How Musicians can use Social Media to Financially Navigate the Effects of Covid 19

Posted by Rafael Indyarta on May 15, 2020


For all the musicians out there, the Coronavirus pandemic has likely left you without shows and concerts to play. Sickfestivals.com, a website tracking cancelled and postponed music festivals, counted 286 cancelled festivals due to the COVID-19 pandemic ( SXSW, Governor’s Ball, and Glastonbury to name a few). 


Live-performers and musicians can rely up to 90% of their revenue on touring, so losing shows and concerts may seem bleak, but the good news is that there are new strategies to financially navigate the effects of COVID 19 by leveraging technology.


Over the past few months, social media interaction has skyrocketed, giving musicians a greater opportunity to interact with their audience, post unique content to show off more of their personality and build a brand for themselves that resonates with their existing fanbase or that attracts new fans. 


We’ve put together a list of four ways that you can use social media to generate some revenue during this time. 


Selling Merchandise

Focus your creative efforts on improving your merchandise and promoting it on social media.



Social media can be a powerful tool for the promotion of existing merchandise.


Share photos of yourself wearing the merchandise and show fans wearing it using instagram, twitter or facebook. Build hype around your merch, so fans will get excited about it. 


One way you can do this is using a single or EP release to create merchandise around it, giving your audience a new way of supporting you when they would’ve otherwise come to a show. 


Chance the Rapper is an example of using an album to promote merchandise. His album Colouring Book, had a line of merchandise which prominently featured a number 3, as seen on the album cover. Using social media to showcase the merch, he created a hype around it and once his tour came around, his merch flew off the shelves. 


Aside from the promotion of merch, social media can be used to engage with your audience and find out more of what they want. If your merchandise line is standard (t shirts, hats, stickers), maybe it’s time to get creative and find out what other kinds of merch will resonate with your audience. 


New Zealand Alt-Pop band Yumi Zouma are offering a Candle in their latest album merchandise bundle. 


Want to know what resonates with your audience? The best way is to ask and listen!


Start Teaching Music.

Share your skills with your listeners, who are eager to learn a new skill during quarantine.


With most of us having more time on our hands, it might be a great time to pick up an instrument. And what better way to learn a new instrument than from your favourite musician. 


Using video conferencing apps like Zoom or Google Hangouts, you can offer lessons as a way to bring in revenue. And of course, using your social media channels, you can promote and gauge interest in your lessons. You can also leverage social media to offer a referral program for your lesson, to gain attention outside your immediate followers. Offer a discount to those who referred a friend or who share your post.




Learning platforms like Skillshare and Masterclass are offering big promotions during this time, knowing how people are more willing to learn new skills with their new found free time. Musicians have the opportunity to capitalize as well. 


One artist who is currently utilizing this is UK-based Bass musician Olugbenga Adelekan. He’s offering lessons in both Bass Guitar and Ableton. He’s using a “pay what you can” model, so anyone can book a lesson, if they really wanted to. He’s not only able to effectively utilize downtime from playing shows to generate revenue, he’s also building deeper relationships with his audience, who may be inclined to support him further once the pandemic is over. 


It’s not just instruments that can be taught. For audio engineers and producers, you can offer lessons in audio production or sound design. 


You’ve got an amazing talent, why not share it with the world!


Host Livestreams & Virtual Concert

Even in isolation, give your fans a show!


Without concerts or tours, (and that we are all under quarantine) musicians are facing a lot of downtime. Why not invite your fans into your space? 


Remote and virtual concerts have been the go-to alternative for artists who had their shows cancelled due to coronavirus, but why limit your show to just a concert?


You can host other types of live streams, like a Q & A, giving your audience a glimpse into the person behind the music. There are also options to show off another one of your interests, like video games, cooking, or working out. Keeping the content fresh and exciting will naturally grow the live stream audience and can attract new fans to your music.


Live streams can also be converted into a revenue generating model. You can put up a paywall for your stream or include a donation option. Even if you just want to offer the show for free, there are still opportunities to promote merchandise and album sales during the live streams as well.   


Either way, the live stream is becoming the go-to play for musicians during the COVID-19 pandemic, and offers a lot of options to generate revenue in these uncertain times. 


One artist who has taken full advantage of this is Erykah Badu, who is hosting a concert series from her home aptly titled Apocalypse. She is charging $2 for the show, but she has put together a full on production. She also incorporates her fans into the experience, allowing them to choose the songs for the performances. In addition to all of this, she has also released merch to go along with the theme of the concerts. 


Click Here for a list of other artists who are hosting live streams and virtual concerts. 


Create a TikTok challenge

You can’t ignore it any longer, it’s time to create a TikTok challenge to one of your songs


Tik Tok is currently the fastest growing social media platform, and is something that artists can’t ignore anymore. The audience exposure that can come from a song going viral on Tik Tok can help boost streaming numbers, radio plays, or even album and merch sales. 


TikTok allows users to directly interact with a song, through a dance or sketch, and can organically promote it. Whether it’s silly or serious, TikTok can get your music into the ears of new listeners.


Artists can use this downtime to find a way to promote one of their songs on TikTok, by creating a challenge and sharing it on their social media platforms. It seems unconventional, but the results are undeniable.


One example of this is Drake with his new single “Toosie Slide”. Seeing the opportunity of the rising use of social media during the pandemic, Drake created the song and dance simultaneously, intentionally creating it to be a Tik Tok hit. By promoting his challenge through his Instagram Story, his new single shot up the Billboard charts and hit #1. 


Another example is Meg Thee Stallion. Her song “Savage” garnered a lot of attention for its dance challenge on Tik Tok, and it has since become her second highest charting song, and highest charting without features. All of this in only a month after its release.


A new song doesn’t need to be created; older music can be repurposed for fans to interact with and share on Tik Tok. 


It’s fun, creative, and something new to give fans during times of isolation. 


Conclusion

Musicians, like other businesses, are forced to pivot during this time, but it’s not all bad. Utilizing your already established fan base on Social Media, you can improve and push other streams of revenue and set yourself up for long term success. 


These are just some of the many ways you can maximize social media, but the general idea is to use your brand, talents, and creativity to allow your audience to support you in new ways. 


The people want to support you; you just have to give them a way to do so.