“Art is freedom. Being able to bend things most people see as a straight line.” -Anonymous
While this saying holds truth for art, it may not be in your best interest to bend the lines completely in the social world. Specifically, while Blogging and Twittering. Sure, as an artist, you want to add some color to your blog canvas, but there are some things you may want to consider before starting to paint.
Blogging may seem like a piece of cake. Take Frank Ocean for example, who creatively and freely expressed himself on Tumblr in 2012. Ocean took to the micro-blogging site to reveal his sexuality to fans, and rightfully so.
Where am I going with the Frank Ocean scenario? Well, let’s take a look at where Ocean was before his revelation. He went from ghost-writer to soloist, distinguished in sound and style in the R&B community in 2011. His first album, titled Nostalgia, Ultra went viral after he leaked it on his Tumblr site and made announcement via Twitter. Let’s not forget he was signed with Def Jam, and utilized his social tools to promote his works– something his label had no involvement with.
As mentioned in my previous blog, many artists have to promote themselves through social media, when “lazy” music labels don’t. Does this mean you’re at risk after signing a contract? Depends on the nature of your contract.
What you may want to think about, being in the lime light or when pursuing it, is that there are things you should and should not do when publishing your thoughts and works online. Think of it as Cyber Public Relations. Your reputation is at risk and so are the rules and regulations regarding your marketing circles and “yes men” (managers and currency vultures.)
If you aren’t a big time musician, then your content should be well thought out, as people are getting to know you, and you don’t have a communications manager to bail you out of crises’.
“Imma let you finish but…” – Kanye West
I guess I’m not helping this star’s ego to fame any by talking about this, but we all know Kanye West for his social media sound offs. In efforts to promote his value, West went on a Twitter rant voicing his “Truth” regarding the 2016 Grammy’s.
Though the controversy of Grammy dynamics is old news, could Kanye have approached the matter differently? Probably not, Kanye is Kanye—but for artists who are less about themselves, take a lesson from him of what not to do. If you want recognition there’s a way to earn it, and in good taste.
Disclaimer: I own Kanye music, which I have been a fan of since Through The Wire. It’s just with all due respect, #ThinkBeforeYouSpeak
Best Blogging and Tweeting Practices
In addition to monitoring what you say on social media, there are rules and standards for content.
- Be Original – If you’re blogging, you definitely need original content or to purchase licensing for imagery. Shutter Stock is a great, but not so free, way to avoid liabilities with content posts by buying rights to edit or share images.
- Be YouNique – As you’ve read from the above examples, being yourself can work for or against you, however providing your perspective when blogging lets readers know you’re human. Keep up the buzz by writing as if you were having a conversation with others.
- Give Direction – This goes back to Twitter Direct Messaging. Have you ever followed an account and received a personal or automated Twitter message asking for a call to action? People need a reason to follow you. Give them a free invitation to a listening party. For example, at the end of your blog you could say “Comment which song you like below, for a chance to attend my release party.”
- Use Hash Tags – Are you fluent in the language of Twitter or the blogosphere? Hash Tags are Key Words designed to raise discussion. Mark Schaefer , author of Tao of Twitter, gives a little insight about Twitter communication:
“[…] Twitter can be daunting. It has its own language and vibe. People toss around terms like “hashtags,” “Twitter chats,” “#FF,” and so many quirky acronyms that it can make your head spin.” (Schaefer, 85).
Make sure yours are trending or at least something others would search for.
Similarly, make sure to use Google friendly Key Words on your blog. When others are searching for anything that includes your key words on Google, your blog can appear in their results.
- Keep it Short– You may be wondering why this blog is so long? The answer is, it’s informative. A general rule of thumb is to limit your blog posts to 400-800 words. Going below or above this range will either cause your blog not to show up during Google searches, or bore your readers. In the same manner, Twitter has its text limited to 140 characters. Make your Tweets short, personable and to the point.
- Promote– In the same way that you would promote your music, promote your social channels across networks. An easy way to do this is by placing social media icons on your template backgrounds. Another way its through advertising, which is costly but a great avenue for gaining reach.
Here’s some additional tips for best online marketing practices:
Who Follows the Rules
To get a better understanding of which artists employ blogging and Twitter practices, I have provided a list of 5 musicians for you to check out:
- Alicia Keys – Blogs on Tumblr, and has a team of professional’s to blog about her appearances and tours via website.
- Selena Gomez– Uses social media, and creates a community forum for fans to participate in discussions on her website.
- Taylor Swift – Uses social media, as well as her website to blog through picture sharing. Her site consists of forum discussions for fans to share thoughts.
- Drake – Connects with fans via social media, while his team utilizes his website to include tour dates and merchandise.
- Frank Ocean – Strictly uses Tumblr, to voice his thoughts, promote his music and chat with fans.
These musicians may not have the time to manage or write a blog. The majority of them use Tumblr and social media to connect with people, while using best practices. If you don’t have the resources to employ a team to write about (not for) you, then employ yourself. Just remember to be tasteful about what you’re sharing.
A Message to You
Thank you for being on this journey with me over the past several weeks to explore social media dynamics for music professionals. If you’ve found any parts of this series to be helpful and would like to see more, please leave feedback and your ideas in the comments. Take care.