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6 Mistakes Musicians Make With Social Networking

In this day and age, gone are the days when musicians were unreachable deities who seemed to live on a world completely different to our own. With the advent of the internet and - consequently - social networking, many have embraced to spouting their thoughts to their fans at a click of a mouse.

While there is still that element of inapproachability for the superstars, many musicians now seem more human and more relatable than ever, tweeting about their dependence on that morning serving of coffee or posting a photo on Facebook of their cat snuggling inside a box.

Seriously, don't go to You'll be stuck in your room for day.


Keeping this in mind, I have compiled a list of mistakes musicians make when using social networking as tool. While all the advice here applies generally to all musicians, I wrote this with regards to the Brunei music scene, using my modest experience in being involved with the UK music scene as a writer (for both my music site It’s Raining Planes & Helicopters, and Leeds-based publication Musical Mathematics) and a remixer.

1) Spamming

Musicians who constantly spam their own fanbase with links to buy their merchandise or ask their fans to promote the musician to their friends risk losing that fanbase. While some of your fans may be loyal, many are there because clicking ‘like’ or ‘follow’ is an extremely simple process. They may have heard your band support a band they like at a show, or someone might have recommended you to them. Either way, these are potential fans, and you do not want to push them to clicking ‘unlike’ or ‘unfollow’ because of your spamming habits.

They have no reason to buy your CDs and ask their friends to like you if they themselves haven’t decided. So keep the blatant self-promotion to a low level, and if you’re good enough, word-of-mouth is a pretty strong tool. There is a fine line between marketing and spamming.

If you’re planning to promote your band through other Facebook pages such as those of other musicians or music publications, do your research. Make sure these people have the kind of audience that will appreciate your band. Blind marketing will harm more than it will help. Take the time to personalise your messages so that it’s not obvious you’re just copy-and-pasting ‘hi, plz check out my band, kthnxbai’. Be genuine about expressing your love for a band if you’re promoting your band to them and their fans.

No, just no.


2) Forgetting To Update Or Interact With Fans

Don’t be lazy. Update, update, update. When you’re writing a new song, tell your fans about it. When you have a show coming up, let people know. Heck, if it’s your drummer’s birthday, let the fans wish him or her a happy birthday. Let the tone be casual and friendly. If you consciously try to sell them something, people will see right through it.

Don’t let your manager or anyone else outside the band do these updates for you either. It is obvious to most people and gives off the vibe that the band thinks they’re too important to be interacting with their own fans. Interaction is key to building a strong fanbase. This is the 21st century’s version of replying to fan mail, only quicker and more public.

Also consider having a mailing list. This is useful for important announcements such as album releases and upcoming shows. It’s also useful for your fans who don’t actually use social networking sites. Again, don’t spam or people will unsubscribe.

3) Making No Or Little Music Available For Streaming Or Download

There’s been countless occasions where I went to a band’s Facebook page to check out their music only to be greeted with no or very little music streamed. The Bandpage app for Facebook is an excellent tool to showcase your music. Don’t just upload 30-second clips to entice people to buy your CDs. Most of the time it just annoys listeners. This is the age of ‘try-before-you-buy,’ so don’t be afraid to upload a few full songs.

Don’t settle with iPhone-recorded live recordings either. They are useful when you’ve just started, but people will not take you seriously in the long term if that’s all you have to show for. A low quality recording can be easily mistaken for a low-quality song, and and that can seriously hurt someone's interest in you.

Utilise music streaming websites such as Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Many musicians have resorted to uploading full albums to be streamed via these sites in an attempt to get people buying. Letting listeners know what they’re buying shows that you’re both confident in your material, and isn’t about to rip them off with 30 minutes worth of filler songs.

Soundcloud: It's a godsend.


It is also never a bad idea to give away a free song download every now and then, especially when you’re promoting a new record. If people like the free song, they will buy your album. Some people won’t, but there’s nothing you can do about those people.

4) Living in Social Networking Isolation

The clue is in the name. You’ve got to be both social and networking. It’s not just about interacting with fans. It’s about interacting with other musicians, record labels and music publications, swapping recommendations and being friendly to each other. Not only does this not help both parties to increase their own fanbases, it also provides opportunities for joint gigs and releases.

Even if you think your band is original and innovative, do not think for a second that that excludes you from being compared with other bands. Identity is an essential part of your band’s outward image.People need to have a frame a reference on which to decide whether your band is worth their time. If you say you sound like ‘good music’, ‘indescribable’, or ‘a cacophony of unadulterated bliss in a sonic journey of wonder and beauty’, people will get turned off by both the pretentiousness and the emptiness of those descriptions. If you can’t find words to describe your music, outline your influences, idols and contemporaries. No need for big, fancy words.

5) Clinging To ‘Dead’ / Unused Social Networking Sites

If your only online presence is on Purevolume or Myspace, do not expect your fanbase to grow. If you have an account on any of these websites, delete them. They are dead-weight with an ever-decreasing user-base and you do not want them to be the first pages people see when they google you.

Only sign-up for sites you intend to use on a regular basis. Otherwise people will get the impression that your band is dead if they stumble onto your blog that was last updated in 2009.

My advice is to use both Facebook and Twitter. Use Facebook as a portal for your band, with links to your blog / music and places to buy your merch, and interaction with fans. Twitter, on the other hand, can be used for your more inane/interesting thoughts and opinions. Both should be used to update people about any band developments.

A blog is great for longer announcements, rants or opinion pieces. For the best effect, always give the link to your blog post on Twitter or Facebook every time you post. Alternatively, you can use apps like RSS Graffiti on Facebook to automatically post them for you.


                                                                      Source: Cartoon Stock

6) Prioritising Social Media Over Creative Output

After saying all this, be mindful that at the end of the day it all comes down to the music. Do not overlook your creative output in pursuit of more fans. If you have a choice between putting some money into making a website, making a music video, or recording a song, prioritise recording a song. If you have a splendid website with a lively social networking presence, it won’t make much sense if all you have are three cover songs recorded at a wedding gig...unless it's this wedding.

Editor's Note: Jay is back! Get to know him clicking on the picture link below.


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