How one musician is opening social media side doors
This is a guest post from reader Luke Michielsen, a singer / songwriter and artist rep for Stonebridge Guitars. Follow him on Twitter, visit his website, and watch his music video at the bottom of this post (email subscribers click here).
I’m an independent singer-songwriter and I’ve been using social media to share my music since 2006. It’s funny to think I started doing this in the heyday of Myspace. Oh how things have changed. Recently, I came across The Social Media Side Door: How to Bypass the Gatekeepers to Gain Greater Access and Influence by Ian Greenleigh (from here onwards I refer to it by the official hashtag, #tsmsd) and immediately liked the writing style. I was also impressed with the amount of research that went into it.
Like many musicians, I’ve been trying to maximize the effectiveness of my social media use lately. Trying to stay current is tough with new platforms for musicians coming out all the time. #tsmsd has definitely inspired me to try some new things, and has pointed out that changing platforms are actually a good thing, because they open new side doors before the music industry gatekeepers make things difficult (“Gatekeepers” is a term Ian uses for people or systems that block access to influential people).
The main tip I took from #tsmsd was to get creative in how you try to reach influencers in the music industry. One of my current goals is to play at summer folk festivals. There are a lot of gatekeepers to bypass to gain access to this circle of the industry. Most festivals require artists to submit their applications through Sonicbids, Reverb Nation or Music Clout and many require live showcases at music conferences like Folk Alliance in Kansas City.
Applying to festivals through conventional means often seems impersonal and it’s challenging to get any convincing done if you are lesser known (like me). Unless you or your agent (very few of us have one) knows the artistic director, you’re just another one in a thousand musicians lining up at the front door to get on the bill.
Why not take some of the tips in #tsmsd and apply them to this scenario? It’s my plan to spend more time finding connections and starting relationships with artistic directors. I’m finding out which ones have blogs and Twitter accounts. It’s preliminary research to see if there might be a side door for me at one of these festivals. It’s not easy work, but neither is making good music, so I’m used to it.
When I do get the attention of an artistic director I have to be careful not too ask too much, and instead offer something of value to them. Offering value to an artistic director is sure to be challenging and each case will need to be treated uniquely. I’ll think of what I would need help with if I was in their shoes.
Ian hails the merits of blogging numerous times in #tsmsd so my plan is to improve my skills at this older, but trustworthy, social platform. I’m starting a new blog, called Socially Savvy Musicians, where I plan to interview artistic directors, or have them guest blog about what they look for in an applicants social media profile. Maybe that director will direct musicians to my blog to answer queries more quickly. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Will making some relationships with artistic directors open some side doors to festivals for me? Who knows what’s going to happen? What I do know is that the suggestions in #tsmsd are backed up by research that makes me feel confident that I’m on the right track.