A lot of musicians ask me how many social media sites they should be on.
The answer is simple – you should not do more than you can do well.
For instance, if you’re doing well on Facebook and Twitter, but the moment you begin posting to Instagram your results on Facebook and Twitter begin to diminish, it’s a clear sign you’re taking on too much. Spreading yourself thin achieves nothing.
That takes a bit of pressure off, doesn’t it?
I know what a lot of other musicians and experts out there are saying. You’ve got to be on Instagram – they just launched IGTV! Interact with your fans on Snapchat – it’s the bomb! You’d be an idiot not to take advantage of Facebook Live!
I don’t subscribe to any of it.
You don’t need to jump on the latest trends to succeed on social media. You don’t need to be on every network. You don’t need a sophisticated content repurposing strategy. You just need to be active and personal. If you keep at it, your efforts will pay off.
So, here are the best social media platforms for musicians.
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1. YouTube Is The Top Social Media Website For Musicians Right Now
If I was told I could only use one social network to build my music career, I would choose YouTube.
On YouTube, you can upload your videos and share them with a massive community. This gives you the opportunity to get personal, showcase your music, let your fans in on an inside joke, show behind-the-scenes content and so on.
In your video description, you can add links to anything you want, including your website, your music on iTunes or Spotify, your latest review, or anything else you can think of.
But that’s not all. You can also interact with the community by liking, sharing, and commenting on other videos. So, as with other social networks, it is possible to create conversations, participate in them and increase your impact.
It seems more people are growing wise to the fact that creating playlists can help them get more views for their videos, but I would say it’s still a bit underutilized by musicians.
For instance, if you write a lot of guitar music, you could have a playlist called “Great Guitar Music” that features all your favorite artists. You could sneak in a couple of your own tracks too. Really, it’s okay.
Creating a regular stream of content can help you engage your audience and grow your following. This is what YouTube is all about.
How to succeed on YouTube: Upload videos, at least once per week. Interact with the community. Learn best practices. Use advertising to boost views on your highest performing videos.
Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and there’s a good chance you’re already on it.
It was created by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, who originally created the platform to keep tabs on the hottest chicks on campus.
Well, that’s one way to use Facebook. But these days, they’ve got a full-blown advertising platform and you can find groups built around practically every interest imaginable. If you want it to promote your music, there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of.
Musicians sometimes ask whether they should have a profile, fan page, or both. We’ve covered this topic in another guide, but here’s the lowdown – you need both. Now, you can’t have a fan page without a profile, so that’s a moot point. But your profile can absolutely be leveraged to promote your works too.
I know, I know. You created a Facebook account to connect with your friends. You don’t want to clutter up their feeds with a ton of announcements or updates.
Trust me – most people aren’t seeing your posts anyway. Your thoughtfulness is going unrewarded. Posting more regularly is not a bad thing, and yes, you can even share about the same thing multiple times (just don’t do this with consecutive posts).
How to succeed on Facebook: Post something new, several times per day if possible. Share your posts on your fan page to your personal profile. Interact with the community. Join and participate in groups. Upload videos to Facebook (in addition to YouTube). Use Facebook Live and advertise your top performing posts.
Whenever I talk about social media with musicians, inevitably the topic of Instagram comes up. I agree that it’s a good place to build your online presence, and some even do well at it. The fact that you can cross-post to sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr directly from Instagram is also cool.
But in my opinion, you’re a little limited with what you can do with the platform. Sure, you can share photos and get people to look at your profile. But if you can’t get people to click on the link in your profile, you're going nowhere fast. You can build your brand and increase your exposure, but that’s about it.
And, I understand. If you’re playing the social media game, you need to be thinking long-term. But I often ask myself if it’s worth the time and effort if I can’t at least get someone to visit my website.
You may have a different perspective on this matter, and that’s okay.
But if I was just getting my start in music today, I would put more energy into Facebook, Twitter and YouTube than Instagram. If I was constantly taking interesting photos and always out and about, then maybe Instagram would make more sense as an early rollout. Otherwise, I would add it into the mix later. You can get plenty of people looking at your stuff just posting to Facebook.
Instagram is a great place to get a lot of engagement on your visual content, I can’t argue with that. So, if you’re planning to document your journey as a musician, interact with a lot of people and take a lot of photos, give it a whirl. You’ll get a lot out of it if you’re an extrovert.
How to succeed on Instagram: Post something new, several times per day if possible. Create real, human connections. Interact with other people’s photos (say something of substance – don’t just say “great photo!”). Vary up your content – graphics, photos, videos, quotes, etc. Advertise.
Google has slowly been buying up Twitter’s developer products. Yet, they don’t seem interested in buying the whole thing.
So, while there is a bit of weirdness going on, Twitter is still a good place to be as a musician.
A lot of people like to argue with me about this. But Twitter is still the third biggest social network and is bigger than Instagram by a whopping 125 million users. That’s a significant gap. Even if you use Twitter as a slave (i.e. have your Facebook posts automatically posted to Twitter) there’s still value in leveraging the platform.
Yes, it is a lot of noise. And, there are limits to how you can use the platform. By the same token, it doesn’t take a lot to stand out.
If you regularly like, retweet, and respond to tweets, you’re probably one of few people using Twitter the right way. You’ll gain a lot of traction just by being real and being human on the platform.
As with Facebook (and most social networks now), Twitter has an advertising platform you can take advantage of to boost your following or get more views on your tweets.
They also have analytics now, so if you’re trying to figure out what’s working and what isn’t, all you need to do is comb through your data.
When it comes right down to it, Twitter is easy, accessible and fun. And, generally you won’t experience any backlash for making mistakes early on.
How to succeed on Twitter: Tweet several times per day. Be a real person and interact with others. Start conversations. Like, retweet and comment. Advertise.
It’s still more of an eCommerce platform than a social network. But you certainly can’t ignore Bandcamp as a musician – mainly because you can have complete control over your music. You can set the price. You can decide whether to allow your audience to stream your music. You can customize your page, add a bio, choose tags, add lyrics and more.
It’s still not your platform, because whatever Bandcamp decides, goes. If they choose to shut down your account, you can’t do anything about it. If they end up closing their doors, your account will be gone. Tough luck.
But so long as they exist and you’re in good standing with them, there’s plenty to like about Bandcamp.
As far as the social networking aspect is concerned, people can follow you and share your music on their favorite social networks. They can even embed your release on their website or blog, which could drive up sales, shares and exposure. It works a bit like SoundCloud, except there’s a greater emphasis on getting people to buy your music.
Now, you won’t get much out of Bandcamp if you don’t work it. So, don’t go in thinking Bandcamp will do all the work for you. You’ll need to dedicate at least some of your marketing muscle to getting your fans to your Bandcamp page.
How to succeed on Bandcamp: Publish new music on an ongoing basis. Use other social networks, your website and your email list to direct traffic to your Bandcamp page. While there, get people to follow you, buy your music and share it on their favorite social network. Use the embed code to put your releases on your website and get your fans to do the same.
SoundCloud has been standing on precarious footing for a while. So, it’s a little uncertain as to whether it’ll be sticking around over the long haul or if they’ll have to close their doors at some point.
But as far as musician-oriented social networking is concerned, it’s still a good place to be. Just avoid the common trap of building a huge following on one platform and not collecting people’s email addresses on the backend. That goes for all social networks, by the way.
If you aren’t familiar with SoundCloud, it’s a place where you can upload your music and share it with people. Now, there is a lot of talk out there as to whether you should share your music for free, share samples, or not share it at all. That’s entirely up to you.
But one thing I will say is a lot of music bloggers won’t review your music unless you’ve uploaded it to SoundCloud.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of SoundCloud is that you can embed the player anywhere on the web, whether on a website or a blog. That can help you reach a lot of people with your music.
Also note that you can send people from SoundCloud over to iTunes to purchase your music.
How to Succeed on SoundCloud: Share something new (music or audio), once per week if possible. Interact with the community and comment on other people’s tracks. Embed your tracks on your website or blog. Get your fans to do the same.
Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians, Conclusion
Wait, what about ReverbNation? Google+? Pinterest? LinkedIn? Reddit? Tumblr? Drooble?
I am aware that there are plenty of other social networks out there. And, you can use them to promote your music if you so desire. At the very least, it’s a good idea to register accounts with each. That way, you can secure your username should you ever end up needing to build a presence on one of these sites.
But don’t get carried away. It doesn’t do you a whole lot of good to have 10 followers here, 15 followers there, two followers over here, and so on.
If I were you, I would go to where the fans are. And, depending on your genre and esthetic, that will vary a little. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are still sure bets though.
Get focused and stay focused. Once you’ve successfully built your presence on one or two platforms, that’s the time to look at adding another.