Helpful Hints

Black Box has compiled some helpful hints for you to get the most out of your socials as you’re cut off from touring. Though you may feel helpless, these tips will help calm you down so you can stay focused on building and engaging your audience.

Be Street – Marketing in the digital age is not much different than knocking on every single door. Got a music video about to be released? Instagram DM people about it. Create a Facebook Event for the premiere, and leave frequent updates on the Event to trigger notifications. Submit your video to local music sites, Twitter handles, blogs, and media. Create an email list of everyone you meet and send them personal updates. Leave no stone unturned. You never know who might see your posts that could change your life.

Be Specific – Put less work on the people you want something from by telling them directly what it is you want from them. Want a dance YouTuber to make a video for your artist? Email them the song and ask for a choreographed piece. Want to book a livestream with a press outlet? Email them a press kit, music, photos, socials, and availabilities to perform. Want an Instagram influencer to share your artist’s song? DM them the full social message, assets, and time that you want them to share with their followers. Leave no room for guesses, and connect the dots for them. Nobody wants a blanket “let’s work!” email.

Be Dramatic – An overreaching theme you’ll hear from us is that it takes a lot to vie for the attention of your audience. When it’s time for something big (a new album, music video, or livestream performance) you have to be dramatic. Start with social. Turn your social photo black to signify change. Delete your content. Be disruption. Do the opposite of the best practices. Post 100 photos in a day. Manufacturing anticipation before a release is among your most opportunistic moments in a campaign. Don’t miss this opportunity or shortchange it.

Be A Networker – How to deal with people of influence: identify the person, and build build build the relationship. Don’t cold email a YouTuber and ask for free marketing. Artists want to have real relationships with other artists. Start by following. Then comment, retweet, and engage. DM them a friendly message and spark conversation. Bring them value. Trade phone numbers and text. Set up a Skype meeting with them. Gain trust. It’s the human relationship that will ultimately deliver what you want.

Be Organized – Though it sounds obvious, in order to develop an artist you can’t miss an opportunity. Every little thing counts: for every fan you make and every track you stream, there are 5 more things to do each day just to keep up. Be efficient and keep your communication pipelines unclogged by relying on digital tools to save you time and stress. Use iCal or Google Calendar to mark your important dates (single release, interviews, anniversaries to celebrate). Use project management apps like Omnifocus or Basecamp to keep track of your team’s movement and action items. Take notes on Evernote for easy filing. Use Box or Dropbox for asset management. Arming yourself with these tools helps you rest easy and live a decluttered work life.

Be Native – Don’t manage your fan base based on what’s convenient for you. This tip isn’t new, but it’s important now more than ever. Sure, sharing from Instagram to Twitter is easy, but here’s the truth: people aren’t going to click out of Twitter just to watch your video on Instagram. Fans want to connect in different ways depending on the platform, so just because a video is killing it on Instagram doesn’t mean it’ll have a similar fate on Twitter… you can especially forget about it if you’re simply sharing to Twitter as a link. Focus instead on native content: direct uploads of photos and music videos. Each platform has tools to deliver content to your audience the way they want it. Convenience over more time-intensive platform-by-platform experiences is over. If your fan is your business, invest the time in building that affinity with them through native content and reap the benefits.

Be Opportunistic – When you are a developing artist, treat everything like an opportunity to put yourself out there. If a fan or journalist mentions you in a tweet, reply with a thank you, or even give them a follow. Extending even the smallest gesture online has the means of making the recipient feel warm or acknowledged. It’s even better if you get to meet someone in person; a thank you note will never go out of style. Taking advantage of every moment means to be respectful, but persistent. Document what you’re doing by using tools like Instagram Stories to share experiences in your truest, most candid way. Lastly, don’t forget to make opportunities for yourself. If you’re a musician who likes video games, livestream the first play of the new ‘Wasteland 3’ game on Twitch. Or if your artist likes healthy eating, find a fitness community for him or her to introduce themselves. Sometimes the opportunity is as easy as pulling from the artist’s hobbies. The atypical audience – the music listeners who aren’t right under your nose – just might be your next new fans. You’ll never know until you engage.

Be Educated – Staying educated and up-to-date can be one of the most time-consuming tasks with seemingly little reward, but we’re here to tell you it’s worth it. Here are several ways to become a student of the game today. (1) Subscribe to trade magazines like Billboard Business or Hypebot and read them every day with your morning coffee. These will keep you updated on trends, digital platforms, companies, and executive movement. (2) Watch series like Blueprint from Complex and learn from some of the great, modern minds in entertainment. Your path will be different, but you might learn something by studying theirs. (3) Follow companies and individuals who have similar goals, interests, and vantage points. It doesn’t have to be a competition. Instead, try engaging with them. Study up, and you’ll be ready for opportunities as they come.

Be Identifiable – Focus on the strengths and individualistic qualities of the artist. This is a tip to live and breathe by. On the visual front, the artist and team can create mood boards on sites like Pinterest and find common themes in the photography, art, and style. Use that information to form a cohesive look and choose the right creatives for the project, locations for photos and videos, and clothing for the artist. On the daily, this guide can be used to create a filter for all photos through Adobe Lightroom presets or VSCO. To reinforce the music, let potential fans know that they’re in the right place by interacting with similar artists online. This could be a simple tweet about another artist, creating a playlist with the artist’s music and similar artists, or a low-key social collaboration, like a joint Instagram live. Tell your fans who you are through your music, but make it easy for them to remember every time they see your name.

Be Flexible – In the age of instant gratification and a constant feedback loop, we look at trial-and-error more as trial-and-elevate. You must constantly try new things to grow. And our favorite playground for this is social media. It gives you immediate fan feedback through likes, comments, and shares… or their lack thereof. At every stage in an artist’s career, it’s important to test new types of content, engage with new features, and learn what works for your artist. If you religiously post selfies, switch it up by incorporating Facebook long-form writing, and throwback posts. Bend the rules too. Sometimes unconventional strategies that disregard best practices can resonate with your audience and make you stand out from the crowd.

Be A Habit Builder – Social media doesn’t come easy to everyone and each artist will have varying comfort levels with social platforms. Avoid biting off more than you can chew by starting small and building habits. Spend 15 minutes each morning replying to tweets, liking Facebook comments, and digging through your Instagram messages. Create a set plan for moments of opportunity so you can capture, tag, and share. You don’t have to devote every waking second to your social pages. Habitual behavior can help you accomplish more in less time. Consistency is key here, folks.

Be A Positive Stalker – If there’s a writer who just plugged your favorite rapper, follow them. Tell them you like their piece. Or if there’s a journalist who runs a newsletter about the music industry, subscribe and respond to interesting takes or points of discussion. Here’s the thing: no one makes public profiles of themselves online not to be recognized. If someone goes out of their way to complete the biography fields of their social media profiles and update with a photo, it is to create an opportunity for him or herself to connect and network. If it’s on a public profile where someone is talking about their work, chances are they want to hear from you about it. Hey, we all like to lurk around the people with whom we want to work with…why not be productive about it?

Be Resolute – Every decision – big or small – should have purpose. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Build a roadmap of short and long-term goals, and ensure that each goat has a set of actions that can achieve the desired result. Measure how your different types of social posts move your average weekly engagements one way or another. Longer term, if your goal is X number of Spotify or social followers, keep track of organic growth and how paid advertising can be a part of the mix. Be intentional about where posts and ads should be driving traffic, then track link clicks and conversion. Be attentive to where you are in relation to where you want to be. Measure what you can, and adjust frequently. A commitment to this process is one way that you can ensure you’re working harder than “the next guy.”

Be Current – Headlines are constantly changing, and there are more opportunities than ever to let your voice be heard. Join the conversation. Choose topics, events, or mediums that speak to the artist and be intentional about participating in them. This not only allows invites fans to see another side of the artist but places you in front of the audience that’s already engaged in the topic, building common ground. It’s taken a step further when potential fans find you through your conviction and ideas and then stay for the music. This could mean taking a stand or stepping out of a comfort zone. But, it doesn’t always have to be serious! Try tweeting about a new movie or tagging someone whose new music has inspired you on Instagram Stories. Check the trends on Facebook for news and keep up with the trending topics on Twitter. Find ways to interact with current culture, but as always, do everything in a way that’s true to the artists’ story.

Be A Community – Be a community builder. Follow your local music scene, join local Facebook groups, and ask around about new music and artists. Then get to know the artists in your community. Listen to their music, reach out to new artists you discover, set up a Zoom writing session, support each other on socials, and ask for each other’s contacts. If artists know the ins, outs, and the who’s who of the city they rep, they start building the “hometown hero” story; important growth starts to happen around an artist if he or she is recognized for contributing positively to a music community in the city that nurtures them. Master the art of growth by owning your backyard. It’s a meaningful & authentic place to start.

Be Loud – Your social channels are your megaphone. You know who you are; don’t be afraid to be loud and clear about how you show it online. Break formatting rules and get creative about ways to show your voice and say what you mean. Our devices don’t limit us to just the 26 letters of the alphabet to express ourselves. If it’s emojis, GIFs, hashtags, punctuation, or any combination of the above that resonate with you, get to it. Though they’re helpful, sometimes it’s nice to throw social practices to the wind if it means you get to talk your fans in a real way.

Be Remarkable – Simply put, do things that people talk about. Your performances, your visuals and videos, your social channels all exist as opportunities to make people tell their friends about you. Consider what you can do in your livestream to turn heads and make sure people share what you’ve done with their friends. Just know that to be remarkable, there is a lot of planning. No magic without manpower and structure.

Be Honest – Give fans your honest thoughts and opinions. Expressing your vulnerabilities and foibles is what humanizes any of us. But this doesn’t mean being transparent about what bothers or ails you at all times; your authenticity does not equate to baring all. For example, there’s a difference between a political tweetstorm about something that your timeline seems to have an opinion on, and a politically-charged tweet about something that truly bothers you. The trick is to be clear about what you stand for. When you feel the need to post something to social media, say things based on your convictions, not on other people’s expectations of who you are. This locks down the superfans, plus it’ll save you from feeling like an imposter.

Be Responsible – We talk plenty about finding your audience, but it’s just as important to be responsible for the one you keep. Keep them in the loop with your music, livestreams, and other happenings. Your fans rely on you not to go dark; you can’t expect them to care when you return with updates on your own time. Furthermore, your words and your vision have sway. When you speak passionately about a political event or about the state of the music industry, you are shaping a fan’s opinion to an extent. Don’t lead them into a fire if you’re figuring out your own take on things. In short, whether you asked for it or not, being an artist means accepting the title as a public figure. Remember when Uncle Ben told Peter Parker that “with great power comes great responsibility?” Yeah, that sums it up.

Be Everywhere – We’re in a fragmented listening environment today. Music lovers discover new music not only on algorithmically trained playlists, but they also explore TikTok, SoundCloud, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook groups, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitch, web forums, and beyond. To be heard, you have to create omnipresent frictionless listening experiences. Put your music up on platforms that anybody could access without a paywall or subscription (e.g. SoundCloud, YouTube). Make your music easy to share. Where there’s a point of discovery, you should be there. There’s no such thing as a gate now.

Be Interesting – You’re not just a song; having other interests and passions is what makes you a unique, relatable individual. Tap into the other aspects of your life that make you the multidimensional human being that you are! If you like to watch comedy, collect something, become a top chef, or go on walks through your neighborhood, show it off. There’s a reason we put Lewis Capaldi on our Top Artist Brands List in 2019; he shared so much of his personality with his fans in entertaining and uniquely creative ways. Showing your interests not only breaks up the tedium of posting promotional posts about your music, but it also rewards your followers with a look into who you are on a human level. Approachability is most valuable; use your interests to your advantage.

Be A Fan – This music industry would be nothing without the passion of fans, so be one yourself. Harness the energy and love you felt at your first show/the first time you heard your favorite artist/when you shared a new song with a friend, then remember to show that joy for the current music you’re digging. Look no further than to Hunter Hayes, who keeps a playlist of artists he loves then supports them on socials. Be public about the songs you love, or tweet directly at artists if you want to make it a little more personal. There’s always the option to personally message them too; slide into the DMs of artists whose music shaped your adolescence or career. You never know what new friendships and collaborations could come from your unabashed support!

Be United – Build a team, and then trust that team. Even if you are the CEO of your own business, you need people around you that – on many days – bring insights to the table that you would have otherwise overlooked. We don’t want to regurgitate what Forbes profiles and interviews already tell you, but there is such incredible truth to the notion that you should never be the smartest person in the room. If you’re an artist or songwriter, be the best at what you do, but know that there are many other facets to driving a career that you cannot be an expert on; that’s just unreasonable to expect of human beings! So surround yourself with people with their respective areas of expertise, and then trust that they have your back. It’s what will keep the train running with flourish.