Every new band begins small. At first, their fans consist only of devoted friends and family but, with some luck and more than a little hard work, they begin to build a larger following and their fan base expands. How do they go about doing this?
Entwined From the Start
For countless bands and singers today, the answer is simple: social networking. This should come as no surprise given the music industry’s long-standing and mutually beneficial relationship with social networking. Music has been a driving force of social networking since 2003, when MySpace was founded. In addition to offering public profiles to its users, MySpace made it easy for artists to share songs and promote shows on a simple, accessible and uniform webpage.
Bigger, Faster, Stronger
Musicians were quick to see the great potential of social networking. Websites like MySpace, and now others such as Facebook and SoundCloud, essentially imitate the model bands have always used for growing their fan base. They begin with a select few who are part of the inner circle and expand outward through word of mouth. Now, however, word of mouth has the ability to spread faster than ever before. Social networking expedites the process at exponential rates and gives artists greater exposure to a wider audience. With one click, a fan can share their new favorite song with hundreds of online friends who, in turn, may share the link with their friends just as easily.
Social networking also gives bands an opportunity to reach listeners they might not have otherwise. Consider how artists once had to market themselves. For a touring band in the 1960s or ’70s, for example, the process of promoting their music was more difficult and the scope of their promotion was more limited. A band would hire a promoter who would then book them a gig and send their single to local radio stations. By the time the band arrived to play, audiences had had an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the band’s work and were eager to see them live.
This same general process is practiced today but music promoters have a vastly larger audience available to them. They are no longer limited to regional audiences or promoting in the same metropolitans areas in which the band plays. By promoting through social networking sites, artists and their promoters can reach markets they may not ever tour (at least not yet), including foreign countries. Once a band has established these connections, they can keep their fans updated in real time, alerting them whenever new material is available or when shows in their area go on sale.
Starting From the Bottom and Rising to the Top
Social networking has also had a democratizing effect on the music industry. When any artist – from a Top 40 pop star to a comparatively obscure garage band – is able to create a profile on the very same website, the playing field suddenly becomes more level. Lesser-known artists have more opportunities than ever to rise out of anonymity and gain traction with new listeners.
An artist who may have previously struggled to book a show at a given venue now has the ability to do so on the strength of their internet followers. The dream of making it big is available to anyone. All they need is their music and an internet connection.
This is a guest post by James, an occasional blogger, full time music promoter.