off on the right margin and the info-graphic so small and low res that it is completely is illegible. Using Firefox 3.6 on windows vista.

September 10 | Unregistered CommenterDJD

I don't know... EVERYBODY is in a band or makes music in some form these days. I really don't think anybody cares about what a musician thinks any more than they care about what Atticus the barista at 'Local Hipster Java Spot' thinks. The feeling I get from *most* people (whether they're big music fans or not) is that musicians just need to shut the hell up.

In fact, MOST of the tech sites (Techdirt and the like) who preach "Connect with Fans" like it's Gospel, specifically say things along the lines of "Bono should shut the hell up" when he voices an honest musician's opinion. And he's actually taken somewhat seriously in the world at large. What hope does a smaller musician have?

Maybe my view is skewed from living in NYC. This *is* a saturated market.

But yeah, I don't think that just being musician really carries much weight anymore. I mean, *I* would like to read what musicians think about music and their process, sort of like topics are discussed in an academic journal, but almost no one discusses that. When was the last time you read an interview with a musician that used the word "note" "tone" "scale" "diminished" "contrapuntal" etc? (You have to go to magazines like "Guitar World" for that sort of stuff, and they have a very specific limited market they appeal to and type of bands they cover. But, I do appreciate that those magazines do what they do. I just wish the babble on the internet wasn't quite so loud sometimes.)

And a musician has to be hyper-aware of mentioning other artists. It is one hell of a minefield to enter. Fans are fickle, they may decide to dislike your music just because you DON'T hate The Eagles. I know this, because when I was working with a publicist I was scolded *constantly* for expressing negative opinions, which I have a lot of. I talked about stuff I loved, too, but no one really seems to pick up on that. Interviews don't run the boring bits, and most gushing is considered boring compared to something inflammatory. So it makes it hard for a musician to talk about anything honestly when they constantly have to fear backlash from every angle. They have to become politicians (ugh... *another* job to tack on to the list that musicians now have to cover) Even if comments come from non fans, if they're disparaging enough it can still really hurt. I'm sure you've noticed that a lot of artists aren't all that thick-skinned. Personally, I love "debating loudly", as I would explain it, but I'm sure that *you* know how these sorts of things play out in the press. And by "press" I mean actual print/online "magazines" as well the eternal frozen time frame of a Google crunched internet. (those flames you spewed half a decade ago at against, I don't know... Pavement aren't going anywhere... ever. I hope you always played nice, kids!)

And the anonymity of the internet, and the hyper connected-ness of it, in my opinion, *blunts* a lot of true fan interaction. Internet comments from a "hateur" look just like the comments from a fan. Let me try to explain better: at a show, one guy in the back heckling you pales in comparison to all the fans and supporters that might be present. It's easy to shrug off. But the internet very accurately conveys the illusion of one on one interaction, and it makes flaming from anonymous people hurt as much, if not more, than love from a fan might make you feel good. Just the fact that you can literally stare at something someone says brings a new level to the idea of "dwelling on" something.

By the way, I LOVE Pavement. I really do. I don't want to piss off any potential fans out there.

And I don't necessarily agree with most of what Bono says, although as I get older, I begin to feel a lot more sympathy for the perspective of guys like him and Lars Ulrich Who, by the way, is *still* harangued in big music press for an opinion he expressed a decade ago. Musicians, BE CAREFUL.

September 10 | Unregistered CommenterPatrik

Ditto DJD's comment (Explorer 8)

September 10 | Unregistered CommenterDg.

Patrik, you don't have to like what Ariel/ Stefan have to say... but realize they're just trying to help. Doing social media might not work for you or some artists, but it works for a lot of other people.

Sure, maybe some want musicians to just shut up... I want a million dollars. Neither of those things are going to happen. If you put up a track on myspace and do nothing else, guess what? No one's going to care. You also need to be putting yourself out there (in the right ways.) Who cares if some people don't want to hear it? Find the ones that do.

Even if you're lucky enough to have industry connections or whatnot, they're going to want to see that you're willing to put in the work to be a success. No one wants a mopey musician who only wants other people to "make stuff happen" for them.

September 12 | Unregistered Commenterchantilly

Here is a better version of the graphic for you to download!

Love Ariel

September 12 | Unregistered CommenterAriel

Fantastic article, thank you so much Ariel!

Angelo, you can find a much clearer version of the pyramid with its notes here:

I'm looking forward to future articles!

- Azania

September 13 | Unregistered CommenterAzania

Great article and diagram Ariel!

You need to stick this up available for musicians to buy as a poster so they can remind themselves and get it actioned!

I find that not only quantifying number of tweets etc is very useful as a rule of thumb but to also set aside time to do it.. because it's all too easy to say 'read blogs today' and either end up reading them for 5 minutes or 2 hours and get nothing out of it.. What I try to do both as a musician and for my stuff with TMG is to set a stop watch and say 'focus on reading awesome blogs until the alarm goes off and write down as many insightful things that I can action as possible', that way I guarentee something great out of every session I spend on the net or in the social space.

Great tips as always!

September 13 | Unregistered CommenterMarcus Taylor

I kinda have to agree with Patrik in a way. Yes social media works for a lot of bands and musicians and yes it is the big thing to do now but whatever happened to the sense of mystery bands and musicians used to have? Now, you always know what the band is doing, saying feeling at all times and it leaves nothing to the imagination. I think this article is a great one if social media is the route you are using and it may work for a lot of people, but like Patrik said everybody is in a band these days. Look at all the classic bands, zeppelin, queen, rolling stones....they were like gods. They had a bit of mystery. They lived or appeared to live the life of the rockstar. You didn't know when they took a shit or when they were pissed off at their girlfriend or where they were going that night. What you did know is that they lived an amazing, fun life, or at least it seemed that way. You wanted to be them, be around them, be their friend but it was unattainable and that made it 10x better. Now, you can be friends with any band you want via facebook, myspace, etc. and it just isn't the same. I guess it all depends what you are going for. Social media makes musicians more accessible but is that really what you want?

September 14 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Social media is the bee's knees when communicating with existing fans and trying to disseminate dry information.
It will never replace the excitement of Warhol's factory or even a meat dress, fans really want an otherness, a world that is alien and dangerous.
Social media is a great tool but it is only part of the puzzle but it is still important to maximise your effectivness. Even the smallest wrong move could wreck your career.

September 15 | Unregistered CommenterLoon

So many bands just use Twitter/Facebook/MySpace as simply a way to sell themselves. Every tweet is literally a "buy my EP, go to my gig" post, and it gets sickening and just loses the attention of their Twitter followers/Facebook fans. Spot on!

October 10 | Unregistered CommenterPaige X. Cho

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