My name is Helen Perris, and I’m a singer-songwriter. I’ve being doing the singer-songwriter
thing for about three years. and started off small, and I’ve
been gradually growing my fan base through various forms of
social media and through gigs as well. I’ve been playing
music for as long as I can remember. When I was 18 months old I used to
climb up on tables and perform for families at gatherings; then I just
have always enjoyed performing. I learnt piano as a child;
I started learning violin. I did competitions; I danced;
I learnt to sing, and I started teaching. My success is down to
preparation meets opportunity I was very lucky to be able
to perform in front of Amanda Palmer, and at that gig somebody who was a promoter was there,
and they noticed me and asked me to support another artist
that was coming out and doing a tour. Things kind of snow-balled from there… (MUSIC PLAYS) Since then, I’ve released two EPs
and I’m starting to work on an album. Lots of people were interested
in my music, so I thought: “Okay, I should probably start really
taking this seriously.” So I set up some social media accounts, and started promoting my work. It’s really important to have a strong web presence to engage with your fans
on lots of different levels. For example, you might use one
channel just to broadcast news but other channels to
engage with your fans, and this means that you’re able to
promote your material without coming across as pushy. I use Facebook a lot as well,
both my own personal page to promote to my
friends, but I’ve got a page specifically for my music – and that has fans
from all over the world. In the early days of my gigs,
I used to plug my Facebook page every gig, and through that
I actually got quite a few more fans. I started off really small,
I remember, just by inviting all of
my Facebook friends to the page. I started off with
maybe about fifty fans; I’ve since grown that to close to 500. With Facebook, I’ve got a Facebook
page for my music studio, as well as my website;
they do work very differently. I found, because Facebook
is so universal, it can be really difficult to target local fans, so what I’ve been doing is I’ve found a lot of local community groups on Facebook; I’m in western Sydney, so I might go on the ‘Activities for kids in western Sydney’ Group and, for example, they might have a
specific time on a Friday afternoon where local businesses can post
a link to their Facebook page in that Group – so I would make sure I knew when all those times were, and then set up a post to go in onto that group at that time. I use Twitter a lot – you could say I’m a
Twitter ‘addict’. I’m on Twitter every day. I think I’ve got about1,300 people that follow me on Twitter, and they’re from all over the world as well. I’m on Twitter every day, updating, talking about what I do with my music, but also talking about everyday things so that people can see that “Yeah, I’m a real person.” I use my social media channels
really differently from each other. On Facebook, for example, on my music page it’s really, really focused; it’s just about ‘me, the musician’. I don’t post very regularly, but when I
do it’s about things that I’m doing as a musician gigs coming up, or songs that
I’m writing; things like that. On my Twitter, however, it’s about
‘me, the whole person’, so I post about my music, my acting, my kids, and my teaching. I post about successes that I’ve had with students and things – although I don’t mention names – and I also post about what I’ve had
for dinner, and when I’ve got a headache, so they’re getting a sense of the whole person on Twitter. I find that engaging with other people about their lives as well makes them more interested in what I’m doing. With my music studio, I actually use
YouTube quite a bit. With my students’ permission,
I film them playing – playing well – and put the clips
up on YouTube. I make sure that I crop out their faces,
and I only use their first names so that they can’t be identified. I find that that works really well;
the students can show their friends things that they’ve done. It helps to build a bit of ‘word-of-mouth’
as well. There are specific music-based social media sites; things like SoundCloud, and ReverbNation. YouTube obviously
is not music-specific, but it’s really useful for musicians. There’s a service – well, it’s an ‘app’ – as well called YouNow, that allows you to ‘live-stream’, which is pretty new in Australia, but it seems to be pretty interesting,
and a lot of musicians are using that as well. I find SoundCloud is quite useful for getting feedback on your new tunes; you can put demo’s up there,
and you can specifically say “Look, this is a demo”, Tweet it out to your fans,
or put it in your newsletter and invite them to have a listen
and to comment on what you’ve got there. You can also put completed tracks
up there, obviously, and you can choose whether
people can download them, or not download them. If you have a ‘Pro’ account with SoundCloud then you can actually set some tracks as ‘Secret’, and people can download them IF they provide you with their
email address, which is really useful for getting contact details of people
that are interested in your music. If you’re an independent artist like me,
then to get your music onto iTunes, and all of the streaming services, you have to use a third-party like CD Baby or TuneCore. I personally use TuneCore. You can get all of your music
on to Spotify, or Rdio, or Deezer, or MOG, Amazon music; 7digital music;
even JB Hi-Fi now it has a digital service, and TuneCore can get music on to there. TuneCore is also partnered with Radio Airplay, which creates Jango radio, so for people who just want to listen to
something ‘in the style of’ something else in particular, then you can get your music
onto Jango radio. You get ten free plays every week – and for me, I could say that
my music is similar to Sia, or to Sarah Bareilles, and people listening
to Sarah Bareilles or Sia might get to hear MY music
in the middle of that playlist. I find BandCamp is really, really
useful for me as a musician; it’s a fantastic service that helps
people discover new artists. Artists can recommend
other artists, but also it works as e-Commerce. I don’t have to worry about setting up a cart on my own website; I can just directly link to BandCamp,
to my Bandcamp page, and people can stream my music
and then download it. Some of it is up there for free, but some
of it they have to pay for – and they can order CDs and other ‘merch’
(merchandise) at the same time. Social media has been
incredibly useful for me, and it’s incredibly useful for everyone –
if they know how to use it correctly and appropriately. The only way you’re going to
figure out how to use it correctly and appropriately for YOU is by experimenting. The only way I figured
out how to differentiate my channels was by using them, so don’t be afraid
just to get out there and give it a go. I took a long time to
settle into each channel. I had a bit of a play around, worked out
how I wanted to use it, and how it was going to best work for me – so you just
need to do the same kind of thing. I’ve been really lucky so far
that I haven’t had much of the ‘trolls’ or the haters
affecting me. There’s been a few inappropriate comments here and there; the ‘Block’ button is really useful. What I have found is that, even when things do go wrong – and during my last crowdfunding campaign, one of the CDs got lost in the mail – you just have to be professional
about it. ‘Man-up’ – or ‘woman-up’ – and send out a new one, because in the end
it’s worth so much more to get that person feeling good
about how you treated them than the monetary cost. Crowdfunding has been a really integral part of my business strategy. I’ve used crowdfunding for both of my EPs
(‘Extended Play’ recordings), and I’ve found that not only did it help me
to make the EPs even happen, it helped to build my fan-base as well. There are quite a few different
crowdfunding platforms available: Kickstarter is the big one;
Pozible is one that started in Australia, and it’s very
big amongst Australians. Kickstarter’s now also in Australia,
and there is also Indiegogo and PledgeMusic, and lots
of other small, newer startups that have been happening around the place. I personally use Pozible; that’s just because it seems to be the best option for me. A lot of people think that when you do a crowdfunding campaign, you set it up and you can just sit there and watch it grow. That is SO not the case. When you are crowdfunding, you need to be constantly promoting it; you need to be telling people that you are raising money for whatever your project is in my case, it was to make an EP – and then you need to be reminding
people to actually go to the site, watch your video – you need to have a
really good video – and hopefully, if they like what they see, then they will pledge to support your campaign. I have actually used Facebook advertising once, but it didn’t really work for me. What has worked, however, was doing a
competition on my Facebook page with a t-shirt giveaway as prizes, and I also
did a Christmas single: put it up for free, as a download on Bandcamp, and tweeted about it; put it up on Facebook; put it out there on my newsletter; and a lot of people downloaded it, and that was a way of getting their contact details as well for my newsletter. If you don’t promote it enough
to your own fans, then they won’t feel invested enough
to promote it to their friends. That’s the only way that you can make it go ‘viral’ in a sense, so you have to get out there: you have to tweet about; you have to put it on Facebook; you need to put it in your newsletter; put it
everywhere. Put it on your website; link to it; use a ‘widget’ to link to it
on your website. Let your fans know that
you need their support; that you want them to tell their friends
about it, that you want them – that you need them, rather – to help you make the whole thing happen. If I was to give you one more peace of
advice – one final piece of advice – I would say “Get over yourself.”
Don’t stress about putting yourself out there, or worrying about
“Oh, am I promoting myself too much”, or “Maybe I don’t really believe in what
I’m doing, and maybe other people won’t like it.” Just get over it. They WILL enjoy what you’re putting out there; they will
be interested, as long as YOU have the conviction and belief in yourself.