Social media can be a powerful tool for new artists. It helps gain listeners and increase popularity. And it also gives fans more insight about the person behind the music. Like any other tool, one must acquire knowledge to make its use successful. I spoke with Leonard Kim, a marketing and branding expert, about promoting new music online and creating a professional brand as an artist. His credibility spans from Forbes naming him a “Top Marketing Influencer,” to giving a TEDx Talk called, “Why You Should Let Your Fears Guide You.”
RC: What advice can you give new artists who are in the process of building their social media following?
Leonard Kim: If you’re an artist, there’s two separate things you could do. Either A: take on an identity – what you want to be perceived as, like a Lady Gaga. Or, B: you are kind of like yourself. First you have to really pick exactly what you are; after that you have to create the story behind who you are. If you’re using yourself, it becomes a lot easier because that story is easy to really develop. And if you’re using another persona … you want to add in high moments and low moments – kind of like if you were watching a Pixar movie that takes you through all of the emotions. You want to display that so people can really see the journey that got you to where you are today.
RC: In your opinion, what makes a great social media bio, particularly for someone in the music/entertainment business?
Leonard Kim: When you’re first starting out, you want to make sure that people are able to recognize you based off of what you’re similar to. So, in that bio, you want to say something like you have a sound that is similar to maybe Drake or Jay Z, or like two other people. You kind of want to say how your music was inspired, what it’s like – so people are more inclined to take some interest into hearing what your music is like. Also, in that bio you want to express your interests and things that you like, so people are able to relate to you on a personal level. At the same time, position yourself as what you actually want to accomplish. If you’re in the R&B world, say you are an upcoming R&B artist, something like that.
RC: Should there be differences in an artist’s bio across platforms (Twitter, Instagram, etc.), or is it acceptable to use the same content for your bio on all platforms?
Leonard Kim: For social media like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook … you kind of want to keep them pretty simple, where people are able to discover what you’re like. But on the other platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify, you want to talk more about what your music’s like … and a little bit more about you with the ups and downs that we talked about before.
RC: How can artists avoid sounding ‘annoying’ or ‘pushy’ when reaching out to new people through the internet/social media?
Leonard Kim: One of the things about online is that people are like … “hey, check out my music,” … “listen to this new tune,” … “[or] hey, I came out with this new single.” I think a lot of people, when they see that, they are kind of jaded because a lot of other people are doing the exact same thing. You kind of want to be different. If I was creating music, what I would want to do is maybe take a clip from a TV show I like … or any of the viral videos that are going around, and put my music over it. … That way you are promoting your music, but you’re not directly shoving it into people’s faces. You’re showing what they already want and how your music compliments what’s already out there.
RC: What tips do you have for an overwhelmed artist about creating their professional brand?
Leonard Kim: It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed because there are so many different components. You have to do your song writing, your singing, your vocals, you have to do all these different things; and on top of that you have to take care of your professional image too. The best thing to do is kind of take a step back and see how you can incorporate everything in together. Incorporate your social media into your lifestyle. So, if you’re making a new track behind the scenes – show those shots and just incorporate it. It becomes a little bit easier when you are incorporating it [social media] into your everyday life as opposed to saying, “oh, I did this, how do I fit it into social media?”
RC: Is there anything else you would like to add on the topic?
Leonard Kim: Let’s say there is something that you’re really scared to share, and you have this gut-wrenching feeling that you shouldn’t share it. Those are usually, most of the times, things that people really connect with. If you are embarrassed about something … people usually tend to resonate with it a lot more. So, if you are sharing things like that, you will have a much higher chance at success.