Curious as to why musicians fail on social media?
Social media platforms have become an integral part of today’s world, allowing artists to leverage the power of the internet and grow their audiences.
When beginning to grow your following on these platforms, it is important to be aware of some of the mistakes that other artists have made, so you don’t repeat them.
Below is a list of reasons why artists tend to fail when it comes to growing their audience on social media:
What Is In This Guide
They don't have a plan or set goals
You are probably used to posting whatever you want, whenever you want, on your personal social media accounts. This is perfectly fine, but remember that you need to be more strategic when using social media for your music career.
Social media is a digital extension of your artistic identity and should be curated to match the aesthetic of your brand, music, and its complementary visuals. To successfully build your audience online, you must establish SMART goals for each of your platforms and create a plan to keep you on track.
They crave instant gratification
New artists are discovered on social media every year, and some are even touted as the latest overnight success.
Even if an emerging artists’ music video went viral overnight, don’t forget about the months of preparation, strategy, and planning that probably went into creating the video itself, the promotional strategy behind its release, and all subsequent releases to carry on the hype.
No matter how you measure success, don’t expect it to happen quickly and last without a lot of work. Instead of aiming to grow your social platforms as quickly as possible, focus your time and resources on developing a strong brand, forming strong relationships with fans, and creating a variety of quality content.
Buying engagement and followers
For musicians who are just starting out in the music industry, it may take some time to build a significant following organically on social media. This is perfectly fine!
When you see an artist on social media with tons of followers, yes, it initially gives them more credibility.
But what if these followers are not real?
Purchasing followers and online engagement is nothing new and has become oddly affordable overtime — today, you can purchase thousands of followers for less than $30.
Although it may be tempting, it’s in your best interest to build a community of followers who engage with your content and stay for the long run. Bots don’t buy merch and tickets to your shows.
Additionally, it’s not very hard to spot when people are purchasing followers and engagement today, and it could potentially be a blow to your credibility. Instead of purchasing a fake following to keep up appearances, invest your money in creating content that will attract a real audience.
Don’t underestimate the power of a small group of people genuinely interested in what you are doing musically. The way you treat your fans when you don’t have many of them is very telling of how your future relationship with fans will be as your audience grows.
Focusing too much energy on going viral instead of staying consistent
Would you prefer 15 minutes of fame or a long-lasting career? Going viral on social media is one way for musicians to gain exposure and possibly kickstart their music careers — but what comes after that?
Having your content go viral can definitely be an element of your marketing strategy, but it should not be the end-goal if you want to build a lasting career. Just as all trends come and go, your time in the spotlight could dim if you are not prepared to be consistent with posting content that amplifies your music.
Thinking their audience is more engaged than they actually are
Even if an artist has a large following on social media, this doesn’t mean they have thousands of loyal fans. You often see this with artists who seem to have a large following and release music but get minimal traction with the project.
Or they decide to start a live stream, only to have a couple of people actually join and engage with the artist.
You need to ask yourself, are people just enjoying your content for surface-level reasons that don’t translate into conversions when you launch your new music, announce your shows or drop new merch?
How are you building a stronger relationship with your audience every time they see your content to make them more engaged? You want fans to be on the edge of their seat in anticipation of what you do next.
Focus more on engagement and relationships than accumulating a ton of uninterested followers.
They spend too much time comparing themselves to others
Cultivating a unique brand and tone for yourself on social media can be a long road to success, and you may often find yourself looking to established artists to see how they are using their platforms.
Keeping an eye out for your competitors and artists who are similar to you can be a great source of inspiration, but too much comparison can make you lose track of what makes you unique.
If you are having a hard time building a following — don’t get too in your head. Instead of focusing all of your energy on why you’re not seeing the kind of results other artists are, look for ways to be more consistent or find areas that you can improve upon with your existing strategy.
They only use social media for advertising
Although social media platforms are an effective (and mostly free) way to advertise your music, don’t make advertising or selling your sole focus.
If all your posts are related to you plugging your music, or encouraging people to purchase tickets to your next show, etc., then your audience won’t be as engaged as you want them to be or could eventually get a bit bored or annoyed.
Social media’s primary purpose is to help you build a connection with your audience, making them feel closer to you and your music. Every single time you post, you have the opportunity to further your relationship with your existing supporters and diversify your audience.
This, in some way, works backward from inundating your followers with advertisements. Once you and your followers have established a relationship, they are more likely to listen to your music, buy your merch, support your brand deals, come to your shows, and amplify your content.
They try to kill it on every platform (and all at the same time)
When you are beginning to post on your social media platforms, don’t expect your posts to be a massive hit right away. Building an audience interested in your music takes time, and the first step is finding the right platform to cultivate that audience.
Every social media platform is different, and some might be foreign to you at first. Instead of dividing your time equally between 10 different platforms, focus most of your time on the few platforms that you know how to use the best and build your audience from there.
Putting your resources towards creating content on platforms you’re familiar with is a great first step in building your audience. Once you have killed it on one platform, there is always room to later diversify your audience on other platforms.
They have not identified who their target audience is
You should always keep your audience in mind when developing your content. You’re creating content for others to consume, so what you’re creating needs to appeal to the audience you want to reach.
This is why establishing your target audience is one of the first steps in having a successful music career — by always knowing who your audience is, you can tailor your content to appeal to them.
Establishing your target audience does not only help you figure out what kind of content to create — it can also tell you the optimal time to post your content and what social media platforms you should devote more time to.
They have an "if I build it, then they will come" approach
Just because an idea sounds good to you does not mean it will fare well with your audience. The amount of money and time you put into your social media does not correlate with the amount of engagement you will receive.
Planning and creating is step one and two but the effort you put into promotion afterwards is often the part artists forget. At the end of the day, if you engage with others, they will usually reciprocate.
This is why it can’t always be about you and your music. You need to take the time to give others a feeling of importance, whether that’s a like of their photo, a thoughtful comment on their Instagram story, or reposting something they shared about your music.
With several musicians vying for attention all at the same time, just sitting back and hoping people engage with you is a risky approach. Why should anybody give a crap about you and your art… Unless you give them a reason to care.
Lone wolfs get tired and burn out
You cannot, and should not attempt to, do everything on your own. You have a lot on your plate from potentially producing, recording, and mastering your own music.
Then you have to switch gears, giving time to the marketing and promotional side of things. There are a lot of moving parts, and you are only one person.
Where social media is concerned, it is encouraged that you find someone you trust to help you with content creation and/or the daily management of your platforms. Save yourself some stress if you can.
Your social media should showcase your personality and the traits that make you unique. You should be involved when creating and strategizing all of the posts across your social media platforms, as well as engagement related activities.
However, when it comes to tasks like editing a vlog or creating promotional images for every platform, those are tasks that you may be better off outsourcing.
Final Thoughts On Why Musicians Fail On Social Media
Even though you are now aware of why musicians fail on social media, following all of these steps does not mean you’ll immediately be successful on all your social platforms.
Organic growth takes time and requires some trial and error.
Mistakes are inevitable, so don’t be so hard on yourself if you don’t see immediate results. Just reflect on everything you did — good and bad — and learn from your mistakes, so you don’t repeat them.