As many tech-savvy musicians have discovered, social media platforms are great venues to not only communicate with fans, but also to connect with music industry influencers like bloggers, publicists, and music supervisors who can help move your career forward. The problem, however, is that many musicians who try to use social media to connect with these people are going about it all wrong. While some imagine social media as a magical vending machine that spits out industry contacts when we feed it automated messages, the truth is that connecting with people on social media takes much more perseverance and creativity than many of us are willing to invest. We’ve put together a few tips for musicians trying to make connections on social media with industry leaders.
Many people in the industry are careful about giving away their email address, which is why direct messages on social media can be such a valuable tool for musicians. However, sending someone a direct message doesn’t in any way entitle you to a reply, and messaging that person over and over asking if they got your message certainly won’t increase your chances of getting a response. Instead of flooding someone’s inboxes with unwanted messages, try building a relationship with that person on social media before you send them a direct message. Comment on their posts, retweet their tweets, and don’t be afraid to offer a compliment (as long as you really mean it). If someone is already aware of you (and the nice things you’ve said about them), they’ll be much more likely to respond to your message in the first place.
How many times have you seen a comment like this on a YouTube video, Facebook page, or other online message board: “Hey, cool post! Check out our latest album (insert album title here) on iTunes!” Not only do these comments look like they’ve been posted by a robot, they’re also often found in places that have nothing to do with the type of music the band plays, or even music in general. Commenting can be a great way to increase your online presence and make connections, but only if you comment thoughtfully on posts you’ve actually interacted with. Spamming message boards will only serve to either make you look desperate or get you kicked off the message board.
When many people think about social media, they think about what they can get out of it. How many followers can they get? How many much engagement can they get on each post? How can they use it to connect with the right people? The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t help you become someone other people will want to connect with. Think about it: wouldn’t you rather connect with someone who has been friendly to you or helped you in the past rather than someone who only talks about themselves?
One of the best ways to put someone off immediately is to spell their name wrong when you send them a message. It can also be similarly (although perhaps slightly less) off-putting when you get other basic details about someone wrong like the name of the company they work for or the city they live in. Doing your homework is important not just for avoiding this type of embarrassment; it’s also an opportunity to impress people with your knowledge of their work. For example, rather than starting a message with something like “Dear (insert name here), my band has a great new album out that I think you should listen to,” try something like “Dear (name), I really enjoyed the music you chose for the film (insert movie title here). I thought the song you chose for the final scene highlighted the message of the film in a really beautiful way.” Showing that you’re aware of a person’s previous work (and dropping a compliment while you’re at it) shows that you’re serious about making connections, and you’re probably a nice person to talk to as well.
One of the most difficult things to grasp about social media is that making connections takes time. In the same way that it can take years to build up a list of engaged followers, it can also take a long time to establish meaningful relationships on social media with the people you want to connect with. After all, you don’t become best friends with someone after talking to them for five minutes at a party, so why would you expect someone to become your friend online if they’ve never interacted with you before? Developing real connections on social media takes patience, but the people you meet online in an authentic way will be the people who stick with you the longest and do the most to help your music career.
The beauty of using social media to develop connections is that we can do everything from behind a computer screen or from a device in the palm of our hand. This convenience, however, also creates a dangerous falsehood: we forget that the people we’re talking to are real people, just like us. In order to make your online interactions more real, it can help to think of every interaction as a face-to-face interaction. Think about how you would talk to someone if you met them at a party or networking event. You would probably want to be polite, helpful, and even funny if the situation called for it. So why treat social media any differently? After all, all we’re really doing on social media is talking to people, so why would your social media conversations be any different than real life conversations?
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