The Internet and social media have become a gift and a curse for the indie musician striving to build music fans. Now, within seconds you can upload your song to Soundcloud and potentially reach millions of listeners.  However, with the ease of this process has become more roadblocks. Market oversaturation has made the music discovery process much harder and the idea of beginning locally much more attractive.

Beginning your music career locally comes with many benefits like earning a name for yourself through word-of-mouth (starting with family and friends), accessing your local contacts to book gigs and applying that support to break into markets outside of your region. There are hundreds of ways social media can help you build music fans locally – these are just a few.

1. Establish Your Keyword Strategy

When growing locally, a keyword strategy is vital. Otherwise, your content will get lost in the clutter with the other 537.8 million images using  #Instagood on Instagram today. When building your keyword strategy locally, you want to combine music industry and fan jargon (i.e. #musically, #artistname, #15secondcover), along with keywords used by residents. These keywords may include landmarks and events occurring throughout the city (#LosAngeles #TheForum #RoseBowl). Outlining a keyword strategy requires time and effort, which is the reason many avoid this process. Break through the clutter!

2. Build Your Social Media Engagement (NOT FOLLOWERS)

See how I mentioned engagement and not followers? That is because…

Engagements create music fans, and Followers create numbers.

Before you begin concentrating on your number of followers and your “followers-to-following” ratio, place more focus on your engagement rate(s) across social media. The larger your audience and engagement, the more leverage you will have to convince venue managers, promoters, local press, radio, and other musicians to help you along your journey.

Utilize each platform according to its benefits:
• Facebook is the best platform for promotions.
• Twitter is the best platform for engagement.
• Instagram is the best for branding.
• Snapchat is the best platform to improve your personal connection with fans.

Certainly, there are many ways to use each platform, and you must engage, promote, and connect with your music fans using each application. However, the approach should be different. Avoid the copy and paste method. It is also easy to engage locally on Twitter and Instagram once you have a list of locally-related keywords within your strategy. Do not buy EVER buy followers or likes. The goal is to get people listening, not just following.

3. Research Musicians in Your Region

As an unknown artist, one of the best and most obvious ways to begin your career is building a network. Take a moment to research similar musicians in your region and extend an offer to collaborate. Keep in mind, collaborating isn’t exclusive to making music. Collaborating could also involve adopting each others fan base to promote your content periodically, planning a show together, or simply using each other’s talents outside of music to expand your careers. If you are looking to have them share your music with their fans, make sure you have a similar audience size. I know this sounds tedious, but it matters, and it will make your pitch much easier. You can research musicians in your region utilizing Reverbnation’s regional charts, Twitter’s advanced search tool, and a simple Google search. I guarantee some musicians will be more than happy to work with you.

4. Partner with Local Businesses

You may not have millions of followers to become a well-known influencer, but the minute you begin building your audience online, businesses can benefit from you promoting their product or service. It will not hurt to reach out and initiate the conversation. Every business in 2017 can use the influence of well-known residents within their community. In return, these companies can offer payment, promote your local shows (online and offline), provide venue space, and/or connect you with the right contact(s) to fulfill your next goal. You never know who knows who in your community.

In addition to partnering with local businesses, participating in community events is another great option for exposure and perfect for branding. Take some time to review local annual events and brainstorm on how you can help, and leverage the opportunity. Ideally, you want to include these performances, reviews, and local press to garner more opportunities outside of your region.

5. Create Fun Local Contests (and don’t forget to tie your brand into it)

What’s one of the most popular restaurants or locations in your city? Hold a contest that involves music fans sharing your new song to win. Before you decide the contest, remember, the more you ask them to do, the larger the prize you will need. Keep it fun and make sure it does not feel like work. Additionally, get emails or phone numbers from the participants, if possible. You will want to reach them in the future to promote shows, new releases, and future contests.  If you are looking for apps to run your contests, there are many available for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook including woobox, shortstack, and gleam. Some of them offer free versions for smaller campaigns.

There’s no one size fits all for building music fans online, but planning out your approach will help you achieve your goals a lot quicker and keep you on the right path. There are hundreds of ways to get your music heard; you just have to put in the time and dedication.

Need help building your music fans online? Contact me at info@meauxgul.com to learn more.

Nathan G. Meaux
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