Tag Archives: twitter

The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of Twitter: For Musicians

 Twitter is hot.  Even though it’s only been in the public consciousness for slightly over a year, it has already gained an incredibly devout and widespread following.  On a recently weekday I counted three separate articles on the front page of the New York Times website involving Twitter.  Oprah recently used twitter live on her show.  Both Karl Rove and Rachel Maddow regularly tweet[1].  So do celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon, Aston Kutcher, and Shaq.  But perhaps the demographic that has most fallen in love with twitter is musicians.

There are many reasons musicians love Twitter.  It is an incredibly powerful tool.  So much so that some (including myself) feel that Twitter is as an essential a tool as MySpace to a musician.  Already you find many musicians have taken to Twitter and use it constantly and in innovative ways.


What is Twitter…

Before I go any further, I’d like to give a brief overview of what Twitter is.  It is a website that allows you to post brief (140 characters max) messages.  You can “follow” other users by opting to have their tweets sent to your home page.  On your home page, all the tweets by the people you follow are displayed chronologically (most recent first).  People who are following you have your tweets displayed in the same manner on their home page.  You can reply to a user publically by typing “@theirusername”.  You can also reply privately via a Direct Message (DM).  That’s about it.  Sounds underwhelming, right?  Where is the cause for such excitement and devotion amongst its fans? 

The real power of Twitter lies with the cumulative effect of the tweets.  One tweet is ultimately meaningless, a single brush stroke on a canvas.  But if taken as a whole over the course of weeks and months, these single brush strokes come together to form a remarkably accurate painting of the personality of the person behind the tweets.  This makes Twitter a great way for old friends to stay in touch, for current friends to coordinate their lives, for people to learn more about the bands, celebrities, and other public figures that interest them, and for those bands, celebrities, and public figures to engage their fans. 

A much more succinct portrait of twitter by user SoftCoeur, who tweeted the following:

@softcoeur think of it like a combination blog, away message, and mass text message. embrace it. love it.

Note: when quoting a tweet, you say “@TheUserNameBehindTheTweet And Then The Tweet Itself”


How To Use Twitter Effectively…

So, then, how can a musician use Twitter in a manner that reaps its full benefit?  There certainly is no shortage of musicians on Twitter.  COED Magazine recently published a list of 406 Bands On Twitter and that’s just the more mainstream musicians.  There are untold amounts of complete unknowns who twitter too.  Despite the plethora of musicians using the site, very few seem to have a good grasp on how to best use the site.  What are they doing wrong? 


Twitter…You’re Doing It Wrong

There are several common mistakes made by musicians that render their Twitter efforts ineffectual.  They are listed below: 

1Not following anybody backIf there was one word to describe Twitter and what sets it apart from other sites such as MySpace and Facebook, it would be “conversation”.  Twitter is about the interaction between people, sharing tidbits, insights, thoughts, information, and answers to questions.  If musician does not follow anybody back then they obviously are not listening.  Follow in return every person who follows you; its common courtesy on Twitter. 

Case Point: Oasis: http://twitter.com/Oasis

2The person behind the account is not the person claimed to be – Because Twitter is all about personality and conversation with the stated person, there is little point to having a third party run your twitter account.  To do so is a bait and switch and is inherently less engaging to followers than tweets from the actual person stated to be behind the user name

Case Point: The Raconteurs: http://twitter.com/theraconteurs

3Infrequent Use – Going back to the painting analogy, the more tweets/brush strokes, the richer and more interesting the portrait.  A band that posts infrequently tends to not be worth following.  Of course it is possible to tweet too much, but that’s another topic.

Case Point: Bjork: http://twitter.com/bjork

Twitter…You’re Doing It Right!

It is also useful to look at musicians who are using Twitter correctly, to see how and why they are effective.

1Be insightful and interesting – Let your fans know about who you are or who your band is.  Make them want to read more.  The key is to engage your fans.  Sonic Youth did an excellent job with this as they recorded their last album this winter, posting frequent studio updates that provided a behind-the-scenes look at the rock legend’s recording process.  Colin Meloy (of the Decemberists) and Edward Droste (of Grizzly Bear) are both very insightful and engaging.  Their Twitter pages are a rich portrait of them, their influences, and their music. 

Case Points: http://www.twitter.com/thesonicyouth



2Interact with your fans – Since the whole point of Twitter is the conversation, why not converse?  It’ll engage your fans, getting them to check back often.  David Allen, the bassist from the English punk legends Gang of Four is fantastic at this. 

Case Point: http://twitter.com/pampelmoose (David Allen)

3Be creative – Find new and creative ways to engage your fans through Twitter.  The more people you have following you, the easier it will be for you to get the word out about shows and new releases.  UK rapper The Streets recently premiered a new EP via twitter, posting a new song every day.  Famous venture capitalist Roger McNamee has a band and they recently tweeted a live concert (as soon as they finished playing a song, they had somebody upload it to twitter).  Think of other creative and new ways to use Twitter.  Not only will you be engaging your fans but you might just get press for using Twitter creatively.

Case Point: http://twitter.com/skinnermike (The Streets)

http://twitter.com/Moonalice (Roger McNamee)



11 easy steps to getting started at Twitter as a musician…

1. Sign up for an account.  Ideally choose your band name (if applicable).  Make sure you put your band website as your link and for your bio explain who you are and what you do.  Pick a memorable (and relevant) profile picture.

2. Import your mailing list into Twitter so you can find which of your fans are already on the site.  Follow them.

3. Use the powerful Twitter search function to find people with similar interests.  For instance, if you sound like Nirvana, search for “Nirvana” and find people who have tweeted about that recently.  Follow them.  If your music prominently features cellos, search for “cello”.  And so on.  When all is said and done, you want as many people to follow you as possible.  A primary way to gain new followers is to follow people first.  People will also find you via searches, so mention people you sound like or like often. 

4. Tweet!  Tweet about anything.  Twitter itself asks the question “What Are You Doing?” but that’s just the beginning of it.  Here are some good things to tweet about:

– What am I doing?

– What am I thinking?

– What do I like?

– What don’t I like?

– What do I want to do?

– Answer a question posed by somebody

– Ask a question (you’ll be amazed at how easy and fast it is to get answers via Twitter)

5. Follow influential people.  One of the great features of Twitter is that it allows you to target various audiences very well.  You can target broad demographic groups (Metallica fans, for instance) or you can target very specific people.  Many of the most influential and important people in the music industry today use Twitter.  The primary example of this is music bloggers.  A majority of the music bloggers I would classify as “influential” have and use twitter regularly.  Since Twitter is all about the conversation, you can easy engage these people.  This will at the very least allow you to make them aware of your existence and at best, you may end up befriending some of them (which obviously has its benefits).  To find music bloggers to follow, go to their websites and see if they have a link to their Twitter account.  Many do.  When you find one on Twitter, see who they are following because most music bloggers follow other music bloggers. 

6.  Update frequently.  The minimum would be at least 3 times a day and I would say between 5 and 10 is ideal.  Any more than 20 times in a day and you’re probably going to really annoy people.  After using Twitter for a few weeks, you’ll begin to fall into a routine that feels right, and the answer to the question of “how much should I tweet” will become self-evident. 

7. Post pictures!  Use a program like TwitPic (http://twitpic.com/) to give fans a behind the scenes look at the band.  Instantly post pictures from backstage, in the studio, on the road, or at home.  This is a great way to engage your fans.  

8. Post links Use a URL shortening program like Bit.ly (http://bit.ly/) to shorten URL’s to post.  Post links to articles that you find interesting. 

9. Re-Tweet.  If somebody says something you find interesting, or otherwise want to pass along, then re-tweet it.  Simply post this: “RT @UserNameOfPersonYou’reReTweeting What They Actually Tweeted”.  A RT is one of the highest compliments you can give a Twitter user.  This is a possible way to reach out to people you want to notice you (i.e. music bloggers).

10. Join the conversation!  Send @ messages to people by posting “@UserNameOfPersonYou’reTalkingTo What You Want To Tell Them”.  This is a great way to meet new people. 

11. Link your mobile phone to your Twitter account so that you can text updates from your phone to your Twitter page.  You can use twitter anywhere at any time.


Final Words And Tips…

1-     Keep at it!  It takes a while, several weeks or even months before you really get the hang of Twitter and begin to see how powerful a tool it is.  Don’t give up at it after a few days or weeks.  Twitter is a long term strategy.

2-     Be interesting.  No matter what you do or say, make it interesting. 

3-     Don’t spam people.  Remember, Twitter is about the conversation.  If you’re not conversing, then you’re probably doing it wrong.

4-     Make new friends on Twitter and get hints and advice from them.  You’ll be surprised at how many new friends you make.  Unlike other sites, such as MySpace and Facebook, Twitter is less about connecting with people you already know than it is about meeting new people.

5-     If you have a band account with multiple people posting, consider having each person sign their tweets with their names like this (Tom).

6-     When following influential people (such as music bloggers), do not badger them about your music or they will ignore you.  Twitter is not the place to approach them about listening to your song (that’s what e-mail is for).  Rather, your goal is to befriend them and to get them to know who you are and what you’re all about.  This way, when you do e-mail them your music, it won’t be coming from a complete stranger but rather a friend.

7-     Don’t be surprised if Twitter becomes an addiction. 


Useful Twitter Resources For Bands

These are links that I’ve found useful and I feel that musicians using Twitter will find them worthwhile as well. 

Lengthy but I recommend every musician read this:

Laura Fitton of Pistachio Consulting On Twitter:


Musicians You Should Follow And Some You Shouldn’t:


A How-To Guide For Bands:


Grow Your Band’s Following With Twitter:


Ten Twitter Tips For Musicians And Bands:


Why Every Band Should Twitter More:


[1] Tweet: an individual post on twitter.   Usage: “I just tweeted that joke my boss told me”. 


10 Fast and Free Strategies To Market Your Band (Without Resorting To Spamming People On Myspace)

I’ve found several near universal truths from dealing with and talking to bands.  First, almost every musician is very willing to spend a significant amount of time to market and promote themselves, which is a good thing.  Second, there is a pervasive and persistent view that the best (only?) way they can do this is by sending out thousands of friend requests on MySpace, which is not necessarily a good thing.  This might have worked in the early days of MySpace but I ask you now, when was the last time you found a band you liked via MySpace?  If you’re like myself it was some years ago (if ever).  Now, sending out MySpace friend requests is not totally without merit but for a musician this is not an efficient use of your time.  If you insist on using this strategy, hire an unpaid intern or enlist a friend/sibling in high school to do it for you. 

If MySpace spamming is not the best way to promote your band then what is?  Listed below are ten ways to market and promote your band that cost nothing and can be done with a minimal investment of time.  If an hour a day is spent pursuing these strategies then the end result will be far more favorable than twice as much time spent on MySpace.


Strategies Involving Blogs –


       Start Your Own Blog – Twice a week write a paragraph (or more) about what you’ve been doing, what you’re thinking, what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what influences you, share touring stories, ask questions, answer questions, post videos of yourself/band, share unreleased material, and engage with fans (potential and current).  Make sure your blog is linked to your website and a place where your music can be purchased.  Make sure every website you have (Myspace, Facebook, etc) links to your blog.

In 2009 the single most powerful bloc of people in the music industry are music bloggers.  If you are written up by 40 blogs then your album will sell twice as much as it would otherwise (LINK).  Music blogs are a far more powerful promotional tool than MySpace.  This gives birth to two strategies:


       Build Relationships With Bloggers By Commenting On Their Blogs – Pick 10 or 20 music blogs that you enjoy and which write about music similar to the type you produce.  Read them every day and at least once a week comment about something they post.  These comments should be genuine and relevant to the post.  Make sure you leave the URL for your website but do not promote yourself or music at all.  These comments are about the blog, not about you.  Their purpose is to make these bloggers aware that you exist and that you are an interesting person.


       Send Your Music To Blogs – A great place to find blogs to send your music to is Hype Machine.  They have over 1,500 music blogs on their LIST and you can search them by artist.  Search on Hype Machine for blogs that have written about similar-sounding-but-slightly-more-popular artists and reach out to them.  Send them a personalized message and do not e-mail more than one blog at a time.  Write a short note explaining who you are and why you think they would like your stuff.  This is essentially an “elevator pitch”.  Make them want to check out your stuff.  Do not attach your music but give them a link where they can DOWNLOAD your ENTIRE album for free.  Let them know which song they should listen to if they’re going to listen to just one.  Include a link where they can see your bio and/or grab some pictures.  Reach out to 10 or 20 blogs a week.  Ideally you will have already built relationships with some of these bloggers by commenting on their blogs so they will recognize your e-mail address and will give your music special consideration.  Here is some more advice on how to pitch to bloggers.


Other Strategies Involving The Internet


       Focus Your Online Efforts On Influential Or High Traffic Websites – There are literally thousands of blogs, social networks, music communities, contests, and other music related websites.  Taking advantage of them is advantageous but can be incredibly time consuming.  Learn to focus your efforts on sites that are influential or have high traffic (these two terms are not always inclusive).  Use Quantcast to see how much traffic a website gets.  For perspective, MySpace gets about 60,000,000 unique visitors a month, Pitchfork, Stereogum, and Brooklyn Vegan get between 150,000 and 250,000, popular music blogs get between 10,000 and 50,000, and smaller but no less influential blogs often get between 5,000 and 10,000 uniques a month.  This does not necessarily mean a site with less than 5,000 uniques a month is not worthwhile.  Also use Technorati to see how influential a site is.  Technorati measures how many people link to a site.  Test out a variety of music sites, popular and not, to see how much “authority” they have.  You will find that some sites have an undue amount of influence compared to their traffic.  You want to focus your time and effort on websites that have either high traffic or high influence.


       Start As Many Social Networking Sites As You Can Maintain – Start accounts on sites such as MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, OurStage, PureVolume, ilike, Virb, and as many others as you can effectively maintain.  The more sites the better but if you are not able to keep them updated with timely information then they are useless.  Make sure every site is linked to every other site you have.  This will serve as a basic search engine optimization strategy.  This is also another area where an unpaid intern or little brother can be of use. 


       Take Advantage Of Video Sites – One of the most powerful tools in finding new fans can be video sites.  There is an entire world of online video that exists beyond YouTube and bands should use it.  A fancy produced music video is not needed.  Here is a simple strategy to use: Plan to play a cover song at your next show.  Have a friend in the audience record the cover on a decent picture camera or video camera.  You do NOT need some multi-thousand dollar HD camera for this.  I use a $300 picture camera to take live video and it comes out sounding fine.  Upload this video to YouTube and at least five other video sites (some to choose from are Daily Motion, MetaCafe, Yahoo Video, Revver, Blip.tv, Revver, Vimeo, Imeem, Google Video, Spike).  Title the video [YOUR BAND] covers [BAND YOU COVER].  Tag the video with your band’s name, the name of the song you covered, and the name of the band you covered.  Send the link to this video out to your mailing list.  Do a new video like this every couple months.


       Use Twitter – Sign up for a Twitter account and post something at least 3x a day.  Like with the blog, post about what you’ve been doing, what you’re thinking, what you like, what you don’t like, what you want to do, what influences you, share touring stories, ask questions, answer questions, engage in conversation with the rest of the Twitter community.  Do not use Twitter as a purely promotional tool for the band.  Your Twitter persona should be your personal persona, the man or woman behind the music.  Make sure you link to your website in your bio but don’t overtly hawk your music.  Maybe once or twice a week casually mention something about your music and provide a link.  There are many fine articles giving musicians advice on how to use Twitter such as THIS ONE by Ariel Hyatt. 


Other Strategies


       Read “Tribes” by Seth GodinBuy this book, read it, think about it, read it again, and then act upon it.  Start your own Tribe and lead it.  I could write more but the book will do a far better job than I of explaining this idea.


       Give Your Music Away For Free – Everybody gives lip service to the idea of “viral” marketing but rarely seize upon the easiest and most effective viral strategy open to them.  Of everything you can do, your music is the thing people are going to be most willing to pass along.  Not some dumb video on YouTube, not some silly contest.  Do not attempt to make money off your music because it has little, if any, monetary value.  Instead, sell elaborate packaging (like the In Rainbows boxset did), a connection to the band (such as the Trent Reznor signed, ultimate fan affirming Ghosts boxset), or a souvenir (a CD-as-a-concert souvenir).  Read further about how Trent Reznor gave away his Ghosts album away for free but still managed to make millions without compromising his integrity. 


       Make Amazing Music – This should go without saying but in the marketing process so little attention to it.  The most important part of marketing is to have a great product and the most effective marketing and promotional tool you have is the music itself.  The better it is, the more marketing and promotion will take care of itself.  If your music is not amazing, why are you promoting it?  Create something compelling and, to borrow a line, people will come. 




Social Media Strategy Framework For Bands, Refined

Here is an updated version of the chart I posted yesterday.  This one is slightly more detailed and a bit more accurate.  Thanks to all who contributed suggestions. 



If you liked this post then help spread the word and Digg it.  If you disagree with it or think it is incomplete, please let me know.  This is a work in progress and I’d love to get feedback on it.

Social Media Strategy Flow-Chart For Bands

This flow-chart is attempt to create the framework of a basic social media strategy for a band.  The chart shows the basic tools of a social media strategy and it illustrates the primary movement of fans within these tools.  It also attempts to document what the purpose of each site/tool is.  This is by no means a full or complete strategy.  Various other outposts sites or tools can be added (such as a PureVolume page) as desired.  This is also only a framework.  How and to what extend each tool is used is up to the person executing the strategy.  

Note: blogs/press refers to third-party blogs that write about the artist, not an actual artist blog.  That would fall under the “artist website”. 

Edit, 1/6/08: I’ve posted an updated version of this chart here.  It is slightly more detailed and reworked.





If you liked this post then help spread the word and Digg it.  If you disagree with it or think it is incomplete, please let me know.  This is a work in progress and I’d love to get feedback on it.