ALL PHOTOS: Unsplash
The Importance of Social Media Visibility
SOMETHING rather unsettling has been catching my eyes…
the past few weeks (or not, as it turns out!). I am putting together a (five-part) feature regarding the artists to watch out for in 2018. It has been interesting surveying music and collating those, I think, will be a big deal next year. One of the things that has perplexed me is the disorganisation and lack of visibility from some artists. Not only are their social media pages jumbled and fractured – there is not a lot of information on Facebook or links to all their other sites – but they are missing out options like Twitter. In fact; I have encountered a number of musicians who are on, say, BandCamp, but do not have a Twitter profile! I wonder whether people are unaware of the potential and necessity of having a Twitter account. In personal terms; if it not necessarily crucial and all that helpful: when it comes to music, it is absolutely essential! I am confused why any artist who wants to get anywhere would ignore the importance of Twitter. If you want to get people investigating your sounds – and checking out your movements – then you need to consider every social media outlet and streaming site. For any artist; these sites are an absolute must-use: Twitter, Facebook; SoundCloud, YouTube and Spotify. I would also suggest BandCamp and Instagram – they are all free and easy to use. Given the fact it is easy to set up an account (on each) and get started – I wonder why artists are neglecting them and assume they will be okay?!
I can understand why they would negate BandCamp, for instance, as it is very similar to SoundCloud. It is a more visual equivalent and reaches a different audience but you can exist with one or the other. Spotify is key because that is where a lot of the focus is. You can get big streaming figures and push your music to a huge audience. Playlists are a good way of joining forces with other artists and promoting their music – they, in turn, can feature your music on their playlist. Many take advantage of Spotify by featuring artists on a playlist in the hope that reciprocating boosts their current single. It is shrewd, for sure - but this site is as much a marketing tool as a great way of discovering good music. Whilst I am not a fan of the obsession labels and artists have with the site – putting everything into numbers and taken an obsessive business-brained approach to music-making – but I use it a lot when collating my weekly feature (where I pull all the new music out that week). Spotify is a great way of getting your music out in the same way, traditionally, SoundCloud and BandCamp are. Many might say having three similar-themed sites is a bit excessive. There is no such thing in music excessive coverage and attention-to-detail. If you put all your links on a Facebook page – so one can easily link to all of them – that will impress journalists and fans. I like the fact many artists are still using BandCamp and using it alongside other music-sharing sites.
SoundCloud survived a bit of a financial/survival wobble recently but it is, in my mind, the best site to stream your music on. You do not have to pay to use SoundCloud and it is a simple and easy way of playing sounds. If you have that full coverage of Spotify, BandCamp and SoundCloud then it means your latest release has greater potential and you can reach more people. YouTube is the other essential site you need to get involved with. There are very few sites where you can upload video (as opposed to audio) and it is, again, a free site. I love YouTube – now I have installed AdBlocker and do not have to suffer nauseating adverts with every video – and it is another indispensable site for all musicians. Everyone, at some stage, will produce a music video and YouTube is where it will go. Even if you have released a song (minus a video) you need to get it up on YouTube. The more sites you consider then the likelier it is people will find your current cut. Now that we have things cemented regards the audio side of things: why are so many showing little attention when it comes to social media?! The ideal set-up, with regards any artist, it to have a Facebook page that houses all your links. The same applies if you have an official site – another great thing to think about – that, where you write about yourself, have a link to EVERY social media/streaming/sharing site.
You would not believe the number of artists who are covered on all sites but, on Facebook, it only lists their Instagram and SoundCloud. I then have to go to SoundCloud to discover all the other sites they are on. There is laziness and disorganisation creeping into artists’ pages. If you sent someone a C.V. and missed out your employment history – but had it listed it on LinkedIn, for example – that is going to annoy and confuse a lot of people. It takes very little time setting up these accounts: it takes even less time putting links/hyperlinks, in a single place, so one can easily navigate and discover. I have mentioned official sites but, even if you have one and put all your links at the bottom of the homepage (all in a neat line for ease of access) then it is prudent putting them onto Facebook. When looking for new musicians; I instantly head to Facebook – it might not be obvious a band/artist has an official page. In a market where visibility and promotion are paramount considerations; I am finding too many with insufficiently tall totems. Their house is short and structurally fragile; bits of wood hanging out of the sides and glass rattling in the breeze. If you want to get your music out there and ahead of the competition – ensuring these things are considered BEFORE you get started is essential. I shall move on to information and visuals at the end but, just before…a word about Twitter.
I mentioned how some artists are not setting up Twitter accounts. Even if you do not have a lot to say at this early stage; it seems odd not to have an account set up. I find it is a much more effective tool when promoting music and finding music. From my perspective; most of the attention and success I have gained has been because of Twitter. You can share a post or song and it can reach so many people within seconds – from there, others can share and get to new audiences. Loads of artists on there have only a few followers (a couple of updates and bits of information) but I have seen some upcoming, popular artists on Facebook but not Twitter. It does perplex and grate when you consider how tough music is! Artists who ignore Twitter are overlooking a tool and device that can get them more fans and put them in contact with record labels, radio stations and who knows what else. I can publish a post, put it out to the Twitter-verse and others share it with their followers. It is such a slick and simple way of pushing work out and promoting your stuff. Whilst it does not have the same functions as Facebook – chat and messenger; as a deep a profile and an easy-to-manage timeline; it is essential for every musician who wants to get their music heard and shared. Maybe there are personal reasons why artists are ignoring Twitter but it would have to be a pretty good one, you’d think?!
There are others, too, that are on Twitter but have hard-to-spell/remember handles. If a band/artist has a common name – shared by a few others – they need to differentiate themselves, I know. There are others who have original names but create weird and tricky names. If, for example, your band is called 'Meathook'; then why would you have your Twitter handle as ' @WeAreMeatHook'? If there are no other people with the same handle, then take advantage! I will search the band using the obvious letters (i.e. their name) so, unless I put it into Google and get lucky with the search results; there is a chance I might needlessly miss out on them – the same applies when looking on Facebook. Others put underscores for no reason and have common names – that is its own demon. There is a wealth of choice regarding names so why would an artist/band choose something common and simple?! It makes the job of locating them extra-hard and can be impossible, at times, to find them on Twitter/Facebook. Making things simple for fans/radio station etc. is paramount in this game. If I have to try endless variations to find an artist – I have heard on the radio – then my attention will wane and it becomes frustrating. In any case, there is a cardinal rule for every musician: get on Twitter and make your handle easy-to-remember and as economical as possible...
Whilst it is important to ensure you have all your streaming/social media/sharing sites set and ready to go; it is crucial, when they are online, to give the consumer something to read. I have laboured this point to death but there are too many who feel giving minimal exposure is a good way of staying mysterious and focused – it is all about the music and why would anyone need to know their life-story?! Those ‘perfect’ artists have all their links in one places and a collection of images (I shall end on that) and, where it asks for a biography, it gives some information. You can put in press quotes and a bit about yourself; what genre you play in and where you are located. You would be stunned by how many artists do not say where they are from and leave you to piece it together. If they are a great Nottingham-based artist and I am writing a piece about great Nottingham acts – I will ignore them and not realise the fact. It is small things like this that need to be figured out. It is not an effort to put that on the page and will lead to more opportunities down the line – venues near you contacting and journalists better-informed. The biography does not have to be an epic read but, if a journalist sees no information, then what are they going to write about?! I look for reviews on the strength of where they are from and what they are about. If there is only the music, then I am very limited with what I can discuss.
Photos are the last thing I shall discuss and is another important thing to consider when looking at visibility and identity – one of the most important. It is a subject that keeps coming to mind because so few people are adequately providing photos. I have current interview subjects who have sent photos that are terrible quality and blurred; others that are microscopic. If you are approaching a journalist and want your music featured; they are going to need a few photos at the very. These images need to be good-quality and not be blurred. How many professional interviews do you see published where the photos are grainy/inferior or blurred?! You would not see that with an artist like Beyoncé or Eminem so why would any other artist feel that is okay?! Cameras are not bank-breaking and technology means you can take great-looking images on your phone without hassle. I have an iPad and can produce some shots in minutes that are clear and concise. Why artists are unable to do this is beyond me. There is a shoddiness and lack of respect when you get sent some poor and amateur images. The fact the person/people have not done any research is annoying enough – assuming I am a tiny blog who is lucky to have anyone approaching me for work!
There are bands/acts who have a load of images/photoshoots which is really appealing for the journalist/fan. I understand a professional shot can cost a bit of cash – so it is beyond the reach of most – but it is something, like an official site, that everyone should think of. It makes the music/profile look more professional and lures people like me in. I am going after artists with great photos on social media because, along with great music, it affords my site that visual edge and look of class. If I find an artist with great music, but a few grainy or sub-standard shots, I am not going to feature them. It is nothing personal - but there needs to be at least a few decent shots available. Very few sites will use one photo: they will want a choice, at the very least. Not only do photos mean the chance of a review or interview is more likely: it shows an artist is more open and thinking about music from all angles. If you have a social media site that has no information, few/no photos and updates here and there – how many people will stick with you? I know people capture images on phones that are blurry/grainy but you need to consider journalists etc. who want something higher-end and clear – that they can show off and share on social media. More galling than those who have very few/no good images are those with none at all!
What rational and sensible-minded artist comes into music and assumes the audio side of things is enough – who need to put a face to the music and bother with all that?! If you have the finance and resourcefulness to find recording equipment one assumes the same applies to photography?! It is great if you have utter confidence in your music but the industry relies on visuals as much as it does audio – if you want to get your face/music beyond social media then you need to consider putting images up. In the first instance – the debut single and first year in music – maybe six images would be the minimum (at least four of them at a near-professional standard). This is not going to be expensive and makes a good impression on those seeking out your stuff. It might be a lot to take in but artists need to make a checklist when they start out – or they can start one when they are underway – that covers images, social media and visibility. If people have to work hard to find the music/artist then that can cause a huge dent. If all these small measures are considered, it gives you an advantage and means fans, journalists and interested parties will come your way and invest in your music. Those who feel a causal and lackadaisical approach to promotion/business is a good way of doing things can easily find themselves…
OVERLOOKED and forgotten about.