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Local Musicians Curating for Mass Consumption (Part 1)
Posted September 12, 2017 by Brett Alderman
WRITTEN BY
Brett Alderman
ON
September 12, 2017
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Illustration by Brain Twins

Social media is ingrained in our cultural experiences. How else would we know the fiscal irresponsibility of spreading avocado on toast? While most users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al enjoy them for personal reasons, many artists utilize the mediums to reach and grow their audience.

Having a few accounts myself, I don’t need to imagine what that means as an individual. If you’re reading this, chances are you found the link on Facebook or Twitter, so I doubt you’re a stranger to social media either. But the question remains: how do artists package their essence? How does an artist curate their persona online?

To get to the bottom of this, I sought input from seven local artists: Lily and Madeleine, manners, please, Forward Motion, Flaco, Moxxie, Wife Patrol and Native Sun (click the links to access their Facebook pages). These busy acts, performing locally and beyond, all have a strong social media presence. Each act was asked the same series of questions, and here’s what they had to say.

 

Musical Family Tree: Is running your group's social media a collective task or do you delegate to certain members?

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Social media is like all aspects of our operations. We function very much like a republic. We designate one person or a two-person team of people to assume leadership on an aspect of our operations; yet all get a say in how things are done. For social media, we have one person who takes responsibility for making it happen. [They have] the authority to assign work to others and [they] take the heat if we fail. In other words, we have one social media marketing leader who leads the collective effort of the team.

Grady Neff (manners, please): We've recently made a bigger push to be more active on social, so to keep up with the everyday demand, we're sharing the load. All five of us have access to all our accounts, and we each try to add our own flare. Some people have gravitated more to certain channels though, just based on preference.

Flaco (rapper): I believe in a hands on approach to social media so I do everything myself. It makes everything feel more personal and organic.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): It's collective. We are all involved heavily in specific aspects of our band, and we all kind of coordinate our posts around that. For instance, I tend to be involved more heavily on the recording side, so if we have new music content, I'll typically be the one to put that out there. Jessie [Phelps] tends to deal more with blogs and press, so she'll share that stuff up. This way we know the message going out is going to be intelligently stated and relevant to the statement we are trying to get across on whatever the hot topic might be during a given week.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): For the most part, Natasha and I collectively work on the social media. I plan out and schedule most of our posts in advance, Natasha adds them in as things come up, as well as handles most of our more visual posts (photos or custom design images). Greg jumps in with more spontaneous posts that come up when we don't have time to post.

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): It's mostly collective. Sometimes our manager or label will post things, but for the most part, Lily and I like to do it all ourselves. 

B Young (Native Sun): Running the bands social media is definitely a collective task for us. In a sense, it has to be because we're also trying to build our individual social media presence as well.

MFT: Have you tried different strategies in the past?

Grady Neff (manners, please): On the whole, our previous approach was: connect with people in person; let them come to us on social. We've learned though, that the cardinal sin of artists is thinking, "I create beautiful art, and people should just naturally find it and love it." And we certainly tested that out for a while, which was a good learning experience, since it taught us that to grow and gain exposure, we need to better market ourselves. Which really just means being ourselves, and more present where potential fans are spending their time.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): It's pretty much been that from the start. We pick up the slack for each other if something needs posting but one of us isn't available to do it. Teamwork makes the dream work.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): You have to. Every campaign isn't going to be a home run. The main thing is you can't get discouraged if an idea falls flat. You need to assess what worked and what didn't, get back to the drawing board, and try again. We have had some great successes with our campaigns, but a lot of that success has come from failing and learning what NOT to do. In this day and age with how much social media affects our habits, it's hard NOT to try even the craziest, zaniest ideas. Of course there's a line, but as the saying goes, "No publicity is bad publicity." It's constantly throwing darts at the board and trying hard to hit the bullseye. Eventually you will.  

B Young (Native Sun): I think we've always tried to do it collectively, but Brandon is the strongest in that area, so he certainly has taken the lead at times.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Yes. The "everyone just post things when you feel like it" strategy 100% DOES NOT WORK. There has to be a written marketing plan for social media marketing to be truly effective. I also highly recommend content recycling. Something that works great is if you have a Google Drive folder of all of your high-impact images and videos. Then, as you go to post things on social media, use a combination of media files from your Google Drive folder and micro-blog. Micro-blogging is the "in the moment" media posting that you commonly see. EX: A picture of the group all crammed into one car - "We just hit the road, see you soon Bloomington!"

Flaco (rapper): I've definitely experimented with the way I communicate via social media. From aggressive to reactive, or from impromptu to more planned out, I’ve learned you've got to be willing to create and implement new strategies often.

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): We've tried to engage people in different ways with videos and "favorite things" lists and email campaigns.

Lily Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): I think the best way to engage with people on the Internet is to just be genuine and outspoken about what you believe in. I don't think people want musicians/artists to talk about politics all the time, but I think a little bit of activism is good!

MFT: What’s your go-to social media platform? If you could only use one, what would it be?

B Young (Native Sun): I would say Facebook is certainly our lead platform and probably the one we would lean on if we had to choose. Reason being, Facebook allows us to post longer videos and initially most of the people we connected with were on Facebook. So in a way, it's been grandfathered in, because we were on well before Instagram or Twitter.

Flaco (rapper): My go-to social media platform is narrowly Instagram. It’s visual, it’s engaging and it has become more and more of a go-to interactive tool for fans. As corny as it sounds, you can really lay the foundation of your brand's aesthetic with this app.

Grady Neff (manners, please): Facebook hands down. It basically gives you the ability to have your own microsite within the platform where mostly everyone already has an account and spends their time. And since it's so powerful globally, having a dedicated band page helps you rank higher in Google, which is a huge plus. Add in events and the ease to advertise, and it's a necessity these days.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): Lately it's been Instagram. We have been seeing a lot more positive and relevant movement from current and potential fans on Instagram than other platforms. As our drummer Johnny [Concannon] would tell you, as he is our main guy on that account, Instagram is far more content-based than Facebook. This allows us to send a far more specific message to users who are more likely to engage the campaign.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): I think for our generation, Facebook is still the most important as we can share so many types of content, messages, images, links and events. And we can connect with other bands, venues and organizations via tagging their pages. We do also really love Instagram as a close second to Facebook. It's visual and engaging, and the stories feature allows us to share little stories at practice or day of show, which is fun.

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): I like Instagram the most because it's so visual and organized all in one space. In my opinion, Facebook has a wider reach because you can promote posts, etc., but Instagram is cleaner, easier to access and visually nicer.

Lily Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): I think Instagram is the best because posts can be longer than on Twitter, but not as lengthy and wordy as on Facebook.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Facebook is the sovereign right now. It has the most users across all platforms of social media. The paid advertising services are also really helpful for building your audience. HOWEVER, I will say that Tumblr is my favorite. The Tumblr community is so supportive. You get all kinds of really personal and inspiring messages in your inbox and comments on your content. Facebook is a little more impersonal, but easier to use to make money.  

MFT: How do you think that preferred outlet best represents the band?

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): Instagram is pictures and video, simple and effective. We believe it represents us well as we are ALWAYS active, whether it is a rehearsal, a show, recording or just goofing off. As an Instagram user, I love it because it allows you to see people you follow in a more candid manner. We feel it has the same effect for our band. The continued improvement and quality of our music will always be number one to us, but I doubt anyone would come see us if they didn't think we were cool people. Instagram allows us to show the everyday, human side of our band through our eyes. There are plenty of other places to HEAR the music, and that is something we ALWAYS mention in our messages. Then, when people come to see a show, hear the music at high volumes, and feel the energy, we gain new fans. At least that's the goal!  

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): Our Insta page looks very similar to my personal page. We use it in a "personal" way because it seems more genuine. I LOVE those really stylized profiles, but I'm honestly not very good at that! I'm kind of a messy, casual person in general, so I think our band profile reflects that. But it allows our followers to feel like they really know us as we are!

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): As mentioned, Facebook allows us to show many things without the limitations of Twitter (140 characters or less) or Instagram (great for engagement but MUST have an image).

Grady Neff (manners, please): The outlet doesn't necessarily represent us; it's simply the vessel for the band to display our personality and musical soul. And since our business is audio and visual by nature, images and video are the best ways to get a sense of who we are online. We've done a few live videos of practice sessions and people loved it.

Flaco (rapper): Instagram best represents me by allowing me to visually showcase my brand’s taste.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Facebook is great because all of our compelling images and videos are in one centralized place. If people go to our page, they can just scroll and really get to know us and our story.

MFT: Is there a social media outlet that you don’t like or refuse to use?

Flaco (rapper): Although I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, I know it’s a useful tool for promotion and grassroots organization. But it’s still frustrating as hell knowing the algorithms Facebook has in place limit the reach of your brand behind "pay walls,” forcing you to put money into every post in order for promotions to be effective. In a nutshell, you can’t have a bias towards any social media platform if you truly want to gain more eyes and ears.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): Not really. We try everything. Even if you only gain one new fan from an outlet, it's totally worth it. You never know who's listening.

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): I love Snapchat for my own personal use, but I refuse to use it professionally. I think weirdos would use it to send inappropriate pictures! We get enough inappropriate messages/images from people on Facebook. Plus, Instagram's "story" feature is very similar but more public. I prefer to use that.

Lily Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): Yeah I don't think I would ever want to have a public Snapchat for the same reason. Plus, on Snapchat, you can't toggle between accounts easily like you can on Instagram.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): We don't use Snapchat.

B Young (Native Sun): I wouldn't say there's a platform that we refuse to use, but we haven't ventured out into the Snapchat waters as of yet.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Twitter is the literal worst. I hate Twitter for social media marketing because it is nearly impossible to get business results as a musician. You only get 140 characters to say something compelling. For example, if we are trying to provide a link to go buy tickets for a concert, that link itself is usually 30-40 characters. Which means, we have only 100 characters to explain why people should come to our concert, which is not very compelling.

Grady Neff (manners, please): Twitter is tough, simply because you need to be tweeting constantly. We try to stay as active as possible, but it's hard to balance modesty and communication there.

 

Return to the MFT blog next week for Part 2 of our conversation with these local artists discussing how they curate for mass consumption.

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