The Story of 6 Artists

This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to lead multiple marketing discussions for a community project I’m involved in. The goal was to get a sense of the team’s social media and online footprint as well as who they knew that could be a potential contact or resource for the project (media and press, community influencers, etc.).

I interviewed six accomplished artists — musicians, poets, and writers. Here are some key facts I uncovered:

Out of six artists, 100% had websites.

This is a heartening stat. Each of the artists took their work seriously enough to take the time and resources necessary to set up their own website. If you know anything about my work, then you know I take this seriously.

Unfortunately, none of them have a clear purpose for their website. For the most part, they’ve treated their sites as static, informational brochures.

It’s no wonder most artists don’t see any value in setting up a website and would rather dedicate more of their time to social media. They don’t get results with their website because their websites aren’t set up to get them results.

Highlight and underline this:

Your website is a high-performing conversion tool and sales engine if utilized correctly, and it will outperform social media on its worst day. But again, I stress, if utilized correctly.

A Renegade Musician uses their website to:

  • Grow their email list
  • Get people to listen to their music
  • Get people to book them
  • Sell their merch and products

Their website’s layout, design, and content are all oriented around a singular goal (usually one of the above). On a plain, white, and grey website, they would have a big, bold, orange button on every page screaming out, “LISTEN TO OUR LATEST RELEASE” and the link would take their listeners directly to a page where they can enter their email address to listen to the songs. Beneath the MP3 player would be another button with an enticing, irresistible offer — “GET YOUR LIMITED-EDITION MERCH FOR $15.”

(This is not a conversation about your website’s color scheme or design, by the way — it’s a conversation about what your website is intended to accomplish.)

There are too many distractions on social media. You get to set up your website however you want (preferably in a strategic manner). Once you get your people coming to your website, there’s a far better chances you can lead them to do what you want them to do.

If your website isn’t oriented around a singular objective, go do something about this NOW. Choose your objective and build your entire website around getting your visitors to do what you want them to do. Convert them from email subscribers into customers.

100% of artists didn’t have an email list.

If you’re not planning to build an email list, why do you even have a website? You do realize that your email list is your retirement plan, right?

Every year we seem to go back on forth on email, and whether it’s still relevant.

And every year we come to the same damn conclusion, that email outperforms social media in every conceivable way.

Here are some key findings from a Mailmunch article:

  • 60% of marketers believe email outperforms social media, while 40% felt they were two different beasts [and 95% of people still don’t know what the hell they’re talking about].
  • If you have 2,000 Facebook fans, only 120 fans will see each post you publish. If you have 2,000 Twitter followers, only 40 followers will see each tweet. But if you have 2,000 email subscribers, on average, 21.73% of your list will open your messages. That’s 435 people (rounded up)!
  • When sharing a link in an email, you can expect a 3.57% click-through rate. Meanwhile, Facebook offers an average click-through rate of 0.07%, and Twitter 0.03%.

Even Mailmunch seems to get some of the stats garbled, so we’re not sure they know what they’re talking about either. What we do know is the sources they cited are credible. These stats aren’t new — they’re consistent with all the research we’ve done, and they’ve stayed this way for well over a decade.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t have a crystal ball. But at least for the immediate future, my money’s still on email.

Note that this is not a big, red stop sign shouting, “DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA.” Email and social media complement each other quite nicely ( if done right).

But you don’t get to keep your social media following. You never know when the platform’s algorithm will change, when they’ll update their terms and conditions, when they’ll shadow ban or delete your account completely. In the age of “disinformation,” I would not trust a platform to keep my profiles, accounts, pages, or groups active, let alone safe.

You need an email list. It’s the only sensible backup plan. But it’s not just a backup plan. It’s the plan. It’s the only way to reach more people and get more clicks. It’s the only way to ensure you have a contact list when a platform like TikTok takes a dive.

Get as many of your followers to join your email list as possible. NOW. And keep doing it. Don’t forget to send weekly updates. Tell them Uncle Dave knocked some sense into you.

Five out of six artists didn’t think they had any press or media contacts.

There are many ways to promote a local event, but getting coverage in media (papers, radio, newsletters, etc.) is a good way to get widespread exposure for less effort.

When we asked our artists and production team whether they had any press or media contacts, only one artist responded affirmatively.

Understand — these artists hadn’t started their careers yesterday. I don’t think there’s anyone with less than a decade of experience on our team.

With all the people that had reached out to them over the years for comment, five out of six artists didn’t think they had press or media contacts.

When we followed up the question with whether they knew any local bloggers, podcasters, influencers, YouTubers, or small independent creators, all responded affirmatively, and some even referenced the names of program directors at college radio.

See, you don’t need to know award-winning journalists, celebrity hosts of a breakfast show, or for that matter, Oprah, to be able to say you have press or media contacts. There’s a very good chance there are a few in your extended network already, some of whom you’ve previously interacted with.

If you can’t think big, think small. Think of people who do interesting things. Those are the people you need to identify and connect with ongoingly.

Comb through your email archives TODAY and identify all the people who’ve reached out to you for comment in some capacity. Make a list of these contacts and make them a part of your ongoing follow up plan whenever there’s something major happening in your career (new release, tour, music video, etc.). Remove people from the list if they ask to be removed.

Out of six artists, only one was actively exploring new platforms and opportunities.

It seems like just yesterday the only relevant social media platforms were Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Fast forward to today, and the number of platforms (with staying power) is rapidly mushrooming.

In the last two to three years, the demand for free speech platforms has increased as never before, leading to the growth and proliferation of platforms like Odysee, Rumble, BitChute, Telegram, Truth Social, BrighteonSocial, Parler, MeWe, and Minds.

Some of these, like Odysee and Rumble are Web3 platforms, much like DeSo (I’m a fan of DeSo and all they’re attempting to create).

Live streaming? Check out Twitch, BIGO LIVE, Widsom, and Clubhouse.

Interested in writing? Try Medium, NewsBreak, Substack, Steemit, and CloutPub.

If you’re not actively seeking new opportunities, what are you doing? Waiting for MySpace to make a comeback? Pining for the day Facebook will recapture its former glory? They say you shouldn’t bet against Mark Zuckerberg, but I don’t think their plan to take over the web is going to be accomplished through Facebook. Another platform, perhaps.

To my point, Vox reported that Facebook lost roughly half a million global daily users in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone. I think that number is much higher.

I’m not asking you to spend all your time finding new platforms. But we each have a responsibility as Renegade Musicians, to understand something before we jump to conclusions about it. Because Sally said it sucked eggs (say that 10 times fast) is not a good enough reason to write something off. You need to go and see it for yourself. You don’t get to call yourself informed if you don’t do your own homework.

We need to practice accurate thinking, especially here.

If you don’t know something, either commit to experiencing it firsthand, or admit you don’t know and move on.

Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.

Originally published at on September 30, 2022.



Award-winning composer, best-selling author, podcaster, musician coach. See what I’m up to now:

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe


Award-winning composer, best-selling author, podcaster, musician coach. See what I’m up to now: