Is this the year of the Independent Artist?

45 of the 108 Grammy Awards won on Sunday night (13 February 2011) went to independent labels.

The record number of indie-label nominations this year (over half), when combined with the most wins in two years, provides proof that a good band can break out and enjoy mainstream success despite lacking the backing of a major recording company.

Is this refreshing increase in support of independent labels and artists displayed by this year’s Grammy Awards a signal of an upcoming independent artist revolution?

Not necessarily, according to Nielsen SoundScan, music from independent sources still only accounted for 11% of last year’s total music sales.

Discouraging though this last statistic may be, the Grammy’s show us that 2011 has the potential to be the year of the indie take-over. Not only have sales increased since the awards, but some previously unknown artists have been brought to the forefront.

Justin Bieber’s fans, for example, were suitably shocked and rather inconsolable after he lost the Best New Artist category to the relatively unknown, independently represented Esperanza Spalding, creating what can only be described as a mass twitter tantrum.

Aside from the death threats and pouty juvenile messages which ranged from the accusatory, “breaking a 16-year-old boy’s heart” to the puzzled, “who the heck are ya”, one thing was made clear, as far as many “Beliebers” were concerned Spalding didn’t have enough followers on Twitter to deserve the award (Bieber has well over 7 million).

With that in mind we provide you with the following suggestions for being an artist on Twitter (if that’s your cup of tea):

  1. Reply to every tweet that mentions you. It’s polite and a great way to improve your relationships with your followers. You’ll make more lasting connections with fans this way.
  2. Join the conversation. Interaction is the key. Get involved in conversations that interest you, after all, it’s boring to follow someone who only cares about what they have to say, not to mention you’re missing out on potential fans.
  3. Be selective with followers. Having a million followers on Twitter who don’t pay attention to you is actually a lot less helpful than having 250 relevant ones. Shy away from paying money to services that offer you thousands of new followers and stick to less widespread fan hunting techniques.
  4. Use Twitter-exclusive promo. Improve connections and increase your followers on Twitter by giving away downloads or hosting competitions solely on Twitter. By putting the word out on Twitter only, you are sending the message that you value those fans.
  5. Examples of good twitter content. If you’re just getting started, or even if you’ve been tweeting for awhile, you never know when a list of good tweet-able content might just come in handy. As follows:
  • Updates, e.g. recording sessions in the studio
  • Manufacturing process updates, e.g, finished artwork, an approved master, delivered copies etc
  • Tour Updates  (both news from the road and changes or announcements)
  • Deal announcements

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This post is by Believe Digital Social Media Manager Shanni Elcock @shandogspeaks