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Welcome to the EvO:R Tips Section. We call this section EvO:R-Pedia because it is like a complete
reference library for Indie musicians...Just about every tip has been used so you won't find false
promises and a series of books to buy after reading each tip. This section was put here by musicians
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Why Indie Music Artists Have to Use Social Media
By Mika Libambu Schiller
The most self destructive thing that any business, any webmaster, any indie music artist or anybody at all promoting anything today can do is to convince themselves that this whole social media thing is just a passing fad.
The funny thing is we've been down this road before. Similar things were said back in the 1990s about the Internet. People were dismissing it as just another form of media. Then Amazon came along and kicked Barnes and Noble's butt. Netflix took Blockbuster's lunch. And Napster began picking the music industry apart at the seams.
Remember back in the late 90s when every company decided that it had to have a website? Most companies back then didn't fully understand websites, but they just knew that they had to have one. The ones who didn't got left behind. But even amongst the ones who did , many got left behind because they didn't know how to use their websites properly. They treated them as digital billboards. But they just knew that they had to get on the bandwagon because everyone else was doing it.
The same thing is happening today with social media. There's tons of companies and nonprofits rushing in to jump on social media just because everyone else is doing it. Many of them have no clue how it all works. But it's not just that. There are also the naysayers, just like in the 90s.
The naysayers were wrong to say websites were a passing fad in the 90s and they will be wrong to predict the passing of social media too. It's here to stay and you had better be using it. If you don't fully understand what it's all about...learn.
By the way, I've got to say, I'm slightly embarrassed by how many indie music artists still don't have websites. Hip Hop artists are especially guilty of this. Why would you not own your own website in 2009? It's like a business without an office. Just being on MySpace doesn't cut it anymore.
So, the point is that this whole social media thing isn't just a passing fad. The Internet has fundamentally changed the way markets and producers interact with each other. Business and marketing have changed dramatically and there's no going back. None.
The major record labels know it too, but they're scared. They're waiting for others to take the lead. The innovations in music business models will come from regular people hungry for change.
I think that most indie music artists today understand where the future is. They're way ahead of the traditional music industry on this. They're already on MySpace and Facebook and Imeem and using Reverbnation and all that good stuff.
But at the same time, many don't use these platforms properly because they think things online work exactly as they do offline. You may have a Twitter account, but if I ask you "What is Twitter good for?", can you give me a good answer. If you can't, you might as well not be using it.
The great value of social media to you comes down to one simple idea: Today, you're invisible on the Web.
The Internet is full. There's too much information. If you put up a new website, nobody knows about it. And nobody is going to know about it unless you make every effort to make it known. But even that doesn't guarantee anything. In fact, your new website is likely not to get noticed at all.
Advertising online doesn't work anymore because the Internet is first and foremost, a direct communication medium. And online, people don't trust promotions. Google SEO techniques are good, but they don't kick in until you have links and traffic to your site. It's all a catch 22. You can't get ranked in Google without traffic and links, but you need search engine visibility to get traffic and links.
People have tuned out to ads online. So how does a band or a small label or a company get their website noticed today? Social media is really the only way to get the ball rolling if you want to get your band or your brand noticed. It's that first spark that lights the fire.
A site like Twitter, for example, allows you to jump right into the marketplace and test your chops. But the big difference today and the reason I say marketing has changed is that people will tune you out if you shamelessly promote. On Twitter, if you spam, people will unfollow you.
Today, and in the future, you make yourself known by telling stories. You need a personality. That's why you need a blog. Social media isn't free because you have to invest time in developing a compelling personality through storytelling. People listen to friends, not salesmen. Today, you speak with your ideas, not with your wallet.
That's what has fundamentally changed that many people don't understand yet. It's only after you understand all of this that you can properly use social media. And if you're not using social media, you're leaving money on the table.
Mika Schiller is a writer for the Indie music website MADE and he writes about where the music industry's headed and how it relates to the Independent Music artist. He gives irreverent career and personal development advice to the Indie music artist. For more great writing and irresistible advice, along with a free report on effective MySpace music marketing, please visit http://www.letsgetmade.com
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