Why You Need Social Media as an Artist
I have a number of close friends who are musicians. Their deepest desire is to reach as many people as possible with their music.
The punchline for any artist who’s looking to reach people with their art is that, in order to reach the people, you have to go where the people are. And currently, the people are on social media.
According to Statista, 81% of the population in the United States has a social networking profile and the number of worldwide social media users is expected to reach some 2.95 billion by 2020, which is around a third of Earth’s entire population.
Dear artist, I know that you know this because, like most people, you’re on the same platforms as the rest of us. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. Twitter.
However, for many budding artists, there seems to be a disconnect between being on social media and leveraging these platforms to build your brand.
There’s typically a point where I sit down with my musician friends and ask them, “How often do you use social media to get your music out there?”
The answers vary, but normally they sound something like this:
- I only post when I’m releasing music.
- I don’t have anything to post.
- I just focus on the music.
I’m going to spend the rest of this post taking on each of these answers and explaining why they won’t hold up, especially if you’re looking to impact lots of people with your art.
I only post when I’m releasing music.
I previously wrote about this here, but the mindset behind this answer is very much rooted in traditional marketing practices. And it makes sense. You want people to buy your art, so you sell it. Logical, right?
However, in a world where we’re all in a competition for people’s attention, we give our attention to the things that bring us the most value. Selling doesn’t add value; it acquires it.
Rather than seeing the social media platforms you’re on as channels for distribution, try seeing them as storytelling networks where you can capture your audience’s attention, and eventually their hearts, by freely giving them what they want.
This could be a song preview or a quick video of you sharing an encouraging message about the creative process. But what you’re looking to do is create demand by freely adding value, so, when it’s time for you to invite people to buy your art, they couldn’t not support you because of the value they’ve received from you.
I don’t have anything to post.
The high-quality, artsy nature of Instagram has conditioned us to believe that every picture or video has to look amazing. And it’s a plus when you can do so; however, most people don’t have daily access to a DSLR camera.
But you most likely have an iPhone or some kind of smartphone that you’re on daily, and the cameras and apps on these devices are dangerous enough to help you get your story across in a compelling way.
Therefore, I would take Gary Vaynerchuk’s advice on this one: “Document. Don’t create.” If you’re a musician, shoot a quick 15-second video a few times a week giving people a sneak peek of what you’re working on. If you’re a graphic designer, invite people into the process of how you made your favorite designs.
Be open, honest and authentic. Let your social media content be a byproduct of who you are and the work you’re putting in. Focusing on your digital brand isn’t a hack for not working. The people you’re meeting, the challenges you’re facing, and the art you’re creating all paint the picture of who you are and who you want your audience to see.
I just focus on the music.
I get it. You’re an artist. You love the art you get to create. If all you could focus on was your art, you would in a heartbeat. However, you still have a desire to reach people with your art. And the truth of the matter is nobody’s ever going to care about your art if they never have a chance to listen to, read, or see it.
Sure, social media isn’t the only way to get people to consume your art. You could stand on the corner downtown and play music. You could leave your poems on people’s car windows (*wink wink*). There are plenty of ways to get your art in front of people, but none of these ways are more powerful than leveraging social media to build your brand and share your art.
I know social media marketing seems like another thing to add to the list, but marketing has always been a part of artists’ strategies to share their work with others. It just looks different now. And in the case of social media, this different is really good.
Social media doesn’t have any gatekeepers. You have to create an account just like Beyoncé did, and you have the ability to connect with the same people Beyoncé does. You could even connect with Beyoncé if you want to. She may not check her DMs, but you get the point.
As an artist, social media marketing may be different or uncomfortable for you. But when you commit to learning how to leverage these platforms for your career and start doing, the people you connect with on Instagram or Facebook can be the people who help you reach your dreams.