If you listen to The Jig Is Up by Kendrick Lamar, you’ll notice the line “You’re too infatuated with the f****** numbers.” This statement is often true. Like other industries, the music industry revolves around numbers. Not just any numbers, a specific set of numbers that serve as a metrics to measure an artist’s success.
One of the many challenges songwriters, music producers, and artists face is how to use those numbers to efficiently gauge and scale their fan base.
Yes, I said numbers but relax, I’m not going to start talking about complicated math problems.
Before I dive any deeper, I’ll point out here that having clear and concise goals are mandatory. Success is subjective to your overall goals and what you want for yourself. To some musicians, success is being a platinum-selling artist or winning a Grammy. To other musicians, success can be as simple as selling $1,000 worth of merchandise every month and not relying on their job for additional income.
Once a goal is set, it becomes clearer which metrics should be used to monitor the progress and results of your hard work.
Most musicians want to measure their success but get it wrong by relying on what are known as vanity metrics.
Vanity metrics are things like:
- Instagram & Twitter Followers
- YouTube Views
- SoundCloud Plays
Don’t get me wrong, these metrics serve a purpose like any others but shouldn’t be heavily relied upon when evaluating your music career.
Ask yourself this, are these numbers reliable, what type of benefits do you get from them, and can they help you figure out your success?
As you can imagine, it’s quite challenging to measure the results of vanity metrics. Yes, you may have a lot of social media likes and YouTube views, but that doesn’t necessarily bring in a lot of sales. Sure, you can place ads on YouTube for your videos and generate “some” income, but the revenue won't be anything to brag about until you start generating millions of views.
This is exactly why solely relying on social media likes and SoundCloud plays to generate sales isn’t the best idea.
A better approach would be using a strategic digital marketing plan with effective tools designed to show you what’s working and what’s not. By doing so, you’ll rely less on charts and more on scaling plays and likes to purchases. To find out exactly how to scale your plays to purchase, click here and I’ll show you what worked for me.
It starts with being creative and creating engaging content that your audience will enjoy and appreciate. As long as you know what type of audience you have and what they want from your music, it will be easier to convert your fans into customers. This approach will take research on your end as well as trial and error but that’s the beauty of being a musician, everything is trial and error.
Here’s the thing.
There’s no foolproof way to generate sales in the music world as a newcomer, so you have to showcase offers, bring in features, provide incentives, and anything else that will keep your fans engaged and supportive. It may sound like a challenge but don’t look at it that way. This process should be fun. Think of it as a game, the more valuable content you create, the more attention you’ll get and the more income you can generate. What musician doesn’t want that for their career?
Now I get it, as a musician you want to make music. You didn’t sign up to be a so-called marketing manager and have no idea where to start when it comes to using social media to market your music. I’ll tell you this, it takes more than just posting something online and saying “Hey everyone, I just released a new song, link in bio.” To save you the trouble of making mistakes marketing your music on social media, I’ve created a simple Social Media Strategy video guide that outlines how to go about doing so. Click here for more details.
So when do vanity metrics matter?
The short answer is all of the time. Vanity metrics can and should be used as a marketing tool. If you have thousands or even tens of thousands of SoundCloud plays or YouTube views, you can use that to your advantage to generate other opportunities. Record labels, publishers, managers and more, all consider these numbers when they consider signing a musician.
Before they invest in your music career, they want to know that you have an audience to target and sell your music and merchandise to. They also don’t want to do the work for you so having a substantial amount of views and plays is more enticing. You’ve already done a bulk of the work and have proven your popularity. This is your social proof, proof that people are interested in what you have to offer.
But the best form of social proof is your sales.
When you can show potential partners that not only do you have an audience, but you also have fans and a system that generates income, the odds of you scaling that income increases tremendously.