Listen up, bands: Twitter is more than just a place to wax poetic from the tour bus and gripe about broken guitar strings (and/or dreams) — it can also help you promote your music and connect with your fans.
We talked to a ton of bands — from up-and-comers like The Limousines, to indie darlings like The Thermals, to established artists like Pete Yorn and Ben Folds — about how they use Twitter, and compiled the following list of tips and tricks.
Got some more clever musical uses for Twitter? Be sure to share your pro tips in the comments below.
1. Build a Fan Base
So you’re just about to burst on the scene, showering the populace with your synth-heavy, electropop goodness. How do you go about capturing the attention of those who will make or break you: your future fanbase?
According to Brian Levine, manager and social media consultant for the emerging act Bananas for Mowgli, “Up and coming bands with little to no released music are able to take advantage of Twitter by aligning themselves with artists who share a similar fan base or aesthetic. First thing you should do is start following these people as well as the most relevant taste makers in your genre or ’scene’ if you will. Use Twitter management tools to expand your network and be in the right circles.”
That’s what Levine is doing right now for Bananas for Mowgli, whose debut album drops on October 26.
Do you follow some awesome band on Twitter that you would kill to jam with? Why not tweet at them? It can’t hurt. You never know who’s going to be down to hook up with you — especially if you don’t try. Eric Victorino of The Limousines was able to score a kind of collaboration with DJ Samantha Ronson by merely paying attention to mentions of his band on Twitter.
“We keep tabs on who’s talking about [us] and who’s mentioning us,” Victorino says. “Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan were both talking about us once, so we just reached out to them, like, ‘Hey, hi.’ And from that came — I wouldn’t say a friendship — but just sort of an e-mail conversation with her. And whenever Samantha would go DJing, we’d give her a new track.”
3. Trade a Track For a Tweet
Are you a smaller band with a pretty strong fan base? Well, use the hell outta them, we say — but give them something in return. Paul Lamontagne of Bearstronaut used Twitter as both a method of releasing the band’s new single, “Shannon,” [click to download] and gaining more followers.
“We used something called ‘Tweet for a Track,’” he says. “Fans can — for the cost of one tweet — [get the song]. It gets reposted on their Twitter to all their followers, and they get the single. No money changes hands, but we get to reach as many followers as possible.”
4. Get Your Fans to Promote For You
Similar to trading a tweet for a tune, crowdsourcing your fans when it comes to promotions can also be a boon. Brian McClelland of He Whose Ox Is Gored told us, “[Our Twitter following] really did pick up once we started talking with people, and it’s kind of snowballed from there… We’ve been getting some radio play, so we’re going to go on our Twitter and do merch giveaways to people who call up and request a song.” Get He Whose Ox Is Gored’s new single, “Cloven Hoof” here.
5. Have a Personality
Yeah, your lyrics may be tight and your beats danceable, but that doesn’t mean you’re socially literate. Pick the wittiest member of the band and assign him or her the role of official Twitterer, or “Twitter Czar” as Westin Glass of The Thermals deems himself. If fans can tell you’re having fun via your tweets, they’re much more apt to engage with you (and attend shows, buy records, join a cult in your name, etc.).
“Last May, when we were doing our spring tour, we were posting on our Twitter and we were just going crazy on there,” Glass says. “One of us would be sitting in the front of the van and one of us would be sitting in the back of the van and we’d be just like just posting all kinds of crazy inside jokes, nicknames for all the people in the band. We were just trying to make each other laugh by posting all sorts of weird stuff that probably made no sense to anyone, but people seemed to like it…. I just post jokes and song lyrics from ‘90s epic hit songs, pictures of Axl Rose and, I don’t know, just whatever.”