Using Facebook Live to earn $74k in one year as a solo musician

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How musicians should use Facebook Live to serve their audience first, and later reap the rewards.

Last weekend at CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference in Nashville, I rounded a corner in the hotel lobby and saw a man SWAMPED by people. He was taking questions, shouting answers to the crowd, and obviously giving a lot of energy to this conversation, which was a continuation of the one-hour session he’d just led in the ballroom.

It was Rick Barker, former manager for Taylor Swift, and he was talking about a powerful but under-utlized tool most musicians (in fact, most people) carry with them every day: Facebook Live.

Rick’s session centered around Dawn Beyer, a Nashville singer-songwriter who got frustrated with the grind of long, unpaid gigs (which is the norm on Nashville’s storied street of live music venues, Broadway). After losing her voice numerous times, she turned to Facebook Live.

Her live streaming efforts paid off. To be exact, she earned $74,550.

In his talk, Rick Barker tells you how. Check out the video above to watch the whole seminar (which was, of course, also streamed via Facebook Live). For the skimmers, I’ve also written some takeaway notes below.

Notes from Rick Barker’s session: “Earning $74,000 using Facebook Live”

  1. Your past does not determine your future. Mistakes. Burnt bridges. Drug addiction. Prison time. None of it matters. The only thing that matters is how willing you are to put in the work NOW.
  2. There are a lot of pretty people who can sing. There are also a lot of ugly people who can sing. There’s no shortage of talent. Again, it all comes back to your willingness to WORK.
  3. Everything you need in order to run your music business is in your pocket. A recording studio. A video production kit. A bank. A communications system. And more.
  4. Don’t get signed. PARTNER. Today’s labels won’t work with you (usually) until you’ve built your career to a point where you really don’t even need them. Since that’s the case, it’s your job to get to the point where a label wants to partner with you. Don’t spend $10k recording an album if you can create products and experiences more quickly and cheaply.
  5. Go where your audience is. Billions of people use social media on their smartphones. To artists who say they don’t dig social media, Rick says: “Get the frick out of the business because you’re in the way. If you’re not willing to go where the people are at, you’re a moron.”
  6. Not all social media platforms were created equal. You cannot build a relationship in 140 characters, but you can tweet to lead fans to a platform like Facebook that allows for a deeper connection.
  7. Age doesn’t matter. No matter how young or old you are, there’s a place for you on Facebook.
  8. STOP boosting posts on Facebook. Show up, use Facebook Live, be interesting, and the organic activity will happen without the boosts. If you’re going to spend money, spend it on Facebook Ads!
  9. You can’t post too much on Facebook. “Recycle your winners.” Keep sharing the content that performs best.
  10. Get dorky about the data. Data will tell you what’s connecting.
  11. Use Facebook Live to announce events, no matter where they are in the world. Don’t limit reach by geography, because a fan in Nashville might be psyched to hear about a show in Sweden if they have friends in that country who they can tell to go to your show.
  12. Don’t just show up on social “when you need shit.” Be a regular!
  13. Give fans the opportunity to pay you. Use things like PayPal to collect $$ for your activity. If you don’t, don’t complain about being a broke musician.
  14. If you listen to your fans, they’ll tell you exactly what they want. Just shut up about your damn album release party already (or whatever other event or product you keep pounding them over the heads with).
  15. “Stop making music for you, unless you plan on buying it all.” Art is about connection. Do your songs evoke something that other people can feel and relate to? “Find a hungry audience and feed them.”
  16. Give first. Relationship allows you to sell. Don’t be overeager to start pimping your product.
  17. Put your virtual tip jar link in the very first comment. It’ll show up when people view on mobile. 
  18. Set a PayPal alert on your phone. That way you can thank people during the live stream whenever a payment comes in.
  19. Facebook Live is best utilized for a one-on-one feel, so performing up close to the camera is good. It’s tougher with a live stream of a full band on stage.
  20. If you’re in a larger group (band, ensemble, etc.), use Facebook Live for more intimate moments and conversations, and then link out to videos of your live concerts.
  21. “Facebook Live videos are watched 3x longer than videos that aren’t live.”
  22. “Users comment on Facebook Live videos at 10x the rate of regular videos.”
  23. “Daily watch time for Facebook Live broadcasts has grown by more than 4x since its launch in 2016.”

Best practices for Facebook Live

  • Consistency: Show up and do the work. Make a series. Go live multiple times a day. Don’t worry about over-saturation at this point.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask: Build rapport with your audience, and then tell them what you need the money for. (Don’t ever say you’re a starving artist).
  • Start playing immediately: Don’t wait around for people to show up. More people will see the replay anyway, so jump right in!
  • Acknowledge your fans: Get to know them, and address them personally.
  • Share to other platforms: Do an Instagram story about the Facebook Live broadcast. Tweet a link to your Facebook page. etc.

Things to avoid while using Facebook Live

  1. Don’t mention how many people are watching. It’s not about you. It’s about them. So if it feels personal and one-on-one, great.
  2. Don’t get distracted. Again, focus on your connection with your audience.
  3. Don’t have bad audio. If you’re playing music, it should sound decent, right?
  4. Don’t try to sell all the time. Exhausting.
  5. No begging! Don’t be desperate.
  6. Not everything is Live worthy. So don’t broadcast your entire life.

If you want more advice from Rick and Dawn about Facebook Live for musicians, go HERE.

Have you used Facebook Live to build your audience, connect with fans, and earn money? Any tips to add to Rick’s suggestions above? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below.

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  • Gabriel Heiser

    I need to try this! Great idea.

  • Ha. Sure. Great session. Happy to share it. Happy to be your new hero too. ; )

  • Bronze22

    I was there in the room. Rick is great live. The whole conference gave me a new sense of direction and purpose.

    • That’s so great to hear. Keep me posted on how it all goes. And see you in 2018?

  • Arthur J. Smith

    This is what sharing information is all about…my 5th Ward Live TV…Has done a great deal of work in the community…Now it is time to promote a Live Concert Via Facebook. Thanks For Sharing…