Facebook fading: where will musicians migrate now?

June 24, 2014{ 16 Comments }

2534510 Facebook fading: where will musicians migrate now?Time to look towards what’s next – away from Facebook.

[This article was written by Greta Gothard of The Gothard Sisters. It originally appeared on the band's website and is addressed to their fans. I thought it'd be valuable to repost here as Greta does a great job summarizing the frustrations many independent musicians feel regarding Facebook. She also provides a great example of how to communicate to your fans what their continuing support means for your career — and setting the expectation that it might involve less social media and more email communication in the future.]

We have been using Facebook for our band since almost the beginning of time (at least, that’s what it can seem like at some points!)

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and I believe that pretty soon we’ll need to say adieu to Facebook and move on to whatever happens to be next. This is not because I am anti-facebook, or anti-social, or any of those anti things. It has just become impractical to use it for what we have been using it for – a means of communication with YOU, the fans.

We carefully built our Facebook fan page up from a collection of personal friends to where it is now, at over 10k followers who have “liked” the page in order to become a fan of our music and receive our updates, videos, photos, and random musings.

Every milestone has been a huge deal, as we’ve noted in many posts!

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Until recently, every single thing we posted showed up in front of the people who had “liked” our page. Then suddenly, one day FB started limiting the amount of people who could see each post, and requiring you to pay in order to get it in front of more people, causing mass confusion among bands and brands (like us!)

In this article from Digital Music News, an artist asked some Facebook developers about this new issue, saying “why do I have to pay to reach my fans?”  Their response is alarming for those who have spent a lot of time and effort to build up a healthy and thriving fan base and who now cannot reach those people:

Artist in the audience:  Yeah, my question is for Kevin [Carr].  It’s that, I understand that it’s becoming more competitive, but you have bands, artists, labels who have spent tons of money, countless hours… years building their Facebook fan bases.  And now, you’re charging them to reach the audience that they paid and spent hours and hours and countless resources to build.

Kevin Carr, Facebook: Sure.  I really think it comes down to – because there are artists and there are actors and there are brands  that are reaching  a ton of their fans though.  So not everyone has had that happen –

Artist: — right, the big ones –

Carr: — I think –

Artist: — but, if you have 30 million fans, you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to reach those fans.

Carr: It’s, it’s not a matter of — we’re not trying to punish anyone.  And it’s not like we’re trying to turn on a money machine.  It really comes down to authentic content, reaching the person.

Unfortunately, we are not a big corporation. We are three sisters trying to make a living doing what we love – in a famously under-paid profession to start with. We are “starving artists.” So we cannot pay hundreds of dollars to keep our content in front of the people who have decided to follow us and who want to see our updates. I know that we shouldn’t be complaining about a free service – it’s Facebook’s right to be able to pursue their company for monetary gain – but it offers the independent musician a tricky conundrum.

I made this post a little while ago about our Spring tour blog video. As you can see, it only reached 1,560 people, which is pretty good, but with the fan page having 10k followers, this is actually only 10% of the people who used to be able to see our posts.

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Then I decided to make a post about our Compass album, with all the handy little links and a photo, to see how that would turn up. You all said some lovely things about it (thank you!) but unfortunately, this post did even worse than the video.  Only 833 people saw this post:

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That’s alright, because most people are already aware of Compass as it came out a year ago and most of our fans probably already own a copy. It’s not incredibly important that only 833 people saw it. But then I thought – what if this was an announcement of a new album release? What if less than 10% of our fans were even informed of a new album release because of Facebook’s selective algorithm? So I decided to see if I could afford to “Boost Post” and pay for our entire fan base to see the post. I hate the idea of spamming you guys with too many posts about selling items in the store – but it might be worth boosting a post for the release of a new album, since then you would most likely want to know about it as soon as possible! So, this is what happened when I looked at boosting the post:

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In order to reach our entire fan base at our current FB numbers, the budget for just one post would be just under $100. Add to that the amount of news every person has in their news feed every day, and if you happened to boost your post and pay that $100 at the wrong time of day, it would probably get buried in everyone’s news feeds and they wouldn’t see it anyway.  So you can see the conundrum that I am now facing. I can’t afford to pay $100 every time I’d like our 10k followers to see new content that we’ve released. It doesn’t make sense! So, I have reached a conclusion.

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Now, don’t be alarmed, I will not be deleting our Facebook page or ignoring it completely, my focus is just going to move back to the things that we can keep and have some control over without spending a fortune. That has been, and probably always will be, our mailing list and website.

I will be using our website to post most important information and pictures, tour dates, blogs, videos and everything else.  This website is our little portion of internet space that no one will be taking control of for money. It is where you can all gather to enjoy new content and future releases. Whether Myspace is the current “in thing,” or Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Google+ or any of the other trends comes and goes, this website will still be here.

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For our communication with YOU, please sign up on the email mailing list to stay in touch and to receive those important updates that we can’t get to you on Facebook with anymore. As our storytellers will tell you, we never spam our subscribers with too many emails.  It is usually kept to 1-3 emails per month, with as pertinent information as possible, plus our monthly newsletter with these blogs, album and music announcements and the latest photos and videos and a free audio download every month. I will humbly suggest that it is the best arrangement for all of us, and I think it is here to stay, no matter what comes next after Facebook.

Sign up for the mailing list here – add your zip code and other address information to be notified when we’re in your area for concerts and shows:

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Thanks for sticking with us through everything – now let’s all ride off into the sunset without Facebook.

Sincerely, your occasionally frantic former Facebook admin,

Greta

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What do you think? Are you abandoning Facebook in favor of some other platform? Are you spending more time on your website and email newsletter? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • http://aristake.com/ Ari Herstand

    Email is and has always been the most important way to reach fans. However, bands should remember that average email open rates are around 15%. Sometimes more or less. Most bands have more fans on Facebook than on their email list. If only 10% of 10,000 see a Facebook post (1,000) and 15% of 3,000 open an email (450), Facebook is still your best bet. But if you’re selling something to your fans, purchase rates convert better over email.

    Definitely keep building the email list, but it’s not time to completely abandon Facebook. I think that day may come soon, but there’s no magic bullet. The important thing to remember is you must continue to release regular content and engage with your base wherever they are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, YouTube, SoundCloud, LIVE SHOWS, and whatever comes next.

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      Hey Ari,

      Great point about open rates — and about engaging fans in many ways. Hopefully it all adds up to action.

      @ChrisRobley

    • http://www.seedsofmusic.net Kyle Williams

      I think the email list easily beats Facebook or any social media in any case.

      The people are a higher quality -more interested in the artist-, and like you said, more likely to convert (take action).

      It doesn’t take much to post content to Facebook, but I would keep it micro-sized and possibly released simultaneously on other channels.

      Otherwise FB will be most useful to artists with a FB ads strategy.

      • Carlos Navia

        Indeed. I guess the point is not to abandon FB, but instead not make it the priority. And yeah, seems like ads are looking good if it costs that much to boost a single post.

    • Oldnewbie

      Snail mail then email then social networks but the latter is failing us so it’s back to email.

  • http://aristake.com/ Ari Herstand

    Email is and has always been the most important way to reach fans. However, bands should remember that average email open rates are around 15%. Sometimes more or less. Most bands have more fans on Facebook than on their email list. If only 10% of 10,000 see a Facebook post (1,000) and 15% of 3,000 open an email (450), Facebook is still your best bet. But if you’re selling something to your fans, purchase rates convert better over email.

    Definitely keep building the email list, but it’s not time to completely abandon Facebook. I think that day may come soon, but there’s no magic bullet. The important thing to remember is you must continue to release regular content and engage with your base wherever they are: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email, YouTube, SoundCloud, LIVE SHOWS, and whatever comes next.

  • http://www.louisajohnkrol.com Louisa

    Thanks for the timely, pertinent article, Greta. However, there is an additional argument we could raise, to support your perspective: Facebook already gained its part of the bargain. There was a trade of personal info for free exposure. They’ve used, or have the power to use, the details / profiles they’ve collected from millions of people, for countless marketing deals. Now they want our money as well. Think about the ethics of this…

    • pianoman

      Hi Louisa,

      Also, to add to what both you and Greta said: Many times we’ve actually PAID for the followers in the first place. Incidentally, for my music page, I did not, but another brand that I’m involved with paid thousands to advertise their FB page ON FB (in other words, we paid FB to place an ad about our FB page in front of the FB user, to make them aware that we have the page, and from that, they liked the page), and between paid growth (about 20% of the growth) and organic growth (once they hit about 20 000 likes, organic growth really popped), they currently have 90 000 followers. Large parts of these followers are their exactly because they PAID to get the news to them, now they have to PAY AGAIN to make a post that reaches them!

    • pianoman

      Hi Louisa,

      Also, to add to what both you and Greta said: Many times we’ve actually PAID for the followers in the first place. Incidentally, for my music page, I did not, but another brand that I’m involved with paid thousands to advertise their FB page ON FB (in other words, we paid FB to place an ad about our FB page in front of the FB user, to make them aware that we have the page, and from that, they liked the page), and between paid growth (about 20% of the growth) and organic growth (once they hit about 20 000 likes, organic growth really popped), they currently have 90 000 followers. Large parts of these followers are their exactly because they PAID to get the news to them, now they have to PAY AGAIN to make a post that reaches them!

  • Oldnewbie

    I’ve heard politicians give better BS answers than that Carr character!

  • Carlos Navia

    I agree, but to an extent. Following your magazine comparison, it makes sense to think Facebook Ads shouldn’t be free. But, what if the magazine also told you that only some of its suscribers will have access to articles about you; and that if you want the magazine to display them you have to pay the magazine on top of the ads – doesn’t make sense now, does it? And while I agree that no one wants to see everyone else’s posts all the time, I do think there should be a better way than just charging for views. I mean, right now the model of “you interact with a friend more, you see his posts more” is working well; thus we should do the same for bands/brands that we like, regardless of how much they boosted their posts. Or, at least, charge a bit less for boosting them – Facebook Ads seem cheap by comparison…

    • http://www.soulsanctuarymusic.com/ Soul Sanctuary

      That is how it works, unfortunately if a band doesn’t keep posting things that gets loads of responce the reach dies off really quickly. My band has over 20,000 on our page, I stopped posting for a while because I felt it was taking too much time out of writing the music. Now I’ve gone back to it. I’ve gone from getting hundreds and thousands of likes per post, to getting 40 if I’m lucky, sometimes as little as one or 2 likes out of 20,000 fans… It’s just insane.

  • Carlos Navia

    I agree, but to an extent. Following your magazine comparison, it makes sense to think Facebook Ads shouldn’t be free. But, what if the magazine also told you that only some of its suscribers will have access to articles about you; and that if you want the magazine to display them you have to pay the magazine on top of the ads – doesn’t make sense now, does it? And while I agree that no one wants to see everyone else’s posts all the time, I do think there should be a better way than just charging for views. I mean, right now the model of “you interact with a friend more, you see his posts more” is working well; thus we should do the same for bands/brands that we like, regardless of how much they boosted their posts. Or, at least, charge a bit less for boosting them – Facebook Ads seem cheap by comparison…

  • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

    Interesting point. Bands would certainly appreciate their fans more!

    @ChrisRobley

  • http://www.base.at/ www_base_at

    why did facebook made so much profit last year

    it’s a long process and it works everywhere the same!

    1st: you’ll get everything for free.
    2nd: it works fantastic. f.e.: the performance of facebook is awesome!
    3rd: people/bands join in and spend so much time and effort to build up a hudge following
    4th: on the climex of the hype they get listed on the stock exchange
    5th: after stock market launch free is not that much free any more. f.e. only 15% of your followers reach you now!
    6th: you have to advertise! and we have to do it. or leave it!
    7th: big profit for the shareholders
    8th: for the user it means: keep advertising or leave! but you have to leave because the advertising does not help you that much.
    9th: facebook becomes My_Space!
    10th. a new high plattform starts.
    11th: hello groundhog day!

    that’s how capitalism works!!!

    best wolfgang
    http://www.base.at

    • http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/author-chris-robley Christopher Robley

      A brief history of “free” web platforms.

      @ChrisRobley