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The Art of Putting on a Show: Part 4—Me, Me Media

by Chris Marion

You might have a killer repertoire for your show, phenomenal staging, and the PA that will make you sound like a million bucks, but you still need to put people in the room or it’s all for naught.  Let not your heart be troubled, aspiring band mates – there has never been a better or easier time to self promote using all of the various social media resources at your disposal.  We’ll review some of the more prominent formats with some effective applications therein.

First it would behoove me to acknowledge that just signing up for various social media formats is not enough.  Successful promotion is not like the “Field of Dreams” adage – “build it and they will come”.  Your band or your artistry is a product that requires salesmanship.  It’s wise to take deliberate steps to integrate social media into the business of your band.  Insert all of your various media point ID’s into printed materials (like band photos or brochures), banners you hang from stage or merch areas, and even in plugs from the stage during the show.  Invite your fans to participate and connect.  You will reap the benefits.

Once you have the connection, there are two essential components to keeping it – routine attention and content.  The last thing you want to do after four sets at the American Legion with copious amounts of pizza and adult beverages is post a status update on Facebook or tweet about the show.  But, these are actions that keep fans connected and affirm their concert experience.  With smart phone apps that give you a mobile portal to your sites, you’ll have  something to do while you’re waiting on your post show greasy bacon and egg order at the all night diner.  And, this effort creates content.  Content is what keeps traffic coming back and generates interest or buzz.  We’ll talk about some creative but easy ways to pump up your content and ultimately keep fans wanting more.  On to the formats!

1.  Facebook – here are some numbers to give perspective on just how gigantic of a footprint Facebook has in our culture:

• Total number of Facebook users worldwide - 1.26 billion

• Total active daily users – 757 million (128 million US)

There is no denying that this is a powerful network of relationship and an excellent portal to connect with your fans in a variety of ways.  Facebook also integrates well with other social media sites like Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram so as you post in these sites, your posts can automatically populate your Facebook page.  This is an easy way to aggregate your posts with one fail swoop.  Here are some tips to maximizing your Facebook content and traffic:

-       Post photos from every show.  My band takes a moment at the end of each show to take several photos from the stage.  We’ve turned it into a routine and invite attendees to visit our page and tag themselves.  It’s amazing how much traffic this creates and it also further connects fans to the experience.  In a period of just a couple years, we’ve added over 90,000 likes.

-       Integrate a band calendar into your page.  There are several calendar programs like Bandsintown, Bandpage, and Reverb Nation that will populate your Facebook page with updates about coming events with links to pertinent websites and even invitations to fans to attend.  Keeping information current and informative takes some time.  Unless you are a national act and have aggregate services like Ticketmaster or Pollstar tracking your schedule, you will have to manually enter the information date by date.  But, it’s a worthy use of time that will ultimately get people out to your show.

-       Create event pages for your marquee shows.  Obviously, taking the time to create an event page for your rendition of the national anthem at the middle school hockey game is overkill.  But, if you have a marquee festival date or you’re finally opening for Five Finger Death Punch, put the effort into creating an event page and sending out invitations to fans who have liked your page.  This creates a specific location that fans can comment on and also gives you a great way to update schedules and keep fans in the loop.  It’s easy to do but heavy on focused promotion.

-       Create a storefront on your page.  Facebook is an excellent commerce platform and it’s imperative that you create a portal to give fans a method of purchasing merchandise you sell.  Many services like Payvment and Storefront Social integrate right into your band’s page with a tab insert.  Keep in mind that these fulfillment services usually come with a monthly subscription and take a portion of the sales proceeds.  However, this gives fans immediate access to your merch and takes the hassle out of selling products, boxing, shipping and collection.  65 percent of a sale that you couldn’t have made is still better than no sale at all.


2.  Twitter – who knew that a media limiting you to 140 characters could be so pervasive.  Twitter also touts a robust user base with 243 million active monthly users.  Yet it can be an extremely effective tool for dispensing information and connecting with fans.  How about some suggestions for power tweeting:

-       Get into the daily habit of tweeting a band update.  It could include a photo/video or just a pithy anecdote with your wisdom.  140 characters keep your wisdom concise and to the point.  Daily tweets keep mobile fans in the loop.

-       Make sure to link your Twitter account with Facebook so that your tweets populate your Facebook page as status updates.

-       Encourage fans to create a link to your band or conversation by including a hashtag entry at the end of the tweet.  Within Twitter metrics this also creates a way to track trending topics.  Who knows – maybe you’ll have a Miley Cyrus VMA “twerking” moment that creates over 300,000 tweets per minute.

-       Use a tweet to share a song or video. You can embed a link within your tweet to download a new song or link to a show video.  Encourage fans to retweet this to their followers and create your own wildfire of promotion.  Twiturm is a great tool for uploading songs to share via Twitter.

-       Contest, contest, contest. At the start of your show, encourage fans to follow you and tweet about the show.  Then choose one of the new followers to receive a free CD or picture at the end of the show.  Everybody loves a good contest and in the process of participating, you enhance your network.  You can even direct tweet the winner.

3.  YouTube – it’s important to realize that not only is YouTube for videos, it’s also the second most popular search engine behind Google.  Because it’s such high authority domain, other search engines like Google or Bing will tend to list YouTube results near the top of searches.  Take advantage of this and here are some great ways to do just that:

-       Encourage fans to record live performances and tag the uploaded video with your band name.  This optimizes any search using your band name and will improve potential for discovery.

-       Upload your own material and post links on your other social media to attract fans to your YouTube page.  While they’re visiting, YouTube lists related videos that will keep your fans in enraptured bliss for hours.

-       Use annotations to generate traffic to your other sites.  YouTube allows you to embed annotations or links to other URLs with clickable CTA’s.  Use these annotations to link to commerce sites or even to bulk out your email lists.

These are three of the most prominent social media services and can certainly play an amazing role in promoting your band.  There are other services that deserve a mention as well.  Vimeo is a great video resource for storing and sharing video – a bit more professional since there are no advertisements and you have more control over look and feel.  UStream and Livestream are awesome video streaming services that would allow your band to live stream a show to fans.  Instagram is a great photo oriented media site that also integrates well with other medias.  Fanbridge is a great tool for emailing and texting fans who sign up.  And finally, Bandcamp is a great resource for uploading and distributing your music with great potential for customizing your user’s experience.

It’s important to remember that social media can be a great tool.  But it is only effective when it is used in a deliberately consistent manner.  Delegate this responsibility to your nerdy band mate who has a great sense of humor and spends most of his time alone in the hotel room anyway.  Exploiting social media can have an amazing and immediate impact on your career success.  Use it to tour wisely, my friends.

Chris Marion is an American musician best know as a member of Little River Band and for his contribution to the gospel and country music industries.  Although graduating college with a B.A. in Psychology, he is a classically trained pianist and has worked in the music industry professionally for over 35 years.  As a resident of Nashville, he is involved in the recording industry working in the genres of Gospel, Country and Rock.  Since 2004, he has toured globally with the classic rock act Little River Band as a keyboardist and vocalist.  For more useless trivia and minutiae, you can visit his personal website at http://www.chrismarionmusic.com.


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