Should Bands Buy Facebook Likes?

A brief history of music marketing and notes on how bands can utilize social media effectively.

Every business in virtually every business category is benefiting from Facebook marketing. With this revelation comes an important question within the music industry. Should bands promote themselves by focusing on getting more likes and even going out and buying Facebook likes? Is this a strategy that can benefit bands, and if so, what's the best way to use Facebook marketing and Facebook ads as a tool to get more popular online?

A Brief History Of The Music Industry

The music industry has changed a lot in the last decade as the importance of digital downloads has increased and the importance of music labels has decreased. It's easier than ever for an average person with limited resources to acquire both the software and hardware necessary to make great music at home. For just a few dollars a random iPad app can give you a more fun music making experience than much of what was available in top of the line music studios 10 years ago. Although MySpace started out more dominant within the music industry, its fall coincided with the rise of other networks where musicians can promote themselves and their music. Now with social networks like SoundCloud that are dedicated to music discovery along with mainstream networks like Facebook making it easier than ever for artists to promote themselves and YouTube making it easy to promote music videos, there are many more independent artists out there that are trying to make a name for themselves, by themselves. These great indie musicians don't have a dedicated social media team or marketing resources to draw on. Instead, they have a dream and their own blood, sweat, and tears to guide them to the top of the mountain.

How should musicians be promoting themselves on Facebook?

Now that the contextual stage is set, so to speak, we're left with the question of how musicians can best promote themselves on Facebook. As with virtually any type of business, much of the strategy is the same. There are many ways to increase social media engagement, but the first and best strategy that you should be starting with is to create great content that other people value. In music, this is easy, start to give out some of your music for free. The economics of music online has changed and most people are expecting to see lots of free music. Offering tracks for free and continuously giving people great music for free is a path towards gaining a large number of true fans. This content marketing effort can be supplemented through Facebook Ads, buying likes, or any one of a number of strategies. Once you achieve a critical mass and have built yourself a fan following, the next step could be to use a tool like BandCamp where you can create an awesome BandCamp page where people can buy your music. If you've done your job the right way, this will lead into something that will help you gain even more attention.

Why More Likes Benefits Musicians

If a musician is giving away much of their music for free, how can they hope to make enough money to reasonably support themselves? This is an important question as the arts are very important to the health of a culture. Even given the vast economic challenges that the world faces, the arts are essential for exploring many of the big ideas and questions of philosophy and even science. Without this, the world would become much blander and there be less of an incentive for young people to continue to reach for the stars, create, and achieve. The big music labels will basically argue that without them, cultural growth is impossible and their services are essential for fostering creativity. However many economists will argue otherwise and point to alternative business models that creatives can use to fund their efforts.

Well, one of the ways that musicians can both make money, as well as earn opportunities to get more popular, is to get an opportunity to play in different venues. Now, a random indie artist isn't going to start their career featured on Madison Square Garden or opening for Justin Bieber, but there's an opportunity to play in the music friendly bar across the street, or the concert hall down the road. Playing in various bars, restaurants, and other venues is a great way for musicians to sell memorabilia and create a buzz for themselves. If people go out for a friendly evening and have a great time, there's a good chance that they'll become fans of your band and tell their friends about it.

But there seems to be a chicken and an egg problem here. How can a small independent artist get popular enough to start to get invited to play in bigger and more important music venues? Besides content marketing as described above, the answer to that is advertising. Whether it's buying likes or Facebook ads or other Facebook marketing methods, gaining more likes provides the social proof necessary to get past a venue operator's initial filter. Somebody who is managing a bar that plays live music only wants to invite popular bands to play in their venue that will draw a crowd. This way they can sell more drinks and food. Getting more likes can be a way to get past this filtering mechanism than venue managers have and get on their radar screen.

Other Ways That Musicians Can Advertise Themselves

Although Facebook is great and getting a following on SoundCloud and YouTube can be beneficial, there are other ways that musicians can be promoting themselves both online and in the real world. One great way that musicians have been promoting themselves is by seeding out some of their music on Torrent networks. People using the BitTorrent protocol to find cool downloads like to check out free stuff. Rather than looking at free music downloads as stolen profits like record labels usually do, bands should look at free downloads as essentially free advertising. If you're running a band's music marketing, you should be using every tool you can find to get your music in as many ears as possible.

Getting your music in front of as many listeners as possible is always your goal. To that end, also don't ignore streaming music services like Apple Music, Spotify, and many other new and interesting services and online music stores such as the Apple store. Getting listed on there takes some extra work, and you'll need to use a music label or distributor or go through a lengthy process yourself where you'll have to get ISRC codes to be eligible for placement in many cases. The rules can be complicated, and actually require 1 ISRC code per song on an album, so navigating the business aspect of the music industry isn't always easy, but the end results of becoming successful and seeing smiling fans at your shows can be worth it.

Conclusion

Facebook is a great place for a band to promote themselves. Nothing sells faster than free and giving away free tunes is a great way to get more fans and get people in your corner generating more hype for you. If you use it as a method for getting in front of more people and combine that with a great band culture that encourages sharing, you'll be able to use your connections with people to help fund your dream in a positive way. Buying likes can help you get in front of a bigger audience, but should just be one component of your social media strategy. If you can combine your increased exposure with great content, people are going to be much more likely to share your page with their friends and that puts you on the road to success. Hopefully more artists can use social media in this kind of positive way to promote themselves so they can spend less time working on managing and self-promotion, and more time exploring lyrics and beats.

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