Does Facebook Matter to Musicians?

I’ve been asked this question a few too many times too lately, posed in a variety of ways…

Our fans (demographic) aren’t on Facebook, why would we bother?

Facebook advertising doesn’t work for musicians, does it?

We tried using it and are audience just isn’t there, it isn’t worth the time

What struck me to write up a thought here is that I saw a provocative, Buzzfeed-style clickbait headline on an article that was written last year: Facebook Is F*_:king Artists Once Again…. Arrggg.. no, no they’re not. Social media is a sophisticated thing to make work well and the wrong way to approach it is thinking that it’s a big corporate beast out to screw the struggling artist. They have to serve their audience or there isn’t one available to reach (remember what happened to MySpace?).

Say This When You Consider IF You Need to be on [fill in the blank]

“I don’t want to neglect one of the places where I can reach my audience most significantly. Facebook (or twitter, or Instagram, or…) knows their business, and it is a business, with a lot of smart people looking to how we all continue to get value from using it AND that they make money in order to stay in business. As long as they remain one of the places where most people can be found, no musician should neglect it unless they simply don’t want to engage their fans who are there.”

Social Networks have ZERO interest in, and benefit not one bit, by F*_:king anyone.  Alienate their users, and sources of content and money (you… and us frankly), and they cease to exist.

Is Facebook Advertising Worthwhile for Musicians?

Unequivocally, yes, as long as you know what you’re doing. Done effectively and in such a way that you are capturing the interest and demand, it’s one of the least expensive and most far reaching ways of promoting your band, music, albums available, or live shows. Done poorly though (improperly) and you won’t get decent results – that’s not Facebook’s fault nor responsibility, they aren’t making it difficult and it’s not that it doesn’t work – it’s complicated to do it right. Passing judgement carte blanche on advertising on Facebook is like saying putting up flyers and posters for your next show is a waste of time and the cost of the paper… yes, if you’re sticking them in alleys where the wrong people, or worse no one, will see them.

Our mentors or service partners can help if you’re interested.

“Okay we’ll try advertising, but what about our Page? it isn’t doing much for us.”

Facebook is trying to make sure they offer the best experience to their users (read: your fan). If they lose your fans, then they’re of no value to anyone. Keep in mind, people on Facebook are inundated with their hundreds or thousands of friends’ posts, all the groups and pages they follow, and more. Facebook MUST effectively filter and show people what they really want to see and being a fan of a Facebook Page (your Facebook Page) doesn’t equate to that fan actually wanting to see everything posted there, no?

All that said, Pages are changing so that posts are less likely to reach people… unless they are posts people WANT to read. If people don’t want to read the posts, why should they be seen? Wouldn’t that cause people to turn away from Facebook?

Begging the questions…

facebook-1924512_960_720How does Facebook know what people want to read?

Don’t my fans clearly want to read what I posted? They’re following my Page!

Facebook (like Google as a search engine by the way, if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to show up in Google) uses an algorithm that takes into account MANY different things to work out if people actually want to read what you share. They’re discerning that. Things such as:

  • Do people Like that one post?  Are they commenting?
  • How frequently and quickly after you post do people like it, comment, and share?
  • Is your Page getting more fans?  If it’s not, it suggests that no one else is interested so how much so are the fans already there?
  • Are you posting regularly?  Wouldn’t a lack of posts recently imply you’re no longer active?
  • Are people sharing your Page?
  • Are people posting to your Page?
  • Are people engaging with the other sections of a Page, such as looking at photos or the events (shows) you have?
  • Is your Page getting tagged in people’s personal posts?  Is a fan posting about you and tagging your Page?

… and many more.

If the answer to those things is “no,” it is an indicator (not the only data point, but one of) that tells Facebook that people may not want to see this particular post as much. The more Nos, the less people see it.   If you’re getting Yes across the board on those question, your post will reach far more than just your fans as Facebook will discern that the content is something people want to see… friends of fans will be shown.

You really have to appreciate what Facebook’s goals are as a business. They are investing in having the fans, creating an experience everyone wants, and inventing new features. They are paying to make it work so that any of us even have the opportunity to reach our fans in a way far more efficient than a mailed newsletter and radio commercials.

So yeah, they want to make sure people like what you post and your Page and Posts won’t seem to be working for you if people aren’t engaging with them.  To supplement that, paid advertising does work; they need it to work for us or no one will pay them for the work they need to pay for in order to stay around for us.

The secret no secret to making it valuable?

Fully utilize what they offer.  You have a Page, are you sharing videos, photos, updates, and events?  Do you have a Group which is a more engaging experience for you and your fans?  Are you tagging and talking about specific fans and the venues where you place?

The more you use all of the features and benefits of Facebook, the more you create for THEIR users a compelling experience and the better it works for you.

Comments on Does Facebook Matter to Musicians?

  • Johann Peter Lall

    What are they on, MySpace?

  • Jennifer Houlihan

    As with so many things, it works if you work it.

  • Adrian Smith

    Of course it matters. Along with everything else. Of course if you’re crap at using and manipulating social media it’s useless. That’s why many bands get someone to do it for them. Though Faceache is just one tool in the kit.

  • Don Pitts

    A to the men…amen

  • Albert Baez

    Great insight and whys into the reasons someone may think FB is “anti_____”. The challenge here is resistance as explained in the War of Art. It is easier for an artist to say FB is a hamstring than take the time to learn the mechanics of all the tools available to them. Building teams at a low cost around new artist, at scale could be a potential solution. Awesome read!

  • Paul O’Brien

    VERY much agree that it is easier for an artist to say FB is a hamstring than take the time to learn the mechanics of all the tools available to them.

    Thus I think that being said is an indication of gap in the market that needs to be addressed. No one is preaching that the musicians, or film makers, or book authors, or other business owners, need to excel at Social Media; only that they really can’t neglect it and write it off. If the local ecosystem isn’t enabling it collectively, to foster the ecosystem, something is amiss!

  • Pete Monfre

    Great article – Facebook seems to work pretty well for packing my shows. (and LinkedIn) and databases. And Street team. And media production so I have stuff to share. It’s a lot of work and too many are simply not willing to put in the work. Just sayin’.

  • Ken Morales

    My thoughts on this. First the musicians who think that FB or any other social media platform is to good for them will never succeed. Why, because they must never turn down a gig. Thats what they want to do. They want to make music, and hopefully one day get paid for what they love. Or maybe the question is, is that what they really want to do? When my band (many years ago) were on the scene, we played every place we got booked. It didn’t matter if it was in CA., TX, or in Hamburg Germany we never turned down a gig. If we would have the opportunities these younger musician have today we would have dominated that much more. It’s a dog eat dog world and only the strong survive. Don’t be lazy, bottom line. Use the technology available to you.

  • Paul O’Brien

    It’s interesting because I see the same thing in the startup community ALL THE TIME. “We’re not on LinkedIn because our consumers aren’t there” “We don’t use Facebook because we’re enterprise” “Twitter social media and we don’t have anything to tweet.”

    The point isn’t that you must be there, it’s that you can’t neglect something just because your perception or understanding of it isn’t consistent with what you want. This is the internet era whether we like it or not… there are 3 places to reach everyone: Google, Social Media, Mobile. You don’t HAVE to be there but don’t fall short of success because you won’t.

  • David Henderson

    Does FB matter musicians? sure

    Do FB paid ads matter for musicians? Cheap yes. Effective? Mmmnmm? What’s the objective… not FB Fans, Real Fans!

    Bigger question/issue what product do musicians have to sell today that consumers will buy and pay for?

    Last time I looked new cars and PCs have no disk player…

  • Paul O’Brien

    Good points David. Though reaching real fans, today, requires having some fans to break through the noise – generally. I’m going to pay attention to a band exposed to me by a friend; I’ll likely never hear of a band otherwise. That’s what social media enables artists who know what to do with it – a social media fan enables reach to others who might be paying fans.

    Besides, what musicians have to sell today that people will pay for is frankly the same as that which they’ve always really only had to sell: themselves. The music industry made it about paying for a piece of plastic so we can hear them but before the record, or radio for that matter, our experience with music was personal: we saw, heard, and paid a musician because of the musician.

    I think we’re just seeing a return to that reality that people really want to pay for an experience with an artist. The music, frankly, is an advertisement, a promotion, of themselves. The PC or CD is merely a tool that musicians use to promote themselves and through which fans can experience that artist.

    What do people want? What will they pay for? The artist. Think about it, why do people pay $500 a ticket to see Paul McCartney in concert? To hear his songs? No, I can do that at home, for free unfortunately. It’s to experience him. Social media enables that, more so, and enables artists to do that without labels – I can chat with Spoon on Facebook, I can tweet with Taylor Swift, etc. People will pay for that: engagement with an artist, just like it used to be – no labels, no records and screwed up business models trying to sell plastic at a price way to high… the music, just as radio showed us (and MTV after that with video) are advertisements of the artists and people will pay for experiences with the artists they enjoy.

  • Joseph Donahue

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it

Does Facebook Matter to Musicians?

by Paul O'Brien time to read: 4 min