DIY Blog

DIY Blog: CMU:DIY x Urban Development 05 – Social Media

By | Published on Thursday 17 March 2016

Last night we co-hosted our latest Industry Takeover Seminar with Urban Development at the Red Bull Studios. This session looked at how social media channels fit into a new artist’s marketing and fan engagement strategies.

While it’s no secret that digital music services like iTunes, Spotify and YouTube have revolutionised the music industry, I always argue that the single biggest impact the rise of the world wide web has had on music is the fact that artists now have a direct relationship with their fans. Prior to the web, beyond the mosh pit and the fan letter, artists didn’t really know who their fans were. But today they can talk and listen to their core fanbase 24/7 via an assortment of digital channels.

Social media sits at the heart of all this, of course. MySpace was probably the first social network to have a major impact on the music community, with artists aplenty dumping the websites their record labels has spent thousands creating and opting to talk to fans through their always clunky MySpace profiles instead. Then, of course, the MySpace exodus began, with Facebook and Twitter becoming the key social media for music. Now it’s arguably Instagram and Snapchat that matter most. Somewhere in between Tumblr had its moment in the spotlight.

This brief history of social media demonstrates one of the challenges artists now face. The fact artists can so easily talk directly to their core fanbase is amazing, and the commercial potential of that direct-to-fan relationship is yet to be fully realised by even the big name acts. But it also means more work for both artists and their teams, especially at the grass roots. Most social media need a constant supply of content to keep fans engaged, which means that artists who used to put out an album’s worth of songs every couple of years, now need to be thinking of something to say and share at least once a week. Which can be exhausting.

And then there is that other challenge I alluded to: the fact that social media itself is evolving so much. Each social media platform evolves. Facebook went from being a free promo platform to arguably becoming an advertising platform, in that you probably now need to spend money to make a real impact on that network. And, of course, Facebook now has ambitions in video, so artists posting video content will be prioritised by the Facebook algorithm. But even if you can keep up with those changes, you also need to be aware of how your fans are evolving too as social networkers. If you are pitching at a younger fanbase, there’s a chance you’re shouting to an empty room on Facebook. But how can you make use of Instagram and Snapchat? Can you infiltrate Whatsapp? Where, exactly, are your fans hanging out?

Even once you’ve worked out which social media matter for your fanbase, how those social media work, and what kind of content you can realistically produce on a regular basis, there is then one last thing to remember: for artists, social media is a means to an end. You need to work out a way to turn the fanbase you are talking to into revenue, whether that is selling CDs or downloads, or generating premium streams, or shifting tickets and t-shirts. Which is where those digital channels more specifically designed with music in mind – Music Glue, Bandcamp, PledgeMusic, etc – are really important. Because as an artist, you aren’t building your social network to be social, you are building it as a platform for your music, and an infrastructure for your music business.

So, lots of questions then! Which social media? What content? How to turn it all into a business? And these are the questions we’ll be tackling at the next Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar with CMU:DIY, as we put the focus on all things social media. Come join us and hear some answers.

PC Music affiliate Hannah Diamond, Complex Magazine’s Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson and MAMA’s Aria Alagha will be amongst those sharing their expertise at the Urban Development Industry Takeover Seminar next week.

You can check out the slides from the CMU:DIY talk that kick-started the proceedings below or download them as a PDF by clicking here.

For information about other Urban Development programmes CLICK HERE, and for updates on future CMU:DIY events sign up to the CMU Daily HERE.