It happened a few weeks ago in Australia.  I was standing at the opening cocktail reception for APRA’s Song Summit Music Conference overlooking Darling Harbor in Sydney, and I was chatting with a perfect stranger (who it turns out is a very famous Australian musician with quite a few top 10 hits in Oz).  Noting my foreign accent he asks “What brings you here?” “I teach artists about online marketing and social media.”  I answer sheepishly, because this news is not always met with elated enthusiasm.

Him: Really?

Me: Yes

Him: You know one thing I have noticed about Social Media and marketing…

Me: What is that?

Him: I noticed that you don’t really have to be a great artist or well respected by your musician peers to succeed now a days – you just have to be really good at marketing and you get more success than you ever would have in the past.

Well, he’s right. I’m not saying that his point is fair and he only voiced what 99% of most musicians only think: That guy’s music really sucks but he got good at being pushy on Facebook and so he gets more people to his gigs than me, and he sells more than me.

Really? Is that what you think?

What I would say is: It doesn’t matter if you think that musician sucks. The POINT is that artist managed to identify and relate to enough people who think his music is great and his fans reward his efforts. So, stop judging others and worry about how to make a difference for yourself.

Why?  Because there are 500,000,000 people on Facebook to connect with.

And anyone can connect with a few hundred people, forge great relationships and then market music that those fans who want it and like it. Simple.

What is NOT simple is getting your judgments about yourself and other artists out of the way and just diving in.

So here I am to debunk a few of your (ahem) resistances and the aforementioned one is #1 on the list of….

Top Seven Reasons Why Artists Strongly Resist Social Media

#1: I don’t want to be pushy and over-hypey, like all those other artists that I hate. (or “I hate the way he markets and I don’t want to market like him!”)

OK – so talking about yourself is icky.  But having people love your music is wonderful. So my advice is: when you use Social Media, take the spotlight off of YOURSELFF and shine it on OTHERS (the people in your community/ fans / friends).

Share things that feel mundane. Don’t even think of marketing yourself or your music for a few months until you get the hang of it; and then after you do, use it to gently lead people to your newsletter sign-up, your website, and to help yourself with Google rankings.

Keep this in mind: 78% of people trust peer recommendations (i.e. the “Like” button on Facebook) for products and services that they BUY.  Only 14% trust TV/radio/print advertising (source: Socialnomics). You need to be one of the artists that peers are recommending.

#2. Promoting my music on Social Media won’t put any money in my pocket I’ve tried it and it just creates more work for me.

Here is what is true: Social media most probably won’t directly put money in your pocket in the short term. But when used in concert with traditional marketing and as part of a plan it can be integral in re-enforcing relationships between you and your fans which will down the line lead them to a point of purchase.

In a recent Top Spin training class I learned that being Googlicious (your Google rankings) and your email newsletter list are two vital components to putting money in your pocket and social media can help you strengthen both.

#3 Social Media and Marketing takes too much time.

I only want to be “an artist” rehearsing and playing.

OK, I never said that this was fair. Being successful does and will take hard work and it always has.  These are a personal questions:  What is your definition of success? How much time are you willing to commit to learning new skills and mastering new tools?

If the answer is “none – I just want to play,” than that that’s OK.

Derek Sivers recently wrote a moving piece ( about this and the comments are very telling (maybe making music for profit isn’t for you)

“Stop expecting it to be valuable to others. Accept it as personal and precious to only you. Get your money elsewhere.”

Wanna Keep Going?  Good!  Read on:

I remember attending a seminar called the “World’s Greatest Marketing Seminar” which was designed to help entrepreneurs market their companies and one of the most successful ones stood up on stage and delivered some horrible news:

To be successful, 70% of your time should be spent on your marketing and sales and 30% working on your business…

There was a collective gasp in the audience.

(Yes this means that as artists you still must balance the creation of music BUT you better spend a lot more time on the marketing side)

#4. “Social” Media isn’t “real” media – or – Social media has no real impact on the “real” world.

Citizen journalists (bloggers, podcasters, Internet Radio stations and people with large followings on Social Media sites) are the new influencers.  Take a good long look at traditional media these days: approx once every minute, TV news broadcasts tell you to go to their Twitter and Facebook pages.  Many of them have a permanent graphic on the screen with Facebook and Twitter feeds (think CNN or Fox).  The “real” media is constantly telling viewers to go to social media and contribute.  And note: There are over 200 Million blogs online.  One or two of them may just want to write about you J

#5. Social media is just for young people – I’m not in “that” generation.

Think Again: The average age of a twitter user is 39.  The fastest growing demo on Facebook is 55-65 year old women.  Why?  Because grandma is signing up to look at photos of little Johnny and then realizing that all of her friends and family are actively engaged and … that’s FUN!

#6. Status Updates on Facebook and Twitter Tweets are stupid. Who CARES about what everyone is DOING ALL OF THE TIME???

Many artists only feel that social networking sites are made for promotional use.

And when we all came to the party with the first ever social network – MySpace – that was indeed the case. In fact the GOAL was: Hype, hype, hype. Promote. And add, add, add as many friends as possible. Rack up the plays by any means necessary. Or you wouldn’t get that club to pay attention to you or that record label to sign you!

There were no personal thoughts or “status updates” in the mix whatsoever.

Therefore, a lot of artists become deathly afraid of Twitter and Facebook status updates because they don’t feel that people want to know their random or personal thoughts.

Since Twitter counteracts that and is more of a community-building tool than a promotional tool, it confuses them on what they are supposed to be doing or saying on it.

Get everyone in your group involved! Maybe one person flourishes on Twitter but doesn’t understand Facebook. Then let them put 100% of their energy into that social networking site alone. You will see when someone is actually doing something they understand you will get the best return on your investment on that site.

#7 I’m not a social person / I don’t want my fans to see my personal life.

If you really are not a social person, Social Media is ideal for you because you’re at a computer screen, not in front of a live human!

You can decide when and how to respond to someone, have time to think about what to say, who to say it to, without the pressure of someone sitting in front of you expecting a response in the moment.

And only show what you want to show – not EVERYTHING is personal – movies you like, books you read, how about talking about other artists you love and respect? There’s a few to start with.

If you want my help in getting over all of these resistances come join My Music Success in Nine Weeks Blogging Challenge

Thanks to Phil (@PhilPutnamMusic) and Christina (@CyberPRUrban) for the help on this post!

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23 Responses to “Top Seven Reasons Why Artists Strongly Resist Social Media”

  1. Cadyfinlayson

    As a new convert to social media, this article brought up all seven thoughts I've had at one time or another.
    The one mention in the article that really made me think was…
    “It doesn’t matter if you think that musician sucks. The POINT is that artist managed to identify and relate to enough people who think his music is great and his fans reward his efforts. So, stop judging others and worry about how to make a difference for yourself.
    Why? Because there are 500,000,000 people on Facebook to connect with”

  2. Kyle McNeil

    And the reason I say that is you’ve hit every ounce of social media and why people’s beliefs around it don’t serve them and aren’t reality.

    The truth is social media is the most powerful tool for building relationships. The other barrier to get over is the fact it’s not intimate communication … what I mean by this is because it’s not in person we don’t think it has value. it does have value. Whether it’s Noush’s story of 800 000 followers on twitter b/c she “got it” and also got creative:

    Or personal experience where people send me a message or two a week b/c they read a blog post of mine. They didn’t realize how much they had in common with me … and maybe never would have … b/c we can’t meet in person with everyone. It’s a great way to leverage your time and find who you need to find.

    And one of the KEY messages you share in this blog, that is SO important. Is don’t hype. To much hype. It’s like the pesky Realtor who never stops posting about “today’s the day to buy, it’s nice outside”… the same thing happens with artists and it hurts them.

    People want to know what you’re doing, but more importantly they want to know you. It’s the relationship. Not the one sale.

    Build the relationship. Be real with people and share who you really are. That’s what’s compelling. That’s what will have you survive and thrive as an artist.

    There’s gold in this blog post Ariel. Brilliant!


  3. Kyle McNeil

    Brilliant post Ariel.

  4. Inky Smudge

    I think they call that 'hitting the nail on the head'. Great post.

  5. Brenda K Spevak-Saito

    Great post, Team Ariel ! I never would have ventured into social media if you hadn't cajoled me into it this year with the blogging challenge, and results from my efforts therein are limited only by the time constraints I am under. Social media greatly facilitates fan engagement, and I loved your response to “that guy sucks but he's pushy….”

    Many thanks!!

  6. Lolita

    This article was a great reminder like it or not, we’ve got to change the way we view social media. I was glad to hear 55-65 year olds are getting the hang of it. The computer can be frustrating, I can’t get back on my blog on, my password keeps acting up, but I’m told by my friends to be persistent and not afraid to keep trying and to learn. So keep the Newsletters coming Ariel they are very helpful. Lolita R. C.

  7. John Gilliat

    This is great! I do need to read a post like this every now and then to assure me I’m on track. (a good read on a bad day) As indie artists we all have the tools and the ability to be successful. Just do it!!! It’s not rocket science and Ariel’s Music Success in 9 weeks blogging challenge is just what I needed. I haven’t been this excited about my online marketing ever! And I’ve bought lot’s of books and hooked up with a lot of internet guru’s however, Ariel’s challenge and book is really making a difference for me. Yes, I keep running into road blocks, mostly technical stuff to do with getting an app to work right etc… however, Google is an amazing machine and there is always an answer if you invest the time to find it. I’m really enjoying this type of marketing and the social media work. I love hooking up with people all over the world in person and online. What an amazing time we live in!

    John Gilliat –
    Ottmar with a Twist, Passionate & Fiery Rumba Flamenco Guitar.

  8. dollarvandemos

    resistance is futile. great post.

  9. Patricia Silverberg

    I was resistant to Facebook as I had enough to deal with Myspace an my own web site. I must say that Facebook is a must! I not only gained fans and bookings, but also been able to reach out to some of my musical role models on a personal level. I have not gained any money, yet, but, oh well. All in good time.

  10. scott honsberger

    Really great post, Ariel.

    I find another reason that artists avoid them is the technological aspect, namely, the time investment that goes into learning these platforms. I get that artists 'just want to perform,' but as label investment dollars decrease substantially, it's essential that artists embrace doing more on their own.

    That means learning all sorts of new skills, including technical ones.

    Also – as an artist, it doesn't matter if you think Facebook or Twitter are stupid. The point is, your FANS are THERE already, so you need to be, too!


  11. Jennifer Iacono

    Great article on how essential Social Marketing is in the Industry today, Ariel! I first saw this on Mikey J’s Blog where he quoted you, and I was so impressed by it that I had to track it back to its source. You worded, so clearly, the benefits of social marketing, and, not only did a great service to the artists out there, but to the social media industry as a whole. Thank you. Not everyone is so gifted with words.

    I thought, at first that Mikey had written this piece, and replied on his page. Perhaps you will allow me to repost here:

    ” Great article on how essential Social Marketing is in the Industry today, Michael! I have just one more thing to add. If an artist has a really hard time navigating the ins and outs of the Social Marketing scene, there is a growing breed of marketers and managers, who can take the tech out of Social Media for you.

    We go by different names, but whether we’re Social Networkers, Social Media Marketers, or just this generation Online Artist Managers, we can guide you to the social networking sites best suited to you, set up your profile, and have everything ready for you to simply type away. Some of us will also work as messengers, allowing you to email what you would like to say to us, and then distributing it throughout your networks for you. We can then returns comments and emails back to you via email.

    Problems writing? Why not have your Social Network Manager author your profile, and maybe even your blog in the form of an interview? There are many creative solutions for every situation.

    In the end, you don’t have to spend all your time working on your social presence, but you shouldn’t ignore its potential. Whether you do it yourself, get a hand with the technical set-up, or have someone managing your accounts, it’s time to get in touch with social media.

    Jennifer Iacono
    Director of Talent & Product Management
    Phoenix Professional Services
    Music Xray:

    Thanks again for such a great article, Ariel!

    All the best,


  12. Paul O'Be

    Right on the money Ariel…

  13. Kelly Carpenter

    This is very helpful. Helpful and sobering. As you know, since I am doing the blog challenge, I am totally sold on embracing social media as the way to pursue my craft and bring it to the world

    (For those of you out there that have heard about ArielPR's Music Success in Nine Weeks Blog Challenge, the book is worth every penny and the blog challenge is totally worth it.)

    70% of my time on marketing vs. (only) 30% on my craft? This is hard to swallow. But I realize that this is REALITY. And if I want to do what I love, I have to embrace it, not endure it. Embracing it means that I'm willing to have fun doing it while simply enduring it will make it hard to get up in the morning.


  14. Glenna

    What if an artist is philosophically opposed to social media because in the long run it could be a socially destructive force?

  15. Jeremy

    I think a lot of times musicians are just not sure how to use the tools well. I'm still in the learning phase of how to blend social media into what I do everyday.. How do you establish a good rhythm with the tools and use them well?

  16. Wood Flute Music

    I believe you have to keep the social media thing in perspective. You don't want to spend most of your time checking your social sites and less time working on your craft.

  17. Kyle

    Agreed – and you don't want to spend most of your time working on your craft and no time building an audience, and connecting with them (via this amazing tool called social media), or else you'll be playing to small audiences for a long time.

    Obviously there's a balance, and I believe that's what you're pointing out. I respect that.


  18. Kelly

    This is absolutely about balance. I was hitting the social media thing really hard throughout the blog challenge and it gave me vision and confidence to work on my next record. That said, until I have the new record finished, the best I can sell is a 10-year old album, so for the time being social media has to take a backseat to content generation. But once the new record is finished, hold on to your horses! 🙂

  19. CyberPR

    and you don't want people to forget about you while you record! 🙂

  20. thewiz12

    Patricia, you said you have not gained any money, but you've gained bookings… didn't you get paid for some of those bookings?  Social networking is definitely a more subtle, but more powerful way to gain long-term fans & relationships with clubs/promoters.

  21. Praverb Dot Net

    I think that a lot of artists are unaware of the benefits of Social Media because they haven’t been fed in regards to knowledge. The only thing artists care about is visibility and being respected. They employ a shotgun style of marketing that is not intimate. Social Media helps artists find out who they are. It is just a tool and should be used in conjunction with other tools. Artists need to spend more time building relationships and marketing and less time following someone else’s path to success.

  22. Social Media and My Career – natgrube

    […] here i am, studying a degree which entails a great deal of self-promotion. According to the article Top Seven Reasons Why Artists Strongly Resist Social Media – i am not alone in my aversion! There are some great tips and nudges of persuasion in this […]

  23. ElG

    Political artists with something to say have to be careful. Social media is a massive surveillance program. Don’t speak out against the elites in your country or you might be in trouble. For simple things like posting pics of family and friends partying, that’s fine.


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