Succeeding as a Musician With and Without Social Media

What do Lorde, Andrew WK, and Lana Del Rey, all have in common? They’re all successful artists who aren’t very active on social media.

But also, they’re all artists who are already fairly well-known, and who’ve been signed on by major record labels. So, what if you’re an indie artist who’s still looking to build your fanbase? Can you still become successful without a social media presence?

As industry insiders and marketers who help artists build their careers, we hear that question a lot: “Do I need Facebook / Instagram / Twitter as a musician?”

So, can artists survive without social media?

For artists, building successful music careers without social media is possible but challenging, as social channels are the most cost-effective means to reach audiences. However, certain methods do allow artists to leverage social media benefits while still avoiding its negativity and distractions.

In this guide, we’ll break down the ins and outs of social media platforms for musicians, including which social media platforms are really essential, and how to maximize visibility while avoiding social media pitfalls.

Let’s dive in!

Which is the best social media platform for indie musicians in 2024?

The best social media platform to grow an artist’s fanbase depends on the average age and location of the artist’s target audience. In the US, TikTok has the highest engagement rate, Instagram has the youngest audience and Facebook the oldest audience, while YouTube the most users whereas X (FKA Twitter) has the fastest growing user base and lowest cost per impression (CPI).

The table below provides some useful insights into social media platform selection.

Global Active Users (millions) US Active Users (millions) Average Global User Age Average US User Age 2024 User Growth Rate Average Organic Reach Average CPI
Facebook 3,049 187 31 40 5.1% 4.32% $8.70
YouTube 2,491 251 40 29 0.74% >150% $3.53
Instagram 2,000 145 21 25 3.7% 9.32% $5.98
TikTok 1,562 111 25 30 4.2% 118% $9.50
X / Twitter 619 64 24 40 23.5% 3.61% $1.20

 

For instance, if most of your listeners are 21-year-olds, Facebook might not be the best platform to spend your time and resources; despite the largest base of 187 million active users, the low organic reach (the percentage of your followers who will see your post without you having to pay the platform to show your content to them) and high average age make it a suboptimal choice for you.

On the other hand, if you know that most of your listeners are aged 45+, focusing on TikTok might not be the best strategy for you.

If you’re not sure who your listeners are, where they live, or what their average age might be, the best way to figure it out is to dive into your audience analytics on the streaming platforms where folks are listening to your music (like Spotify or YouTube). Our step-by-step guide to finding and growing your Spotify audience will help with this, and you can also find some super useful insights figuring out audience demographics in our YouTube targeting guide.

In case you’re just getting started and don’t yet have any useful streaming data analytics, you’ll have to use your best guess on who they might be. One great way to do this is to think of other artists that you think your potential audience might also be listening to. Check out these artists’ pages on Spotify, open their ‘About’ section, and scroll all the way down to find their top cities.

 

 

This brings us to a host of questions that we often get from indie artists…

Do musicians need Facebook?

In 2024, musicians with listeners who are older Millennials, Gen Xers, or older, will benefit from Facebook’s base of 187 million active US users. Artists with younger listeners will find better organic reach and engagement on TikTok and Instagram, with the latter also offering a lower cost per impression for paid ads.

Is TikTok good for musicians?

With 1.5 billion global users, of whom 111 million are in the US, and a proven record of spotlighting musical talent, TikTok is a great platform in 2024 for musicians whose listeners are Gen Z-ers or younger Millennials. At a staggering 118%, TikTok also has the second-highest organic reach in 2024.

Is Instagram still good for artists?

With 145 million active US users, and organic reach twice that of Facebook, Instagram is the perfect platform for growing musicians looking to target Millennials and Gen Z-ers in 2024.

Do musicians need Instagram?

Instagram’s average organic reach of 9.32%, high engagement rate and young user demographic makes it a great channel for growing musicians to promote themselves. But many indie artists are growing their fanbase and finding success without an active Instagram presence, by leveraging other platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

What should I post as a musician on Instagram?

In 2024, musicians on Instagram tend to achieve the highest organic reach and engagement when posting short, “snackable” video content. At present, Instagram Story and IGTV videos can be up to 15 seconds in length, while Reels can be up to 30 seconds long. Although longer videos (up to 60 seconds) are allowed for feeds, short and sweet is the way to go. Clips that tell a story perform better than randomly cut segments from longer videos.

Do musicians need Twitter?

Yes, it has a low user base in 2024 of just 64 million active US users, relatively low organic reach and low content shelf life. However, its rapid growth in users (at 23.5%, the fastest of all social media platforms today!) as well as low CPI and increased adoption by younger users means that a presence on X / Twitter may be valuable to artists’ career growth.

Do musicians need a YouTube channel?

Unlike other platforms where content shelf-life is extremely short, and where content can (and does) get lost amidst the noise, YouTube's recommendation system can continue to help build your music outreach and brand visibility over time. This, combined with its phenomenal global reach (nearly 2.5 billion in 2024) and diversity of user profiles make it an extremely attractive platform on which to showcase your music.

How do you promote your art when you hate social media?

Extract maximum value from each platform 

The smart musician is one who can leverage social media platforms to boost their brand visibility as well as artistic growth. In 2024, some of the biggest wins that an artist can gain through strategic social media use include the following:

  • Fan profiling

Social media analytics today allow artists to gain a thorough understanding of their listeners and fans, including demographics, hobbies and interests, values and viewpoints. Such knowledge is invaluable in attracting more listeners and fans to their music.

  • Exploiting short video format to beat ‘newbie’ odds

Newer artists can capitalize on the more level playing field offered by short video format platforms like TikTok and YouTube Shorts. These platforms serve up videos to consumers of similar content, irrespective of the popularity level of the content creator (in terms of subscribers, number of views, likes and so on). 

  • Showcasing ‘social proof’ as a catalyst for growth

An artist can use videos not only to show off their talent, but equally importantly, to woo potential fans with the ‘social proof’ that their art is eliciting positive reactions from other people.

Check out this post on the DeNovo Agency blog for in-depth tips on harnessing these techniques, as well as a host of other strategies for boosting your fan following on social media platforms such as Spotify.     

Use tools to minimize distractions

Artists can promote themselves and expand their audience base by leveraging the reach of social media channels, while simultaneously avoiding the distractions and negativity of these platforms, through a variety of measures and tactics:

  • Using a Facebook Page instead of a Facebook Profile to limit the content visible on the newsfeed
  • Using a tool like “Unfollow everyone” to clean up the newsfeed of the account used to access the Facebook page
  • Using tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Loomly or SocialPilot to post directly to platforms like Instagram or TikTok, avoiding the addictive interfaces of the apps.
  • Outsourcing social media tasks to social media managers (freelance platforms like Fiverr are a great place to find highly-rated professionals)

Next steps

Now that you have a complete overview of the social media landscape for artists in 2022, you might want to check out our professional services for artists serious about boosting their careers, or our free toolkit on how to market and distribute your music. We’ve distilled our experience of working with indie musicians, and of helping hundreds of artists build successful music careers, into six simple, powerful insights. Over 14,000 artists have downloaded our toolkit — get your own free music business toolkit here.


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