If you were a Ugandan musician back in the 90s and early 2000s, you would never have to think about the way you use the internet. But you’re not a musician of the past. You’re a musician in the twenty-first century, and the culture and expectations have changed – especially when it comes to the way artists promote and distribute their music. They do it on social media.
Let’s face it, social media is a huge part of being a musician from a small Country called Uganda. It’s wishful thinking to believe that all you need to be successful in this industry is to make great rap music. To grow your fanbase and keep from boring, or even losing existing fans, it’s essential that you keep everything up to date and put out content that is truly engaging. The battle is not just to get more followers, it’s about gaining true fans who will support your journey and stick with you as you evolve.
In today’s increasingly digital world, the internet is immensely important to the music industry and the people who work within it. (After all, you’re reading a website right now, aren’t you?) Whether you’re dealing with music blogs, web zines, album reviews, tech reviews, downloadable files, artist interviews, promotional giveaways, festival submissions, or other aspects of the industry, the internet reigns supreme when it comes to sharing information, interacting with fans, and expressing yourself as an artist.
One of the most important parts of the internet for Ugandan musicians is social media. Every type of business imaginable has a social media presence, and as a musician who wants to blow up, trying to build a career, you should have one, too. Some of the most popular platforms for musicians in Uganda include Instagram, Tik-Tok, snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube and sometimes whatsapp, but there are countless other websites where our musician can showcase their talent.
There are tons of social media platforms out there, some designed specifically with musicians in mind. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the hassle of picking and choosing between them, because you should ideally make a profile on all of them (or at least as many as you can realistically spend time maintaining).
That being said, some social media platforms definitely have more clout than others. Facebook, for example, boasts a user base of nearly 2 billion people – about a quarter of the world population. At the same time, it’s also important to keep in mind that size isn’t everything. SoundCloud, for instance, is much smaller than Facebook, but it exists specifically for the purpose of sharing music, which is obviously a major benefit for Ugandan rappers. A good social media strategy is to start by making profiles on the most popular or relevant websites – beginning with Facebook – and work your way toward the smaller websites that get less traffic.
Another major element of your overall brand performance today is your social media approach. How easy are you to reach? When people tweet your or message you, how often do you reply? Whilst you likely don’t have time to sit and answer every message that comes through, or argue with trolls, make more of an effort. Again, your ability to self-publicize will be massive here. Try and learn to balance the ideas between promotion and outright bragging, though.
Use your social media plan every day to slowly talk yourself up, in a way that is slightly egotistical but not too out there. You have to make yourself sound good, but don’t start producing delusions of grandeur about who you are and what you represent!
Try and limit how many messages you send each day, too. Reply to as many messages as you can, by all means, but keep status updates on all your social media platforms minimized. You are far more likely to get hits on one important message than twenty menial messages.
Building a brand is tough work, and it’s not something that you should expect will fall together easily. However, to make it as an independent artist free of any help and input, it’s going to be a major point. Many talented artists have forged their brand; the secret is realizing this is an on-going process.
One great tweet or one brilliant tune won’t be enough to make your brand. The brand has to be consistent through the hard times and the good. If you are ready to fully represent your brand, though, you’ll find it easier to navigate through potential problems that lie in wait.