The Social Musician
Introduction to Social Marketing
Many musicians tend to struggle with building a fanbase.. let alone a profitable brand that allows the musician to make a living off their music! You’re not the only one who has this issue. There is a reason people are called “Starving Artists”... Because most artists don’t have a single “business” bone in their entire body. Which is nothing to freak out about.. nor is it something to have a temper tantrum over. There are hundreds of thousands of musicians who are experiencing the same dilemma... And worst of all, many of those same musicians have been making music their whole lives!..However, please don’t get discouraged just yet, because like any skill, both business and marketing can be taught if you are willing to humble yourself and learn the craft.
Marketing itself is an art form.. although it may seem like numbers on the surface, it goes much deeper than most musical people care to realize. Now let me stop here; because I know someone reading this will message me on social media saying that numbers do matter in marketing... OF COURSE THEY DO! But the numbers side of marketing is not the primary focus of this particular book.. Instead we will look at the “Qualitative” (Brand) part of marketing rather than the “Quantitative” (Sales) side of overall business. Both are two sides of the same coin however.. to truly run a successful business of any kind, both sales and marketing have to work 50/50 with each other.
So you may be saying “Rellek, I market my music everyday but no one is listening!” and trust me... I hear you loud and clear. But it’s not me that you need to market your wonderful tunes too, its the other billions people in the world who also enjoy and listen to music on a daily basis!
So lets get started...
Everything talked about in this book is utilized by this writer on a daily basis! I do not guarantee anybody any results because here is the harsh punchline of this entire book... that nobody wants to admit.. business takes hard work and tons of PATIENCE! And I am writing shitty book fully knowing that everyone who reads this is looking for some shortcut to hitting the “big time”
I am not here to rag on you nor am I writing this to hold your hand like a parent would a small child. This book is being written for one reason and this reason only... Because I believe in the power of social media!
The Art of Humility
How to win over the hearts of thousands
We have all heard the phrase “Remain Humble”... but how many of us actually live by that simple rule?.. Let’s save some time and answer it with just one word... NOBODY!
On a daily basis thousands of artists, producers and engineers post on social media bragging, boasting, and talking shit on other musicians who are chasing the same dream... (Highly unproductive)... And quite frankly it’s a unique mixture of sad and horrifying! We as musicians used to love and admire each others work.. We used to give “props” where it was due and encourage those who are not as experienced to continue pushing forward... But now the online community has become a land fill of negativity... However, there is an answer to all of our issues and it resides in one simple word... Humility.
By now I’m sure you are sitting there about ready to stop reading this because you have heard this basic statement a thousand times before. And if that is your first reaction then by all means hit that little red X in the top corner and sell your music equipment... because this book and the music business is not for you. Still with me? Good.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” - Ernest Hemingway
Humility is the gateway to human connection and understanding. It allows us to be empathetic to our fellow musicians and build a personal relationship with our peers, current audience, and future potential fans. It’s the lifeblood of everything that is talked about in this average at best marketing book and without it none of the topics discussed will do you any benefit. In fact if you don’t have any humility or emotional intelligence than using the tactics in this book may backfire on you causing your audience to view you as non-genuine (People have a weird six-sense about this stuff)... thus hurting your brand. Myself nor this book will be held responsible for the potential backlash you will receive if you misuse the tactics I give... You have been warned!!
Whats the catch!?
Now being humble sounds super easy, but try doing it everyday for years upon years without giving into your pride... All of a sudden seems not so easy right? Well the fact is that this basic truth of humility is the HARDEST part of social media marketing. It takes a special kind of person who is willing to mentally get punched in the face everyday for the rest of their career. It takes thick skin and nerves of steel... Not everyone is built for this but if you believe you are one of these rare people then this book will change your music marketing game forever!
Who Gives A F**K?!!
The punchline here is EVERYONE cares about humility, whether they admit it or not. Nobody likes someone who thinks they are “the shit” and who thinks they are better than everyone. And if you are stuck in that broken mentality I implore you to stop as soon as possible. Not only is this the main thing that is causing your music to remain stagnant but its also the reason why your brand gets no respect from anyone outside your family and friends. And why would they?! You have NEVER given anyone a reason to care! The origin of every legend is one of basic and humble beginnings, everyone love to root for the underdog. It gives the audience a sense of excitement because they don’t know whether you will fail epically or triumph heroically and ascend to musical godliness. Along with this subconscious feeling of excitement, humility brings another element of personality that causes the musician to standout amongst the masses of egotistical wannabes out there who think they will “blow up” overnight... But that is not you! You’re a humility warrior destined to persevere and outlast the clowns that plague the online music community. Armed with empathy you will cut through them with ease, leaving them in your dust as you continue to grow while they are crushed under the weight of their own ego.
Learn To Let Go
The main trick to remaining humble for me is to remind myself that many things, including the actions of other people are out of my control. Since there is nothing that can personally be done about these specific circumstances there is no sense in getting upset or flustered when things don’t go your way, this is the foundation to remaining humble. The human ego has a habit of showing itself to compensate for the mental state of uncertainty, fear, and even sometimes inadequacy. This is a natural reaction that we ALL have multiple times on a daily basis and is an issue that needs to be addressed as quickly as possible. We must remain objective to situations and realize when these situations arise. Only then can someone eliminate the self destructive habits of ego and fully take control of not only themselves but their musical career.
Telling Your Story
Using your life to brand your music
We all have a story... and that story is your ticket to building your brand in an authentic and genuine way that your audience will connect too. Whether we know it or not we as people love finding musicians that have similar life experiences. This connection builds the life long relationship between the artist and their fans, allowing the artist to make a long term living of their music, brand, and lifestyle. Sounds super simple right??... Not so much! Telling your story is easy, but the trick is doing it effectively to brand yourself professionally.
Image Is Everything
This, again, is a term you’ve probably had a thousand times and yet again it’s because it merits truth. However to this day, Countless artists and musicians fail to listen to this basic concept! Why is that? Is it because they don't care??... Absolutely not. It is this writers humble opinion that it is due to only one thing. COMMITMENT!
If you still have yet to commit yourself to a professional persona that is separate from your personal life (Girlfriend, Kids, Wife, etc) then you are at a massive disadvantage. Now again lets take a step back and break this down. In no way is anyone in a position to tell someone else how to live his or her personal life... But we are talking about your “professional” music brand. The biggest challenge with this concept is separating the “artist” from the individual. Fully understanding this is easier said than done... But it MUST be done if you want a future in the music industry!
Communication is key!
Learning how to properly communicate your brand’s “message” is your next big obstacle. Have no fear because its conveniently simple and if you have any shroud of common sense then it will be a walk in the park. However for all of the “over-thinkers” out there like so many of us, we will have to try a little harder. Communication is best used by not overthinking and conveying a genuine message in the most direct way possible as to not have it be misinterpreted. In the personal opinion of this writer, I believe it is more or an intuitive “Gut” instinct sort of deal rather than one that is numbers based nor can be quantified.
First we need to break down some basic forms of ways to communicate with your audience. Starting off we have “copy” which is anything written out instead of spoken or recorded. Next we have “auditory” which is self explanatory using a recorded voice message (think radio advertising). And lastly for the sake of simplicity we have video. Video is by far the most powerful forms of communication because it is both auditory and visuals to engage the viewer on a deeper level. If you really want to go the extra mile also add subtitles (Copy) to your videos as well! Utilizing multiple senses can exponentially increase the attention your audience gives a piece of content and this is the one thing that is crucial to our communication effort. What this means is that the more “senses” we inhibit, the better! It is still totally possible to still gain attention with only a one sensory form of content, but when possible and applicable, use multiple.
Professionalism is sacred...
This small subsection although brief is in my opinion the most under utilized simple universal truth to having a successful brand which is... Your brand is your job. The biggest mistake so many musicians make is they post content about things that are too personal for your music fans. Keep the dirty laundry out of your music profiles, there are some things meant to remain private. This goes back to image is everything... Be a musician who brings joy through your brand instead of one that posts day to day drama. This will make a HUGE difference in your professional career.
Now I know this line may sting and you’re probably thinking “Screw this book” people care... and while your friends and family may support you, the rest of the outside would won’t give a damn about your music until you MAKE them care! So how does one do this? The answer is simple... be entertaining and show appreciation with out expecting anything back in return. People not only enjoy but NEED to feel appreciated! It’s one of the psychological traits happiness is based off of according to Dr. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which lists from top to bottom the basic emotional human conditions one desires. Think of how a parent loves a child even before the child knows what “love” even is as an infant... But never the less the parents love that child unconditionally until the child realizes they love their parents. This comes from a place of acceptance and nurturing. This is not easy and takes a special kind of person to be able to pull off on a grand scales (Especially if your ambitions are those like mega star mogul Jay-Z), but there is no doubt that you are that special person if you made it this far, why? Because its obvious that you care about you’re brand, music, and most importantly your legacy.
“The Reach Out”
Properly Networking For Long Term Business
What is networking? What does it really mean from a musicians standpoint?... To most people the word “networking” means connecting with other like minded people who share a common vision, goal, or mindset, and this mediocre writer (at best) would have to agree with that statement to a certain extent. But how does one properly network? and more importantly, turn your network into your overall net-worth? (More on that topic later). If by chance you happened to be the special few to finish this book then hopefully by the end you’ll see all of the little hints, tricks, clues, massive rants, and prolonged tangents all fit together like one beautifully organized puzzle... which is a truly practical and objective take on today’s current state of marketing.
Reaching Out... Why?
While this may seem like common sense to many it’s not for a lot musicians in the world and it continues to destroy this writers heart to see so artists fall into one of these two categories, which are the following; you either don’t understand how the normal consumer work, spamming your music to random un-targeted innocents hoping they will click your link to whatever mediocre content you decided to waste their time with... or even worse; you don’t feel the need to reach out to anyone because they should simply “fuck with you”... as if you have already put in the ground and leg work to make them care... this is a broken and ugly mentality.. (at best) so if that’s you then you need to make a 180 degree flip NOW before you want to wake up one day with massive regrets that cause you to then in turn make “excuses” as to why you didn’t “make it”... Common excuses for those type of people are “The game is messed up”... or “All ‘these’ haters don’t want me to succeed”... and all this un experienced writer can say to those excuses is..... Shut the hell up. As much as it pains us, it’s a bitter harsh truth,.. but the simple fact is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY cares about your music... because you never MADE them care. (Elaborate more later)
Again, Lets take a step back... Before we go too much further.. let’s be understanding of why all of “us” think we are entitled to have automatic support, recognition, and sometimes even fame in our lives without zero work. Which is caused by the immediate “gratification” society we have been raised in now a days... All we want is everything right now and get agitated having to wait for it, let alone actually put in the WORK for it... but guess what?!... tough shit!... Because the music business is not a place for coddling one “feelings” or handing out
8th place “participation” trophies... It is a ruthless business that will swallow you whole, laugh at you and spit you back out if you let it... This “business” as most people call it is a game for sharks.
By this point if you have not been completely offended by these hard to swallow truths I urge you to keep reading because we are just getting started!
Don’t just reach... GRAB! (Attention)
When you reach out to someone nee, it is crucial that you do it in a tactful and genuine way. So before you ask them to check out your music you must establish a rapport with them... Earn their favor so that when you go for the “Ask” (More on this later) they will have a higher probability of saying yes and being open to hearing your music.
Before the initial reach out, look at who you are trying to talk too... What are their interests? Hobbies? Talents? Favorite sports team?.... All of these factors can play a role in the dynamic of conversation! Just like before you write a paper for school, you must do your research on your chosen topic. It just so happens that in this case our “topic” is the individual you are reaching out too. For example, if you notice they like the Chicago Bulls you might talk basketball with them for a little... Or if you see they are a musician ask how their music is going! Adding a element of personalization goes a long way when reaching out to complete strangers.. And before you know it, you will be the best of friends once common ground has been established. This is how you grab their attention!
With everyone now thinking they should be a rapper, producer, or some other form of famous musician the world has become VERY “Noisy” with musicians spamming music in an attempt to gain support... As if it’s somehow the entire world is suppose to automatically stop, pay attention, and applaud their efforts (Stupid). Every successful artist started just where this writer imagines most of you, having a small fan base filled with mostly family, friends, and a little online presence... And this is a GREAT start! Your efforts should be commended, some musicians are too scared to even try sharing their work with the world. But your journey to the top of this shark infested industry is just getting started so don’t let your starting success get to your head... This business requires strategy along with vision and an incredible sense of timing.
Learning the art of conversation and negotiation is crucial for any attempt to having longevity in the music business... And giving REAL value is the best way to gain leverage in any business situation, whether its selling a product or negotiating a record deal.
(More on this in the next chapter).
Giving, Giving, Giving
Maximize Interaction, Rapport & ROI
So what is “value”?... If you have ever attempted to learn anything about marketing I'm sure you’ve heard this annoying term a thousand times by hundreds of online self proclaimed marketing & social media “Guru”s who do nothing but sell the same regurgitated bullshit. And if you are one of the many to don’t fully understand what true value is, don’t feel bad... the majority of people reading this book are in the same sinking ship. However, this moderately passable excuse for a writer is trying his best to toss you a life vest in the vast ocean that is the marketing universe.
Giving no strings attached...
Now you probably read the sub-section above and are thinking “Fuck you, I’m not giving shit away for free!” or the cliche, “I deserve to get paid for my time”.... and the writers only response is... says who? you? Because you don’t matter in that equation of worth. The “market” is the ONLY thing that dictates how much you are worth! If you have a skill that is common and a bunch of other people can do it then guess what... you aren’t worth much!! Its the simple law of supply and demand. So how do you give value? how do you set yourself apart from the herd that inevitably will fail? The answer might be simpler than you might think... GIVE!!!
Give, give, and give until you have nothing left to offer the person... seems silly right? wrong. Psychology and human behavior studies have shown that once a person is given something they perceive as valuable, they feel obligated to return the favor! This simple concept is the foundation of giving value that increases engagement, rapport, & ROI around your audience.
The best, dare this writer say, THE ONLY way to “give” is to do something nice and not expect ANYTHING in return from the consumer... The second you do an action with the intent of “selling” your audience they can sniff it out miles away thus causing you to loose that initial rapport you spent time building up by making that personal connection from chapter 3. Unfortunately this is the number one pitfall aspiring musicians fall into, which is trying to just sell their music like a shady door to door salesman. All they care about is that $10 album sale and could careless what happens afterwards... BIG MISTAKE! The best way for a musician to make a long term income is to build whats called a “Super Fan”.... These life long advocates are the backbone of any successful artists fan base. Everyone starts with no fans... buts its the one who makes personal connections that ends up having them!
Throwing a hook and getting the “Yes”
I am sure by now as a reader your like “Ok, Fuck you, I get it, I have to give... but whats in it for me?!” And the answer can vary! For some its money and for others its respect or admiration. But how do you get what you want?... By throwing a right hook! No, I don’t mean going around sucker punching fans in the face. I mean going in for the “Ask”.
Now many people confuse “Ask” with “Take”... They are totally different and will get different reactions or results from your fans. In this writers experience, Asking has always been more effective than “taking” it rudely because you feel like you have delivered enough value to the consumer. But guess what? YOU don’t get to decide when enough value is enough! Your audience is the judge of this seemingly elusive concept.
So why ask? Why not TELL?... The answer is simple. Reciprocity.
According to the “law of reciprocity”, when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. An example of this would be a free sample of a product or trial of a subscription service. The goal in mind? To show the potential customer how awesome what you have to offer is and how much they will enjoy it.
So how do you effectively “ask” without seeming needy or desperate? This is something that a lot of musicians struggle with because then they feel like a bum asking people for money. But its nothing like that, you are not “begging”, you’re politely asking them to show support in return for the musical joy you bring in to their life. I wrote an example below that you can feel free to use!
“Thank you so much for your support! Would you mind buying a copy of my new single so that I can continue to give you guys great music? I really appreciate it”
With a proper ask and all the value you delivered to the fan on the front end they should be more than willing to show some love and purchase your music... And if they don’t purchase PLEASE for the love of music do NOT get mad at them or think that you are ever “entitled” to their support! Some people like to support without ever purchasing, it happens.
The wrap up and fan retention
So... Did they say yes?! If so then pat yourself on the back because you just opened the door to a meaningful fan relationship. If the answer was “no” then keep reaching out to more and more people until you find your audience!
WTF is Next?... Fan Retention
After you have gone in for the “ask” and assuming the new potential fan is converted into one of your musical cult members, you have only one job left... To continue interacting and being a part of their life!
Too often does this writer see musicians get a new fan and then move onto the next... totally forsaking that supporter, thus eventually causing the fan to fall off the support wagon.
This fall off effect should not be surprising, especially in todays fast paced world of culture.
Would you support someone forever without any “love” in return? Probably not! So you should expect your fans to stick around forever without giving them a constant reason.
Doing simple things like commenting on their new social media post, direct messaging them, or giving them your newest track is always an easy way to stay connected and relevant with your new found fans!
If you have made it to this point in the book then consider yourself ahead of many struggling musicians. And as a conclusion, I, Alex Keller Aka Rellek Beats, would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am sure this wasn’t an easy read as I am not a professional writer. But I hope that it finds value in your musical journey...
Best of luck, Rellek.