Five social media tips for indie musicians


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Actor and musician Jared Leto takes questions at the Social Media Summit. Credit: The Recording Academy

To tweet or not to tweet. That is no longer the question.

Musicians who don’t take advantage of social networking tools will soon perish in the La Brea tar pits of old-school media.

At least that’s what the ‘social media rock stars’ told the audience at an event this afternoon hosted by the Recording Academy as part of its Grammy Awards festivities this weekend. Panelists included Pete Cashmore of Mashable, Kevin Rose of Digg, David Karp of Tumblr and actor-musician Jared Leto.

We asked the panelists, along with the academy’s marketing maestro Evan Greene, to give their advice to indie musicians who want to use social media, whether it’s Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Facebook or YouTube, to get a leg up. Here’s what they told us, boiled down to five easy tips:


1. Be real. ‘It can’t just be about commerce. People want to connect with you and get to know you. They don’t want to connect with you if you’re just telling them to go buy your record. They don’t want you to be perfect, either. They want you to be real.’ -- Evan Greene, chief marketing officer, the Recording Academy

2. Pick a couple of services you like and focus on them. ‘There are so many services out there that trying to do everything and be everywhere is impossible. Play around with them. It’s okay to mess up. And don’t have a PR person handle your tweets. It should be all about having a real conversation with your fans.’ -- Kevin Rose, founder, Digg

3. Have something unique. ‘There’s so much already out there, and people have so little time that having something unique about yourself and your music can give you a competitive advantage. Figure out what’s unique about you and ask: What is the distilled message? It has to be something so remarkable that other people will have to share it.’ -- Pete Cashmore, founder, Mashable

4. Share things that you are most excited about. ‘Share things you find, love, hate and create. Share the things you’ve made, even if it’s not finished yet. That’s what makes it engaging.’ -- David Karp, founder, Tumblr

5. Embrace anarchy. ‘We had an event called the summit. A thousand people would participate and become part of the recording process. I got a Twitter message from someone in Iran who was frustrated they couldn’t come. We came up with a program that allowed them to sit at home and participate. It’s a world of chaos at times. But there are lessons. It’s a fertile ground for creativity.’ -- Jared Leto, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for the band 30 Seconds to Mars

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.