Facebook’s Algorithm Is Why Musicians Need An Email List

Facebook recently changed its algorithm. Again.

This means Facebook will prioritize content from your friends, family, and groups and show you less content from businesses trying to sell you something.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

First, this is no surprise. Facebook had already changed your newsfeed from chronological to this-is-really-what-you-should-see content.

Second, I’m sure we’ll see much more of this in the future. And not just from Facebook.

Since the social media giant bought Instagram, the photo-sharing app has slowly been mimicking Facebook’s algorithm. And even though Twitter is still chronological, they’ve started showing people an “In case you missed it” section.

And third, we DIY musicians shouldn’t be deterred by this. Things change. You have to adapt. Life moves on.

Here’s the thing: you’re business model as a musician should not rely on the way a social media platform operates. Your model should be able to flow with the times.

If and when Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter evolve their algorithms and as social media platforms come and go, you should be investing in one constant: email.

Email isn’t going anywhere. And email providers are not changing your inbox so you see the “more important” emails rather than allowing you to see them as they come in.

People use email for business and life, in general, to get things done, not for entertainment.

So email providers know there would be an outcry if they changed anything. They know people would jump ship and go to another email service.

This is why you should have an email list as a musician.

When I post something on Facebook, only a fraction of my followers actually see the post. But with email, I know everyone on my list will at least see that I emailed them.

Plus, getting someone’s email address is a very special thing, meaning they’re probably more interested in your music than the average Facebook follower.

In the hierarchy or personal info people give out, it goes like this:

4. A like on social media

3. Email address

2. Phone number

1. Social security number

Obviously, I would never ask for someone’s SSN and probably never their phone number.

The point is, email is a big step into a person’s life from being connected on social media. Your email subscribers care more about your music and your success.

I use MailChimp, but you can look around for others, like FanBridge or Constant Contact.

Whatever the case, if you’re an indie musician, you should be investing time in growing your email list. 

Top 4 Places Where You Can Discover New Music (For Free!)

I’m a music hoarder, if that’s actually a thing. I love, love discovering new music.
Music and the brain
*not an accurate depiction of me

Finding and supporting independent artists gives me a rush. I dig through piles of mediocre music to get to the stuff I can’t stop playing.

And here are four of the websites (or apps) I use to discover new music.

Instagram

Instagram (image via Adweek)

In the world of music discovery, Instagram is the surprise player — the underdog.

But thanks to hashtags, we now have even more unknown but amazing artists to find. Like James Beau Barclay — I found him through the #originalmusic hashtag. Other good ones are #singersongwriter and #acousticpeople.

Bandcamp

Bandcamp

I know you’re supposed to save the best for last, but I’m too excited about this one.

Bandcamp is where you can discover music that the artists have uploaded themselves and sell on their own terms. The platform is simple, which makes it easy to find great music.

And there’s a lot of it on this website. Check out my Bandcamp Collection and Wishlist to see what music I’ve discovered.


RELATED: Bandcamp: social media for music


Spotify

You knew this one would be on the list. It’s an app that has changed the music industry, for better or for worse.

You can find pretty much any artist or song here, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. You can easily save artists you like and make your own playlists (perfect for curating party music).

Despite the controversy surrounding Spotify, it’s a great place to find new music.


RELATED: In the streaming age of music, songwriters need loyal fans

RELATED: Spotify: $0.80 Is Better Than $0.00


Pandora

Pandora (photo via TechCrunch)

Pandora isn’t as customizable as Bandcamp or Spotify — there’s no way to listen only to music you’ve liked/bookmarked. But it’s unique in that it delivers only music you love (as a part of the Music Genome Project).

Like, that time I kept hearing this one song on my Pandora stations. Eventually, I jotted down the artist’s name and the name of the song.

It turned out to be Gregory Alan Isakov’s “The Stable Song.” Because of Pandora, Isakov gained a new fan.

Honorable mention: Amazon Music

A ton of people use Amazon Music as their main place to listen to and discover music. And you can sign up for an Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial, then it’s $7.99 for Prime members and $9.99 for non-Prime people.

How Musicians Can Use Social Media To Succeed

Social media is hard. Each social media platform has its own algorithm, a puzzle to put together. So what’s the best way for us musicians to use the top ones?

image via Marketing Land

First, let me say that I’m still learning. But so far, I’ve learned some pretty cool stuff. So here are some general tips to help you succeed on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as a musician.

Facebook

Images and videos win, almost every time. Post eye-catching photos and well-done videos (tip: people like to see faces) .

My top five posts in 2017 have been videos, the highest post reaching 4,417 people organically and getting 1,386 unique viewers.

Videos win.

Generally, Facebook likes when you post content that keeps people on Facebook. Not to say that the external links you post won’t do well, but Facebook loves itself better than whatever website you’re trying to get people to go to.

Instagram

According to my Instagram, it's been a good year. #2016bestnine #internetlife

A post shared by Caleb J. Murphy (@calebjmurphy) on

Aside from photos that pop, the key to Instagram (which is slowly becoming Facebook, IMO) are #hashtags. People will look through, say, the #singersongwriter hashtag to look for enjoyable posts and talented artists.

For example, I started a little Instagram account called The Songwriter’s Place to promote good songwriters. After every single one of my posts (along with a butt load of hashtags), I get at least three new followers.

Without fail.

I should note, about 95% of those followers are real and actually care about the content. The other 5% are people who hope I’ll follow them back, or accounts called something like “Insta_gram_followers_9097” (obviously fake).

Three new followers per post doesn’t sound like a lot, but imagine posting multiple times a day. Yeah, do the math. Use hashtags.

Twitter

Twitter is like public group texting. People who are funny, very opinionated, or say ridiculous things do really well on Twitter.

That’s why I don’t get very much buzz on my tweets. But I’m learning.

I know that if you tweet about trending topics, you’re much more likely to get engagement from people who don’t follow you. So if you can somehow combine a trending topic with the music industry or your music, you’re golden.

Also, Twitter is a great way to pat other musicians on the back and let them pat you on the back by mentioning each other (see above tweet).


RELATED: Bandcamp: social media for music


Closing thoughts

 

A general tip for all three of these: just be yourself. Don’t fake it or people will see through you.

Try the 70-20-10 rule: post quality content related to the music industry 70% of the time, promote other artists 20% of the time, and post about yourself 10% of the time. See if that helps.

In the end, it just takes practice, research, trial-and-error, and more practice…