Social Media Tools that Grow Your Audience

Yes, I’m still working on the draft of “Grow Your Band’s Audience,” version 4.0. (Side note: if you buy the PDF version now, you will get a free upgrade to 4.0 when it launches.) One of the things I find funny about the process is that folks have asked me for years why I didn’t update the book sooner to include lots of tips about social media.

I covered that ground somewhat in “More Gigs Now.” And I hear echoes of what I wrote five years ago in Zach Pentel’s dismissive comments about MySpace Music in this Mashable writeup of music business social media tools:

“Since MySpace Music has failed to show much staying power…”

A few years ago, bands were turning their entire web presence over to MySpace. Today, we spend a lot of time talking about Facebook. And there’s already an undercurrent about Twitter.

Yes, these are all useful tools, but they aren’t the best tools at actually getting folks out to shows and opening their wallets to support your music. As I wrote in MGN, talent buyers get really suspicious when you have a lot of social media friends, yet you have little to no track record of getting thirty or more audience members out to a live gig.

Social media friendships tend to stay in the social media space. While mobile devices have helped spur meetups and tweetups, we may never be able to rely solely on social media to get fans to gigs. It’s easy to turn down a gig invitation via tweet. It’s much harder when you have cultivated real relationships and express how you are relying on your audience to help you get to the next level by getting out to a show.

Pentel covers five online resources, which are all really cool. Of the five, one stands out as a proven way to build real support for your music career: FanBridge. It’s great to hear that they’re “in the black,” since they provide really strong contact management tools for musicians at a fraction of the cost of enterprise service. Plus, they’re really nice people who can help you with support and ideas.

(Disclosure: I have used FanBridge on and off over the years for side projects, and have occasionally posted an affiliate link. For the purposes of this piece, links will send you straight to their homepage.)

Spend some time each month exploring new social media tools, but don’t get lulled into a false sense that there’s a magic online bullet that will fill the seats at your next club gig. Instead, use those tools to build relationships: find house concert and booking opportunities through Twitter and Facebook, instead of just trying to race the rest of the bands in your scene to the largest buddy list.

It wasn’t that long ago that we tried to measure bands’ success by the number of AOL Instant Messenger buddies they collected.