THE INTERNET: HOME OF THE INDIE ARTIST
For artists, the digital revolution and the arrival of social media that followed it, turned the entire route to the market on its head. Unlike in the past when artists relied heavily on record labels to grant them the platforms necessary for exposure to gain a strong following, from the comfort of a laptop or even a smartphone, artists now have the entire connected world as a potential fan base at the tips of their fingers.
In regions of the world where the Internet is more widely available, record labels tend to wait for artists to establish a following online before they step in to offer a deal. In Africa, structural and financial setbacks present a roadblock to Internet accessibility, consequently it hasn’t quite developed well enough to
completely overhaul the traditional role of the record label in popularizing artists. However, as progress continues to be made towards the availability of data, it has never been more important for artists to understand how to leverage their online presence to create a fan base. It is also worth noting that the Internet has broken down sound borders, and hence can be referred to as a global marketplace. This means that as much as it offers artists an opportunity to promote themselves locally, it also opens
the door for international discovery, an opportunity that cannot in the slightest be ignored.
For alternative artists, their poor presence on mainstream media often forces those interested in their genre of music to take to a personal search, which is almost entirely done online. If this is not enough reason for these artists to invest in promoting their brand and music online, then there would never be a good enough one.
The saying that perception is reality, couldn’t find a better home to be true than the Internet. With this in mind, artists must be aware of how their online presence affects audience perception, and work towards directing the image they put out, to propagate the brand they hope to be recognized by. It simply isn’t enough to only produce quality music, it is necessary to create an image that compliments the sound, and this is where the Internet comes in. Subconsciously, listeners are always marrying sounds with images to create impressions that ultimately come together to form an idea of the artist. With this in mind, artists must pay particular attention to the aesthetics of their websites. Lagbaja stands out as a typical example
of an artist that has used his image to capture an audience.
A quick glance through the websites of some alternative artists in Nigeria reveal that most have put in little or negligible effort towards developing their website’s ability to satisfy its function as a branding
tool. Most of these websites lack content that reflect the artist’s journey so far, makes no mention of recent
press publications that feature them, and fails to hint at a bit of their life outside music and what their personalities are like. Then there is the quality of the site’s design to contend with. But never mind that, some don’t even have a web destination at all!
Outside of a personal website, there are social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube that allow artists connect with fans and potential ones. They also serve as referral points to the personal website or any other destination that will improve the artist’s chances of gaining a following and selling records. Upcoming artists must learn to be relatively active on these platforms to engage fans on a personal level. Social media platforms also increase the opportunity for artists to meet social influencers like bloggers and personalities with a sizable online following to further expand their reach by building relationships.
Di’ja, though a mainstream artist, is a perfect example of how an artist can use social media networks to connect with fans. With constant updates on her activities and timely replies whenever she can help it, fans tend to feel connected to her on a personal level and even promote her to their friends to further grow her fan base.
Without the backing of a record label offering sizeable sums of money for marketing, it is in the hands of artists and their managers to ensure they are optimally utilizing the marketing opportunities available online.
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