Social media connections are meaningless if your music is flawed.
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All you have to do is Google “building a fan base for my music” to find a lot of advice for getting exposure. Quite a bit of that advice is logical, and you’re probably doing those things already. If you’re trying to make it these days without using social media, you’re failing. Social media is the new touring. But the ease with which you can get your music out there presents singer-songwriters with a huge problem that has always existed for artists, something social media will never change: you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
In fact, that’s the one thing that social media has actually made more difficult for you. Because it’s so easy to get your music out there now. You can upload your new tune from your laptop, sitting in a coffee shop, and by the time you get back home, hundreds, thousands, or even more, can have heard it.
And those hundreds or thousands have already commented on it. If it’s a great tune, well-written and well-recorded, you’re building your fan base.
If there is any weakness, you’ve got problems. Because just as many (and possibly more) bad things go viral as good things. And contrary to the advertising myth you may have heard, there is such thing as bad publicity.
It’s a danger to get your music out there if it’s badly written or badly performed. Especially if you’re trying to build an audience for it, because that means that many, many people are hearing it for the first time, and are forming an initial opinion on what you’re all about.
So with that in mind, here are some thoughts on building a fan base for your music.
- Fix your music. It’s why I write this blog. Bad music is easy to fix, but it can’t be fixed if you don’t know what’s wrong. Fixing bad music first is always going to be the most important part of fan base-building. Flaws in your music means that excellent performances are pulled down by a shoddy piece of music. Fix the song!
- Get a good band. A bad performance of a good song gives you a bad song. If singing is out-of-tune, or if the performance is riddled with wrong notes or poor playing, the audience thinks you’re doing your best and your best just isn’t cutting it.
- Get the advice of good people. If there’s any way for you to get someone with a good ear for style and quality, take their advice. There’s lots of people who know what to listen for, so don’t rely on just one person’s opinion. But too many times singer-songwriters and bands live in a universe that’s isolated from reality. Be careful sending your music unsolicited to companies or A&R reps.
- Be wary of online agencies that offer to promote your music. They’ll try to make you believe that all you need is a bit more exposure, and that they can do it for you. The problem is that it’s very easy for someone to present themselves online as an expert, and there’s almost no way to know for sure. Be very careful. Always register the copyright of any music you’re sending out to people, especially to unknowns.
- Be self-critical. Don’t fall in love with your own music. If something isn’t working, have the courage to change it. Having a vision for how you should be doing music is good, but listen to the final product objectively, and don’t be afraid to make changes if necessary.
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