Social Media And Content Strategies Applied By Bloggers That Every Musician Should Use

Mynah Marie

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Ok. Let’s start by getting something out of the way. I don’t like the terms “digital marketing” or “social media strategies” any more than you do.

In fact, anything with the words marketing or strategy in it used to sound like just another tactic to make me spend money.

Used to.

I get it. When it comes to our music, we are super protective of our integrity as artists. We don’t want to “sell ourselves” because it feels strange and out of place. The music should speak for itself and express whatever we want to express.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you that you should “adjust” for a specific audience or start to be “conscious of what’s selling” when you write a song.

No, no, no, no, absolutely not! That would be horrible.

I do think it’s important, though, to take a good long and hard look inside yourself, your creative process, and the goals you have with your music.

What bloggers do that musicians and artists don’t

Here’s the thing about bloggers. The most successful ones are not afraid to call their blog, a business.

I don’t hear that amongst musicians so much. I’d say it’s pretty rare that my friends will describe their band as their business. It’s more, like, there’s the band and then, there are all the business aspects around it.

But a band is a business. If you’re a solo performer, then you, as an artist, are a business. If you’re hoping to make any kind of money with your music, whether it’s selling a million albums or receive 10$ worth of donations from the door at a gig, then what you have is a business.

You need to be at peace with that or stop reading.

Early on in my process, I understood that starting a blog was synonymous with starting a business. Because I knew close to nothing about starting a business, my first step was to research and learn.

I watched inspirational TED Talks on success and entrepreneurship, educated myself on monetizing and marketing a blog and experimented with various social media platforms.

I learned a lot from the blogging community and the more I learned, the more I realized that my interpretation of most marketing and business terminology was wrong.

Having a business is not about a product, it’s about solving a problem or helping people.

Marketing is not just selling something, it’s about building a community that has a purpose.

Social media is about sharing and interacting. It’s about creating relationships where we both give and receive from one another.

Money is not just money. Money helps me quantify my investments of time and energy. It’s about a healthy balance of giving and receiving from my community.

Whenever I think about “creating content”, what I’m really doing is clarifying who I am as an artist, what do I want to say, and keep practicing and learning so that I can create something of high quality.

Yes, my music is my product but not in the sense of a packaged thing created to make money but in the sense of creating something which, I believe, has value.

When I say “has value”, it means that, whatever I give, it needs to either educate, inspire, or entertain.

The fact is that most of the concepts and strategies I learned to apply on social media, I learned by building a blog. And who did I learn from?

Other bloggers.

And some social media influencers…

…but yeah, mainly, bloggers.

But before we get to the juicy how-to, there are two things we need to get out of the way.

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Do yourself a favor and stop being your own worst enemy

Truth is, you probably have your share of ideas about what you should be doing or why the things you’re doing are not working as smoothly as you hoped for.

You know you should be posting stuff on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other platform that works.

You know that it’s about “being yourself” and “opening up” to your fans (but you probably feel like it’s total BS because you tried and it never worked).

You know that it’s possible to make a shit ton of money by developing your business on social media.

You even know, somewhere, deep down, that your music is good but somehow, damn, why isn’t anyone giving a shit?

You know that people do give a shit, just not about you.

You know all that because you see people all around you succeeding and failing, all with a different story and different reasons.

But somehow, here you are, reading my post, which means that probably, you’re doing nothing. Why?

Every time I speak to my musician friends about social media and developing digital marketing strategies, what I get is one of two reactions:

#1 — Paralyzed Terror

They go silent, make this long face and they suddenly turn pale. Their eyes become all glassy as if their whole body went numb.

I can even see the hairs going from brown, to gray, to white sometimes. Especially when I somehow blurted out some brilliant idea I think this person should absolutely do because it would totally work.

#2 — Resistance

That’s when all the excuses start to kick in.

Of course, they have about one thousand reasons why this idea would not work. Sometimes, they just have a few reasons. Sometimes, they don’t have any good reason at all but still, there’s no way they could consider such a ridiculous idea. Why is it ridiculous? They don’t know, it just is. And even if it’s not, still, they won’t try, just because.

And then I get this look, like, how did I even dare think about that? As if I just asked them to betray the most precious and sacred corners of their artistic souls.

Now listen. Everyone is struggling with fear and resistance to some extent. EVERYONE. The difference is that some people get over it and some others don’t. Which group would you rather belong to?

If you’re struggling with paralyzed fear or if you are resistant to try new things in order to put your message out there, go and sort yourself out.

Personally, I strongly recommend watching some of GaryVee’s videos on YouTube. Look him up, he’s awesome and he sure knows how to kick your ass when you need it.

Just remember to apply the substitutions we talked about when you listen to him (business = helping/solving a problem, money = energy, marketing = connecting, etc…). It’ll help you relate to what he’s saying from the perspective of you as an artist and get the essence of his message.

Now, let’s have a look at some of the key concepts and strategies I learned from the community of bloggers and see where it can apply to us, as musicians.

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Blogging 101: Find your “why”

You need a why. You need to figure out why you’re doing what you’re doing, what’s important to you to communicate, and what are the things that you want people to associate you with.

It’s funny because I never thought about “my why” much before I started blogging. As a musician, I never asked myself what I had to say or communicate beyond the music I was playing.

I just thought the music should be enough. If people like it, they’ll listen and if they don’t, then it means I’m worthless and I should say goodbye to my friends and family, flee the country and enter a life of exile.

But if you think about it, many artists that we know and love had a message that reached people far beyond their music. What are you trying to communicate? In other words, what’s your message?

If you’re not very clear on this, take a pen and paper and write down some answers to the following questions.

  • Is there anything in my personal story that people around me are curious/interested in?
  • What are the things I consider most special about me?
  • What are my biggest successes? My biggest failures?
  • What am I good at?
  • What am I not good at but passionate about?
  • If I had to sum up the message of my music in a few sentences, what would it be?
  • Do I feel that my music is entertaining? Why?
  • Do I feel my music is inspiring? Why?
  • What kind of experience do I want to give to people through music?
  • What are the beliefs I identify with?
  • What are some of my biggest flaws? Some of my biggest strengths?

Write down everything, even if it seems insignificant to you right now. You can even ask close friends to tell you their own perspective on some of these questions. It can be really helpful to have an outside view of yourself.

Then, sort through your answers and see what resonates with you the most.

What are you most excited about when you think about sharing it? What are the answers that feel the most comfortable and natural for you?

Now, take your favorite parts of your answers and try to summarize them into one, maximum of two sentences. You’ll probably need to think about it and play with it for a while before getting to something concise that you can strongly connect to.

That’s the foundation for your artist statement.

An artist statement is not about what kind of music you play or who people could compare you to. Your artist statement is about your message, your “why”. It’s about understanding the aspects of you and your work that people could unite around, it’s the foundation for building your community and therefore, growing your audience.

Blogging 102: Finding your voice

Creating something amazing nowadays is not enough to pierce through the noise that is the internet. People want to connect.

The question is, are you making yourself available? Are you really sharing something with your audience or are you just “promoting yourself”? Are you “giving what you want” instead of being attentive to your fans and followers?

From what I understood by learning from successful bloggers and social media influencers, there are three angles that we can use to start creating relationships with people.

We can inspire, educate or entertain.

Sort through the answers you put down in the previous exercise. Try to identify cross-overs and see if there’s anything that seems to pop up again and again.

Try to see which angle these answers could fit into. Is it inspiring? Educational? Entertaining? Identify what you think can have value for others and at the same time, are not asking you a huge amount of energy and time investment.

That’s your starting point for understanding how you want to express yourself when you reach out to people. What kind of tone and voice feels natural to you? Maybe you’re a natural teacher and it’s easier to express yourself when you are giving away information or explaining something. Maybe you prefer to inspire and in that case, probably you need to be more vulnerable.

Finding your voice takes time and a lot of trial and error. Jeff Goins has some fantastic advice on this. Sign up for his newsletter. Take his free email course. Even if it’s for aspiring writers, you can apply everything he says to your own creative path.

Once the “how” is a little more clear, it’s time to think about the “who”.

Blogging 103: Understand your ideal “who”

With all your notes in front of you, grab a pen and another piece of paper.

Ask yourself who would be your ideal “fan”. If you had to summarize your ideal crowd into one person, what would this person be like? How old are they? What’s their background, their story, their interests? What’s their social status? Where do they live? Why is he/she connecting to you and your music?

If you had to talk about yourself and share your music with someone, who would you like that person to be?

From a different perspective, if you have to sit and listen to someone, what are the things that interest you the most in others? Do you like intellectual conversations with academics and experts? Do you prefer casual talks without taking yourself too seriously? There are no right and wrong answers. It’s all about you and the community you want to create around your message.

Write down as many details about that person as you can and give him or her a name. That imaginary person will help you stay aligned with your artist statement and the way you choose to communicate and interact with your audience.

Try to think about it this way:

Building an audience is like choosing your friends. You don’t want just anyone around you, you want friends that appreciate you as you appreciate them. The more you grow that circle of friends around a unique message, the more what you will see emerging is a community.

Blogging 104: Seek out your ideal audience

Once you are clear on your message, you have a sense of your voice and know the kind of people you’d like to reach, see where these types of people hang out.

Some great places to start for this kind of research are Facebook groups, Quora, Reddit, and specialized forums. Medium is also great because you can see which articles are doing better and therefore have a sense of the kind of topics people are interested in.

See if you can identify questions people have that you can answer. Try to identify what you could offer to the community.

  • Maybe you have a vast pool of knowledge about a specific musical genre that people love and are curious about.
  • Maybe you know a lot about the process of becoming a musician and you can offer emotional support to people going through certain struggles.
  • Maybe your story is super inspiring and could give people inspiration and strength in their own lives.
  • Or maybe you do the best party music ever and every party animal out there should know that you exist.

It really depends and it’s all for you to figure out. Doing this research properly takes time and patience.

Find forums where people are discussing things that relate to you and your message. Write down the questions people are asking. Try to comment and provide some of your input and see how it gets received.

I mean, it makes sense right? If we’re not interested in others, why would people be interested in us?

Be more interested in others than you are in yourself

I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one. The reality is, it’s much easier to create a relationship with people by first showing interest in them instead of asking them to be interested in you.

If you have fans or followers, do you know who they are? Do you interact with them for something else than inviting them to your show or convince them to buy your CD?

Marketing is about connecting with people that are interested in what you have to say. Take the time to ask your fans and followers questions. Be interested in what they have to share with you.

In short, get to know them better. Take the focus away from you for a minute or two. Focus on giving. It will help you define your why and understand your ideal crowd much better.

If you have faithful followers that have been with you for a while, why not email them and give them something?

It doesn’t have to be a physical gift, it could be an inspiration, a small piece of advice, a part of your story you want to share, you can make them laugh…Whatever you feel comfortable giving which brings value to your supporters. Then, take that opportunity to ask them what they’d like to see from you. What’s the thing you did that resonated with them the most? Which song? Which video? Is there something specific that they connected to?

Again, it’s not about betraying your integrity and just give to people what they want to receive. It’s about opening a line of exchange. These people took the time to stop their busy lives and listen to your music. Why not stop and listen to them for a while? Who knows, you might discover a thing or two and even, maybe, get a couple of great ideas to ponder on.

Forget about selling, just think about sharing, especially giving.

Email lists are important and it’s something successful bloggers are going on and on about. Consider starting one and taking it seriously, this time. I don’t know how many times I collected random emails of people after shows that I never ended up emailing. I’m biting my fingers about it now.

Experiment with different social media platforms and find the one that fits you best

By now, if you did the work, you should have a much clearer idea of your artist statement, about the people you want to reach and you started creating bonds with the followers you already have.

Now it’s time to decide which are the platforms that suit you best for exposing your personality and your message and start building your community (to me, audience and community are synonymous, in case you’re confused).

If you are the kind of person that creates a post on Facebook and then just shares it as is on Twitter, Instagram, or any other platform, stop this now.

Each social media platform has its own flow and personality. What you need to do is experiment with all of them for a while.

Don’t limit yourself to the big names. There are loads of lesser-known platforms that have a wide audience and might just be a good fit for you (for example, GaryVee talks a lot about TikTok these days). There are also broadcasting platforms, like YouNow or Periscope, that might be a good match.

It all depends on what you have to communicate, how you want to communicate it, and to who. Try them out, get to know how they work, browse, and see what kind of conversation or content is posted there. Find influencers that you can relate to (people talking to the people you want to talk to) and see what kind of content they are posting.

Don’t make the decision to limit yourself to one platform before trying many of them. You might be surprised by what you find.

For example, I never thought Instagram would work for me. I’m not into visual arts and I’m a pretty bad photographer. But after spending some time on IG, understanding how it works, pushing myself to learn how other influencers use it, and giving it a serious try, I realized that IG is actually the platform that works best for me.

Why? I don’t have a fully rational answer. I think that one telltale factor is that it’s by far the platform I have the most fun on. Also, there’s something about the tone and the communication that happens on IG. Somehow, it fits me.

So give yourself time to experiment seriously.

At some point, you should start feeling a pull towards a specific social media. Where is it easier for you to express yourself? Where do you get the best responses? Where do you feel it’s easiest for you to connect with people?

Do your research. Experiment. Once you have a feel for a variety of platforms, choose one or two that you feel can work for you and focus on them. One or two maximum, otherwise you might start to feel overwhelmed.

Time to put it all into action

The best way to start finding your ground on a social media platform and start getting a few followers is to engage with people and comment, every day, as much as you can.

Answer people’s questions. Comment on their work in a meaningful and constructive way (try to avoid the pure emojis or “Love it!” comments, give something of value).

Follow artists and social media influencers in your niche and see how they communicate with their audience.

Give as much as you can without expecting anything back. In other words, be generous and available.

If you don’t give, people can’t get to know you.

Stop being so worried about making your music accessible for free. With social media, there are a thousand more ways to monetize your brand and music than by focusing on CD sales.

Stop being so focused on “inviting people to see your show”. Invite them to be a part of your life instead and show them you’d like to be a part of theirs. Start there.

Force yourself to post as much as you can and each time ask yourself: “What am I giving? What do I want to communicate?”. Don’t let fear or resistance stop you. Just try different things.

Don’t worry about making mistakes. Unless you say something extremely offensive, the worst that can happen is that no one will care. That’s it. Take it as constructive feedback and write another post. See if you can engage people in a different way, a way that will get a reaction, this time.

Everyone says that you should try not to put out too much content. My take on it after experimenting for a while, I’d say, unless you’re a genius idea machine blessed with complete self-confidence and you’re able to simultaneously take a picture with your phone while typing in your post, unless you can do that then it’s very unlikely you’ll get anywhere near the amount of content people define as “too much”.

You need to find a balance between quality and quantity that works for you.

And again, experiment. Come back to your artist statement often and try different ways to express it and different angles to explore. Don’t go so far that you lose touch with what’s natural for you but push yourself to go out of your comfort zone, from time to time. Try things you never tried before and see how people respond or react.

Make it a priority to answer to every comment you get from people. Show your audience that you’re listening. If you get negative reactions, learn how to respond gracefully and then let it go. Not everyone will love you and that’s ok (easier said than done, I know).

Fear and Resistance… Again

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Maybe you’re thinking: “I just want to play music and I don’t want to start worrying about doing a million other things.” Or, “if I do all this, I won’t have the time to create.”

I get that. And again, it’s not about stretching yourself to a point where you can’t keep up.

It’s about finding the right balance between keeping your integrity and staying attentive and available to others. Listen to your inner voices right now. Be honest with yourself. How many of these voices have something to do with your fear or your resistance?

I know, it’s hard to go forward and reach out to people sometimes, especially if you’re an introvert, like me. And if you’re a musician struggling to make ends meet, you’re just happy to have someone, anyone, come to your show and appreciate your music.

Maybe you feel like you don’t “deserve” to be heard because no one gave you that external validation that what you’re doing IS good and IS worth listening to.

Ultimately, you need to come at peace with the awfully cheesy truth. No one will listen to you, your message, and your music if you’re not first convinced you have something worth listening to.

The responsibility is on you.

In the short time, I’ve been blogging, applying these simple concepts and strategies on social media boosted my creativity, gave me a much better sense of direction as an artist, and encouraged me to improve myself.

Plus, I met some truly amazing people online.

So, why not just give it a try and see where it takes you?

This article was originally published by the author on Medium.

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