Social Media in 2014: a Musician’s Guide

The social media landscape is changing. Gone are the days when a few crucial websites ruled the roost, littered by social media blog generators like Bloggit and LiveJournal. Hundreds of companies have eagerly back-flipped into the pool left by the monarch of MySpace, but most of them have drowned for lack of good or original ideas. Let’s not forget, that caused the untimely death of the King too.

Those that have survived to swim the length of the lake are the Goliaths of their trade: FaceBook, SoundCloud and to a lesser extent ReverbNation have all got their hand permanently in the pond water. Their monopolies see underground and ethical projects off the board left, right and centre. Meanwhile they sit, comfortable in the knowledge that they’re ‘the best’.

The problem is, for musicians at least, they’re really far from perfect.

Social Media: No Demographic Filter

When FaceBook landed, it was touted for a very specific demographic. In fact without an email address from a recognised University, you couldn’t even register. When you did, you were confronted with the option to upload and share photographs, or get the hell out. FaceBook has developed into something far different. In their eagerness to attract every mug on the planet, they’ve lost sight of their niche appeal. Their platform is now inclusive of all and every type of person, media and trivial game under the sun, leaving little room to promote to a target audience. As a social networking site, they’re almost too varied.

SoundCloud on the other hand doesn’t even attempt to market itself to a particular type of person. It’s made solely for the individual, with a homepage that loads personalised content and nothing else. Unless I’ve managed to avoid the campaign, they’ve not bothered to market themselves towards a particular type of person. Users can vary from the biggest band in your collection, to a tiny label from Manchester, to a fairly useless wannabe DJ from Sydney. SoundCloud isn’t really designed for interactive promotion, and that’s fair enough, but the format leaves an unhelpful void.

The last of our three, ReverbNation, does everything it should do. It looks right, talks right and markets itself right. Tags and categories allow bands to place themselves in an area where they’ll attract fans. Users are presented with a comprehensive search engine. Unfortunately however, the spam that killed MySpace has already taken hold of ReverbNation. When we ran a competition with the company back in October, we were inundated with submissions from musicians from around the world. Some of them – the musicians we covered - were good. Most of them were terrible. Added to the fact that musicians far, far outstrip users on the site, and you’ve got yourself a stumbling block, sir. ReverbNation succeed in targeting their audience, but they fail to moderate their website.

Social Media: Functionality

Which brings us nicely around to the topic of functionality on social media website. To state the obvious, social media websites need to work. FaceBook has all sorts of annoying glitches and weird API issues that make scheduling regular posts a ball ache. On top of that, an earnest user will struggle to upload their music and multimedia wears in an organised fashion. When they do, tabs on Pages go largely ignored, leaving the bulk of the work up to the easily-spammed front page. What happens if no one interacts with your posts? No one sees them.

On the other hand, SoundCloud mainly relies on embedding elsewhere and searching on the site for a specific song. If you’re a well known band it’s fab, offering a free platform to upload and share your music. If you’re not so well known, only meticulous tagging and getting bloggers to share your music is going to help. There’s also little space to upload anything besides a short biography and a link to an outside about section. SoundCloud’s system alone will not help you.

With text, video, photo and audio options, ReverbNation wins in this section; but additional promotion will cost you...

Social Media: Pay to Promote

If you’ve got endless pockets, these social networking sites offer up a bounty of exposure. FaceBook allows you to pay-per-click, making your page miraculously appear on the feeds of people who don’t follow you. Whether they act on the marketing scheme is totally up to the individual, and it can hurt to try. Likewise you can pay to appear on the feeds of people who already follow you. In DrunkenWerewolf’s eyes this is sneaky nonsense and has incurred criticism across the board from the website’s users. Despite that it’s an easy trick to fall for; why pay for fans you already have?

ReverbNation go one step further in the game of social media financing, asking you to pay for any exposure. If you’re lucky you’ll come across a user or publication like DrunkenWerewolf that will accept ‘free’ submissions in return for social media points. However the large majority ask for a few pennies. That’s not very much, so it can’t hurt, right? Users are under no obligation to accept your submission. If we’d charged artists to send us their music, we’d have earned thousands without covering a single soul.

Social Media: What’s the Solution?

Dig around a little bit and you’ll discover there are social media websites that provide a free service that’s tailored to a musician’s needs.

Zugme.com offers a brilliant example. The new social media website allows users to upload image and audio content, or link to video content on YouTube and Vimeo for no cost at all. The immediate benefit is a personalised space in the form of your profile page; offering other users a chance to see your band’s full catalogue, or – if you’re not an original musician – it can be used as a place to store your favourite online finds.

So far; so simple. Zugme.com goes several steps further as a social media website, banging at the originality drum the whole way. For starters, linking to YouTube and Vimeo content allows users to share videos without a license. This encourages fans to promote on the artist’s behalf, cutting down on laborious admin hours. Messages and content can also be shared with individuals and select groups of users through the MyPeople tool, allowing musicians to encourage their fans and friends to help with certain projects, and communities to chat about their feed pages. On top of that, recent uploads will appear on the home page. Everyone can see your posts, so already Zugme.com does for free what FaceBook charges the earth to perform.

We’re still not onto the best bit. When you upload content, you’ll be asked to tag it with a general term (e.g. ‘Music’ or ‘Folk Music’) and a city. Users can then search by term and city, meaning entire communities and scenes are available at the click of a button. Zugme.com allows musicians and users to come together in the truest form of DIY, working and learning from one another to create a really great creative space on the internet.

So you see; there are good guys out there. Scrap social media websites like FaceBook, SoundCloud and ReverbNation; register with Zugme.com today and get sharing!

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3 Responses to “Social Media in 2014: a Musician’s Guide”

  1. Vrika 07/02/2014 at 2:24 am #

    Howdy! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout
    out and say I really enjoy reading your posts.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the
    same topics? Thanks for your time!

    • Tiffany Daniels 07/02/2014 at 9:53 am #

      Hello,

      Yes, I wrote a series of articles for Eshac a while ago: http://news.eshac.com/?p=1645. There are also some more articles like this on DrunkenWerewolf.com!

      xx

      Tiffany

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