It’s a question we all ponder, most commonly the moment after completing a new recording or project that has taken up most of our time and consciousness for as long as we can remember. I’m proud of this, I think other people will like it, and I can share it online wherever and whenever I like – but how do I get people to actually press play?
In theory, it’s easier now than it’s ever been. We’ve talked about it before, the way to guarantee reaching an audience is to perform live – this is still the most direct way of connecting with people through your music. But these days, there are many musicians and bands who don’t perform often, who don’t spend their entire year on tour, and yet still get a regular influx of positive feedback, reinforcement, fans, and even sales. So how do they do it?
Making The Most of Social Media
The fact is, if you were lucky enough to catch the internet on the turn – the short period of time when people shared everything, because it was new, because they wanted to be recognised as the first to have heard it, and because it was exciting – you had a great opportunity to put out your best creative work and have it heard by hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of people all over the world. Nowadays, it’s not quite that easy.
There are hundreds of thousands of creatives out there, and every single day our news-feeds are loaded with new tracks and new music videos. The fact is, most people have busy lives – we see these posts, we glance at them, maybe we’re intrigued by the image and the words or the name attached to it, but we just don’t have the time (or the permission) to listen to or watch these things at the very moment we see them. It’s really nothing personal. Most people would love to discover something new, I know I do. It’s just the way the world works right now.
Our attention spans are much shorter than they used to be, not out of stupidity or a lack of desire to learn, just out of the overwhelming mass of information and content that is available for us to consume each and every moment of each and every day. We want more, more, more, as much as possible. We want to hear your music, and theirs, and his, and hers, and then we want to go do this other thing. The good news about this is, people do want to listen. That’s half the battle already won without even worrying about it. The other thing is, the internet is very much an opportunistic place – unless people are signed up to receive notifications whenever you post something, which most people won’t be at first, you have to assume that everyone only checks their news feed for a couple of minutes, a few times each day. So, bearing all of this in mind, here are some things you can do to increase your chances of being heard.
Quality & Appeal
First of all, you have to make sure that your music has been written, performed, recorded and produced to the absolute highest standard possible. If you’re lucky enough to get people to press play, you want to make sure you grab their attention – this is only really achieved by means of a crisp, clean, captivating sound quality. Fortunately, you can achieve this at home these days, and we do offer some guides with regard to home studio production (Eg. Beginner’s Guide To Compression).
Secondly, make sure to post your music with something appealing incorporated; something that will draw people in, and make them choose your post over all those that surround it. Think carefully about the artwork or the photo; again, keep the quality high, and trust your creative instincts. Your designs and your image are a big part of what you represent. Furthermore, choose an easy to use – embedded, quick access – play button, and maybe even add a lyric or a quote from a review you’ve had regarding the new song or release. Make it appeal, and make it EASY for people to listen.
Thirdly, you can’t simply share the new release once and hope that it will go viral. If you’ve already built a following over the past couple of years, or if you have the social media and financial support of a label or marketing company, there’s a chance that this will work, but the reality is that there are many people who will miss your initial post, and perhaps even the next few after that.
Don’t get upset if people don’t respond; you have to move on from that moment and remember why it is that you’re sharing this in the first place – you love music, you love being creative, and you’re proud of what you’ve made. Maybe you’re hoping to connect with people, reach out to them and build an understanding. Just try to keep all of this in mind.
Nobody’s likely to be focusing on your social media account in between posts, so as long you don’t get too spammy with your shares (try to put it out a few times a day, with a few different quotes or tags), you’re unlikely to bother anyone who isn’t interested. Always have your latest release pinned to the top of your social media page. If people want to come and check you out, they need to be able to find your latest bit of music as easily as possible – and ideally be able to press play there and then within the screen. Don’t worry about whether or not it has as many likes as your other posts, that will come with time.
Communication & Community
A great way to draw people to your account is to become part of the community. Try to understand that every one you’re trying to reach is a person just like you; they have feelings and thoughts and dreams and accomplishments that they too might like you to know about. Have patience – your music isn’t going to disappear.
Build a connection with people, and not to sell your music – do it because you want to, because that’s what art and music are all about. If you show an interest in your peers they’re far more likely to reciprocate, and this is where you can build lasting relationships, as opposed to merely getting someone to finally click ‘play’ or ‘like’ or ‘share’ on your new release, and then never interacting with you again. That’s no good to anybody.
Make your time worthwhile, and consider that what you’re trying to get people to listen to might actually be beneficial to them – music is powerful, it’s a beautiful thing that we know and love across the world, it transcends all language barriers and it connects even the most opposite of people. Remember all of this when you’re diving into the online world to find your audience.
Diving in is a great way to put it, and an important point. You have indeed spent a lot of time, energy, passion, and perhaps even cash getting this recording to a stage at which you’re happy with it – happy enough to want to share it with the world. Being shy and tentative isn’t often the way to reach a lot of people, though it’s somewhat better than being loud and brash and overly confident. (People aren’t likely to click on your capitalised, shouty post that insists on it’s own awesomeness with multiple exclamation marks and hashtags.) That’s not a dig at hashtags, by the way – these can often be the key to finding the right kind of people. Utilise the relevant hashtags for your genre, your theme, your location, your instrument, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of connecting with like minded people. Just try to keep it mellow; confident, yet calm – open up a real conversation.
Include people. Ask them what they think. Offer your own insight; about your music, or about whatever they happen to have shared recently. There really aren’t any shortcuts to building a lasting connection with listeners, and in the age of the internet – the fast paced, media driven world in which we live – you need these things to last, to have meaning, and to continue to be worthwhile to all involved for as long as possible.
We have to focus on these quiet places in between all the noise, where we can be ourselves, and talk about music, and talk about our plans and our dreams and our experiences. These are the most effective ways of escaping the noise of modern living, and subsequently, these are the best ways to find people who are likely and willing to actually listen, properly, to the music you’ve made. You can’t fake genuine connection and understanding, and you shouldn’t want to.
Finally, if and when people do listen to your music, be appreciative of that. There is an entire universe of online content available at our fingertips every single day – if someone chooses to listen to your track, or watch your video; that’s an amazing result. Be grateful, express your gratitude, and continue the conversation. Hopefully, if you really love what you’re doing, there’ll be plenty more to come from you.
Stay creative, stay honest, and always be who you are. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing or how many plays or thumbs up some other band has. Do your thing, do it to the absolute best of your ability, and remember that those other accounts that you so desperately hope will listen to and/or share your music are real people, just like you. Reach out and connect in the most human way possible, and once you’re connected, you won’t have to ask people to listen to your music – they already will be.
Don’t let a slow day get you down – there’s always more. Your music has been made; that was the hardest and most time consuming part. Whatever happens next is just human nature doing what it does best. As you embark upon your journey to be heard, don’t be afraid to listen to and enjoy and support other musicians you come across. It’s not a competition anymore – the better connected you are, the bigger your team. The more supportive you are, the more this will come back to you, and the better you’ll feel about yourself and the world around you.
Your music deserves to be heard, but that doesn’t mean the world owes you anything. Take your time finding the right audience for your sound and for what you offer. If you’re genuine, hard working, and honest – people will listen. Just give it time.
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