Whenever the topic of social media is raised in any forum of the music industry, a choice discussion is always the practice of purchasing followers or views, allowing artists to game charts, rendering social activity unreliable and therefore less significant.
But often overlooked in this dismissal of the validity of social activity is the fact that building a significant social following is fairly pointless for an artist unless they successfully leverage that following at critical moments. To reach fans with a new lyric video, to spread the word about a tour, to gauge interest in an upcoming album release – ultimately to interact with fans and get instant feedback on what you are creating.
While a vast social following can be a valuable tool, only legitimate and loyal followers that engage with the content you provide through social channels, and ultimately your work, provide you with the reach and engagement you are seeking as an artist. For this very reason, it is important to look beyond totals, and start to measure the relationship between daily activity and the number of fans you have – a measure of engagement.
Artist manager Robbie Lackritz has been working with Leslie Feist – known only as Feist – for close to a decade, and has a strong sense of how to build valuable engagement with fans. Feist, who is a Canadian singer-songwriter with more than four solo studio albums under her belt as well as countless collaborations with other artists and bands, has maintained a successful career as an artist for many years now.
Her most commercially successful album came in 2007. The Reminder (the making of which is chronicled in her 2010 documentary Look At What The Light Did Now) earned her four nominations for Grammy awards in 2010, including Best New Artist. About her latest album Metals and their release strategy, Lackritz says “it was a lot more about finding a more engaged core of followers.”
With just shy of a million page likes on Facebook, 127,000 followers on Twitter and more than 20 million video views on Vevo, Feist is classified as a Mainstream musician. But for the artist and her management team, building the largest online following, and simply hocking social content for attention, has never been the goal.