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In this day and age, a little internet-related paranoia is not surprising, in fact it is practically de rigeur to be feeling a little got at. But in the case of Facebook, it’s not just the tin-foil hat wearing brigade who are starting to feel the pinch.

Have you noticed how your reach has gone down and down? Have you noticed how where you USED to be able to become verified, you can no longer find the page that tells you how to do it? Or the option to do it in settings? How your music player no longer streams or displays properly? And how, no matter where you look, Facebook tech support consists of users on under-used forums, swapping out of date links to try to fix problems cause by Facebook constantly moving the goalposts?

Facebook hates musicians. If you are a business and you sell stuff, great! Facebook will allow you to become verified after checking your identity, taking your fingerprints, and extracting the promise of your firstborn’s soul. Try being a member of the creative community though and those tools shall not be yours. If you are unlucky enough to be a musician with a common name, you can forget becoming verified to help prevent confusion amongst your fans.

Facebook hates musicians. Trying to build a list of followers? Facebook won’t show your posts to the people who have elected to like your page and follow you, so you can forget about reaching a new audience. And if you have the temerity to pay for advertising, your organic reach will actually disappear, making you utterly reliant on advertising to even reach your existing fan base.

Facebook hates musicians. I have lost count of all the ways. My music player disappeared. Gone. Just a text link where it once sat, looking awesome and allowing people who visited my page to hear my stuff. So I went in search of an option to add another one. Also gone. And my account has not been authorised to host a catalogue, so despite the fact that Spotify stream all three of my albums, that is not enough for Facebook to allow me to use the Spotify widget. And there is no customer service, or technical support, from Facebook to even explain to me the mystical realms by which this works.

Then, on the same day this happened, I found article after article about how you can measure an artist’s worth by how many followers they have on Facebook. But artists can’t get new followers when Facebook methodically strips out every tool that they could once have used to promote their music. Facebook hates musicians. Facebook will actively prevent artists from inviting “too many people” to an event. Facebook. Hates. Musicians.

What are your options instead as an unsigned artist? Well. Your own website is a must. Tie everything to it, always return to it, and run your social media through it. Facebook can still be useful, with persistence, work and a staunch avoidance of their ad campaigns. Tie it to Twitter which, despite the character limitation, is a vibrant community where it is actually possible to become verified, eventually.

But there’s a new kid on the block that I urge you to try.

Tie your social media and your website to Drooble. Get your friends, family, foes, dentist, chiropractor and MP onto Drooble. Drooble is not just for musicians, although they are the primary audience. Music fans are also welcome, like a thunderstorm on an oppressive day, or like tech support would be from Facebook. Or a box of donuts when you’re really hungry. Unless you’re gluten free. You get my drift. Get thee to Drooble, and show Facebook how it’s really done.

Drooble loves musicians. Let me count the ways:

Karma – Karma is the lifeblood of Drooble. Everything on Drooble is free, from a monetary perspective, anyway. Interacting with others, to like a post, comment, listen to a song, post a song, write a post, promote some music, make a friend – everything earns Karma. That Karma can be exchanged for a fully professional Electronic Press Kit, or to make a song the song of the week, giving it headline exposure. There is an entire range of promotional tools which can be purchased with Karma – the more you interact and support others, the more you can support and promote yourself.

Drooble Radio – you do not need to spend Karma to upload songs to Drooble which are then automatically added to Drooble’s online radio. This allows new users, who have not yet found their way around, to hit the ground running and get some songs up. Ditto the (very thorough) profile, which all users get for free, as well as the interview portion which allows you to really express who you are and what you are about.

The community – because of the Karma system, when you post on Drooble, it doesn’t just disappear into the void. The encouragement of interaction has the lovely effect of creating a community of likeminded people all of whom either make music or love listening to it. So far, outside of FAWM, it is one of the friendliest online places I have been. It’s a breath of fresh air.

I have only been on Drooble for a couple of weeks, around work and gigging, but so far I have a lot of hope for it. It has it’s weak spots – some of the technical aspects are still being ironed out, but the team who created it are incredibly approachable and happy to take feedback. It’s main problem is that not enough people know about it yet. I’d like to see more promoters, reviewers, record labels and fans taking an interest, to make it a truly excellent networking place. A musical LinkedIn if you will. The tools for musicians are really very good, and it doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate that this could be a gamechanger for musicians trying to get their careers off the ground as independents.

Here endeth the lesson. The TL:DR is: Facebook hates musicians. Drooble loves them. Go Team Drooble.

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Ah, it’s Thursday again, that day when the scent of near-freedom wafts tantalisingly through the workplace. Well done for making it past the hump again, fellow WordPressers and readers 🙂 I’ve spent the week writing songs for FAWM, so blogging is a nice break from fighting with chord progressions!

Today I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned whilst making forays into social networking sites. Although the title says this is for musicians, really these tips apply to anyone who uses social media for any kind of promotion at all 🙂

1) Facebook

Facebook loves to link things together…

This can be very useful. For example, my Facebook page automatically shares my updates with Twitter, meaning that I only have to post one update. For someone as hopelessly disorganised as I am, this means that I rarely end up with a situation where I have forgotten to update Twitter, and this is a relief. However…

…Facebook linking leads to duplication…

So as you know I have a WordPress blog (d’uh!). This automatically posts to my Facebook page. However, it also posts to my Twitter feed – and so does my Facebook. So my poor Twitter followers invariably get duplicate posts announcing that I have blogged. I generally have to get straight on Twitter after posting my blog, to remove the excess status updates. This makes having the system a little bit defunct. I haven’t yet worked out a more efficient, non-spammy way to do this, but when I do, I’ll certainly be implementing it.

…and you don’t EVER want to sign in to non-Facebook places with Facebook.

It’s so easy to do. Reverbnation have been particularly guilty of this lately, making it extremely difficult to get logged in without logging in using Facebook credentials, and I recently emailed them to challenge this. While awaiting a resolution, I will say this. Keep everything separate. Yes, it’s more details to remember, but then you run a much smaller risk of experiencing this cautionary tale. Remember: Facebook can halt your access to your own account whenever they want. You are the product, not the customer. If everything you have is linked to that account, you’ve lost ALL of it. All of the fans and followers and relationships that you spent so long building up. Don’t do it, kids.

That said, Facebook is a valuable tool

Facebook is still one of my major ways to promote gigs, events and new songs. It’s worth spending some time making it look pretty and consistent with your theme, and in fact I highly recommend taking a look at some tips from Sentric on how to really improve your Facebook presence.

2) Twitter

Hashtags are your friend

Hashtags help your tweets to be seen by more people than just your immediate circle of followers. If a user wants to find out about any new music for example, they might do a search for #newmusic – any tweet posted using that tag will then show up. Hashtags help to categorise your tweet as well, again helping readers to find it if it’s the thing they are seeking. However, a good rule of thumb is to have no more than two hashtags, placed at the end of your tweet.

You can tweet more than you think you can

If anything, until recently, I’d been very conservative with tweets, thinking that posting more than once a week was effectively spam. Not so. The twitter feed moves incredibly quickly, far faster than the Facebook news feed, and as a result, in order for your tweet to reach more people, necessity dictates that you tweet more often. I now tend to tweet 3-4 times a day, and only some of that is about my own music (I’ll discuss content ratio later). Repeated tweets (tweets with the same content) are fine, but it’s recommended to keep a gap of 4 hours or so in between each repetition so you don’t overwhelm the twitter feed with a spam attack of tweets!

Make sure your Twitter profile is set up

It really helps to have a good, clear profile set up with a recent, good photo, biography including who you are and what you are likely to talk about on your twitter, and last but not least, a link to your website or blog.

3) Your own website

Build one, or get someone to build one for you

Your own website is vital. It means you have one home on the internet – one go-to place for music, links, photos, gigs etc. The people you are looking to attract in the music industry are very, very busy, and I guarantee that nothing will turn them off faster than having to wade through hundreds of links to piece together a picture of who you are and what you do.

Own your domain

Web addresses like http://www.thisisyourfreewebsite/user/caseewilsonmusic* look awful and very unprofessional. It’s very very easy to obtain domain registration, I use 123-reg who are cheap, cheerful and user friendly. It’s really very little effort, for something that increases the professional appearance of your website a hundredfold.

* not a real website. At all. 

Have a “Call to Action”

On the front page of your website, you should have two things: A call to action such as “buy now!” or “book now!” with a button so that people visiting your site can immediately do that without having to wade through pages of content first, and a way to contact you, again, easily and clearly displayed. The other whistles and bells are very nice, but if a visitor comes to your webpage, you want to make it very clear how they can interact with you and obtain your album or services.

One last thing. I’ve only picked three or so points for each type of social media, to be going on with, but something that applies to Twitter and Facebook is what I like to call…

Content Ratio

In other words, for every post you make about whatever you are promoting, be it music or your florist business, post AT LEAST two other things unrelated to that. So in a typical afternoon on Twitter, I might post something like: “Yay! New song on Soundcloud (link) #newmusic” followed by: “massive thanks to Sentric (link) for their article about social networking! #socialmedia” followed by : “Did anyone see the article about the cat that barks like a dog? (link) How funny was that?”. In three tweets, only one was direct promotion of myself. It’s especially true on Facebook, where some promotion, by necessity, occurs on personal profiles, not just on Pages, and you will alienate your friends if all you talk about is your music. This aspect of social media – knowing how to strike a balance between “promotion” and “spam”, is critical, and for me, still a work in progress.

I’ve missed loads out so please, share your personal tips about social media below!

For extra reading, I highly recommend Bobby Owsinski’s Social Media Promotion for Musicians. It’s available both in paperback and as an eBook and it’s very detailed and useful! 

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