This will not be a tactical guide for social media dominance or a “special tricks manifesto” for gaining followers.  I will simply expand on a single, simple premise: musical artists create content that people want.

The same reason that music bore the brunt of the digital sharing revolution is why music is so compelling – music can be experienced in its entirety in the digital domain.  You as an artist make something people want and that can be experienced right away.  In a time when consumers are driven by instant gratification, this is as close to a digital unicorn as one can get.

On the surface the opportunity may seem to be very simple – make music. Post music. This is certainly an integral part of the equation, however in addition to music, artists need to share content that invites fans into their process and creative existence.

Artists create the soundtrack to our lives, to be sure, but they also become voices for their fans and those of similar perspectives or life experiences.  Rage Against the Machine, for example, is (was) an absolutely kick-ass band comprised of absolutely kick-ass musicians.  But they also created a movement around their personas and had a message beyond their music.  The music no doubt represented their message, and the force of the music lent unbelievable weight to the message, but it’s bigger than that: fans are interested in connecting with worldviews that match their own.

The key to building a thriving fan base on social is to keep your fans involved in your story as well as your music.  Just as an artist’s job is to inspire by bringing poignancy to the fore in music and lyric, it is also meaningful to include the journey of creation and the day-to-day struggle (and hopefully humor) of being an artist.

While others in the digital world create a window into what are interesting but mostly ordinary experiences, the artist cultivates emotion and imagination to create infinite new perspectives on the world around us and its meaning.  The process of creating and living this art is worth sharing.

Once you establish your own unique balance and content strategy, following are some other best practices to set yourself up for success:

MANAGE YOUR OUTREACH.  Facebook, for example, lets people like your page as well as posts. By comparing the two and inviting those who have only liked a post to like your page you can increase your base and spread your message.  Twitter allows users to separate their followers by list and enables users to send different messages to different groups.  This can be very helpful for rewarding active fans and focusing localized tour announcements.

BLOG.  Let the posts you are already doing live on as blog entries.  You can range further afield in subject matter in the blog format as well as create longer storytelling content.

BE TIMELY.  There is a great deal going on everyday – if there are things happening that are core to your message and work don’t be afraid to share and comment.  Especially for music and art related items you can frame your artists message through the experiences and work of others, and establish yourself as a contemporary.  News alerts and trending hashtags are helpful to identify which conversations are taking place, and which make sense for you.

ENGAGE WITH PURPOSE.  Just as you see which songs a crowd responds to during a live performance, questions and feedback will help you connect to your audience and keep them invested in your experience.

AND FINALLY: LEAD!  You are the captain of your merry band of pranksters, your fans. Create a home online where you and they can thrive, relate and grow.