Case Study: TWENTY6HUNDRED
Indie band TWENTY6HUNDRED has rocked the Toronto club circuit for almost 10 years, releasing 3 CDs during this time.
Their 2014 release “Electric for All” signified a few major changes for the band’s direction. They added a new guitarist and producer Mihai Trusca, updated their studios to make their sound slicker and invested in professional music videos.
Although they had previously dabbled in social media and a homepage, when it came time to release Electric for All, the band committed to engaging their potential audience through all of the popular social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.
This is the new reality for indie bands according to Hypebot:
Today, social media is the cornerstone of your music career. It’s what lets you stay in touch with your fans and easily notify them with exciting news. With all the social media guides out there, you’d think no one remembers one of the key behavioral aspects to being human – socializing.
I know, it’s hard to find a balance between social and promotional – afterall, you still need to sell your show or record. This balance between social and promotional is the key for indie band success where word of mouth and community are needed to fill venues and download songs.
In addition to engaging potential fans and other like-minded musicians, their approach included contests for free music downloads, free music streaming, posting videos of their live shows and hosting a band podcast “T6H Rock Radio“.
This varied approach had the result of driving traffic to their home page.
This week I spoke with TWENTY6HUNDRED singer/guitarist Michael Atkinson about the band’s use of social media and he agreed to answer some questions. (full video below)
Michael Atkinson on their approach:
What we have achieved through design or by accident is to bring people in from different avenues of social media towards our main site which aggregates all of the content from all social media sites.
What we are seeing is a lot more international interaction with us more than anything. That has actually been quite gratifying because we are getting play around the world and people talking about us more so abroad than anything locally.
Does this approach work?
Whether this approach “works” or not really depends on the feasibility of your initial goals.
When asked what they were hoping to accomplish, Michael has this to say:
What we were trying to achieve with our big push on social media was not re-engaging an existing fan base… it was to create interest and potentially create a new fan base for what we were about to release.
And then when we released the album, the idea of social media was we wanted to use it to help us get honest critique from abroad as opposed to friends and family telling us what they thought of the album.
Someone a couple of continents away who has no vested interest in a personal relationship with any of the band members, if they go out of the way to actually comment, there’s a good chance that their commentary is genuine, even if it is negative.
It is a fascinating “in” to your potential friends and fans of your work . Get in there and ask them what they think, follow their accounts too and check out what they are delivering because social media has also been amazing about teaching me and teaching the band about obtaining new opportunities or even finding venues you never heard of before.
Keeping your goals grounded in reality is important. If your goal is to gain valuable feedback and start building an audience outside of your local scene, social media can be beneficial, but don’t expect to break out as the next sensation because you are clever on Twitter.
How should your band approach social media?
Looking at this list and additional websites that provide indie band advice, it looks like TWENTY6HUNDRED are doing things right.
By having active and real “conversations” across several social media platforms, keeping their content unique on each platform and driving their potential fans to their website – they are a good case-study for how indie bands should be using social media.
Some additional tips from Michael Atkinson:
You need to ask your potential audience questions, you need to engage them in a way that other prescriptive media can’t do and social media is amazing for that. In a lot of instances your fans do want to talk to you and do want to ask you question but if you put up that front that you are “too cool for school” they are going to be intimidated and not ask questions and they are not going to know or be as informed about your next performance or music video.
So don’t be just prescriptive and tell with your social media accounts. Follow and observe other bands because they are your peers in your market… to see what other markets are doing… and check out the venues in other markets as well.
Watch, listen, observe, interact. (It) starts out as an obligation but it can be educational.
How much time should you devote?
Your results will be reflected by how much work you put in. It may be worse to have a half-assed social media presence than none at all.
Act big. Fake it till you make it! Even though you may have zero followers when you begin, project to the back of the venue with your social media.
There are a million distractions for every potential fan of your work, you need broader strokes and bigger gestures to get the people in the back seats.
In my opinion, If you are not to the point of annoying yourself, you are probably not doing enough. If you don’t feel overexposed and feel sick of yourself and annoyed at your own efforts, then you are probably not trying hard enough.
Final Thought: Optics vs Reality
Buying an audience is always an option for bands who want to “look” important without putting in the work.
Huffington Post reports that for as little as a half cent each click, websites hawk everything from LinkedIn connections to make members appear more employable to Soundcloud plays to influence record label interest.
In an industry where optics are important for a band’s credibility, it can be tempting to wade into this black market. Atkinson advises against it:
We have not as a band or me personally bought any likes or followers for any of our services or sites. It is more interesting to see the legitimate people coming in.
I know there is that (debate about) “buy likes” vs “don’t buy likes” because it’s all about optics.
I will agree it is all about optics.
Why would a band have social media other than sort of maybe a checklist of things you are supposed to have to seem like a legitimate organization.
That’s why you should start your social media but it shouldn’t end there.
For more TWENTY6HUNDRED, follow them on Soundcloud or any of the social media links in this post.
Submitted by: David Pearson
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