The time to take control of the conversation is now

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Another week, another potentially horrendous change coming to Facebook. The social media giant that has essentially cornered the music promotion marketplace while repeatedly taking steps to restrict the reach of posts published without a financial boost has now rumored to be considering hiding the contact information from all Band pages. This means, unless otherwise stated in their bio (artists can and should add emails to their general manager’s information), the only way to contact an artist you’re viewing on Facebook will be through Facebook. It’s good for them, but bad for the artists, writers, and the industry.

When Facebook and Twitter became the primary platforms for online communication the amount of attention paid to most artists’ official websites dropped to a point of near non-existence. The rise of brand partnerships and an over-reliance on blogs/publications to premiere content added to the distraction, and now we’re all caught up in a information nightmare that is nearly impossible to clearly navigate. Every artist was everywhere, and they’re promoting content from a dozen sources simultaneously:

“Watch our video on YouTube, but not until you see the premiere on this music blog. “

“Follow us on Snapchat to see our lives on the road, but also follow this company whose account we’re using while we are in Los Angeles.”

“Follow us on Twitter for up to the minute news, but also on Instagram because they have better photo filters and we have several thousands followers there as well.”

“Did we mention we’re taking over X magazine’s Instagram tomorrow? We’re also live-tweeting the next presidential debate for X brand.”

“Stream our album before you can buy it on X website while being shown ads for other band/products.”

“Buy our album on iTunes, Bandcamp, Amazon, and Orfium.”

“Stream our album on Spotify, Tidal, Amazon, or Apple Music.”

It’s not that these platforms are bad, but how they operate and what they choose to do in the future are largely out of your control.

Take Facebook, for example. Artists were initially able to reach anyone who Liked their page, but over time that access has slowly been restricted to the point where most posts reach less than 10% of their audience. This move was done in part to encourage paid promoted posts, which come with the added benefit of being able to target the audience you want to see your latest posting. Over time the reach each dollar paid can generate has begun to change, and it will likely continue to change as more people agree to pay a third party in order to reach people who have asked to be shown more information about their music.

The potential changes to contact information are no different. By making it harder to drive users outside Facebook the company hopes to prolong the amount of time people spend on their site. Why email an artist when you can use Facebook Messenger? It’s in Facebook’s best interest to keep you on Facebook, and that perhaps goes for bands and businesses even more than average people. And what’s to stop them from eventually charging for messenger? Nothing.

The time to stop letting social media control your audience is now. Buy a URL and create your own website. If you already have a URL, move it off Tumblr or Facebook and turn to Squarespace for something more customizable to your needs. Once you get that accomplished you can set to driving your fans there for everything they need and want from your music. Post exclusive updates, share photos from tour photographers in gigantic galleries, share new music, and most important of all – keep up to date contact information. Use your social pages if you want, but add an email, as well as relevant information for anyone working to get you recognized (manager, publicist, etc.). Make it so simple to know everything there is to know about you and your music in one place that everyone who seeks you out online will have no choice except to fall for your work.

Don’t turn your back on social media, but do point your fans to sites where you can control how your followers engage with your work. Foster a community of fans you can empower to help spread the word about your next release or tour. You don’t need Facebook as much as they need you. 

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.