As the balance of power has shifted from physical to digital, so, too, has the promotional process. There is and will always be value in the physical press kit, handing out flyers, and the moving of physical goods. But with social media, bands have the opportunity to create visibility with little or no cost. For Asher Media Relations, a PR group that has done work for Psychostick, Fuck The Facts, and Vesperia, to name a few, it means utilizing the tools at their disposal to make the biggest impact for bands trying to make the next step. Their connections with fans and target audiences can be a huge boost for any band.
Having a global reach via a medium like Facebook has proven to be a game changer. "I would say that social media is the great equalizer for bands of all genres and sizes because it allows them develop a new kind of relationship with their fans," says Cara Ashbey of Asher, adding, "Pre-social media era made bands out to be these untouchable and unreachable in terms of communication but now you can tweet directly at bands and they are almost obligated to reply." That notion of the disconnect present between fan and band in years past hasn't changed completely - you'd be hard pressed to get a direct answer from Metallica in any form - but it provides proof of concept for many up and coming acts. As Jon Asher put it, "With social media we get to new music fans and established ones way quicker and then you want the domino effect. Share after share after share is always good!"
That doesn't mean that it's easy; building a fan base through Facebook or Twitter takes time and a dedication to interaction. It is a necessary function of any band, artist, or creative mind wanting to gain exposure. But knowing who you are interacting with is also key. As Ashbey notes, "Media love Twitter, fans love Facebook, so when bands are using different accounts they should know who they are planning to connect with." The consistent use of all of these platforms is key; long term absence or spotty appearances don't build a fanbase. But what you post is just as important as how often you do it.
While building your brand is the obvious endgame, there is always room for bands to help one another along the way. "Show what a supportive community member you are by sharing news about your friend's band! Tag them/@replay them and they will support you when you need help promoting a tour, album, etc.," Ashbey states. The power of association alone could boost your image. Fans will often follow the lead of their favorite artists, and branch out to bands they've toured with, have friendships with, or even just mention. Creating those symbiotic relationships could open doors to new audiences all together.
But above all, social media platforms give you a chance to talk to people. "Besides their music and band stuff, they should engage people on a character personal level. Your social media is a talking piece to fans and people," comments Asher. Whether they are comments from fans, reviews of albums or shows, or even just a picture of your album on their turntable, you have a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week look at how people feel about what you do. Embracing it and using it to your advantage can give you the leg up you need. Ignoring it would prove costly.