What I've gained from Social Networking

One of the best things I did over the past four or five years was find mentors in marketing. I’d come across someone in my travels, and I’d check out the resources they offered. Like Bob Baker and his ‘Guerrilla Marketing for Song Writers, Musicians and Bands’. Like Debra Russell and her ‘Artist’s Edge’. Like Ariel Hyatt and ‘CyberPR’. When I find someone like this, I sign up for their newsletter.

I find good mentors provide a lot of free information in their newsletters, podcasts, seminars, etc. I make it a point to gather as much intel as I can from what they are telling me. I’d do things as simple as… look at the bottom of Bob’s newsletter, where he provides links to where he can be found on-line. One day I saw ‘twitter’ listed there. I clicked on it, saw his twitter page… and signed up for twitter myself. I had no idea what twitter would do for me, but I figured, if Bob’s on twitter, I need to be on twitter. When I look at Ariel’s information and she says she’s on ‘Flickr’, then I go to flickr and sign up. What’s interesting as well, is that I am likely just the sort of person they write those newsletters for, because not only do I follow their advice… but I also, when I want to have more resources, purchase products and/or services from each of them. They are demonstrating good marketing to me… and I’m buying it, lol.

This week I continued to work through Ariel Hyatt’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks". I read chapter 3 (optimizing your website) and chapter 4 (musicians web 2.0 guide). I have two different websites, one for myself as an artist, and one for myself as a composer, and the market for each site is naturally quite different. Ariel has some really good suggestions on what to do and what not to do with your website, and how to manage contact with your fans.

I transferred my artist fan list to Reverbnation in 2009, after hearing Ariel speak at a songwriting event. I’d known I needed to do it for a while but I’d avoided doing it cause I knew it would be a pain. I had a list of some email addresses in Excel on my computer, I had others listed on-line in an old newsletter server that I’d used, and I had others coming in on my hostbaby email sign up. I had to amalgamate all 3 lists and make sure that no-one was being duplicated. Then I had to send out a note to everyone and ask them to sign up with my new list manager, Reverbnation. Some did, some didn’t. So I lost a few. But it’s done now and working better. (By the way, IMO Reverbnation is one of the best sites around for indie musicians. I use it to host my fanlist, to send out my newsletter, to facilitate free downloads, to create ‘tunepaks’, to post my shows, etc. It’s great at tracking your stats, and it provides widgets you can put on your blog, etc. I’m really glad I heard about it.)

I started writing this blog ages ago… not sure if anyone would care to read it. I just wanted to share my process. In my mind, this is an extension of my teaching role. When I work with my students, I talk to them about my past, what I’ve learned, what I’m working on, how I’m working on it, what I’ve experienced, what I think about. There’s a million voice teachers out there, the one thing that I have that’s different from anyone else, is me and my story. So I marry good healthy vocal technique with the idea that we can grow beyond our programming if we are willing to take a conscious journey and explore our own potential. I am the shy singer, who grew beyond her shyness, by striving to free her voice. Singing was the catalyst for my emancipation.

In addition to blogging, I participate in several songwriting forums. I’ve learned so much from being part of a greater community of musicians, artists, composers and writers. I’ve reviewed other people’s work, I’ve had feedback on my own, I’ve soaked up information on the music industry, been warned about scams and sharks, and heard about upcoming events. I still participate now with the goal of networking with others and also to pass along what I have learned. What’s really neat is that over time I have developed relationships with quite a few talented, interesting and creative musician-types. I love it when I get to see some of them live and in person when I attend songwriting events or conferences -- or local "tweet-ups". Yes, it takes time to maintain this level of networking, but it has brought to much to my life. I have a huge ‘tribe’ of friends who love what I love, and we support each other in the journey. That’s what ‘web 2.0’ means to me. Interacting with these friends, meeting new ones, sharing what I know, feeling grateful for those who give so generously of their time & expertise to help me in what I’m doing.

I posted this on Facebook today: “I have a list of promises to myself on my fridge, and at the bottom in big letters I have: "I PROMISE MYSELF I WILL NEVER GIVE UP". On my bulletin board over my computer I have my 2010 goals posted... and I've written to the side, in felt pen, "Live the Dream"... it's easy to get bogged down in the day to day 'who am I kidding' struggle. Sometimes I have to step back and look at the big picture. See how far I've come, how much I've learned, and how my slow, sometimes faltering steps have brought me here, to this place of musical living. Then I am grateful, and resolve to perservere.”


Layla said...

Love your post!

It's easy to get lost in 'social networking' or wonder 'is this really worth the effort and how much' or wonder which options to go for.. So it's great to read about the cool results for you!!

I also love Ariel PR - only knew about their website so far, and loved their awesome free tips - was wondering about the paid products, if they are any good.. :)
Maybe you can write a bit more detailed description/review of the recommended sites/books some time in the future..?

Vikki said...

Hi Layla - thanks for reading & commenting. I might try to put together a list - in the meantime, if you scroll down on the right side of my blog, there's a list of Resources that I have used & recommend. Hope that helps!

Gnx Music said...

Gols are really important to set. Sometime adjustments need to be made but in the end they help us drive towards where we want and need to be. Good post.

ViCindy said...

I like you. Your words are wise and yet down to earth your pictures are cute as can be. I found you while searching JPFolks forum for avenues of promoting myself as the songwriter that I am. I am tired of being unknown and unheard. My husband & I have been a songwriting duet for 25 years years and we came together because we both wrote. Now 3 decades later we have 30 songs on the Internet but going nowhere. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. All our original songs are at cdbaby.com/Vicindy and many other places. I understand the importance of social networking but I actually have the time to do some of that for the month of February. I have time but no money so I am searching avenue's that are free. Thank you for the inspiration. Cindy

Ariel said...

Hi Vikki!

I woke up today feeling less than inspired. The heat in my house is broken and it's 16 degrees in NYC, and I was about to throw myself a pity party - and then I read your posts.

Your promises to yourself are DEAD ON. "I PROMISE MYSELF I WILL NEVER GIVE UP". Is inspiring.

and you are right....anything that makes us 'do' instead of 'talking about doing' is worth it.

So Here I am doing and this Sunday is turning around very very quickly!


Vikki said...

@ Gnx Music - you make a good point of allowing some flexibility with goals, that they morph over time as we experience the journey and may need little adjustments along the way. That's being creative, while still moving forward.

@ Ariel - thanks so much for dropping by! Brrrr, hope you get your heat fixed soon. Heating pads/hot water bottles & lots of hot tea will help to keep your core temp up. Glad you found something of value in what I had to say!!

Vikki said...

@ViCindy - I hear what you are saying. I also see that you are promoting songs that were recorded in 2006, and that you say you've written 30 songs in 25 years.

If your goal is to be recognized as the songwriter you are, then IMO you need to spend more time songwriting. You can read books from the library, like Jason Blume's "Six Steps to Songwriting Success." You can take part in songwriting challenges such as FAWM (www.fawm.org) with the goal of re-awakening your creativity.

I took a listen to 2 oe 3 clips on your CD Baby page and altho I can't assess the entire songs, I can say that demo quality might be an issue as well.

But I would work first to learn more about the craft of songwriting, get up every day and work on songs. Use forums (like Just Plain Folks) to get feedback, but strive to grow beyond where you are now.

If you are wanting to promote yourself as a songwriter, then you need to bring well-honed skills in lyric writing and/or music writing in contemporary formats to the table.

There's nothing wrong with writing songs that mean something to you, and performing and recording them. If you want to take your product to the industry, then you have to look at what other successful writers are doing, and think about how many hours they have spend learning / honing their craft.

Relationships are important, so I'm glad you have social networking on your list of goals for the year. I've learned a lot from reaching out and taking part in on-line discussion and feedback. But IMO you should spend the majority of your free time studying current hits in the Christian market and writing, writing, writing.

ViCindy said...

Dear Vicky, Our most recent recording were in 2009. Thank you for taking your time and passing on a detailed and educated opinion that has given me several new trains of thought. I’m a thinker so it was a good way to start me day. I agree with the demo quality, however we could only afford to home record 30 of the hundreds of songs that we have written. So those samples are not all there is just all that have made their way to an album cut so far. Vic is the main writer of our duet and he does nothing but write it goes on in his head no matter what else he is doing. My 2010 resolution was no more writing until I understand the marketing end of the songwriting. And I have been following through with that all month until you inspired me to write 14 new songs in 28 days so I let some creativity out already but I am still drawn to the social networking and in making an attempt to get some sort of affordable solution to the marketing end of the songwriting business. We are really just plain folks with very little needs and very little funds to do anything with that isn’t a needed commodity. The month of February will give me time and access to high speed Internet which I will not have again until next January and February so I really am attempting to take advantage of all available knowledge and inspiration that I can this month. I am glad that this journey has lead me to your site and your wonderful blogs and again thank you for taking time for your opinion which has been helpful and appreciated. Cindy

Vikki said...

@ViCindy, a good book on the topic of marketing as a songwriter might be John Braheny's "The Craft & the Business of Songwriting" which you can get from the library, I imagine.

Also sign up for Bob Baker's newsletter (http://www.bob-baker.com), Ariel Hyatt's newsletter (http://www.arielpublicity.com) and Music News Nashville (http://www.musicnewsnashville.com), and glean what you can from the free information provides on a weekly and monthly basis. Join NSAI if you can afford it - http://www.nashvillesongwriters.com

If your plan is to pitch songs to artists then I think you need to realize that competition is fierce. Professional songwriters have credits, a very active network, and the ability to make quality demos. So look for local up-and-coming artists who might be willing to sing/record your songs so you can get credits.

Just some further thoughts. All the best!!


ViCindy said...

Thank you again Vicki that is a great start and most all is within my reach even as we speak except the NSAI. We spent some time in Nashville in the late 1980's and early 1990's our last visit was in 1996. We were young it was a great time and yet we were always told we had to move to Nashville we never did of course. I love the Internet and social networking because it does connect people everywhere. I will go and check into the links you provided now. God bless you for your time and information. Cindy

David Patterson said...

What a great article! I am just breaking into blogging and using social media to promote songwriters. Thanks for posting and providing such useful information.

Songwriter's, Smyrna GA.