Today’s blog is based primarily on this article by Moz, which I recommend. I will be discussing feedback, the importance of 3rd party advocacy, my pick for the social media site you should be using to do these things, and some other stuff.
The main point about advocacy in this article was that you will come under fire as surely as the US has the highest tax rate on businesses in the world. And when this happens, your word will not do a lot for you. And the word of third party advocates, likely via social media, will be your best defense. And why do I pick this point out of the thousand others to harp on? Because in your case they’re called Superfans a.k.a. your lifeblood. Without them, you will never get off the ground far enough to get shot down in the… second place. Imagine going to an opening act at a bar. Everyone kinda stands around, nodding their head, waiting for something to happen. This will persist until someone who digs the music and has a low enough validation requirement steps out and starts dancing. This will give other people the validation they need, enabling them to dance, and this chain reaction will continue until everyone’s dancing (assuming there are enough people and the music is… music). The same effect applies to music online. Each person needs to see X amount of people sharing a song or commenting for them to repost a song they like to X degree. I hate to say it, but the public at large is less than genius and is much more likely to like a song if it’s the cool thing to do. So cultivate those Superfans. Engage them. Ask artists (at your level or reasonably above) to collab or put you in mixes and have fans contribute ideas, critiques, or fan pics (which hey, I actually need btw.) Give them free merch, scrapped songs (which you will call secret), and open validation online. Trust me, this works and you should do it.
(Speaking of collaborating, DO IT. Cross-promotion for you is twice the marketing for less work.)
The next point brought up I’d like to elaborate on was the whole paying attention to feeback thing that they supplemented with the following picture:
While you may be an artist and crowdsourcing isn’t really something you can get away with on the creative side, you need to constantly check yourself by the reviews of other people. While your difficulty at getting songs off the ground may be due to the fact that it’s difficult to get songs off the ground, make sure your material isn’t glued to it. Every “budding” artist wants to go from underground to the moon in one shot, right now, but it doesn’t work that way. So get feedback and LISTEN TO IT. You don’t have to post on a bunch of pages with a “hey, give me feedback” (in fact I recommend that you don’t) but you can usually get a pretty good read from comments on your tracks. If you have a bunch of “cool man”‘s, or no comments at all, this could tell you something. If you don’t have enough followers to get enough comments to go off of, find people with similar tastes and message them expressing your respect for their opinion. If they’re not enthusiastic (or responsive), you’re wasting time on promotion you should be spending on honing your craft. “Carpet-bombing” the world hoping a cluster of people will see past your flaws and launch you to the moon is a… long shot.
You should note, however, that in the same way that you value feedback, others value it as well and giving others what they want is a much more sure way to get what you want than demanding it. So dedicate 2 or 3 minutes to listening to people’s stuff at your level and giving them thoughtful advice you don’t think they’ve thought of. More on this in a bit, but making a friend online who eagerly opens your messages is worth an easy 15 passive followers.
Placing your bets – G+
Now I want to take a little time to talk about Google+. G+ gets a lot of shit, but I’ve been an advocate for it for quite some time now and was happy to see this article take my side. My reasons for belief in G+ are two-fold. First, I like its focus on functionality and grass-roots support vs. the lumbering, top-down piece of shit twitter. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that celebrity endorsements and screams that we should use it can only carry it so far.
Second, keep in mind that G+ has the most powerful search company behind it. Google virtually defines SEO, and if you don’t think they are giving and will continue to give their little princess preference in more ways than we’ll ever know, you’re off your rocker. I pick this point on G+ because likely you are in the music business for the long haul, and the SM site(s) you spend your time on could possibly make, but will most likely break you. You stand to gain a little by being involved in the up- swing of a new SM site, but if the majority of your followers are on one that sinks, you’re in deep water… so always keep your eyes on the horizon and place your bets with sites that will be around for a while. About 2/3 of the effort in your music career should be going to promotion in the early days, and unless you just really, really like your mom’s basement, you can’t afford to be MySpace famous.
When talking about the disconnectedness SM brings to the table, it mentioned that Facebook found that its users were 3.74 degrees away from one another. Now while it is true that SM brings a lot of power, the extent of that power is usually exaggerated in people’s minds. On facebook this emerges as the fact that a Facebook friend is more likely to be a friend of a friend than an ACTUAL friend, but on other sites where you have straight-up followers, you also experience a diminishing returns effect, because as you gain more followers, people don’t need to be as sure they like your direction to hit that follow button because they’re assured of your worthiness by virtue of you having X-many followers. So as you get more followers, each new one becomes less valuable. For example, when I first started my SC page I put several hours every day into selecting the best free songs out in the last (insert fluctuating period of time), because I knew people would really have to like me, were they to add my posts to their stream. And when I had about 200 followers, if I posted a song I knew I would be adding about 100 plays to its stats over a month. Now I have just over a thousand followers, but a post from me will only add about 300 more plays, even though I not only put EQUAL time into finding songs, but I have 4-5 people spending the same amount of time as myself sending me their picks as well.
The lesson: Don’t kill the goose that lays the golden egg. If you start pursuing one goal (followers) at the expense of the real goal (impact, however that may be), you’ll find yourself in a giant room that you own with no one paying attention to you… take the following paragraph for a further example…
Our teacher gave us this article as optional reading, but if you haven’t been spoken down to or been punished for doing what was right in the last 3 months, it’s mandatory for you ha. It’s about some guy named Emerson Spartz who runs a bottom-feeding company he unsurprisingly calls Spartz, inc. The gist of what his firm does is find “stories”, memes, or whatever else is trending at a certain rate, put a more alluring headline on it, and stick it on their site. The entirety of the firm’s focus is to figure out what makes people click things, and make them click them. If you’re wondering what value they add, the answer is none. He appears to be held by those around him as some kind of marketing genius, but his tactics are pretty obvious, saddening, and unamusing to me (ha).
Did you ever see Anchor Man 2? Well this guy is actively setting out to make the same mistake Will Ferrell’s overly-stupid (I’m thinking of the blind scenes) character did with the news, to the greatest degree possible. And In the same way ratings killed information on the news, clicks will kill information on the web. Soon enough there will be so many links, trails, and rabbit holes between readers and information sources that no one will know fact from fiction.
They call him “King of Clickbait” but I wish they’d call him King of everything wrong with the world. He starts out by saying he wants to change the world, then shows you how much of a
self-serving douche he is, then essentially concludes with “well… yeah… everyone wants to do good things at first… but.. eh fuck it.” Listen. Fuck your career. Say it ten times until it sinks in. Your career is a means to an end, and as soon as it becomes your end, you become an enemy to everyone who cares about other people and who hate people that suck. Your life is not about your future old car, your soon-to-be wrinkly wife’s looks/husband’s worthless power over others, or what future caskets with bones in them think of you. In 100 years everyone on the face of this earth will be dead, and only what was done because it was right will remain. To use your existence for your own gain is not just to be worthless, but is to cause more harm than good. Even worms do more good than harm.