A few months ago, I was on a call with another manager and he commented that he just wanted “to pay someone twenty hours a week to deal with ‘all this stuff'” in regards to his artists’ web presence. Although, traditionally, a manager’s days are filled with labels, agents, artists, and beyond, I was still shocked by this statement.
In my world, “all this stuff,” particularly artists’ social networking pages, is everything. It is a direct pipeline from the artist and their camp to active fans who have publically stated their fandom. Does an artist have to spend all hours of the day on Facebook and Twitter? Hopefully not, as their job is to create. But consistent and genuine interactions with fans from the artist combined with an organized stream of information from the artist’s pages goes a long way. It is a bond that can last through an artist’s career, no matter how many labels one is on or what unexpected turn of events happens. If an artist continuously creates, distributes, and engages, people will notice, respond and feel like a part of something.
Here are two examples of artists who have completely different yet successful approaches to their social networking worlds.
Brendan Benson is a solo artist who is used to traditional models. I note that he’s solo as many bands often rely on one member to handle social networking duties, which I know can often feel daunting from a solo artist’s perspective. We started working with Brendan late last year and have had a blast engaging his fans in ways they’ve never seen before. Whether it’s distributing a new download to fans who “like” Brendan on Facebook or asking the audience to design their ideal poster, the overwhelming positive response has been wonderful to experience and continues to grow. However, what makes this work are the posts from Brendan, the new songs he creates and instantly wants to get out to his fans, and the photos and videos from his world, often captured by his band and crew. Brendan is an example of an artist who spends the vast majority of his creative time working on music, but is happy to communicate with fans directly on a consistent basis and has grown to see the value. It’s just plain fun for all involved to see an instant response to new content posted.
Zoë Keating is an old friend who I feel walks the perfect balance of being extremely creative and involved in technology. At over 1.3 million Twitter followers, one might view her fan engagement as a full time job alone. She has engaged her fans to get opinions on her upcoming album, spread the word on shows, and has funneled her social networking skills into a very fruitful career sans label. Zoë is tech savvy, that’s for sure, but she’s also one of the most creative people I know. I asked her once how she finds the balance, and she said that she’ll spend hours or days holed up in her studio, but loves to return to the non-stop flow of communication online to break things up and vice versa.
Fun fact: both artists support open source technology and recently used their social networking pages to distribute content to their fans. What does that mean? You too can give away content to fans who show their support by “liking” on Facebook or “following” you on Twitter.
Will all of this change? Of course! The evolution of the internet certainly keeps things interesting. Sad for Friendster, but fans will always flock to what makes the most sense and, for now, Facebook’s easy-to-use platform continues to dominate and grow. But, who knows? As Facebook aligns deeper with brands, people may assimilate but they may also jump elsewhere.
Of course, keeping an organized and up-to-date Myspace page with obvious e-mail collection is still vital. The page is a top hit on Google and is like a one-sheet for an artist’s activity. It’s important to be mindful of what territories and cities artists have followings in to ensure that the most common social network amongst your fans in that area is being utilized (Google Analytics is your friend!). Myspace is still popular in many parts of the US and world. All of an artists’ social networking pages should have clear e-mail list captures and, at the end of the day, be driving traffic to your homepage where hopefully you control everything and do the most of your e-commerce.
But, in the meantime, on your next cigarette or sun salutation break from rehearsal, maybe post a note or photo to your fans through The Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace). Easy enough from most phones, right? Five minutes of your time might make your fans’ day and hopefully they’ll return the favor by continuing to support your art.