TuneCore’s Social Media For Musicians Guide [Free Download]

With the recent launch of TuneCore Social Pro – a premium version of our free social media management tool, complete with a mobile app – we think it’s important for independent artists to take an educated approach to how they handle their marketing strategy on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

That’s why we’re introducing the totally free TuneCore Social Media For Musicians guide. Designed for artists at any comfort level and experience using social platforms – and packed full of useful content – the Social Media For Musicians guide is a great tool for any artist who is taking their musical journey to the next level.

How can you find your ‘social voice’? In what ways can you be building an audience? When should you post on certain platforms – and for that matter, what kind of stuff should you be posting?

We all know it’s not enough to simply set up profiles, post once or twice a week, and expect those minimal efforts to have a meaningful impact on the way you build your fan base online. But at the same time, artists and musicians were born to do just that – create! It shouldn’t be expected that every creator is a natural self-promoter or marketer, regardless of how experienced with social media one is in their personal life.

In addition to information on building a sufficient social media strategy and utilizing analytics (gasp!), the TuneCore Social Media For Musicians guide also has some incredible video components to it! We interviewed experts in the field of promotion and PR, social data, and even some TuneCore employees who happen to be independent artists themselves to find out what kind of struggles music-makers need to get over when diving into the brave new frontier of social media marketing.

So – looking for tips to master your social media strategy? Look no further! Download the free guide at Amazon here, and enjoy our six-part video series below or on our YouTube channel.

TuneCore Social Pro Has Arrived!

Last October, we announced the exciting launch of TuneCore Social – an all-in-one platform designed especially for artists who want to reign in control of their Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Mixcloud profiles and have an easier place to plan, schedule, publish and engage with their fan base. The service is free for any and all TuneCore Artist who currently has a release distributed with TuneCore.

Today, we’re thrilled to expand on those efforts and offer TuneCore Social Pro, an upgraded, premium version of TuneCore Social that allows users to schedule an unlimited amount of social posts per month (including media posts), add other artists to their account for social profile management, share social media reports, and access more comprehensive social media analytics, stats and audience insights.

The coolest part? TuneCore Social Pro includes a mobile app!

When an artist signs up for TuneCore Social Pro, they’ll be able to post or schedule posts to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, check their TuneCore balance and trend reports – all from their mobile devices!

For $7.99/month (or a discounted annual fee of $85.99), TuneCore Artists can sign up for TuneCore Social Pro, download the app on their Android or iOS devices, and get a huge jump on managing their social media strategy.

TuneCore Social Pro is an all-in-one platform designed exclusively for TuneCore Artists who want to reign in control of their Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Mixcloud profiles and have an easier place to plan, schedule, publish and engage with their fan base – not to mention have a high level view of important analytics that can impact decision making.

Offering a premium version of TuneCore Social is just another way we’re looking to make the lives and careers of independent artists easier. We know how important getting the word out about your music is and we’re always here to help by providing valuable tips and advice for doing so – now we’re giving you the social media management tools to take it one step further.

Are You Guilty? 4 Ways Indie Artists Are Killing Social Media

[Editors Note: This post was written by Joshua Smotherman, co-founder of Middle Tennessee Music, and it originally appeared on the Cyber PR blog.]

 

In an ideal world I would wake up in the morning to a fresh cup of hot coffee. I would enjoy it as I check my e-mail and skim social networks to check up on friends and my favorite bands.

I would immerse myself in an online community of music lovers, songwriters, and musicians sharing, caring, and building with each other… NOT blasting commands to “check out my new hottest thing”.

I see enough billboards on the interstate.

In this world:

  • Bands would stop acting like rock stars and start acting like leaders
  • They would build self-sustaining tribes
  • They would listen to their fans
  • They would understand that growing organically will always win over view counts

As a music blogger, my inbox would NOT be full of one-liners and YouTube links I only see as distractions. Whatever happened to “connecting” with someone?

Unfortunately, this world does not exist. From where I’m sitting, the average indie band sucks at using social media and its ruining it for everyone else. Most importantly, your potential fans.

What are we doing wrong, you say?

Oh boy…where do I begin?

Me, Me, Me Marketing

You might have been raised in a world of billboards and commercials, but using social media as a one way street is killing your promo game.

It seems too many people are missing the social half of the phrase, social media.

You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and nonsense about buying your album.

Sadly, most bands qualify [as what the marketing world refers to] as spammers.

Engaging is easier than you think and should come naturally (assuming you are not a recluse).

  • Share albums, videos, and news about other music you enjoy or local bands you play with. Ask others what they think.
  • Share news related to the music industry or issues that reflect the personality of your band and use them to engage in conversation.
  • Instead of posting links to the same videos and songs repeatedly, post clips of the band working in the studio or upload a demo mix and allow fans to share their opinions so you can take the art to another level. Involve fans in your process(es).
  • Network with bands in other areas to create an atmosphere for gig swapping and collaboration as well as cross promotion of content.

This list goes on but the takeaway here is engage in a way that results in feedback and interaction.

Build a community.

Focusing on the wrong metrics

Your follower count means nothing unless you see conversions.

Huh?!

More important than a follower, view, or like:

  • How many fans have signed up for your mailing list?
  • Do you pass around a mailing list signup sheet at your show?
  • How many people have you met at shows? (You do hang out with the audience after the show…right?)
  • How many people have bought a CD or t-shirt?

Stop putting all your energy into increasing numbers on social sites and focus on converting the followers you have into loyal fans.

Use social media to funnel music listeners to your website where you attempt to convert them into a mailing list signup, song download, or merchandise sale.

Would you rather have 1,000 likes or 100 fans spending $1,000 on music, merch, show tickets and crowd funding campaigns?

Show me the money!

Repeating yourself on every social network

Sending your Twitter feed to Facebook then copying and pasting it to Google+ so the same message appears on every site is a horrible idea.

So is auto play on audio embeds but that’s for a different time.

You are not expected to know marketing, you make music! Allow me to guide you on this train of thinking…

People who use Twitter are different than people who use Facebook and the people who use Google+ are not like the others.

It is imperative you consider these facts when developing a social media strategy and act accordingly.

Make sure you actually use social media as a music fan before deciding how to market your music using these tools. Follow bands who are in a position you would like to be in and see how they use each network. Notice what works, what doesn’t work, and then perfect your plan of action.

Posting several updates to Twitter every hour (depending on the nature of the updates) is more acceptable than posting to Facebook every 15 minutes.

When you over saturate a person’s FB News Feed, they hide you from their feed. Or worse…unlike your page or mark your posts as spam.

A general guideline is try to retweet, reply, comment, and share relevant content from others more than you broadcast and peddle your own wares.

Sell Without Selling

If you focus on building a community around your band instead of acting as a bulletin board, you will start noticing the true power of social media.

You will not see overnight results.

The key is to stay consistent, focus on creating great music, and communicate directly with your audience.

If you create a community of loyal fans, they will want to support you.

Your community will become your sales force and all you need to do is be yourself and continue giving fans a band worth loving.

Consistency allows you to reach a tipping point where fans begin promoting your music for you by wearing t-shirts, playing CDs at parties, and recommending you to their friends.

It is hard to conceive this when you are starting at zero, but 6 to 12 months down the road you will notice things happening simply because you remained persistent.

While fans are busy promoting your music, you need to seek out gig opportunities, blog reviews or interviews, and other chances to put yourself in the presence of tastemakers who can expose you to their audience.

Bloggers, journalists, booking agents, and other industry personnel will not give you their attention unless you have proof of a loyal, engaged following.

Buying followers or views might help you manipulate chart rankings and other metrics, but they will never replace the power of community. If you have 5,000 page likes but no one is liking, sharing, or commenting on your updates; we all see right through you.

So can the people who can expose you to bigger audiences of music fans.

In closing:

  • Build your tribe
  • Nurture your community
  • Stop acting like a corporate sales machine

You might also be interested in this panel discussion concerning Marketing, PR, and Promotion on a Budget hosted by Indie Connect NYC which discusses mores things indie musicians are doing wrong online.

How Have You Avoided Killing Social Media?

Let us know below what you have done to overcome these four social media killers above (or any others that you’ve experienced) in the form of a comment below!

3 Habits of Artists With a Strong Social Media Following

[Editors Note: This blog was written by W. Tyler Allen and originally appeared on the Sonicbids Blog.]

 

There are many tactics that go into a solid social media marketing campaign, but tactics are just theories unless they’re put into action, right? Even then, you need to ensure that these tactics become habits so that you maintain a level of consistency with your social media presence. Wondering which habits you should be forming, exactly? Well, for starters, here are three that artists who have built up strong social media followings all have in common.

1. Embrace new social media channels

Bobby Shmurda may be in prison right now, but no one can forget his track “Hot Boy” (under the clean title), which surged to the top of the charts and even closed out the 2014 BET Music Awards. The track began gaining traction on the video-sharing app Vine, when users began to mimic Shmurda’s dance and the line “about a week ago.” This viral meme turned into a standard radio hit and really blasted Shmurda from struggling rapper to full-blown artist.

The key here is to always be aware of current outlets. Sure, Shmurda’s fans may have taken the effort to create memes, and it seems to have happened organically, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to hop on Vine with your own fun content and encourage folks to remix it, share it, and remake it.

2. Perfect your balance of promotional and personal posts

It’s hard to find ways to promote your work, and it’s also hard to find ways to integrate your personal life in your outlets – but it’s essential. Talking about your day, your life, and your non-musical interests really help fans feel like they’re getting to know you.

My favorite examples of this are 2 Chainz’s food and culinary posts on his Instagram and Diddy’s posts of his family and nights out. Rappers and mainstream artists obviously aren’t the only example of this, either – bands like American Aquarium and Angus & Julia Stone have gotten in the habit of using that healthy mix of posts, too!

3. Network to have the power of social media influencers in your corner

Indie artist Ryn Weaver wasn’t a very well-known name, but that all changed when her single, “Octahate,” was tweeted and shared by artists like Charlie XCX, Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and Jessie Ware. This push from those heavyweights single-handedly assisted in the catalyst to her success.

Whether it’s organic, paid, or squeezed into, having influencers in your corner might be that extra boost you need to get your work heard. Check out paid networks like IZEA and Fluence, or better yet, simply make an effort to build genuine connections with journalists and fellow artists who have that large pull and following to help your work.

TuneCore Social: Revisiting Our Interview With Tyler Allen

With the recent launch of our brand new social media marketing tool, TuneCore Social, we’re re-sharing some of our favorite articles/interviews in which TuneCore Artists and members of the music industry dive into the importance of social, what kind of habits to avoid, and how to make it work for your music career. Remember – if you’ve got an active distribution, you can start using TuneCore Social today totally free!

We understand that when you’re writing, rehearsing, recording and eventually distributing new music, social media isn’t always a top priority. However when it comes to building excitement around and promoting that new release, it should be one the first things that comes to mind! Think about it: people who follow you on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr are doing so because they like your music. Once you’ve got them there, you’re able to bring them into your world to whatever extent you choose, and informing them of the awesome new song or album you’re releasing is the very least you should be sharing.

Tyler Allen is a music consultant whose firm, W Tyler Consulting, helps artists of varying genres and career levels establish and preserve a quality digital presence. He also offers strategy and artist packages for DIY and indie artists on a budget, so he has great first-hand experience and advice when it comes to making the most of your social media marketing efforts. Tyler was nice enough to explore the subject with us in an interview below!

Social media is, in the grand scheme of things, still a relatively young concept. From the collapse of MySpace to the explosion of Instagram, what do you feel has remained constantly vital for indie artists when it comes to social?

Tyler Allen: What’s remained consistently vital has been transparency and curiosity. This goes well beyond the constructs of “social media outlets”, from the days of Tiger Beat and Teen Bop magazines in the 1960’s, to Late Night TV and TMZ-esque sites, fans have always wanted a glimpse into the lives of their artists.

Sure, they want the music, and sure they want the videos and the latest news, but above all they want to feel as if they know these artists. Social media has become the gateway into the full vision of an artist from professional to personal. Whether they got it from a MySpace photo in the 2000’s, an Instagram or Vine clip from today, or whatever lies next, fans want that eclectic glimpse of an artist’s life and career.

Sure, there’s a delicate balance of what you post (promo vs. personal) but fans are always going to seek that balance; it’s a vital part of an artist’s brand.

How often do you hear artists interested in consultation or otherwise tells you, “Yeah we use Facebook, but Twitter is a waste of time…” or some variation of that? What is your reaction?

I actually get the opposite! I have a lot of clients that come to me and they are on every single current social media outlet, and aren’t able to keep up with them all. If you’re on an outlet, you need to keep it active—plain and simple.

My young pop artists who are doing radio tours and live shows – absolutely jump on every outlet – if you can keep up with it and deliver unique content on all platforms – let’s work with it.

However, my older veteran clients, who’s main focus is on licensing, and the occasional show—you simply might not need to be on every social media outlet if it doesn’t fit your brand. What’s he going to do on Vine? Does she have enough photo content to even keep up with an Instagram? Maybe, but probably not.

Social media is becoming a way for press and other decision makers to gauge your success and if you are worth their time. If they come across a thoroughly updated Twitter page, but also a Facebook page that hasn’t been kept up with, it’s a major red flag. Only sign up for what you can keep up with.

Though, in the same breath, just because you don’t see the use of an outlet, doesn’t mean it can’t help you! Social media is important, but it’s one pixel in a larger digital branding picture. It becomes an extension of your art, and your brand—so I do recommend taking on new outlets if it makes sense for an artist’s work.

A lot of us shy away from things we don’t understand, so try to understand an outlet first before completely writing it off. I always recommend Facebook due to it’s helpful ad structure and it’s stature of somewhat being an industry standard. I also tend to recommend Twitter for it’s personable approach to media and fans. Though, every artist’s brand, story and goals are going to be different. Therefore, their outlets will be, too.

How do you think artists can best capitalize on touring when it comes to their social channels?

Touring is prime time for social media. Because you always have content, right? You have photos and video clips from shows; you have photos from the road trips. It’s a great way to connect with fans on a professional and personal level.

A lot of artists let outlets go ghost because they feel as if they don’t have anything to talk about, but being on the road, you have lots to work with. You just have to find the time to make an update video, take photos around town and be really interactive.

As far as promoting the tour, one should have graphics made in advance, and use geo-targeted ads (ie. Twitter and Facebook’s ad managers) to start promoting certain tour dates in certain locations. I’d also recommend a scheduler such as Hootesuite, or Buffer, to schedule posts to go live when you may be on the road.

Facebook has made it harder to reach fans organically with each post. What other kind of challenges do you see facing indies as social channels evolve?

Very true. Facebook’s algorithm changes often, and this basically means if your posts aren’t being engaged with (commented on, liked, shared) they might not even appear on your fan’s timelines. So you could very well have, let’s say, 5,000 fans, but if you post something that doesn’t get any love, it might only be seen by 5-10 of those fans—if that.

There are ways to get around that—ie. Make your posts interactive, be conversational, ask fans to interact with your posts, etc. Nonetheless, this change in Facebook almost makes an artist (or any brand, really) need to purchase Facebook ads so their work is properly seen. Especially for folks who still have growing outlets.

I do see more and more outlets relying on paid placement, Instagram just rolled out ads for brands, and Twitter’s ad manager is always evolving. So very well, we could see similar changes coming from other guys—who may almost force our hands to buy ads. But who knows?

Right now the biggest challenge for an indie artist is over-saturation. Everyone has a band, everyone has a mixtape about to drop, and everyone is about to go on tour. It’s becoming harder for artists to stand out, because social media has given everyone out there a platform. Artists really have to find new ways to be creative on their social media outlets to stand out from the crowd.

Have you seen success among indie artists who use social to develop or nurture relationships with bloggers?

Absolutely. We call this “influencer marketing”, and it’s something that’s been used by large companies for a while now. Let’s say you are a clothing brand, it’s very common you send free samples to fashion bloggers for review, right?

For large companies this has taken on a whole new stage of strategy, where these bloggers and YouTube personalities get paid hefty sums of money to promote products. There are even influencer agencies that help connect these bloggers and brands.

This is a tactic that’s certainly usable in the music industry, and fortunately you likely won’t have to pay a blogger to write about you. Music writers are typically a very open bunch and a proper email, tweet or press release will do the trick. Bloggers are just as powerful as large corporately owned magazines and websites.

Though, on the flip side, there are influencers out there like major DJ’s, celebs or big outlets that will cover your work for a small fee or arrangement. I’ve had success in this, we recently paired an artist with a nationally syndicated radio/TV personality to promote a release through his blog and Twitter, and I’d say it was worth the investment. But grassroots pitching always seems to feel more rewarding.

What are a few of the most common mistakes you regularly see independent or unsigned artists making on social?

As mentioned previously, not keeping your outlets updated is always a mistake. Be sure to be active on your social media—social is the key word there, right? Also, be sure to have a good mix of content. I see a lot of artists that are too heavy on the promo side, and promo after promo is just too “salesy”. On the flip-side though, I see a lot of artists posting their lunch or their #GymFlow and not enough posts of their actual music. Have a good mix.

Each outlet should also have unique content, it can be similar, sure—but try to have a reason to be on every outlet that you participate in. Your Instagram should have certain content that’s different from your Facebook, and so forth.

Don’t be on an outlet just to have an account. Be fun and personable on each outlet. Have a unique message throughout. If you do share the same video or photo on multiple outlets, at least switch the captions or text up to make it different.

Lastly, make sure it’s pretty. Your band is a brand, and a major brand would never have typos or poorly photo shopped graphics. Make sure your outlets are clean and ready for public consumption.

What newer social channels are you excited about in terms of promotional/engagement potential for up-and-coming artists?

I’m most excited about new features coming out for the outlets we already have. Both Twitter and Facebook’s new video ads and video tools have been great for artists.

Integrations are also always great. The way Twitter integrates with Vine  is a great feature. Twitter allows you to play Vine clips straight from your Twitter feed, instead of just throwing out a URL. This is great because you can write a Tweet along with your Vine post, which kind of reframes the content to be unique to Twitter.

I’m also interested in Periscope and Meerkat, which are both live video streaming tools that integrate with Twitter. There was some conflict between the two as Twitter owns Periscope and the two apps essentially are the same. Regardless, whichever app reigns supreme, the concept is great for artists. This would mean fans could live stream your concerts, shows, meet-and-greets and more.

For an indie artist who doesn’t tour and isn’t making waves on blogs (yet), what practical advice do you offer for simply building a larger social community?

Be active! Your social media outlets are still a “media outlet”, so that is still your platform for greater exposure. Work on engaging content such as video posts, show clips and graphics, and give your fans something to talk about. I also recommend saving up for small ad spends, which can be used to promote your various channels and releases. A lot of people shy away from ads, but some artists don’t realize that even $5 a day for 5 days can get your work in front of thousands of fans.

Lastly, make media lists, and start submitting your work to blogs and press outlets! Sure you may not be ready for an album review in Rolling Stone, but sending your press kit to local media in the spots where you are performing can go a long way.


10686941_10202703937861306_3856894148549257883_nAs a music marketing strategist, Tyler Allen works with an extensive array of artists, labels, music tech, and music retail entities. Tyler began his music industry career with Sony Music Entertainment and RED Distribution, as well as the advertising industry. He is dedicated to giving veteran artists the tools to preserve their legacy, and new artists the tools to begin theirs (as well as everything in between). Learn more about Tyler Allen’s music consulting and background on his website here.

TuneCore Social: Revisiting Our Interview With I Fight Dragons

With the recent launch of our brand new social media marketing tool, TuneCore Social, we’re re-sharing some of our favorite articles/interviews in which TuneCore Artists and members of the music industry dive into the importance of social, what kind of habits to avoid, and how to make it work for your music career. Remember – if you’ve got an active distribution, you can start using TuneCore Social today totally free!

For the second installment of our “Getting Social” Series, we interviewed Brian Mazzaferri of Chicago’s I Fight Dragons. The band has been together for over 6-years, playing catchy pop rock tunes that incorporate chiptune music from Nintendo Game Boy/NES. After only two years, I Fight Dragons had the honor of being signed to Atlantic Records, but in 2012, they fought to get out of their deal in order to regain control of their music and revenue.

After a very successful Kickstarter campaign, they released The Near Future (distributed by TuneCore) in December of 2014. TuneCore was honored to be able to help them continue their musical journey after they departed from the label system. While I Fight Dragons has garnered attention from sync placements in TV shows (including credit for writing the theme song for ABC’s The Goldbergs) and commercials, the band has always maintained an attentive and effective social media strategy. Building large communities on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, maintaining a blog and regularly engaging with their fans through all of these channels, we felt they were perfect candidates for sharing advice on how independents can best utilize social media.

Read our interview below with lead vocalist Brian Mazzaferri, who fills us in on the band’s musical journey and how their social presence has played a role in it.

Congrats on the release of The Near Future! Where do you feel the band has grown the most over the past 6+ years?

Brian Mazzaferri: Thank you!  We’re definitely psyched that it’s finally out; we’ve been working on it for the past 2 years, and it’s a bit surreal to talk about it as something that actually exists out in the world.

Growth-wise, I feel like our main focus has been in our arrangements.  Back when we started, we sort of just threw chiptune on top of what we were already playing, but over the years we’ve learned more and more about chiptune, and also grown as instrumentalists and a band.  These days, the four of us speak a common musical language and it’s always a blast to work on arrangements.

On a practical level, it’s been really cool to see that we’ve had a pretty regular fanbase-growth level over the 6 years. We haven’t exactly had any “big breaks” where we picked up our fans, just a bunch of small and medium sized breaks that we always tried to keep pushing with.

You guys went from local to being signed to Atlantic in just 2 years. Tell us about how you initially went about grabbing the attention of listeners and press outlets.

Yeah, that was a crazy time.  I think we were obviously helped by the fact that our music fit really well with the zeitgeist of the early 2010s, with geek becoming chic and nerd becoming cool. A band that played rock music mixed with retro video game sound cards fit right in, which is not to be underestimated when it comes to labels and folks trying to guess the next big thing.

Beyond that, we also just worked our butts off non-stop – hustling, playing local shows, networking with other local bands, and trying anything and everything to connect with people who might like our music and create meaningful moments and relationships.

It was a lot of constantly trying new platforms and tools too, we had early success on sites like thesixtyone.com (which used to be a ridiculously awesome rpg-style music discovery site), jamlegend.com (which was a really cool online free guitar-hero type game), and others.  We did a lot on MySpace (which was important at the time), and a fair amount on Twitter in its infancy, as well as of course more and more on Facebook as time went on.  We did battle of the bands competitions in Chicago, and played any and every collaborative event we could find.  We used platforms like TAXI and SonicBids to get placements too.  I don’t think the exact path we followed is totally relevant today, but I do think the key philosophy of constantly trying new things and learning as you go is still applicable.

Twitter is a platform that has progressed almost parallel to I Fight Dragons’ career. How has the band utilized its relationship with fans on Twitter? What have you found to be beneficial from your early days through 2015?

It has indeed. Back in 2009 when we started to use Twitter it seemed like a brand new frontier, and it was a huge part of how we grew back then, how we found and connected with more people who might like our music and made new friends along the way.

The best advice we ever got in the early days was actually from Leah Jones, a marketing wizard in Chicago who actually did some social media consulting / coaching with bands back in the day.  She taught us to use social media as a conversation tool, and not as a promotion tool.  Especially with Twitter, it’s not about pushing your message out to the world, it’s about finding the conversations that are already happening out there and joining them in meaningful ways where you actually have something to contribute.

Mostly, just being a human and interacting in real, honest ways provides the most meaningful return.

With 52K Facebook fans, what kind of content helps fans feel connected with I Fight Dragons?

It’s funny, we’ve never particularly had a growth spurt on Facebook, it’s always just been a slow and steady climb.  I’d say we’ve gotten somewhere in the realm of 10,000 fans per year for the past 4 years or so, and it’s not that we post any specific kind of content; although I will say we do try to do things we think our fans will find interesting, and to post them on a regular basis.  Just showing up regularly and trying to add something seems to work for us.

I will say that social media, and Facebook specifically, seems to work best for us when it’s bridging the gap between what’s happening in the real world and the digital.  When we post to Facebook just for the sake of posting to Facebook, it’s usually a lot less effective than when we’re out doing something in the world and we then connect that through the digital world as well.

Also, it’s a given these days, but responding to every message or post on your own wall has always been an important thing to us.  If a fan takes the time to reach out to us, we take the time to reach back, even if it’s just to say thanks.

the near future

Some artists choose to hone in one particular social platform. Explain why I Fight Dragons chooses to make themselves available across the board and how you keep it organized.

I think people should do as many platforms as they feel like they can handle effectively, and no more than that.  For some people, they’re just Twitter people, it’s their natural ecosystem, and that’s all they need.  Others are 100% YouTube, or 100% Tumblr, or even Instagram.  We’ve always used a fairly diverse mix, but in actuality the only ones we really use on a daily basis are Facebook and Twitter (and our own blog).

Not unlike artists, it’s common to see fans who are loyal to just one social channel. Do you notice differences in the way your fans choose to interact on Facebook vs. Twitter?

Absolutely.  Twitter is like a big cocktail party, with tons of different conversations going on around different topics, hashtags, groups, etc.  It’s very casual, and very easy to join in a conversation.  Facebook is much more connected to a real person, and people tend to resent intrusion much more.  I think that’s a good reason to make yourself available on multiple platforms, even if it’s just to have a place for people that are on that platform to reach out and tag/message you.

Having landed some great sync placements in TV shows, commercials and even a WWE Pay-Per-View, do you find fans heading to I Fight Dragons’ social channels in the early stages of discovery?

I’d say that social is very typically a part of how new fans find out about IFD, pretty close behind hearing about us from a friend, which is the main way that I think almost everyone hears about new music these days.  In some ways your Google search has become your new homepage, because people will just Google your band name and see what pops up, and often that leads them to our Facebook or Twitter feed.

You guys aren’t afraid to get in front of the camera and chat with your fans. How do you think YouTube can benefit independent artists beyond just music videos?

I think that being willing to just go on camera is essential these days.  We actually don’t use YouTube as well as we could, folks like Kina Grannis, Hoodie Allen, Watsky, and more have built insane touring bases through true dedication to YouTube. It’s such a personal channel that offers a deep connection far more powerful than others since people can actually see you and feel like they’re hanging out with you.

A lot of times if you look at those artists profiles, they have a TON of video content that is much more causal, not necessarily a produced music video. Maybe it’s a casual cover song video, or even just a video blog, and I feel like that type of stuff really helps deepen the connection between artist and fan; but obviously it takes much more effort to make a video (even a casual one) than it does to post a tweet, so it takes a lot more time and energy commitment, especially if you want to make sure all of your videos are good (which should of course be the goal).

TuneCore was psyched to distribute The Near Future. Tell us a bit about your departure from the label system and what kind of role social media played in the release and marketing of the new album.

We were psyched to be using TuneCore!  We did our time in the label system and learned a ton, but ultimately it wasn’t working out for us.  The way that system is structured, it’s sort of all-or-nothing, because you give away all of the income from your album sales in exchange for the label fronting the money to record the album in the first place.  This is extreme, a lot of folks don’t realize that artists actually have to buy their own CDs from the label in order to sell them at shows, and even at wholesale pricing they’re generally paying $7 or $8 for each copy of their own album.

Especially with Kickstarter entering the fray a few years back. It’s more possible than ever for a band to find other ways to raise the recording costs, and then start having a steady stream of income from album sales as you continue to play out, make more music, and grow.  It’s so much more organic, and you don’t have to start from scratch every time.  Plus pressing up your own CDs for $1 apiece makes it much more feasible to actually make money at live shows.

The truth is, we never really got any marketing spend from the label anyway, nor any radio promotion, so we were essentially doing all of our own promotion via social media even when we were on a label.  Labels are understaffed these days, and the big acts tend to get all of the staff’s time.

Long story short, we’ve always sort of been a “we’ll do it ourselves” kind of band, and social media is the natural promotional vehicle for that mindset.

I Fight Dragons is a great example of an indie band doing social right. What advice can you offer likeminded artists who are hoping to utilize social in advancing their careers?

First of all, thank you!  I can honestly say that I’m constantly wrestling with how to use social better, how to get more out of it, and how to work it more seamlessly into my life.  It’s constantly evolving, and I don’t think it’s something you can ever solve 100%.

I know it can be a tough balance when you have to choose between time spent working on music and time spent working on social, but I think they’re both important.  I think the difference between doing music purely as a hobby and approaching it as a career is largely in how much time you’re willing to devote to the career aspects of hustling, networking, marketing, and promoting yourself.  Finding that balance is never easy, since if you go too far into the career side it’s easy to get burned out and forget why you’re doing all that work in the first place.

That said, I think that the worlds of art and marketing are bleeding together more and more, and there’s a sense in which a band or an artist’s career is becoming a sort of narrative art form in and of itself.

On a purely practical level, I find habit and regularity to be my absolute best weapon in the battle to stay on top of all your social channels.  Establishing daily habits and brute forcing them feels really hard and annoying at first, but soon enough it just becomes part of your routine, and your mental energy is free to work on more creative endeavors.