When I younger, I wanted to become a soca artist. I even started writing songs with my friends, but I quickly realized I didn't have what it took, so I decided to focus on what I was good at. In the past, soca artists advertised themselves to the public with the help of radio stations, DJs, and promoters, who booked them for shows. Therefore, artists didn't have much control over their brands; however, because of technological advancements, the script has been flipped. Today's technology now gives artists a significant say regarding the distribution and exposure of their musical products. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram practically give soca artists, regardless their stature in the industry, a somewhat even playing field. Artists now have the power to control and build their brands while bypassing the "badmind" DJs who often times intentionally neglect to share their music. Consequently, social media platforms are now making it easier for thriving musicians.
Uploading Music Natively vs. Sharing YouTube Links
Facebook is now big on video sharing as evidenced by their push with video ads, 360 videos, and Facebook live. Sometimes, when artists share their music on Facebook, they first upload it via YouTube then share the YouTube link to Facebook. Going forward, however, consider uploading your videos natively to Facebook instead. Facebook is in direct competition with YouTube and unfortunately for soca artists, Facebook's algorithms punish videos shared with YouTube links. Therefore, you will be rewarded with more reach and views if you upload your videos directly to Facebook. Mind you, you should upload your music to YouTube as well, but just be aware that if you want more reach on Facebook, don't share the YouTube link.
Share Short Clips on Instagram
Before, videos on Instagram could have only been 15 seconds long. Today, however, you can upload 60 seconds videos. Therefore, don't be afraid to share a one-minute clip from your video to pique listeners' interest.
As previously mentioned, video ads are now a major part of Facebook's product. So do you know that by spending $5US or less it is possible to get thousands of video views on Facebook? Obviously, you would need to know how to setup and run a Facebook video ad, but hey, it's not difficult. You can visit YouTube for tutorials or contact me, and I will show you how. At the moment, one of my clients is a jazz artist, and we have been using video ads to promote her music and concerts, and the results have been phenomenal. Consequently, I advise soca artists to start taking advantage of this opportunity as well. Instagram ads are now becoming a big deal too, so you should definitely give it a shot also. Just imagine it's the carnival season, and you are a new artist with a "wicked tune". However, only the established names are getting radio time. Instead of accepting the status quo, here is a simple solution. You could circumvent the system by spending just $5US to promote your music even if you don't have an actual music video, which isn't totally necessary. Many persons, including myself, often listen to music on YouTube or Facebook with just a still picture. Therefore, with such a small but effective investment, you have little reason to sit and wait for radio play when you have the tools to get your music out to a much wider audience than the radio can offer.
Consistency and Building a Community
Shows like Power or Game of Thrones are successful in part because they don't ignore social media. Even after each season's finale, they are still active on Facebook and Instagram reminding you of the just concluded episodes and in preparation for the new. With that said, soca artists should pattern their social media habits after those successful franchises instead of using a cyclical approach. From observation, many artists are very active on social media during the carnival season; however, after the festivities are over, they make a huge mistake by going silent. Therefore, they should consider year-round promotions on social media to garner as many supporters, sales, and job opportunities as possible. Also, many soca artists mismanage Facebook and Instagram. Instead of using the platforms as a vital business tool and as a means of building a community around their music, they unfortunately, use them to spread their unfounded information, divisive topics and display unsavory conduct, which may alienate supporters and potential patrons. Consequently, artists should refrain from the negatives and strive to build a community around their music. And if they need help building, their music community, it is advised that they speak to a Facebook or Instagram strategist.
In keeping with the use of videos, I have realized that some Grenadian promoters now use live streams to increase their business ventures' reach. Further, as soca artists, you can also live stream your performances through platforms like Facebook Live. Obviously, the actual streaming would have to be done by someone else like a member of your management team or friend of course, but you should consider live streaming your performances, the process of making your music, or practically anything you think will interest your fans to build brand equity. Right now Facebook's algorithms are very favorable towards live videos so don't pass up on this opportunity.
Pardon my tone but please stop posting nonsense on social media. Remember that most patrons tie your contributions to your products. Therefore, if you are deemed to be a constant poster of valueless material, it is possible you would tune out your intended audience when it matters. Therefore, please ensure that your posts are entertaining, educational, positive, or provide some kind of significance to your fans. Like I stated above, be consistent while providing value.
Admittedly, many more strategies for brand building can be done; however, these are some of the basic approaches that every Grenadian soca artist and those throughout the Caribbean should take if they intend to make a mark in a potentially lucrative business. At #IamGrenadian, we have shared the stories of many Grenadian soca artists, and as a digital marketing strategist, I felt it was my obligation to write this article to hopefully help others. Also, these methods go beyond soca music; they can be effective for any genre. Therefore, since you now have the power to build your brand using these platforms, just ensure that you use them properly or seek the services of a social media strategist if necessary. Also, for those who may object to getting help because you have a Facebook page and Instagram profile consider this. Having a car doesn't make you a mechanic, so having access to the necessary social media platforms doesn't make you a Facebook or Instagram marketer. Consequently, if you are trained in social media marketing, perfect, if not, then get up to speed or work with someone.