Social media, especially platforms like Twitter and Facebook, get a bad press, but it is also a force for good, which offers musicians opportunities to create meaningful interactions with other musicians, connect with potential and existing audiences, and promote their work. With just a brief tweet or single post on Facebook or Instagram, you have the potential to reach hundreds of thousands, even millions of people via a vast virtual audience.
While many musicians have embraced and use social media, I am still surprised when I meet those who do not, or who believe a website is sufficient. I think part of the problem stems from an attitude within the profession that being entrepreneurial and business-like about one’s activities somehow taints the artform (it’s remarkable how few conservatoires and music schools – in the UK at least – do not teach these skills, instead choosing to focus on training people how to be performers).
If you’re a musician, do you really need to be on social media? The answer is……probably.
George Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, Act I: Summertime (arr. J. Heifetz for violin and piano) (Ray Chen, violin; Julien Quentin, piano)
Here are 6 reasons why musicians should use social media:
1. It costs nothing, or almost nothing. Creating a social media account is free and easy to set up
2. Forge important connections with others in the industry – musicians, promoters, journalists, publicists – which can lead to a wider recognition of what you do and may even bring you more work
3. Showcase your work. The ease of sharing material via social media allows musicians to present new or existing work through video and audio clips on platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud and Bandcamp.
4. Build a relationship with your audience by giving them a flavour of your musical personality. Social media offers a powerful tool to engage with audiences on a far more immediate and, importantly, personal level. Use Twitter or Instagram, for example, to offer “tasters” of your forthcoming concerts or recordings via short video clips of the programme, or even little outtakes from the practice studio or rehearsal room. Audiences are very curious about “what musicians do all day” and engaging with one’s audience in this way offers a glimpse “beyond the notes”. Social media also allows musicians to interact with audiences after performances, thus creating a greater sense of a shared experience. And at a time when waiting to meet your audience in the green room may be prohibited because of covid-19 restrictions, social media offers audiences a “virtual autograph” from the musicians they admire. It’s an authentic real-time interaction which is meaningful and valuable for both musician and audience member.
5. Enhance your profile. An active social media presence will make you more attractive to presenters, managers and record companies who will look at the size of your fan base, the number of views, and how actively you engage with your followers.
6. Be your own publicist. Social media allows you to promote your upcoming concerts or CD releases. It’s a useful, easy and free (or very inexpensive) form of self-promotion. I have included this as a final point because I believe that self-promotion needs to be undertaken carefully to avoid appearing ego-centric. And advertising/self-promotion should not be the primary reason for using social media.
The ultimate goal is less about increasing your followers or fan base, but rather sharing your passion with the world, making an impact, and creating opportunities for yourself as an artist.
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