Blogs and Facebook Pages: Creating an Online Magazine

Collections of magazines

When it comes to Social Media everyone is in the publishing business. Blogs and Facebook Pages are forums for community building. Occasional self-promotion is alright, but your followers will not keep coming back unless you provide fresh, valuable content that encourages conversation.

Think like a magazine…

With social communication tools you and your company can develop an interactive, engaging, online magazine that will attract followers and strengthen your credibility and brand. Sounds great, right? Before you jump in, think about what this means. If you don’t have a plan to maintain your presence daily (or at least several times a week), your fans will lose interest.

Stay away from self-promotion…

Look at your favorite magazines. You may see a few discrete appeals for subscriptions (and that card that always falls out on the floor), but what compels you to read them is the content. The focus is on the reader, not the publication. Many bands use their Facebook Pages solely as a billboard to announce upcoming gigs, post new songs, reviews, and generally talk about themselves. If I’m a fan of a company or artist, I already know I like what they do. There is no reason to regularly return to their Facebook Page if it doesn’t offer anything new.

Consistency breeds loyalty…

If The New Yorker skipped a couple of issues or was suddenly missing columns they would lose readers fast. Facebook Pages and blogs require the same consistent commitment to publishing content.

Reach the right audience…

A good magazine brings you unique, targeted content you can’t find anywhere else. Who are you trying to reach and what do they value? Many folks get much of their news and cultural information from Facebook and blogs. If you’re not Hemingway, you can establish a strong identity simply by aggregating content and encouraging discussions with your fans.

Talk about what you (and your followers) love…

I’m a guitar player. I have many friends who are guitar players. The most active conversations on their Facebook Walls are about music they love, or gear, or instruments, or other musicians. If it’s an upcoming gig it’s usually mentioned because it is something special. “I’ll be playing at blah-blah on Friday night” is generally not a conversation starter.

Personal Facebook Profiles vs. Facebook Fan Pages…

Some people are very active on personal Facebook profiles, but when they put up a business Page they suddenly clam up or resort to self-promotion. The nature of social technologies is to blur the lines between formal business and social communication. If you are running out of ideas try sharing other people’s posts you would naturally publish on your personal Wall. Plug in interesting content from around the web and see what gets a conversation going. Comment daily on other people’s Pages, Facebook Groups and blogs with a link back to you.

Create a publishing schedule, keep it active and see what works…

Magazine publishers live and die by deadlines and production schedules. Make a plan for your Page or blog and stick to it. When you see something that works, ask yourself why and do more of that. Most important, keep it fresh and interesting.

What approaches to blogging and Facebook have been most effective for you and your company?

Image courtesy of Long Nguyen

The Future of The Professional Musician

As the music business continues to shift, the future vision for professional musicians remains a work in progress. By professional, I mean a person who has devoted themselves to the mastery of one or several of the musical arts. This would include instrumentalists, composers, orchestrators, songwriters, recording engineers, educators and producers. Music is a deep and profound human language and I think Malcolm Gladwell is fairly accurate when he sets the bar for mastery at 10,000 hours. For most people pursuing music on this level, a professional career is essential to that process.

To the general public, ‘The Music Industry’ is about pop music entertainers who may or may not be truly accomplished musicians. The topical conversations about freemium and direct-to-fan marketing have been focused on self-contained bands or singer-songwriters. The fact is, there are many complex business models contained within the music industry and all are been shaken up by the rapid changes in technology and the global economy. How do you plan your career if you are not primarily a singer-songwriter or performer?

Professional musicians have always relied on multiple income streams to make money. Today, the business is changing so quickly that musicians will need not only a thorough understanding of the traditional elements of the business, but will also need to master the Internet to brand and market themselves. As you start your career, think about what you do best. What strengths do you have that can be applied to marketing, networking and business? Frank Zappa used to ask people he was auditioning, “What do you do that’s amazing?” That’s a great place to start.

Who is your target audience? Whether they are music fans, film producers, music supervisors, educators, technology managers, or other musicians, be clear about your unique brand and use every tool at your disposal to get the word out and build your network. Educate yourself about the intricacies of music publishing and licensing. Get involved in the conversations about the future of copyright. See how you can apply direct-to-fan marketing strategies like Mike Masnick’s CwF + RtB = $$ to your career goals.

There are many excellent blogs and resources on the web. There’s a good article in the latest issue of Berklee Today on Gerd Leonhard and his ideas for collective licensing and web marketing for musicians. Don’t get stuck on old paradigms. Even traditional aspects of the music business such as publishing, are in flux. The process of change will only accelerate and the successful business models of the future will be entirely new.

The challenge is finding a balance between the need for self-promotion and the passionate pursuit of music. It’s not easy to spend twelve hours a day immersed in music and then put on your marketing hat. Planning is key. First figure out what you do best, then set specific goals for your career. The tools for self-promotion can be overwhelming. Having strong mission and vision statements and clear milestones and benchmarks will help you identify the tools and strategies that will work best for you.

Above all, stay connected to the music inside you.