Week 6: The Artist’s Platform – What Agents, Publishers & Record Execs are Looking for Now

Social Media

In today’s world, platform is everything. As an artist, it is not enough to be talented. Record companies, agents, managers and publishers are also looking for platform.

What is Platform?

Platform is your visibility as an artist. It’s about your reach and your influence. How many people can you reach and will they actually listen to you?

The basics of platform are:

Website: What is your web traffic?

Facebook: How many fans do you have?

Twitter: How many people are following you?

We’ve already talked about how and why to build a website. Now we will address the other components to platform.

Depending on your artistic medium, there are other platform builders that are important, such as Etsy and Pinterest for crafters or MySpace and Reverbnation for musicians. There are many different social media websites. This article will not cover all the myriad possibilities out there, but look for our upcoming individual social media spotlights. For now, we will just focus on the two biggest players and how and why to use them.

Why Platform?

As I mentioned, people who are interested in representing or signing you are now looking beyond your talent and toward your influence. But, why?

Today’s check-signers and deal-makers are looking for more than a great artist. You may have the most amazing novel in the world, but if they can’t sell it, it’s useless to them. Marketing is everything. The suits are more scared than ever to take a chance. Hell, the producers of Fight Club lost their jobs because the boys in the marketing department didn’t know how to sell it. True story. Read Art Linson’s What Just Happened? for the details.

Today sure things and guarantees are a lot more enticing than a talent in the dark. I have heard of a casting toss-up decision being made based on the fact the one girl had significantly more Facebook followers than the other. Another true story.

Having a platform shows these decision-makers two things: 1) you have the ability to sell immediately to a market of fans you have already cultivated, and 2) you are willing to market yourself.

They know that your book or album has much more potential to make money because you can make quick sales and you have the mover-shaker mentality to get out there and hustle!

As an aside, a platform is an asset. When it comes to signing a deal, it’s a negotiating tool. You can find yourself in a better position based on the fact that you have a large platform. Think of platform-building as filling a piggy bank that you can one day cash in. Awesome.

 

THE TOOLS:

Facebook

Everyone is on Facebook. This is like the most popular party on campus. Everyone’s there and if you’re not, you’re likely missing things. You didn’t check your Facebook account last week? You just missed that supercool 1920s-theme costumed cocktail party invite. But this week you get to see the 1500 amazing photos taken by all the people who were there.

If everyone’s on Facebook. You should be, too. This is inarguably the first, best place to be connected for broad, general promotion. There are other platforms that are more suited for specific, targeted marketing, but Facebook is the most powerful catchall social media channel around.

Fan Page. The key is to establish a Facebook Fan Page. You can see ours here. LIKES is the name of the game. You are searching for LIKES.

When people LIKE your page a couple of things happen.

1)    Facebook will tell the person’s friends that he LIKES your Page. This gives others an opportunity to check it out to see if maybe they like it too.

2)    Every time you post on your page, the post will show up in your fans’ feed, re-engaging your audience and keeping them informed of what you are up to.

Utilize your Facebook Fan Page to stay connected to people and to interact with them. To build up your website traffic through Facebook, supply links from your Fan Page to your website to guide people to what you are doing there.

To create a page, go to someone else’s page. In the top right corner you will see a button that says Create Page. Click it and follow the prompts to create your own Facebook Fan Page. Add text and images to personalize, then Invite people to LIKE it. It’s that easy!

 

Twitter

Another way to engage and interact is with Twitter. Twitter operates in tweets. A tweet is a 140-character text byte, if you will. People like Twitter because it is a quick and easy way for them to stay connected and up-to-date with interests and happenings on a daily basis without it becoming a full time job. It is also a great way to discover new people, artists and organizations and for attracting people to other online outlets you want to engage them with, such as your Facebook Page or website. You can post the link on Twitter to your latest blog post and craft a great byte-sized statement to pique their interest to click through.

 

THE TOOLS OF THE TOOLS:

Hashtags

What started on Twitter, transferred over to Instagram and has finally found it’s way onto the imperial Facebook framework, the hashtag is an amazing and simple tool.

A hashtag is a way to file your tweet, photo or Facebook post into a category that can be searched and found by anyone on that media platform.

Want an example? Go on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and type #inktober into the search bar. Many, many images and comments will appear from people who have all used that hashtag in participation with the month-long Inktober event – 31 ink drawings in 31 days through October. This is a great example of how an artist can use a hashtag to promote himself to a targeted audience. Anyone interested in finding new artists to engage with and follow can scour the media hashtags for artists that way. 

 

Tagging

Tagging is another way to widen your reach. Tagging is another tool that is possible on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alike. This is where you insert a friend’s name into the caption, comment or post, thus involving them in the online discussion you are having.

This is beneficial in two ways:

1)    It makes that person aware of the thing that you are communicating by notifying them of the post.

2)    It puts the post or photo onto the Wall or Feed of the person you are tagging. (Note that this second one does not apply to tagging in Facebook comments.)

To tag someone on Facebook, begin typing their name in the comment. Their Facebook name and image should come up. Select it. It will now show up in bold and the post will appear on his wall. People will also be able to click on his name and be taken to this person’s wall. It is a great way to promote others to your fanbase.

Another way to tag on Facebook is to use the tag features in photos or by selecting the person icon from the little dashboard in the post status screen.

On Twitter and Instagram, everyone’s profile name starts with the @ symbol, so to tag on these platforms you must first put the @ symbol in your comment when typing their user name.

The real benefit to tagging people is that you are essentially gaining access to all of that person’s followers because your post has posted to their page. You are borrowing the eyes of all of their audience. Try engaging with a well-known artist that you feel you are similar to. You may be able to find a few new fans this way.

However, as a final cautionary note on tagging and all of social media in general: be respectful. Do not engage in tag spamming or any other social spamming. Do not tag people just to borrow their audience. Do not tag people who do not have anything to do with the comment, photo, or post in question. Do not continually “nudge” people to engage with you if they are not responding. Their silence is often times their most polite answer. Don’t embarrass them by making them tell you “no thanks”. Please use your best judgement and don’t add to the mess of digital white noise that we all have to sift through on a daily basis. Your friends and fans will thank you for it.

This is just a few basics to get you started. There is much more to learn about social media, but this is a great launching off point. Now go out there and make some noise that matters!

 

HOMEWORK:

1) Create a Facebook Fan Page and promote it. Post it in the comments below and on the event page.

2) Create a Twitter account and promote it. Post it in the comments below and on the event page.

 

Refs: Create Your Writer’s Platform by Chuck Sambuchino; What Just Happened? by Art Linson

 

Chelsea Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.

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C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.
About C.R. Cohen
C.R. Cohen’s love affair with words and the arts has lead her on a lifelong journey as a poet and writer and an art activist, founding Artists Underground, to bring networking, resources and advice to artists, and joining forces with Soapbox Nation to provide creative career consultations and artist services to help artists get further faster.

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