Musicians, Songwriters & Branding…

Had a conversation with a musician the other day.  He said to me that he didn’t need to establish a brand, he just used his name.

“So” I said, “You’ve got your name reserved, for your website domain?”

Well… no.  Someone else has that domain reserved.

“But then surely, on your Facebook page…”

Uh, no… I haven’t got around to securing my name as a Facebook nickname, yet.

“Twitter…. ???”

Well, I don’t get Twitter, so I haven’t secured the name…

“Are there any other social media or business networks that someone can find you on ?”

Oh, yeah… I’m on MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn.

“What name did you use on those ???”

Oh, they’re all different.

*Stunned silence*


Make a name for yourself:

The guy is a great songwriter, and an amazing musician… but not surprisingly, not too many folks have heard of him… because he has a different name, everywhere you look.

One of my teachers used to say, “Whatever you do, try to create a name for yourself.”



Not a string of names and clever acronyms that no one but you will understand.

I am my brand.

I am BobSongs.

BobSongs - Business Card

On my Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook… even, so help me… Flickr… (you know I’m not a photographer, right ???) …I am BobSongs.

I have as many variations of BobSongs and Bob Gray web domains sewn up, as are available.

The ones that weren’t available, I keep a list of, and check every few months to see if any of them have become available.


Patrol the Brands you are associated with:

Google Alerts is great for this.

If anything “hits” the web with Bob Gray, BobSongs, or any of a few other keywords I target… I get a weekly update, e-mailed to me.

Usually it is information about other BobSongs/Bob Gray’s, or tracking something from my Twitter feed or Blog…. but every once in a while it is something I want to see, or at least be aware of.  Pennywise the Clown, from the Stephen King novel “It”, was one Bob Gray.  Another Bob Gray that pops up from time to time is the professional speaker, who talks about how to expand your memory.  There are lots of others.  But if someone is saying something about my Brand… I want to know it.


Be constant, and consistent:

I’m a bad example here, and am currently unable to follow my own rule, because TOO many of my Blog posts are NOT associated with the music and songwriting of the BobSongs Brand.  The reason for this is that I haven’t yet found an alternate Brand that I am comfortable with, that is available as a domain, and on Twitter.  As soon as I do… Whoosh… my non-music content will be transferred from this Blog, to the new site.

On Social Media, I try to break down the conversations by category… so I have lists for Hockey Fans, Scotch Drinkers, Musicians, etc… as, many times, the groups with similar interests tend to talk about the same things.  If I do a LOT of chatting about a subject, I would consider having a separate account for that “voice.”  In my case, with my passion for all things Vancouver Canucks, I created the NucksBob Twitter account, to stop from ticking off my “other” Twitter followers, and so I can focus my tweets, in that account.


You don’t have to do any of this stuff.

Just like you don’t have to get gigs… be successful… sell your CD’s…

You don’t have to.

But by establishing and maintaining a consistent Brand, you make it easier for people to find and support you, and it makes it that much easier, when you find success, to further establish your Brand, and broaden your support base.

Twitter and Musicians – V 3.0

A Songwriter friend asked the other day, about Twitter.

I referred her to my last post on the subject, which talked about things like filling in your Bio, your picture, your website… some of the basic Basics.

I also wrote a post about Musicians protecting their Tweets, which is STILL one of the most stupid things I’ve seen.

But in the months since the last post, there are still a lot of folks who don’t “get” Twitter.

So, to them:

The Twitter Cocktail Party

Twitter is about engaging, and having conversations.

Twitter is very like a cocktail party… If there are 200 people in a room, I don’t talk to all of them at once.  I drift around the room, and chat with someone here about Hockey… over there I talk to someone about their Mom… another I talk to about songwriting… another I just trade jokes with.  I join in where I feel I can participate, and when the conversation is not interesting to me, I drift elsewhere.

I have over 1600 folks following me, and I follow about the same number back.  I do not feel I have to be involved in every tweet from every one of them.  But, I DO feel that I can join into a conversation when it strikes a chord with me… and those folks can either engage me back, or ignore it, if they don’t care for my comments.  (I tend to try for funny, and what is funny to me, is not to everyone.)

I also use LISTS to help me break down my Tweeps into smaller, more manageable (although sometimes overlapping) groups.  So, for instance, I have a group for Music folks, Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge folks (my home town), Hockey fans, Bloggers, Fraser Valley folks, Vancouver Island folks, and so on.  Often folks grouped regionally will chat more, so it makes it easier to follow a conversation, if you can see both sides of what folks are saying.

Hashtags (#)

Hashtags are great for finding interests.  Hashtags (the number sign, if you will) are used in Twitter to denote a searchable field.  So, if I’m Tweeting about a Songwriters’ Showcase in Langley, I would perhaps Tweet: #Songwriter #Showcase tonight in #Langley at McBurney Lane – 20405 Fraser Hwy. 7:30-9:30 pm

In the above example, someone could search Twitter and “find” my tweet using any of the words preceded by a hashtag.

The Interface  (aka: What Software I Use To  Tweet)

Stop using the Online Twitter interface.  NOW.  Immediately!


I like TweetDeck, some folks prefer HootSuite.  There are tons of other apps out there, as well… and almost ALL of them are free to download.

But you need to start using a Twitter interface (software, app… call it whatever you want) that will allow you to see multiple columns at a time.

So, for instance, at the VERY minimum, you need to have columns so you can see…

All Friends / Mentions / Direct Messages / New Followers

… ALL at the same time.  (See the image above)  It just makes it easier to converse, and listen to or be part of, a few different conversations at the same time.

You can also add a column for any Lists you make, or for a Hashtag search.  (ie: #Songwriter #Langley #Hockey #Canucks)


Bait and Switchers

Bait and Switchers (my name for them) are folks who either don’t do enough research before following someone, or are trying to boost their follower numbers.

Many time, someone from the other side of North America follows you out of the blue, and you shake your head, think “random” but they look okay, and you follow them back.  They frequently use an auto DM to thank you for following them, and saying how much they look forward to reading your tweets and engaging with you… and a few weeks later, you run an assessment program like TweetKarma, and they have unfollowed you.

No biggy… their loss.  Unfollowed !

The Hard Sell

A lot of us on Twitter have a purpose.  I use Twitter to promote my Blog, to support my musician friends who have gigs, and to support and promote businesses and Charities I believe in.

But if you look at my Tweets from when I’m writing this, I also tweeted about:

– a suggestion for a Tweeps’ Daughter’s Hockey Jersey Number… (7 for Cliff Ronning.)

– Had a conversation about the Tooth Fairy being reachable through Social Media (only MySpace, ‘cuz she has a side gig, playing in a band)

– Made a couple of suggestions of how folks can get help from Shaw Cable (No, I don’t work there)

– Commiserated with a tweep over a weekend lost to bad colds

– Dancing with the Stars (yeah, it’s a guilty pleasure)

Some of these were direct comments made to a specific person… (an @ message)

Others were just tweets that people responded to.

My point is, that most folks won’t follow you, or will unfollow you if you have a succession of tweets saying:

– Buy my stuff.

– I have good stuff.

– have you looked at my stuff ? It’s unbelieveable stuff.

And that is ALL you talk about.  Nobody likes someone trying to shill (sell) something at a Cocktail party, so don’t do that.

However, it IS okay to, every once in a while, say I found this really cool thing.  If you’re interested, here is the link.

Nobody wants to read or hear hard sell, all the time… so you have to mix it up, and beware “over-selling.”

It is a good idea (at least in the beginning) to go back, every once in a while, and read your own tweets, to make sure you are “mixing it up, enough”

Okay, I’m chatty, and social, but it isn’t happening for me…

I had this asked of me, and so, when I checked… that person was following 21 people, and only 9 had followed back.

As the person asking was a Songwriter/Performer, I suggested she look at folks like: @RachaelPachel @Leighmusic @one_more_girl @blakehavard @ThornyBleeder and see what they are doing, and how they developed and kept their following.  There are a lot of local musicians on Twitter.  Not many are using it well… and these folks are using it well, and making the most of it!

  • 2023 Update – I have deactivated my Twitter account, due to the unchecked rise of hate and bigotry openly spewed.  As I cannot verify these accounts are still active, I have removed the links.

Celebrities generally will not follow you back, or engage with us “run of the mill” tweeps… so if you are on Twitter to have conversations with Lady Gaga and John Mayer… good luck.  They Tweet, but don’t listen.  Find and follow LOCAL people with interests similar to yours.  Until you’ve made a name for yourself, you cannot adopt the “I’m just gonna Tweet, and people will listen” mentality.

Again, using the Cocktail Party analogy:  It is like you got an invite to the Party, but instead of getting out and mingling, you are standing in the coat closet, saying “Twitter isn’t working for me” and “this is dumb”

In order to have a conversation, and engage with people, you have to venture outside your family and friends.  They ALREADY know you’re a songwriter/musician/performer… and it is written into their contract that they have to say supportive things, and come out to your gigs.  We’ve already established that Celebrities don’t care about you.  Find a hundred people that you’ve looked at their Bio’s… looked at what they are tweeting about… and think you could (in the cocktail party scenario) see yourself having a conversation with.

Plus, you have to think about the Percentage.  Remember that everybody, (just like you) have lives and other stuff, so out of that 100, maybe 15% is online at any given time. (depending on time of day, and day of the week, etc… the percentage will fluctuate.)

So, you see, the 1600 doesn’t loom so large, when you take that percentage into account.

Number Players

There is a certain “type” of Tweep who doesn’t care about content.  I’ve talked about going, and looking at Bio’s… Reading the Timeline (their tweets)… investing some time to try to make sure your base is constructed of quality people.  It is easy to add quantities of followers.  It is WAAAAY harder to add quality followers.

If you want a gazillion followers, who won’t interact, and will do nothing but clog your Twitter Feed with spam ?  There are programs and MLM networks that will do that for you.  But those folks aren’t at a cocktail party… they’re at a sales conference… and just parrot over and over, whatever the head guy says.

Build your base carefully.

A good way is to find someone you like and respect, and see who THEY are following…

There is something called Follow Friday, which on Twitter is denoted with the hashtag #FF or #FollowFriday. It is something that some folks do on Fridays, to highlight the tweeps that they think others should be following, because they find their tweets to be of value.

Branching out

The other thing to consider, AFTER you get your feet wet,  and have expanded your base, is whether you have a series of conversations that tend to be topical, with the same group of people.  For example, with me, it was Hockey.

Last year, I had a few comments, and a fair number of UNFOLLOWS happen, after Canucks Hockey games.  I would tweets and discuss the ebb and flow of the games with other rabid Hockey fans.  But some of the folks who DON’T follow Hockey, made comments about it, and (in a generally kind way) let me know that I was “polluting” their twitter streams.

So, I created @NucksBob… my Hockey ONLY account.  When someone follows me at @NucksBob, I look at their profile,a nd their tweets, and if they seem to have nothing to do with Hockey, I send them a kindly Direct Message: Hard to tell from ur Bio, but I’m guessing you are not a Hockey fan. You might want to try @BobSongs.  This account is only about NHL Hockey, sorry!

But… get your feet wet with one account first !

Hope this helps, and I hope more singer/songwriter types will get “better” at Twitter.  It is a great place to meet and talk to people !!!

Protecting Yourself From Success on Twitter…

I am a songwriter, who aspires to be published.

I know a lot of folk in the same boat.

I work with an organization that tries to help local songwriters have an opportunity to perform, and we have a Twitter account.

I guess, because I tweet using the hashtags, #Songwriters, #Songwriting and #Showcase… we get a lot of followers from all over North America.

Because we are based VERY locally, in Langley, BC… I don’t follow everyone back.  But I check every profile.

A lot of the Twitter feeds are filled with… “I have great songs, does anyone want to hear them ?” tweets.

Sadly, the Bio line is empty… there is often no location… no website link and sometimes the Tweets are protected.

If I have ANY hope to succeed as a songwriter, I know that I have to fling open the doors, and invite people in, to look at my “product.”


I have this Blog, (which is about music,) a Company Website, (BobSongs Creative Media) a General Blog (BobSongs Musings) a Twitter account, a Facebook profile, a MySpace page… as well as other links… (Broadjam, IMRadio, & YouTube, and more…)

All of them are open, free, unrestricted and accessible.

What benefit do I gain, as a person trying to sell my songs, by putting up barriers or obstacles to people finding out about me OR my songs ???


I take the standard precautions with my product… as soon as I record it, I send myself a registered copy in a sealed envelope, and attach a copy of the contents to the outside.

If I was really concerned, I could take further steps… but I personally don’t feel that is necessary.

Here is the stupid part.

I’m writing this, in order to try to help my competition!!!

What I DO feel is necessary, is to encourage artists to unlock the doors, open up yourself to the world, and say “Here is my product… what do you think?!?”

The alternative is not a pretty picture, as it involves those three ugly words.  Woulda, shoulda, coulda.

Open it up, folks.  You might sell something !!!



Musicians, Songwriting & Twitter…

I think it happens almost every day.

As @BobSongs, on Social Media…  I’m a Blogger, Writer, and Songwriter.  I’m on Threads most days, and Facebook a few times a week.  I have a LinkedIn Profile, that I’m working on, but not 100% familiar with, yet.

I’m also involved in the BC Songwriters’ Showcase Association, and help out where I can.

I am often surprised by the frequency with which I will encounter someone who expresses a desire and drive to become a songwriter or performer… but have no Photo, Biography or Contact Information on their Twitter Profile.

I understand that a LOT of new users don’t understand the ebb, flow or even the concept of Twitter and Social Media.

But, if you want to attract and grow an audience, then it is important to greet them properly.

Sad as it is, we are a society of people who judge books, by their covers.

As we gather a sense of people from our first impression… so we gather a sense of you, as an Artist, from your Social Media.

Many times a week, I send friendly Tweets to folks, reminding them to fill out their Bio and Location information.

If you are on Twitter to have fun, and talk about school… sure, lock your profile down.

If you are on Twitter to promote your Product, or especially if your Product is Yourself… you really need to put your Best Foot Forward !

If your Band is following 200 Tweeps, but you only have a following of 18…  it probably means that you are probably only reaching the hardcore audience (family and friends) that already know about you.  You are “preaching to the choir” and the rest of the people you follow are not interested in your message, or your “Product.”

How To Make It Better:

At the top of your Twitter Page, are a series of words…  Everthing that people will base their first impression on, (other than your Tweets,) is contained under the Settings “tab”:

Blue Twitterbird Pics means you didn't care enough to post a real picture1) Post a picture ! If “you” are your product, then the picture should be of you.  If that doesn’t work for you, take a picture of a guitar, microphone, or your cat…  My picture is currently one of my Cats, who snuck into my guitar case… but I change it regularly !  (Points get deducted for using a photo of ANOTHER person, as your photo.)

2) Say where you are ! Maple Ridge, BC, Canada. If you are not comfortable with saying the exact city you are from, pick the closest big City.  Vancouver, Canada If that causes you concern, go regional… Canada’s West Coast Give us SOMETHING, because, who knows… we may want to work or write with you !!!

3) Give us a sense of “you” ! If you are a guitar-playing country music loving songwriter… say so.  If you’ve got a bunch of things going on, say that too !  My profile says: Blogger, Songwriter, Writer, married to @loriegray, right-handed, wacky sense of humour, cat lover, Hockey fan, Uncle… and Canadian ! There’s  a lot of info in there, but I wear a lot of different hats, when I use Twitter.

4) Websites ! If you have your own website… fill it in !  If you have a MySpace profile, and one song… fill it in !  If you have a grainy video on YouTube… fill it in !  Whatever the ONE best website you have, that represents your product best ?  Use it.

I’m not writing this to be mean.  I’m not writing this to underscore that Artists sometimes have different gifts, and can be technically challenged.

I’m writing this with the hope that it may help someone look at the deficiencies in their Twitter profile, and be able to effect changes because of it.

If these instructions help you… I’m glad !

If you need help understanding how to implement them, please send me an e-mail or a Tweet.

Please don’t go on, without filling in the blanks… because in many cases, it means we will probably Not Follow You or Follow You BACK… and only YOU know what we’ll be missing out on !!!

Hope to see you on Twitter !!!

Twitter, Tweets and Twits…

With all due respect to the fine work @Mashable does, on an on-going basis, to keep everyone “on the path” of using Twitter in a socially acceptable manner…

… I would like to offer my own list of “Rules” which I use to guide my Twitter journey.


I realize some of you use Bots to send Tweets, find followers, acknowledge followers, or do other sundry tasks… but I have a 2 part request:

      – If you stopped using Twitter in August… and haven’t Tweeted since late July ?  Maybe turn off the Follow Bot ???

   – Tailor your Bio to reflect the actual, not project the possible.  I’m a big fan of “Fake it until you Make it” but if your User Name or Bio says you are a Twitter Marketing Expert, and the Tweets you’ve posted, still include your “Twitter is stupid… I don’t get it” Tweet… I would say that it marginally diminishes your Brand.

I also have a series of ever lengthening rules, which when I review your Twitter Page, may dictate that I’m not going to Follow you (or Follow you back) if:

  a) You Tweet about getting whiter teeth

  b) You obviously use trending topics and hash tags (other than #Canucks) to get “hits”

  c) You Tweet about how I can make big $$$ on Twitter, like you

  d) You are a Restaurant  3000 miles away from my home

  e) Your User Name has the letters BRITNEY with interspersed punctuation.

       (If you don’t understand what this rule means, you are either VERY lucky, or don’t review your followers)

  f) You are a New York Rangers fan.  (And yes, I intentionally chose “F” for this rule)

  g) You are following 6000 people, and have 12 followers

  h) You are following 16000 people, and have only posted 3 Tweets

  i) Your whole focus seems to be anger or frustration, over a cascading series of progessive Tweets, on various days.  (The OBVIOUS exception here is if that anger is directed at the New York Rangers… then Welcome Friend !!!)

  j) If you have (for example) Tweeted that you want someone to publish the songs you have written… but have no location, website or ANY information in your Bio that would enable someone else to know if they could or should possibly help you

I’m sure there are more… but this was written in the middle of the night, when sleep was an escape that seemed not to be an option, and I was looking at people who had followed me, who I STILL haven’t followed back… and these folks apparently, just don’t “get it” !!!

The other subject that personally is up for debate, is the Direct Message reply… (as opposed to a General Tweet or an @Message)   Some people have expressed an almost fanatical dislike for the DM reply, to the point where they will unfollow someone who DM’s them.  I don’t mind a DM, if it is a private matter, but get irritated when I get a DM that could easily be public, and sent by @Message.  The reason for me, is that I’m often on Twitter using my Blackberry, and NEVER check my DM’s on mobile.  It is also contrary to the very nature of Social Media, to hold private conversations about subjects that are public. (The Canucks played well last night, I tried a new Scotch, like your Blog, etc)

Whew… I certainly feel better !  (Not that ANY infringers are likely to stumble across my Blog, but…)

If you see any “Rules” I’ve missed, please don’t hesitate to let me know, and I will edit/amend as necessary !

If you are reading this, and not following me, providing you “meet the criteria” posted above, please follow me on Twitter… my user name is BobSongs !

“Thank you for Following me… I look forward to reading your Tweets !!!”

; D