*Snapchat released a huge update not too long ago, Chat 2.0, including the ability to leave voice or video messages as well as initiate video or audio calls with your friends plus some other changes. View a video demonstration here.
Snapchat is a mobile messaging app with some very interesting and unique features which separate it from the social media pack.
Unlike Twitter, FB or IG, Snapchat is internal with no permanent timeline for viewers to scroll through to learn about you.
Navigating the app and taking Snaps
Snapchat is different in functionality than other platforms. When you open the app, it loads the camera. There are 4 areas to the app.
From the main screen:
- Swipe down to see or change your profile photo as well as add friends, see who added you, view your friends, and look at your trophies.
- Swipe left to load the Stories and Discover screen (more about these below).
- Swipe right to load the chat screen. Swipe right on a contact to send a snap.
- To take a Snap simply tap the big button in the bottom center of the camera screen. To take a video, hold the button down.
- To flip between front-facing or rear-facing cameras, double-tap the screen or tap the camera icon in the upper-right corner.
- To turn on/off flash, tap the lightning bolt in the upper-left corner.
Once you take a snap, there are several actions you can take. See the below image for a reference.
- Add an emoji, text or use the draw tool.
- Cancel the snap and take a new one.
- Change the duration (if you took a photo).
- Save snap to your camera roll.
- Add snap to your Story.
- Send snap directly to friends.
Snaps and Stories
Snapchat allows you to take photos or video, aka snaps, lasting from 1-10 seconds. Photos and videos must be taken inside the app. There is no uploading pre-recorded video or edited photos; you must share your world through the camera lense of your device.
Snaps can be sent directly to your friends or they can be added to your Story, which stays available for your friends to see for 24 hours. Inside the app settings you can choose whether or not your Story can be seen by 1) Everyone (Public) or 2) Only Your Friends.
- When watching your friends stories, swipe up to initiate a chat (your reply will include the snap).
- You can also screenshot snaps (which sends your friend a notification and unlocks trophies the more you do it).
- Tap a snap to skip to the next one in a story.
- Swipe down to close the Story.
Depending on how creative you are, you can turn your Story into a mini-movie adventure using 1-10 second scenes. The more popular Snapchatters are the ones using their Story in this way.
When you send Snaps to friends, they tap to load and then tap to view the snap for the duration of your choice. Pay attention though…once the snap is gone, it’s gone. Snaps self-destruct.
Snapchat does allow replays BUT if you use too many the app will prompt you to buy more; starting at $0.99 as an in-app purchase.
In the below video, I give an overview of the app, demonstrate the various features, and discuss whether or not Snapchat is useful as a marketing tool for indie musicians.
Snapcodes + Adding Friends
Snapchat uses QR code technology to create a custom Snapcode you can use on posters, stickers, flyers and across the web to drive people to add you as a friend.
The app connects to your phone’s address book and shows you which friends are using Snapchat vs friends not using the app (of course you can send an invite).
My Snapchat Indie Music Weekly has been helping find new friends beyond the people in my phone’s address book.
Snapchat also provides you with a link you can share.
From the main screen swipe right to load the Chat screen and your list of contacts. When you Add Friends, this is how you initiate chats with them. Swipe right on a person’s name to initiate a conversation.
You can send text or snap a photo or video. You can also attach images from your camera roll.
More on this feature below.
Chat 2.0 (recent update)
Snapchat + Music
One of the coolest features of Snapchat is the ability to stream music (or any audio) from an app on your phone (Spotify, Bandcamp, the Memo Recorder).
If music is playing when you start to record a video, the song will be recorded as part of the audio track (aka the soundtrack) of your Snap; adding a whole new layer of creativity.
Snapchat’s filters, more specifically the custom geofilters, definitely help it stand out and add to the fun. By turning on location services, you are able to access some pretty cool filters which overlay your photo or video.
- your speed limit,
- the current temperature,
- your battery life,
- custom geofilters (see my Sacramento example in the above video).
A newer feature to Snapchat are the selfie lenses which use facial recognition software to manipulate your face when taking photos or video inside the app.
For instance, two people can take a photo together using a selfie lense which switches their faces. If you’ve seen photos of people puking rainbows or other animal faces across social networks, it is coming from this specific Snapchat feature.
With that said, my phone is older therefore Snapchat does not allow me to use this feature due to a lack of processing power. If you have a jailbroken iPhone, there is a workaround but, by default, users of iPhone 4S and older devices will not have access to these lenses.
Trophies and Points
On Snapchat you have a score and you can unlock trophies. This adds to the fun and addictive nature of the platform.
There are various videos on YouTube going over how to unlock the different trophies and hack your score. I will leave links to some of the better ones at the end of this article.
Discover is Snapchat’s interactive platform for major publishers to share their content with Snapchatters. This video explains how it works.
Snapchat and the Music Industry
In 2015 several articles were published by major publications discussing the fact the CEO of Snapchat was interested in buying Big Machine Records (home of Taylor Swift). Big Machine’s asking price was $350 million but last I heard they were off the market and had resigned a distribution deal with Universal (I believe).
With that said, Snapchat is very interested and intent on working in the music business space as a major player.
Of course most major label artists are using Snapchat, so add them and see how they use the app for inspiration and ideas.
From the Stories screen, you will notice 3 vertical dots next to “My Story”. Tap the 3 dots and a list of all your snaps plus the amount of views will appear.
Tap on a snap to open it up. Swipe up from the bottom center of the screen to see a list of the people who have viewed that specific snap. Swipe down to close it.
You can also delete snaps from your Story or save them to your camera roll.
The two stacked arrows represent screenshots which tells you how many times your snap has been captured by viewers.
Is Snapchat for Indie Musicians?
Yes and No.
No, if you are introverted, keep to yourself and just want to play your instrument in the studio.
Yes, if you are a creative extrovert, enjoy photography and videography, and enjoy connecting/sharing with others.
If your ideal audience is the younger demographic, then Snapchat is definitely somewhere you want to think about having a presence.
Snapchat is known for its large and active teenage user base but over the last year or so the 18-35 demographic has started using the app more and more. I’m 34 and almost all of my friends/peers have an account; how active they are is a different story.