Artists - particularly those that are independent or unsigned and do not have support of major labels or management in handling their social media presence - are often unsure of where to even start. The Q&A portions of music conferences nowadays invariably involve questions around where artists should place their social focus, how widespread their presence should be and what is most likely going to help them get their music heard. In the data provided in Next Big Sound’s recently published State of the Industry report for 2012, there are several insights that artists looking to answer these question can walk away with. 

Make Sure Your Music Is Online

For starters, if you aren’t already, get social with your music. The billions of online plays and new fans is a staggering number and is also rapidly increasing year by year. Radio spins can be extremely difficult to obtain, but there are no restrictions online - other than that the your music you upload is your own, and the web has become a place where potential fans can and will find you: make sure you’re there in full force. 

Where Should You Put It?

As for where you should be getting social, music distribution website SoundCloud has rapidly become a great platform for independent and unsigned artists. Not only is it the fastest growing social network in terms of music, but two-thirds of the plays tracked on the site last year, were of independents and unsigned acts.

And don’t restrict yourself to the audio side of things; visual content is key, with YouTube also on a steady rise, even if all you post is a low-budget lyric video, make sure to grow your presence here as well. 

Wikipedia is also on a steady rise when it comes to fans checking out bands. While the site may restrict you from editing your own page, make sure that accurate information about who you are is out there. Once they have come across your music, fans are often curious to learn more and it can be beneficial to satisfy that curiosity. The report shows page views for artist profiles on Wikipedia went up 25 percent last year and previous studies demonstrate that artist websites and Wikipedia pages are highly correlated to digital album sales. 

Be Creative

Ingenuity with your social strategy can also pay off. The Lumineers offered their fans a digital sneak peek of their album in return for connecting a Facebook profile or Twitter account. This strategy helped them triple the number of new page likes and followers added in the month following release. Learn from The Lumineers: give your fans something in return for their social allegiance.

At the end of the day, making music is about making great music. Managing several social accounts can be an overwhelming task, but has become an important aspect of getting your music heard, landing gigs and establishing a fan base. Be wary of taking on too much and ensure that you are able to actively engage with fans across these platforms. 

This article originally appeared on the MTV O Music Awards blogLiv Buli is the resident data journalist for music analytics company Next Big Sound. Buli is a graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and her work has appeared in Newsweek Daily Beast, The New York Times Local East Village, Hypebot and more.