Social Media Marketers can learn from Musicians

I was in a twitter chat last night, ( #cmchat – country music chat ), and the discussion turned towards customer interaction and engagement. Everyone should know by now that the essence of the “social ” in Social Media is all about connecting, engaging and interacting. And let’s just say I feel very connected when comparing social media and playing music as I do both.
Mack Collier suggested “Companies want all interactions to DIRECTLY lead to sales, don’t understand sales can be Indirect result too “.
Suzanne Vara added – “connect for the right reasons and not just to connect to sell. Customer share matters more than mkt share
Kelly Kim tweeted “it is a lever they can push. “Hit numbers” is not the lever. ENGAGE! That’s the lever.
I started connecting the dots on how Social Media marketers can learn from the music business. And more importantly, how musicians connect and engage in a transparent way to not just wins fans over, but to actually have them promoting and evangelizing on their behalf. Think about it –
The music industry may be the original SOCIAL MEDIA marketers.

1) – You cut a record.

2) – You get heard on radio.

3) – You go on tour and connect with your audience.

A group can record a kick butt album and get tons of airplay, but if they fail to connect to their audience during live performances…..
I tossed out this scenario – Have you ever been to a show where you have never heard of the opening act yet before their set is over, because they connected and engaged so well with their audience, you forget who the headline act was? I know for certain I have discovered several of my favorite bands because of the way the engaged in their live performance.

Here’s one more example:

I am a big blues fan. A hot blues guitarist was headlining a show at Rams Head Onstage in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s a small venue that was actually voted top music venue under 500 seats in the world. I love this blues guitarists music and was psyched to see him with full band for the first time. The opening act, Tinsley Ellis, actually has had a longer and much more notable career than the opening blues guitarist, but for some reason he was the opening act.
My wife and I arrived to the venue early. The show started at 8 pm but doors were open for seating and we opted to grab our seats early and order food and drinks instead of eating in the restaurant part of the club. We were the only ones in the showroom at the time. Being a musician and excited to see two blues idols of mine, needless to say, I was in guitar heaven.
We were treated to watching the opening act do a quick sound check. I was watching one of my guitar gods go thru his pre show routine. And then all of a sudden I soured. This particular guitar god started going off on his guitar tech about something and you could just cut the tension on that stage with a knife. They left the stage, the room was silent again. Our food and drinks arrived when all of a sudden I saw Tinsley Ellis pop out of the green room. He noticed we were the only ones seated in the club at the time. Tinsley beagn walking towards us, came up to our table and in his native Georgia accent said, “hey folks, mind if I join you for a beer?”
We talked with Tinsley Ellis at my table, in that intimate club, with nobody else around and no distractions, for about a half hour. We joked, laughed, told stories and just had a blast. This guy wrote the song ” A Quitter Never Wins ” that put a teenage Johnny Lang on the map. But in the blues circle, Tinsley Ellis is a legend, and here he was, sitting at our table, sharing our bucket of nachos, asking me about fishing on the Chesapeake Bay. He was social media people call “transparent”. There was no BS about him. He was connecting and engaging because that is what he does.
Two different stories and impressions from the night above. In fact, we left half way through the headline acts set…… Oh yeah – he had some crazy blues guitar chops and was playing all my favorite songs of his, but he just stood there. He appeared to be going through the motions and there was zero connection with the audience. Tinsley Ellis on the other hand connected with the audience and tore his set up. And on the way out, I showed my appreciation by purchasing his new CD.
Listen up Social Media Marketers – a sexy website no longer can win you business. You better learn how to connect and engage and learn how to do it in a meaningful, transparent and genuine fashion because Social Media is the ultimate BS detector.

4 Responses

  1. Kelly
    Kelly May 24, 2011 at 9:28 am | | Reply

    This is a fun read, Lewis.

    Not only are you right in theory, but this has been our experience building our company. When we speak with SM marketers, CMO’s, etc, we’ve had mixed results. When we speak with musicians, bands, and their managers, they GET IT, and take action right away. Musicians LOVE connecting. It’s what they do. And they give out of love of their art and love for the fans.

    Anyway, best to you, and see you “in the stream”….

  2. Suzanne Vara
    Suzanne Vara May 24, 2011 at 10:49 am | | Reply


    I love this post for so many reasons. It tells a story that so many need to read and wrap their arms around it. In social media there is so much talk of engagement, interaction, connecting and creating dialogue but this right here is how it is done. In CMchat, the artists are there to talk with the fans and answer their questions. The younger artists are learning that building a fan base is more than airplay and the CD/iTunes and ticket sales. It is bringing the fans into your life and you into theirs.

    There is the star power that people gravitate to. Fans want to have a “special connection” to stars and believe/think the knows them. I met so and so and they said X to me. That is powerful and for the artist it is something they do all day but for the fan, it is something that stays with them and they tell every single person they see. We can talk all day in social media about connecting and growing followers, engaging but really this is what connecting is all about.

    Great article Lewis. Thank you so much for including me and sharing with me.

  3. Natalie Harper
    Natalie Harper May 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm | | Reply

    Love this! I’m a publicist/promoter in music, and Ms. Jessica Northey shared this blog on her feeds. I was part of #CMchat the other evening with an artist I workd with (@craigmoritz) and in the last four and a half years, we have heavily engaged with fans on SM because it’s a powerful, easy and affordable way to connect with fans and music media. I’ve noticed that I’ll try a promotion on SM sites and shortly after I start to see some major industry organizations doing the same. There are a handful of musicians paving the way with innovative ideas, but there are a lot of followers too. It has taken a lot of people to figure out HOW to engage with their audience or ‘fans’ online, but I agree wholeheartedly that more people should look to the music industry for tips.

  4. Peggy
    Peggy June 1, 2011 at 5:07 am | | Reply

    Hey Lewis!

    Wait, I thought I was connecting the dots… 😀

    Love this post and it does prove the point that Social Media is engagement and communication. You never know who is listening or who you are bouncing a question off of at that moment. I have found that people on Twitter are incredibly giving, helpful and friendly; which of course includes you.

    Great post, love seeing you around the Twitterverse.

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