Facebook has gone through a lot of turmoil on the artist front in recent years – and it makes sense that it is. After all – the site has been rapidly growing, to the point that it can boast the presence of almost every established artist in the world. As it creeps ever closer to the two billion user mark, it becomes increasingly difficult to deny the companies supremacy. What does this mean for you and your band though? Essentially – Facebook reigns eternal, and despite what anyone might say, I think it’s important to realize that Facebook is, and will remain, our most reliable, quantifiable and important social network in the years to come.
Now, keep in mind that I, like many others, definitely have my problems with Facebook. The site recently stopped letting new bands use plug ins to let them host their music – a serious bane for bands trying to promote themselves on the service. Beyond that – Facebook has been making a killing off of groups by using their much maligned sponsored post system while simultaneously lowering how many of your fans are going to see your unsponsored posts. This of course is… less than optimal. However, despite what everyone seems to have thought, Facebook has remained the most important social network for your band.
Why is this though? I think that the primary reason is because of the range of services the site provides. Asides from allowing you to advertise your band through sponsored posts it features applications like Bandsintown that allow you to promote your bands gigs for free. Beyond that – event pages in and of themselves are by far the most convenient platform to share information about your upcoming concerts with your fans and friends. It’s fully interactive and part of a program that almost everyone is on – it simply makes sense that Facebook’s event pages are the best.
One of the big arguments that people raise against Facebook is that the average age demographic is shifting upwards and young people are instead investing themselves in services like Snapchat. This is definitely valid, but I think that within the underground music community this is just not the case. In fact, I would argue that my most influential Facebook friends, the people who run magazines, booking agencies and record labels tend to be on Facebook more than the average user, again, it’s simply the most convenient service we have. While there definitely are personal discrepancies the overarching trend is that most people involved in the music industry use Facebook as their main tool for promoting and working with bands – and again – this is largely because of the diversity of the services rendered.
I think that a huge part of why, even in 2015 that Facebook matters is because the strongest tool you can implement on the website is not advertisements, snazzy pages or applications, but the sense of community, and we all know that independent music has always been based around that. Bands like Full of Hell are able to take full advantage of this, offering merchandise giveaways to those who like and share their tour announcements. Other young acts have been able to heavily cross promote with their friends bands and record labels emphasizing nothing more than the crucial sense of community that the independent music world so heavily relies on. I get that for a lot of reasons Facebook is suffering, but I think for the underground community its influence can only grow. If it weren’t for the community then I guarantee you, literally none of this would be possible, it’s how we all work. We need to rely on it, more than anything else, if we want to continue and carry on.
In my mind, at least, Facebook actually fits very nicely into the grand tradition of the independent music world. Remember when Myspace first got popular and everyone said that this was the new generation of tape trading? Well it’s my belief that Facebook is the true successor to that. Facebook is possibly the most inclusive and immersive service known to man. It allows for more flexibility and possibility than Twitter or Instagram (Although both sites are important and should be taken into consideration) and has the potential to push everything forward for both fans and creators.
Despite how I might sound – I swear that I’m not a shill for Facebook – in my five years on the service, I’ve found that it remains the most important for any band. If nothing else it allows you to really quantify how many fans you have. Even if ‘likes’ aren’t the perfect measure of popularity they certainly help establish a barometer of popularity. And if you want to complain about how your posts aren’t being seen by that many people, think about it this way – when is the last time you actually found out about a new record from a random Facebook update? It certainly never happened in the days when Facebook was more helpful to bands and it doesn’t happen now. Their are traditional channels for that kind of stuff and those channels are traditional for a reason. You shouldn’t be expected to check a bands Facebook page every day – that’s why news sites exist – to keep you abreast with the highlights and if your band can’t get promotion for their upcoming release… well then they have other problems.
So go out, rock hard, ride free and figure out what really resonates with your Facebook fans. In most cases it’s not a question of sponsored posts as much as it is not creating engaging enough content, or relying on that content yo guide your band forward. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, from networking to hiring a PR guy you can’t just expect Facebook to take care of all of your problems – but then again you enver could. Sure it’s a little different now, but that’s part of why we love this – every day is a new challenge and we will always be there, with our noses to the grindstone and our fists raised to the sky, fighting to find freedom I a world that seeks to choke out our art. Know what you can take advantage of and when and you’ll be off to a great start and building for your future.