Socials and sharing. An important topic no matter if you are signed or independent. Now it is time to explain how and why the industry today functions the way it does. And how it might affect you.
Originally, services like Soundcloud were meant to share your work. Previews, study projects, progressions, and so on. And today it provides a platform to not only share to, but form communities, discuss things and make friends. It shows, being on socials, is all about sharing. And many nice and good things come from that. It’s a solid and good way to find like-minded people, discover music by others, learn, exchange, and have fun, too.
Some have said it and it is true. Some of the material shared, rivals the best professional artists. Having been an artist manager for most of my live, it is all about discovering talent. Is it entertaining? Definitely! Is everything professional? Definitely not! But the cross section goes with the territory of sharing. The beauty is in the mixture.
Now here’s the thing: you can debate style and skills, you can never debate quality. In other words: a style is personal preference. A skill, a talent however, is something you (can) train and develop. And quality is something which, over time, may come from that.
Quality is a degree of excellence. A distinctive characteristic, and sometimes difficult to compare. You might say, quality is unique. Why this matters? Because on social media, everyone is an artist. Or, at least, claims to be one. We have already covered that in episode 1.
Some think, fake it until you make it. Now let me entertain that thought a bit. No harm done after all. We have all been there, haven’t we? So let’s discover how socials – and sharing – influence your opportunities, and profile. Likely without you even knowing so, because the professionals screens you, and your work, differently than you might think.
Professionals, and A&R managers belong in that category, immediately recognize the following. People claiming to be artists and musicians. One look at such profiles show they typically avoid talking about music. They will fill up their socials with good-hearted, easy to swallow stuff. Yes, a lot of announcements, and the harder they shout…
So what, it’s entertainment. Let’s not take everything seriously. The thing is, it reduces you to clickbait. It is a professional marketing term.
It means it is not about the message, it is about you clicking around, liking stuff. They want likes, need likes. Because likes, and not necessarily quality, gives a sense of status.
We all follow and like accounts which might be promising. Their work is not necessarily great yet, but hey, it is just social media, anything goes. And so you come across accounts pushing out a song a week or whatever. Quantity over quality.
Some click-bait accounts may have more followers than big-named and famed artists. You come across statements like “I will keep creating no matter what’. But… No tweets, posts that talk about music (in musical terms). And to make things worse, sometimes you feel guilty. You don’t want to go down on them too hard, because they throw you a friendly bone once in a while.
You can not identify click-bait by how long somebody claims to be making music. Some do brilliant things just two years in, opposed to others ten years sweating on every beat. You know who immediately recognizes who is who, which is which? Professionals do. Like A&R managers, artists managers and promoters. Within seconds from viewing such profiles.
So ask yourself this: do you follow these click-bait accounts? Have you ever done a shake-out, unfollowing accounts? Is your timeline and updates list flooded with whatever? I dare say this: if you are following over 1,000 active accounts, you will hardly ever see, nor be able to appreciate, ANY tweet or post, other than by coincidence. Unless you make it your day job, or have notifications on (and who does really?). Your timeline and updates most likely are flooded with entertaining, click-bait stuff. And by following, liking and sharing such posts… eventually your accounts becomes click-bait.
So, if you want to follow such accounts, open up a second account, or unfollow click-bait accounts (!) or, like on Twitter, list them privately. The follow-for-follow principle is only good for numbers, NOT for strategic profile building from a music business perspective.
Think about it like this: if your timeline and updates no longer make sense to you anymore, they sure won’t make sense to someone screening you. Like that A&R manager discovering you are following people back who ‘sort of wing it’. Quantity over quality, effectively rendering ‘noise’. Yes, your online well-meant behaviour might very well cost you an opportunity.
Your sense of quality is under a magnifying glass. All I am saying is: start thinking about your social presence and profile. Because this is it: they get screened, within seconds. and we screen not only you, but who you follow, your likes, shares, your preferences. And… we screen your work.
The reasons are simple. There is so much debatable ‘music’ out there. Previews which should have stayed burried within a friendly group on Soundcloud, but not out in the open, publicly, on your timeline. When professionals stumble upon a preview with tons of errors, they don’t hear your potential, they hear you failing.
Some say: one man’s noise is another man’s music. Which is precisely where things really get into trouble: when people show a lack in the ability to differ beteen style, skills and quality.
Admittedly, professional labels and artists these days are not without guilt either. They raised certain expectations, and initiated some behaviour. Because they saw it fit to start advertising their work and products on such platforms as Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp and tens and tens of others.
To them, it meant a new way to get their releases noticed. And to the platforms like Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Bandcamp it meant: income. Because these platforms spend millions and millions each month on things like hosting and bandwith. So in order to offer their service for free, or at least some of it, they need additional revenue streams. Continued on page 2.