Digital platforms (e.g. iTunes, Facebook, Spotify, etc) are tools.
You use tools to get a job done.
To pick the right tool for the job you need to know two things:
- What job you need doing
- What are the attributes and strengths of the tool
When the two are perfectly aligned, you know you’re on the right track to get the job done as efficiently and effectively as possible.
So you want to give both of these some deep consideration before you pile in!
Step One – Define the Job
The first stage is to be very clear on what specific job you need doing.
If your job is too general (i.e. build a fanbase) it’ll be very difficult to find the ideal tool; you’ll just use general tools.
General tools are fine, in general, but they are neither the most efficient nor the most effective at achieving a specific job.
Only once you have the exact job very clear in mind should you move on to the next stage, selecting the most appropriate tool.
Step Two – Understand the Tools
Digital platforms can generally be examined, and valued, as tools using the following core attributes:
- They handle the technical aspects of content hosting and consumption, so you don’t have to build and maintain it yourself
(i.e. Instagram hosts and displays your photos, SoundCloud does the same for your music, iTunes transacts for you, etc)
- They allow people to find you via search
(e.g. people know your name and can search for you on Twitter, etc)
- They enable communication exchange, giving a deeper ability to build a relationship with people
(e.g. you can have conversations by leaving and replying to comments)
- They enable discovery
(e.g. people who don’t already know you can find you via things like playlists on Spotify, etc)
- They collect data on users
(e.g. Facebook knows everything about everybody on the planet, ever… 😉 )
- They allow you to contact other users
(e.g. targetted advertising on Twitter, or sending emails to fans on Patreon, etc)
- They enable you to administer your content, and the surrounding environment
(e.g. YouTube allows you to add descriptions, captions, links, etc, and put them up/edit/take them down when you want)
Since your time is limited, you want to make sure that you’re picking the right tactics, and tools, for the job of marketing your music.
So, before placing your music, or your content-posting efforts, on a given platform, be clear on how that platform handles the above core attributes.
Then ask yourself, given your job goal and that platform’s particular set of attributes, if it really is the right tool for the job?
Food for Thought
Here are just a few, and by no means exhaustive, examples, to help get you thinking along these lines:
- iTunes is great for handling sales and delivery of your music. But how is it as a discovery platform, for people you didn’t send to it in the first place? Does it enable direct communication with your audience, so you can further the relationship? Do you get buyer data? Can you directly contact people who’ve previously bought your music, to tell them about your new release? If nearly all your sales come from people you are sending there yourself, is there a better place to send them instead, where you get more value out of any transactions?
- Snapchat is great for giving people a fun and informal look into your day-to-day life. But how easy is it for people who don’t know you to find you? How much longevity and true value is there in your content, if it disappears so quickly?
- Instagram is ideal for sharing photos and good for building a following. But how easy is it to influence that following to take an off-platform action (like buying a new song), especially if you can’t post clickable links?
- Facebook is…well Facebook. But with so many users and content being generated each day, how easy is it for people to find stuff via search (e.g. your new video)?
- Spotify is great for streaming music. But how much can you influence the listener to take an action? How limited are you in administering your content and message, for example giving people links to click?
Don’t Waste Your Time…or the Opportunity
All platforms have their strengths and weaknesses.
So be careful you don’t get sucked into using something just because everyone else does; it may not be the right tool for the specific job that you need, and you can end up wasting precious hours a day on a fatally flawed activity.
Or, worse, you could be throwing away the real opportunity with digital platforms; to build and develop an engaged fanbase and receive maximum value from it.