Musicians are social artists. The handful of musicians who make it big and achieve fame do so through a delicate balance of musical mastery and crafty social interaction. It is especially true during live performances, but what if you only have ten people attending those performances at the moment? How to get more ‘social’? How to generate a following without posting endless images on other social media profiles. One answer is Twitter.
Let’s see exactly how Twitter can be an effective social tool for musicians.
Twitter is a top social network for people looking for news, information, and entertainment. According to the company, many of the most-followed Twitter accounts belong to musicians. You too can use Twitter to build your music career, but you should know how to use this social network properly. It can just as easily ruin you if you’re not careful.
Twitter provides an ideal platform to get an audience and build that audience. The Twitter head office places so much emphasis on music and musicians that they even appointed a Head of Music. But the critical question is, how can you use this tool to build your music career? Let’s delve deeper into Twitter’s relationship with musicians and see how you can do just that.
Is Twitter Good For Musicians?
If you’re unsure if you or your brand / band should have a Twitter account, let’s examine some clear, concrete facts about Twitter when it comes to music artists.
Music-related topics, like band names, music genres, or song titles, make some of the highest trending hashtags on Twitter. You can check trending hashtags for any period and probably see at least five or seven music-related hashtags trending in the top 50. People on Twitter like discovering new music and love sharing their musical discoveries with their followers.
Perhaps more importantly, several of the most-followed Twitter accounts are musicians. According to statistics from November 2021, nine out of the top 20 Twitter accounts belong to musicians. The Twitter account with the 2nd most followers is Justin Bieber, with 114 million people, and he’s second only after Barack Obama, who has a little over 130 million.
Just a few followers after Bieber are the likes of Katy Perry, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, and Lady Gaga, all in the top 10. In terms of follows, many musicians outperform highly popular Twitter accounts like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Cristiano Ronaldo, and even Twitter itself.
Twitter knows that music is one of its most popular types of content and even launched the dedicated Twitter #Music app a few years ago. The idea was sound, allowing people to follow musicians, listen to music, discover new music, and share it. But people preferred using plain Twitter for that, so they scrapped the #Music app a year later. Still, it shows Twitter’s commitment to helping improve marketing for musicians on the platform.
It wouldn’t be fair to only list reasons why Twitter would be suitable for your music career without balancing it out with some of the potential downsides. Twitter is a space to share your opinions and thoughts, which is excellent, but if you do it wrong, you could be in for a world of hurt and ruin any hopes you had for a successful music career. Here are a few examples:
- Azealia Banks had a fantastic rap career ahead of her after the successful release of her debut album. Then she started getting into fights with other bands and musicians on Twitter, and to throw oil on the fire, she tweeted a handful of homophobic slurs in the process. It ruined her reputation and her record deal and career with it.
- Cee-Lo Green used Twitter during a 2014 court case to defend himself, inadvertently proving his guilt in the eyes of his fans. When he realized his mistake, he deleted his account to remove the evidence, but several fans had already taken screenshots, ruining his music career and life.
- Famous rapper o.B. went to Twitter early in 2021 to reveal that he discovered the truth that the Earth was flat. Fans initially thought he was joking, but he even started an argument with Neil deGrasse Tyson, trying to prove his point. Though this didn’t directly impact any record deals (yet), many of his fans now regard him with a bit less respect.
The point is that you should handle Twitter with care. Free speech is brilliant and necessary, but as your audience grows, people will scrutinize your opinions more and more intensively. Even tweets from before you were famous can, and will, be used against you.
Still, if you are careful with what you post and how you say things, Twitter can be a valuable gear in the machine that grows your audience and fan club.
Twitter Vs. Instagram For Musicians
The lines are blurring between different social media platforms. Instagram used to be all about photos, but these days it supports videos too. Twitter was known as a text-oriented microblogging network, but pictures and videos are now everywhere. Both use hashtags extensively. So musicians can use Twitter and Instagram similarly, but what is the difference in their impact?
Instagram is considered an “easier” social network to get followers on, but that doesn’t mean the followers will be high quality. People tend to follow others on Instagram without really looking closely at the profiles they’re following. They spam the Like and Follow buttons if they see a post they enjoy.
If you’re planning to document your journey as a musician, Instagram could prove valuable. It’s a visual network so posting lots of photos and videos (in your feed and your stories) is essential. Throwing some good, trending hashtags into the mix will definitely get you new followers.
The problem is that Instagram is arguably not as good for musicians as Twitter, and there are two reasons for this:
- Instagram is visual, so the emphasis is always on photos and short video clips.
- Sharing posts on Instagram is a challenge, so if someone likes your posts and wants to share them, they often require third-party apps to make that possible.
So promoting yourself on Instagram can be a bit more complex, especially in the early days before you’ve built a reputation.
Twitter is the opposite, thanks to the Retweet button that instantly shares a post with the user’s followers while still linking to your account. It’s usually much easier to build up your initial audience on Twitter than on Instagram. That’s the case for going all-in on Twitter for your music marketing strategy. Or at least for putting a higher emphasis on tweets for social media marketing.
A Musician’s Twitter Bio
Writing a good Twitter bio is an art form since you only have space for about 20 or 30 words to do it. So, your bio must be on point if you want people to find and follow you. It becomes even more critical because Google shows your bio in search results, so the bio is not just for Twitter. Here are some suggestions from Twitter experts who also happen to be musicians:
- Summarize who you are. Not just your music genre, but your values and things that set you apart from others. But keep it to the point and as short as possible.
- Don’t try to be clever. Don’t make jokes simply for the sake of being funny. If you put some humor in there, make it count.
- You’re not Robert Downey Jr. As much as you may want to argue, you can’t get away with writing a bio like his that simply says, “You know who I am.” Most people don’t know you yet, so don’t try to make it look like they should. Once you’ve arrived and you have your audience of millions, you can always change it.
A good Twitter bio can be something simple like “Guitarist. Composer. Taco enthusiast.” You may add some emojis into the mix; it seems to draw more attention if you do it tastefully.
You can also use the Twitter bio as inspiration for your musician’s Instagram Bio.
How To Get Noticed On Twitter
Some things are universal on Twitter. Whether you’re a musician or not, some tactics will always be effective for getting noticed and growing your Twitter following. Here are a few dos and don’ts.
- Tweet often. Some social networks penalize you if you post too frequently since they see it as spamming. Twitter is not like that; you can tweet as often as you’d like. In fact, according to studies, the lifespan of a tweet is around 18 minutes; that’s how little time you have for people to notice your tweet organically. Tweeting more often makes up for this.
- Use hashtags (but tastefully). Hashtags are gold for Twitter since it lets people find your post if they’re searching for that topic. You should only use hashtags that have relevance; don’t try to force their relevance by tweeting something unrelated to you just to be able to use a popular or trending hashtag.
- Be personal. Share something about yourself or the band in your tweets. People like to see the humanity behind the music, so embrace that.
- Communicate. When you get private messages or when someone tags you in a tweet, respond if you can. It’s more complicated once you’ve reached massive numbers. Still, it’s essential to have conversations with your followers on Twitter, especially in the early days, unless it could turn into an online argument.
- Tell, don’t sell. Of course, you want people to buy your music or attend your shows, but that’s not what Twitter is for. It’s there so you can tell your story to those who might like it. Of course, you can promote that new song or announce your tour dates. But that should be extra, “by-the-way” type of info.
- Follow and interact with others. Follow musicians you might like or associate with, and tag them in tweets. Not necessarily the massively famous ones; most have social media managers anyway. But if you can find musicians with slightly more followers than you, those are the ones you’d ideally like to associate with.
People like to see bands and musicians congratulate each other and give compliments or even some friendly banter. Many of their followers might like what they see on your account and start following you, too.
- Don’t pay someone to grow your Twitter following. These “services” promise to give you 5,000 followers in a week or two for a fee, and they usually deliver on their promises. The problem is that many (if not most) of these followers are bots, not actual people. You want real people to follow you, and for the right reasons.
- Identify your target market, then identify with your target market. Figure out the demographics of the people you want your music to appeal to, then ensure that you tweet in a way they will associate with.
Twitter Ads For Musicians
Twitter Ads can help grow your following or drive hits to your website to sell albums or merchandise. It’s a fantastic way to reach more people more quickly without spending hours formulating perfect tweets and figuring out which hashtags to use. You can set your budget, specify the target demographic, and see the results rolling in.
Or, at least, that’s what should happen. For the first few months, your ad campaign will be a process of trial and error, so be prepared to waste some money.
That’s why it’s essential to already have somewhat of an organic following that you built using only Twitter’s free functionality. Once you have several followers who follow you because they want to and like your Twitter content and your music, you will have a base of reference for your Twitter Ads target demographic.
Though Twitter Ads help build your following and even help you to make sales, remember that quality content will always be king on any online platform.
Many of us are so accustomed to seeing ads that our brains automatically identify and block them; we simply scroll past them. When you’re consistently tweeting quality content, you will get noticed, and these followers will be the right kind of followers you’re looking for. They will go to your website, having already heard your music, looking for ways to support you.
Once you’ve mastered the art of social media marketing on Twitter, you might start looking for another social media platform to promote your music. Check out our guide to TikTok for musicians.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I pay for a social media manager?
It’s not a good idea to get a social media manager in the early years; followers want to see you in your tweets. You may consider getting one when you can’t keep up with the size of your following.
What should my Twitter handle be?
Keep your Twitter handle simple and relevant. If someone already took your username, adding something like “thereal” in front of it is a popular way to go. Stay away from confusing numbers.
How can I get my Twitter followers to engage more with my tweets?
Post tweets that ask for people’s opinions (we all love sharing them). Run a Twitter poll. Retweet competitions work sometimes, but people have done it to death, and the results are negligible.
Should I post music videos on Twitter?
Yes! Music videos are a fantastic way to introduce people to your music. Twitter limits video length and quality, so post an enticing snippet with a link to the full video on YouTube.
Should I have separate professional and personal Twitter accounts?
Ideally, yes, but it depends. Bands have a band account and personal accounts for the individual members. Solo musicians often have only one account, but that isn’t always the case.
Should I host a Twitter meet-up (Tweetup)?
It’s a good idea, but it depends on the number of followers. You might consider hosting an online event for a limited number of fans and followers where you have a Q&A session with them.
How should I handle criticism on Twitter?
Critics are everywhere, not only on Twitter, and you should always handle them with grace and respect, even if that’s not how they deal with you.