Why is your online presence just as important as your music?
By Isha Howard
You finally have arrived at the point where you are ready to release your first track, and it has taken you at least a year to go through both the exciting and mundane parts of the song writing process. The days spent recording at the studio, the discovery of the sound you wanted to bring to life, and the moments where your creativity was not up to par - these were the main elements that made up the entire process for your first single. You are somebody who is serious about getting your music heard, and now you are finally about to show to the world this beautiful masterpiece that you have created.
But the question is...who exactly around the world is going to hear your song, and where are they going to discover it from?
You have spent so much time and energy into the creative aspect of your upcoming release, without realising that you have been neglecting the other aspects of it. Social media was never really your thing, and you would only ever really network or collaborate with other musicians and your producer at the studio. Your motto for the first year of your recording process has been that people will discover your song by chance and automatically become your fan. It's not clear what these new listeners owe you in terms of cultivating your fan base though because they don't really know who you are as a person or a musician. Do they know much about you at all, your journey, what inspires you, a bit about your life on a daily basis, and when to expect upcoming releases from you?
We are no longer living in a time where your song is going to go viral overnight. In such a large industry, the chances of your release becoming a hit right away is unfortunately going to be a rare occurrence. If anybody does end up finding it, it will most likely be your friends, family, and random people through Soundcloud. If you haven't grown your online platforms in which you put effort towards encouraging organic socaial media growth, a loyal fan base, and a self promotion strategy that is in alignment with your upcoming releases, then how are you going to get new listeners towards your music especially if there is only a small portion of the world listening to it?
You do not need to have tons of followers on Instagram, but you need to have a genuine fan base who you are regularly engaging and connecting with, producing content for on your platforms, and networking with often in order to promote you and your music. These are the people who are going to follow your music, appreciate you for who you are as a musician, and follow you throughout the ups and downs of your journey. Even if you are not somebody who particularly ever gravitated towards using social media as a way to showcase your music, it's great to think about how it can be such an advantage to you now more than ever.
Think about using social media and your online platforms as merely an addition to your artistic journey which will do nothing but help you immensely, and I say artistic because it is the content that you are going to be putting out that will reach the eyes of many. The photography from prior gigs, a weekly cover song, graphics for upcoming content, and album artwork are all visual additions that will bring your portfolio to life beyond just your sound.
People want to not only hear you, but they need to see you. And if they can't see you live right now during this pandemic, then it's important to assess how else they can.
So, why exactly is online presence for a musician or band a key to successful outreach?
1. You are going to be self promoting to an audience larger than the people you know, and you need to know where they hang out (aka your target audience)
Your audience is going to be hanging out on online platforms...not at the local bar down the street. When you have a strategy put into place and think, "YES, I'm ready to post onto my socials," then you need to see that it is not a simple strategy of posting once every few weeks and hoping for the best. Having a specific target audience in mind will help you reach your goals in terms of knowing who you want to listen to your music.
One thing you can do when determining your target audience is to create an Audience Persona. You can ask yourself, "What are the core beliefs of this person?" or "What do they hope to feel when they listen to my music, or see my content?"
2. Your fan base is purely going to be listeners who discover you ONLINE
These people are going to be online through Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Tiktok. These platforms heavily make up the modern day marketing of the music industry and have become heavily known as content creation platforms for musicians and bands to promote their own music in different ways.
3. Gigs and live performance venues are a rare occurrence right now.
There is no doubt that it is devastating for musicians and bands to feel like they are unable to share such a huge aspect of their lives to people in person, but we can fill in this gap with the creative content we put out onto social media. And because the live gig scene will be a bit unsteady for a while, then we can use our online platforms as another form of art to present.
4. People need to know who you are!
A beautifully crafted song is always good, but there is more that your audience wants to know about you and your journey. What do you stand for, and what are your values in the industry? Do you want to break a taboo in the music industry and shake things up a bit, or do you simply want to make some aspects of the industry even better?
Some people have the idea that the entire process of creating is smooth sailing and glamorous, and that all musicians EVER do in their life is create music. The listeners who do become your genuine fans will have also seen the aspects of yourself that are raw and relatable to them, especially with people who are a bit more unfamiliar with how the music industry works.
Growing your online presence can be challenging in the beginning, but it is not an overnight process and it takes commitment, authenticity, and the mindset of being yourself. What you put out is what you receive, and if you are actively growing your connections and content as a musician, then you will gain a rewarding fan base who will be your biggest supporters for your upcoming releases!