“How to succeed in today’s music business.” Everyone is touting their advice on winning the social media game. “Get the key to success!” “Only $189!” Without the means to support these enthusiastic entrepreneurs, most of us just trudge along, doing what we can to piece together a living.
As performers, we’re always asking, “How do I share myself with the world and get paid what I’m worth?” How do you find those 5,000 true lifelong fans — people who will really connect with you, value your contributions, and support your efforts — without a record label machine behind you?
In the world I grew up in, you heard new music on the radio or tv, fell in love with a song, searched to find out everything you could about the performer, and became a fan for life. Nowadays, people want to fall in love with who they think you are online before they’ll even listen to your music; then, they absentmindedly click on to the next thing.
Why is that? How do we get back to the place where true musical talent is valued? Or can we ever? Many of today’s young musicians don’t even aspire to be great players or songwriters; they simply want to be famous, which they equate with having the most “views” and “followers.” Meanwhile, insanely talented musicians struggle to find work.
I’ve read umpteen articles promoting Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube as all-important to “building your brand.” I am committed to putting in the time and effort, but I find myself in a quandary. Will 50,000 followers validate me as an artist? As a creative human? Do I really want to be a “brand?” No, no, and hell no!
In a noisy space like Twitter, there is no way to have any kind of meaningful interaction. It’s all so silly. Strange people follow you, and if you don’t follow them within 24 hours, they unfollow you. Really? Who has time for that? Experts say “engage your fans,” but are they really fans? Do they come to your shows? Do they buy your music? Most of these people would rather spend 20 minutes scouring the internet looking for free downloads than spend 2 minutes and $.99 on one of your songs.
I’m a singer, writer, and performer — not a social media queen. My goal is to be the best I can be at doing what brings me joy. Sure, I’d love it if folks were rushing to buy every song I put out there. And, it would definitely be an ego-booster to have 12,000 followers responding to my every whisper. But, what I really want is to honestly connect with people who get me…to commune with like-minded souls who inspire me.
Truth be told, I may only have 30 real fans, but you know what? I’m ok with that. They love me and I love them. We don’t interact on Twitter or Facebook, but they open my emails and respond to my newsletters. They give me hope when I’m feeling lost in a sea of avatars, sound bites, and social media icons. That keeps me going and for that, I am thankful!
Anti-social? What do you think?