In 2023 the biggest mistake an independent artist can make is to wrongly assume their music is either engaging or interesting.
We’ve spent the last few weeks looking at the best-performing music artists on Instagram and TikTok from the likes of willcullenofficial, alexanderstewart, jvke and Connor Price. and we’ve identified six best practice principles to make your content more engaging.
The music industry vs the entertainment industry
There was a time when people really seemed to care about music. People watched Top of The Pops every week, bought the NME, bought records and attended music festivals without comedy tents.
Those days are over, now music exists as part of a wider entertainment experience. It’s the background noise at our dinner parties, video games and Netflix shows. It’s covered by our newspapers, magazines and websites but only in passing. It’s just an option at festivals, along with comedy, dance, spoken word and crafts. And when it comes to our social media it’s rarely the focus of our viewing. We are much more likely to be focused on that ‘Wednesday’-inspired dance.
We all know this to be true, so now it’s time to act on these known observations and make the change. If are a musician and your Instagram Feed is filled with badly cropped clips from your music videos or live clips of you strumming an acoustic guitar it’s time to step up your game, because this isn’t working.
Layer up for future engagement success
The artists that will win in 2023 will be the ones that recognise music alone is not engaging, especially if it is an unknown song from a little-known artist. The trick is to add additional layers on or around your music to increase its universal appeal and interest.
Here are six ways to add layers to your content to improve engagement
1. Capture the emotional response to your live music
Replace your solo live performances with clips of you performing to someone. This could be a parent, girlfriend, music teacher or a stranger. The key is to capture their emotional response to your music. This provides viewers with an immediate emotional hook, and short cut to how they should also respond to your music.
@alexanderstewart it’s called blames on me 💔😭 #originalmusic #originalsong #sing #singing #sad ♬ blame’s on me – Alexander Stewart
2. Make it entertaining
In the entertainment industry, anything that isn’t entertaining will be skipped, remember this is a generation that has grown up swiping left and right. Your audiences vote with their thumbs, and unless your content is thumb-stopping you will be forgotten. Connor Price gets it right every time.
2. Build your brand with visual consistency
Look to add some kind of visual consistency to every clip. Think of this as your brand style or sign-off. This provides viewers with a simple way to remember you. Viewers want familiarity and format. If I know what to expect and I know I enjoyed the last video, I’m more likely to watch the next one without fear. Here are some examples: Maybe you always perform in the same place, or maybe your content always starts in the same way, or maybe you always wear the same distinctive hat. When I think back to my favourite comedy sketches on The Fast Show the joy was always knowing the format, the formula and the catchphrase.
@willcullenofficial Had to do it 😤 #liluzi #music #talent ♬ Like I Still Got You – Will Cullen
3. Stop, collaborate and listen!
Collaboration is nothing new in music, remember when Elton John teamed up with Eminem or Run DMC teamed up with Aerosmith? When two artists with two differing fan bases collide it greatly expands your potential reach. In the entertainment age, the collaboration doesn’t even have to be limited to another musician, persuading an influencer to feature in and help share your content can really make the difference.
4. Engage the eyes before the ears
TikTok is one of the few automatic ‘sound-on’ social media platforms, and even so, many people will still find themselves watching early in the morning, late and night or on the train without sound. Across all social media 80% of social video content is viewed with the sound off. This means before you engage the ears, you have to engage the eyes. Adding subtitles to the start of your clips allows viewers to quickly understand the relevance of the content to them and decide whether they want to watch it. You have to earn the right to sound!
5. Make content fit for format!
It’s no surprise that the best-performing content was made for the format. So don’t expect a square video created for Instagram Feed to be blowing up in Reels, Stories or on TikTok. With Canva allowing everyone to resize and format social content in a heartbeat, there will be no excuses for badly cropped content in 2023. Fill the space!
6. Cover trending tunes
There is always time for an unexpected cover version. Like collaboration, cover versions are not a new tactic for musicians to launch themselves into the world. After all, it’s much easier to get people to watch a video containing a familiar song that they love, than an unknown track. The difference this time around is TikTok will tell you which familiar songs are blowing up, allowing you to jump on the bandwagon and add your take. Once people have engaged with your cover, it’s time to introduce your original music into the mix.
And remember music videos come second
Discover more on RCM
- Free Music Marketing Training For Independent Artists
- Music Marketing vs Music Promotion Avoid These Three Mistakes
- Five reasons why music PR consistently fails unsigned musicians
- 6 Ways Independent Artists Can Learn From Brands
Words Mark Knight