By Jillian Lavin a.k.a. Spritely -- spritelymusic.com
How many spammy "want more followers?" comments do you get on your Instagram posts? What about those random emoji or "beautiful!" comments by people with 21k followers?
Hate to burst your bubble, but those are automated comments done by services like Instagress, Instamacro, and RoboInsta. They claim to draw in new followers by liking, commenting, and following hundreds (if not thousands) of accounts per day.
At the end of February, I got a personal email from a company called Jumper Media. They claimed that their service would gain me 1-2k more followers over the course of a month for just $150. They caught me at just the right time: I recently had a social media reality check, realizing that though I loathe Instagram, social media traction is a necessity for the modern musician. What I didn't realize is that followers do not equal traction.
The service was a great ego boost -- at first, I saw my follower number rising by 50-75 people per day. Then the growth plateaued, and even dipped on a few days. Why? Instagram became polluted with these spammy tactics and people caught on. I would get notifications from people laughing at my automated "Stunning, love your page <3" comment, clearly irrelevant to the crass meme it was posted on. I noticed that my own posts each became subject to 5-6 of these empty comments, and started to realize how trasparent this tactic seemed. Moreover, despite the 1k follower boost I did achieve, my post engagement was pathetic in comparison; though my follower count tripled, the average number of likes per picture increased by a mere 50%. Thus, it was unsurprising that my Spotify and Facebook likes did not increase significantly either.
The worst part? At the end of my month with Jumper Media, a quick Google search pointed me to the other services mentioned above, which did the exact same thing as at dramatically lower prices.
Despite all I have said thus far, I am thankful to Jumper Media and I'm glad I did it. Follower count is an important indicator of a musician's legitimacy, and having 1,700 followers verses 600 followers could be the factor that makes a music blog actually pay attention to the song you send them. That said, from here on out, I'm putting my attention on the content, not b.s. growth hacking services.
TL;DR: Growth-hacking robots can increase your surface-level #cred (which is helpful!), but won't earn you new fans.
By Emily Hunter
Being a musician in college can be tough. If you're like me and are taking a full load of units, working at a part-time job AND interning, you don't have much time OR money to work on your own music projects. Meaning, things like building up your community engagement with your fans and branding yourself as an artist can slip through the cracks. But fret not! I have a few tricks and tips that will help you get you and your music out there on a budget!
TIP #1: Write And Arrange Music As Much As Possible
Though this can seem daunting with a busy schedule, it's so crucial to have a decent amount of original material in your back pocket. You never know when someone is going to contact you through your artist page, email, or blog about hearing more of your originals. Also, if you're on a budget, this is the best way to start getting yourself out there. With more original material, you can do more live performances, which in turn, can grasp the attention of more potential fans who can follow your social media pages.
TIP #2: Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
Let's be real, all of us need some help sometimes. Whether your weakness as a musician is music theory, mixing, recording, or posting on your social media pages, asking for help from other musician friends, teachers, or contacts within the music industry is absolutely the best way to get things done. Unfortunately, sometimes this can be one of the hardest parts of being a new musicians, as you can often feel obnoxious asking for help. However, JUST DO IT! The worst that can happen is they won't be able to help you. However, in my experience, most young musicians are looking for one thing in the music industry: experience. So you can help them build up their experience in the industry by letting them help you. It's that simple.
TIP #3: Search For Services That Can Help You Stay On Task
Believe it or not, there are a lot of services out there that can help musicians on a budget. Below are a few of my favorites!
For help with re-branding/managing your artist social media accounts:
1) BEGIN marketing and consulting (www.howdoibegin.com)
As an employee at BEGIN, I am a bit biased towards our company and it's services, however, as a musician myself, I can honestly say that getting a free consultation with BEGIN is 100% worth it. Why wouldn't you want to receive FREE advice from experts in the music industry about how you can improve your online presence as an artist?
2) Epoxy.tv (http://epoxy.tv)
If you're a forgetful person like me, you know how frustrating it can be when you forget to update your Instagram or Facebook artist pages throughout the week. But again, fret not! Epoxy is an amazing service that you can use to schedule posts weeks in advance so you don't even need to think about it throughout the week! Of course, this service is not as cheap as BEGIN, but you can even just sign up for their service for a month or two to get your pages back on track. It's 100% worth it.
For help with getting connected to other artists that you can collaborate with:
1) FAM (http://thefammusic.com)
FAM is a new organization that helps young artists get connected to other people trying to pursue careers in the music industry. Whether that means that they connect you with other artists, musicians, audio engineers, producers, or managers, the service assists upcoming musicians with getting connected to the resources that they need in order to successfully make music.
2) Fleeber (http://en.fleeber.com)
Much like FAM, Fleeber connects musicians with other musicians and people pursuing careers in the music industry
For help with creating content in an inexpensive way:
1) E-Home Recording Studio (http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/cheapest-recording-studio/)
Read this article! It breaks down the type of equipment you need in a recording studio and tells you all about how to get the best equipment your possibly can get on a budget. You don't need to pay hundreds of dollars to get a high quality recording! There are ways around it!
2) Check out some of my personal favorite ~inexpensive~ pieces of recording equipment below!
Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
Though not under $100 (Focusrites are usually in the $150-200 range) the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 is a pretty high performance, low-latency interface that creates great recordings AND is on the cheaper side for the quality that it delivers!
MXL 990 Condensor Mic
This mic ranges from $79.99-$100 on Amazon and delivers a crisp, condensed sound. The MXL mic series is great in general, but this is a true gem and is fairly inexpensive for high quality condenser mics!
Any Male/Female Mic Cables On Amazon
Amazon is the place to buy them because they are cheap, cheap, cheap!
So now that you've read my main tricks and tips for getting music out there on a budget, it's your turn! Get out there and create, you wonderful artist, you!
Emily Hunter is a senior at the University of Southern California and currently a summer intern at BEGIN
The BEGIN Blog features posts about branding, social media, entrepreneurship, and other topics relevant to young professionals.