Career Path: From Technology to MusicCohen came to the business of social media management for bands after having worked for startups and technology companies such as Netscape, Hewlett-Packard, and Cisco. He has always been a music junkie, but he only spent a little time in radio during college as the industry was shifting to algorithm-driven playlists—a creativity stifler for his future as a disc jockey.
Cohen shifted gears and built his career in technology, but he never let it dim his music junkie passions. But as the business climate began to change, having a steady job didn’t necessarily protect you from layoffs or restructuring. In 2011, he was covering a local concert as a journalist when he interviewed a band named Huey Lewis and the News. At that time, Huey Lewis and the News had just over 7,000 likes on Facebook and the band wasn’t yet on Twitter. Cohen pitched his vision for making the band’s social channels sing. A few months later, he decided to make the jump into social for musicians spurred on by this success.
Don’t Overlook Truly Meaningful ContentFor musicians, Cohen says ideal content is well-crafted footage of a live video performance. “It’s the best way for people to see how interesting and fun a band’s concerts are. Social media is what MTV used to be,” he says. In addition to that core content type for his clients, he focuses a lot on using the artist’s lyrics to create memes.
“A band’s songs are usable poetry. That kind of content will travel quite well because it demonstrates artistic value and invites audiences into an experience.”All businesses also have these hidden gems of content that will engage their key audiences because they are so relevant. In his work, Cohen is out to use social channels to drive ticket sales and grow followings. He notes how record labels and agencies repeatedly miss the mark by doing things like posting pictures of the band’s meals.|
“Bands have their art and lyrics. There is a reason brands pay a lot of money to use music with their products. Don’t ignore that aspect of how connected to emotion and music are,” says Cohen.
Social Media Helps Connect Audiences to Unique ArtistsFrom his time in radio, Cohen has witnessed deep changes that social media has made possible for musicians. Of his client Jake Shimabukuro he says, “In the days before social media, it would have been really difficult for people like him [Shimabukuro] to be successful. Someone who just played ukulele, performed solo, and didn’t sing wouldn’t have succeeded because he didn’t fit well into pre-defined music genres.” Social media has helped foster more sophisticated audience tastes and preferences for music, simply because there is now so much more to choose from. With video as his key platform, Cohen studies video engagement metrics.
In this piece, he writes about what he calls the inflation of video metrics. For Twitter his wisdom is that it’s harder to get people to click over to artist content from that social network vs. on Facebook. In his work, Cohen sometimes collaborates with band managers or agencies that also engage in paid social campaigns, but his success comes from great, consistent content—audiences do the rest. Cohen always has his eyes and ears out for new techniques or strategies that he can adopt. He references the great storytelling that goes into the Humans of New York Facebook page and tries to emulate their strategies. He is always on the hunt for good engagement work by comparing any page’s Likes count to its “People Talking About This” count.