If Your Fanbase Is Stagnant, This Is Why

Sweetheart Pubstack #32

We’re Rachel Hurley and Frank Keith IV, co-owners of the Sweetheart Pub. We’re music industry veterans with over 30 years of combined experience in the music business, having worked in licensing, talent buying/booking, label management, tour management, and more. Once a week, we’ll publish a new edition of this newsletter, where we’ll share some philosophy and actionable advice on all facets of the music industry. 

We’ve been putting together a weekly playlist of seven songs (just enough to keep your attention) every week — check out The Sweet Spot to hear what we’ve been listening to.

What we’re thinking about this week…

Musicians and Social Media: You’re Doing It Wrong

When we are approached by an artist interested in running a publicity campaign with us, the first thing we do is listen to the music, and then we check out their social media profiles. It’s a great gauge to see how dedicated they are to being successful. Often, the musician / band will not have released an album in a few years, and they’ve pretty much left their SM accounts dormant since their last release. My heart always sinks a bit when I see this. It shows me clearly that they have a “LOOK AT ME” strategy. If they can’t go on their socials and post about themselves, they’re not interested. These days people don’t follow social media accounts just because they like someone’s music — they follow them for the value they receive from them. If the owner of the account is not producing consistent content that enhances the followers' feed, well, they can just go to your site occasionally and check in to see what’s up. We all know the algorithms only show people a portion of who they follow. Why waste a slot on someone begging you to pay attention to them all of the time?

All that time between releases could have been used to build deeper relationships with fans, giving them the opportunity to become more deeply invested by being exposed to a more dynamic side of the artist. Conversations and content that are NOT about your music gives fans a much better opportunity to engage with you in a real way versus commenting on your “What’s your favorite song on our new album?” posts. 

I ALWAYS roll my eyes when I see that one. 

We’ve all met someone that ONLY knows how to talk about themselves. I REMOVE myself from those situations as fast as I can — and I remove myself from following fan pages who use them as a bullhorn that only knows how to say “Listen to our new single! Watch our new video! Buy our new album!”

Promotion should be looked at like a commercial during a TV show. We put up with those because we’re there for the REAL entertainment. 70 to 80 percent of your social media content should be entertaining or educational...or if you’re really good at it, both. 

SO MANY musicians base their content around what they think their current fans will like, rather than considering what people who AREN’T fans might be drawn to. That’s who your audience should be. People who already like your page are already along for the ride. What are you doing to entice the people who don’t know much about you? I guarantee they don’t care about your #TBT photos, a page full of tour dates, or links to your press. Your social media profiles are called channels for a reason — if you want to grow your followers, you need to CREATE content on your channel! 

Now comes the age old question we always get: “What are we SUPPOSED to be creating?”

Well, YOU’RE the entertainer, right? The storyteller, the creative, the person selling themselves as an interesting enough human being that you want fans to flock to you? 

So, dig deep. Then dig deeper. Make a list of all the things you're passionate about (other than your music) and figure out a way to share those things. The more dynamic you come off as a person, the more memorable you will be. You won’t be the singer in that band someone saw once in a dive bar; you’ll be the drummer in that band that is obsessed with Astronomy and writes the funny songs about the stars or the woman who crochets sweaters for shelter animals. Maybe you’re obsessed with thrifting while you’re on tour and you share your treasures on your socials and explain their value, a la Antique Roadshow, or you share the latest music videos with a voiceover where you narrate what you think is happening. I could go on and on.

You’ll figure it out. You just have to put in the effort.


The Latest

S*** You Can Do Today

Some things we’ve tested on Facebook and Instagram recently to boost your social engagement -- quick tips shot from the hip:

  • When you post a photo on Facebook, tag yourself in it (you can tag your personal profile and your fan page). This will send you into more people's feeds.

  • Tag other accounts in your Instagram posts as well. Sure, you may have @’d them in the caption, but tagging them in the photo/post itself will send the post to more people. 

  • Start adding alt-text in your photos on Instagram. This will help in search. If you alt-tag stuff like genres, locations, “new music”, a festival, etc etc (whatever applies in your situation), when people search that in the search bar, YOU will come up in the search.

  • HASHTAGS on Instagram, while different from direct tagging, are just as important -- don’t sleep on following hashtags that are relevant to you! For example, as we specialize in Americana, we follow #musiccity, #cottagecore, #nashvillemusician, #memphismusic, #americanafest, #sxsw, etc etc. Utilize these to your advantage. 

  • You should be using Reels as much as possible (the Instagram algorithm favors it right now as they are trying to compete with TikTok). Most of the reels we post get around 2k views; much more than the average post. You can choose to put it into your feed and on reels — we do both.

  • If you are posting anything promotional in your feed/story, overlay the post with the pertinent information. Make it as easy as possible for people to click the arrow and share content to their stories without having to add anything -- don’t expect them to type anything out on your behalf. Not sure how? Try Canva.

TikTok of the Week


Just for Fun

Get your MBA in Punk Rock

Music Rookie Podcast

Free Advice

Have a follow-up question for one of our guests? Got a tip? Did we (*gasp*) get something wrong? Our line is always open -- hit us up and if we use your question or response in a future newsletter, we’ll give you credit and link your socials.

Don’t Forget!

As we often receive requests to work with artists who don’t have the budget to afford a full campaign, we’re launching an “Office Hours”-style consulting service where you can book us for 30 or 60-minute blocks of one-on-one time. 

You can learn more here (scroll down past campaign details)

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