If you’re looking to build out your online presence as a musician or music artist to grow your fanbase, streams, and credibility, this is the guide for you, my friend. 🙂
A musician’s online presence is made up of 3 parts: website, social media, and digital ads. Being active with all 3 helps develop your brand and grow your fanbase by giving potential fans a reason to follow you.
Developing competencies with your website, social media, and digital advertising is key to creating your online presence and making sure you stand out as an independent musician in an ever-expanding sea of other artists and musicians.
In this guide, I will show you how you can build out these 3 key components of your online presence as a musician so that you can start reaching the goals you have with your music career today.
The 6 Steps To Developing An Online Presence For Independent Musicians
The best way to begin the process of developing an online presence as a music artist or musician is to follow a simple step-by-step checklist.
Before diving into each step in more detail, here is an overview of the 6 steps you will need to go through to develop your online presence:
- Define your ultimate goal as a creative
- Choose your main social media platform
- Commit to a recurring content strategy
- Create a website to future-proof your online presence
- Experiment with digital advertising
- Test and iterate on your strategy
Let’s take a look at each of these steps in more detail starting with the first (and most crucial step) which is clearly defining your ultimate goal as a creative.
1. Define your ultimate goal as a creative
The very first step you will want to do is to take the time to really reflect on what it is you are trying to accomplish as a music artist or musician.
The clearer you are with your ultimate goal the more you will be able to focus your efforts when building your online presence.
Most articles and videos on the Internet will tell you the “50 things you NEED to do” or give advice like “be on EVERY social media platform”.
This advice couldn’t be further from the truth.
The truth is that this advice is usually an attempt to reach a certain word count or video length and makes you fall into the trap of thinking that “more = better”.
The truth is that as an independent artist or musician, you have very limited resources (both time and money) and you need to choose how you use your resources wisely.
By clearly defining your ultimate goal first, you’ll be able to completely focus on what matters most to you – you can always join other social media platforms and try other tactics and strategies down the road.
If your ultimate goal is to play live then you can focus on publishing performance videos that help you practice your songs and get better at your instrument.
If your ultimate goal is to play live then this type of content will let anyone that sees your content know that you play live so that they might book you in the future.
Be specific now, knowing that building an online presence is an iterative process and that you will be able to grow in other areas over time.
2. Choose your main social media platform
Once you have a good idea of what your ultimate goal is as a creative, you will likely have a clearer idea of which social media platform you should focus on first.
Again – the idea here is to pick just 1 social media platform at first.
Once you really nail using that platform you can always expand to others later.
Let’s face it: you’re probably working a day job, maybe have a family or God forbid… a social life.
Properly using 1 social media platform and consistently publishing content to that platform is A LOT of work (I know from personal experience that it sucks lol).
Starting off with 1 main social media platform that aligns with your ultimate goal will make things easier and sets the foundations for your success.
There is probably a social media platform that you are naturally interested in developing so just start with that one and change it up if you end up hating it.
3. Commit to a recurring content strategy
Freely giving away valuable content on a consistent basis is truly the key to building the individual fan-to-artist relationships that you (should) ultimately want your online presence to get you.
Consistency is what will build momentum in your career to the point that you have a real and supportive fanbase.
The more you commit to showing up, the more chances you have to catch the attention of new fans as well as deepen your connection with the fans you already have.
The best way to build a fanbase on social media that wants to support you and your art is to consistently release new content by combining a recurring content strategy with a content calendar.
To learn more about creating a recurring content strategy for your music, check out my article called How To Build A Fanbase On Social Media. 🙂
4. Create a website to future-proof your online presence
When researching how to develop a fanbase and online presence, you will most likely find that you are recommended to build a website very early on in whatever article or video you’re checking out.
You’ll also likely get some super fluffy advice about how a website makes you look “professional” and that it should be your “central hub” so that fans can find you there instead of a platform you don’t own like Facebook or Instagram.
Although there is an objective truth to that, the reality of building an online presence is much more annoying…
NO ONE is going to visit your website – especially when you are first starting out.
This in hand with the fact that it does cost some money to set up and manage a website is why I would recommend simply starting with social media first.
After experimenting and finding out what works and doesn’t work for free with social media, you will then naturally want to start taking things to the next level.
A website will make you more professional and can be useful to send fans to, but the most useful thing a musician’s website is good for is future-proofing your online presence.
When you are ready to start running ads, selling merch, building a membership, or creating unique online fan experiences, a website will allow you to build out these things without having to pay for separate individual online services and tools.
My favorite example of this is the rise of something called “music links” or “smart links” in the world of music marketing.
These are just web pages with an image, some text, and a few buttons but companies have been able to market this as something unique that you need to pay $10 – $50 per month for.
With a website, you can build these pages out yourself, and when the next trend (or gimmick) comes along, there is a good chance that having a website will allow you to get involved without having to pay for a separate service or tool.
5. Experiment with digital advertising
On my personal path to getting over 4 million Spotify streams and getting on more Spotify editorial playlists than I can count, the one tactic that has been the most effective has been digital ads.
Not only are digital ads great for bringing brand new fans and listeners into your world, but they are also great for strengthening the artist-to-fan relationship for your current listeners to more quickly turn them into true fans of your music.
In marketing, there are specific ways to quantify and strategically grow these audiences across multiple platforms called “touchpoints”.
A touchpoint is any time a potential fan interacts with you and it is said that around 8 touchpoints are needed to turn a complete stranger into a customer (or in our case, a fan).
Touchpoints can include:
- Liking or commenting on a social media post
- Clicking on one of your ads
- Opening one of your fan newsletter emails
- Direct messaging your profile or sending you an email
Brand awareness is achieved when your fans see you frequently on different platforms at different times to the point they can recognize you even through all the relentless noise and distractions on the Internet.
Digital ads can speed up this process by increasing the number of touchpoints and making it appear like you are somehow showing up everyone on the Internet so you must be important!
It’s an advanced technique that I wouldn’t rush into, but I have a free course called Facebook Ads for Musicians that you can check out when you feel ready. 🙂
6. Test and iterate on your strategy
It’s important that you understand that building an online presence is an iterative process that will change over time.
It’s important that you take on the mindset of “starting now and evolving later” because there will naturally be changes along your journey and the sooner you start this process the better.
After publishing content on a social media platform for a few months, you may find that you really don’t like posting on that particular platform.
You may find that people aren’t vibing with your imagery and branding like you thought they would and need to change it up.
The posts you’ve been making of different live cover songs may be a smash hit with your audience but be too demanding and overwhelming on you personally to keep creating.
Digital ads are nowhere close to easy and will take time for you to learn how to set up correctly and dial in the most optimal target audiences.
These are hard lessons that will be unique to your personal experience and can only be learned through personal experience.
But don’t worry…
Remember that what you start with does not have to be what you end up with.
The key is to start now and evolve later, my friend.
Get out there. Test. Fail. Iterate. Test again.
This process is what will help you develop competencies with your website, social media, and digital advertising.
…and these competencies are key to creating your online presence and making sure you stand out as an independent musician in an ever-expanding sea of other artists and musicians.