Published on February 9th, 2011 | by Hugh Hession1
Exposing the crutch of technology in music
Technology is a wonderful thing but I cringe whenever someone tells me how much it has “leveled” the playing field” for an artist (I mean, how easy is it to distribute your music worldwide compared to 10 years ago. Anyone can do it.). Nevertheless, the impact that technology has in getting exposure for an artist is substantial.
Just look at all those incredible websites out there ready to make you the next Rihanna. The volume of them is mind-blowing. Want to up your game in the social media marketing game? Then you can’t do without such sites as Ping.fm or Hootsuite. Looking to expand your direct to fan relationships? Well of course, there is no other than Nimbit. Need a portal to work your music and track your online presence? Then Reverbnation it is. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are just a given.
Let’s put the brakes on for a sec. It’s imperative to understand that though the way of doing business in music has changed dramatically, the principles have not. That old adage still rings true…you can’t polish a turd.
You see, technology should be used as a tool, not a crutch. The paradigm that placing your video on YouTube is going to get your discovered (it worked for Justin Bieber, right?) or posting your music and profile on every entertainment website known to man is going to quickly give you notoriety, is like playing the lottery. There is much more to this than simply posting your videos and music up on Myspace.
Use social networks and other channels with a purpose in mind. I think that is the missing link for most artists. They don’t think strategically first…Myspace is like having a free billboard on a superhighway where there are millions of cars driving by every single day. –Jed Carlson, COO of Reverbnation (From 101 Ways to Market Your Music on The Web by Simon Adams)
The problem is that so many bands are skipping the most crucial step of all – and that is the quality of their music and the image that they portray to the public. Average songwriting, substandard recordings, poor website design and especially amateur promo shots all convey mediocrity. As a result, they get grouped with the thousands of other bands who are aimlessly playing the lottery with their career.
Artists need to get back to the basics of understanding exactly who they are and what they are trying to convey. Their direction needs to be razor sharp including knowing exactly who their fans are. Every genre is different, and not all genres are targeted towards the mainstream. Thus, the strategies you use to promote yourself should be different than others. One size does not fit all.
Bands feverishly post their material and identity all over the web just because there is a website that enables them to get their music out there. There is no rhyme or reason and no end result in mind. Artists need to ask themselves how doing a certain action is going to benefit their career objectives and additionally, what kind of metrics are being used to track results.
For you as an artist, it’s essential you grasp the concept of being the very best you can be on all fronts. This begins with the quality of your music, which has to be exceptional, not only from a songwriting point of view, but in the studio when you’re dealing with arrangements and the recording itself. Don’t post songs online that aren’t your very, very best.
For us as a company, the only thing we think about, and sometimes it drives the artist nuts – is the A&R process. We gotta get that record right because if we don’t feel like we have 4 or 5 singles on that album, we know how far the campaign stretches. We have to go back to that place of making an incredible product. -Troy Carter, manager of Lady Gaga (taken from Next BIG Nashville Digital Summit hosted by Eric Garland)
Your image is also a big deal. Musicians who are concerned about “selling out” need to pack it up or get this antiquated ideology out of their head. In the 70’s it may have been possible for a faceless band like Supertramp to make it to the big leagues. This no longer holds true. Getting exposure and sticking out above the pack is the biggest obstacle that artists face in Music 2.0.
Making it in Music spoke to indie recording and national touring artist Aaron English about the challenges that he faces in his career. “The biggest challenge is figuring out how to focus your efforts to get seen and heard in the vast and chaotic landscape of new media. Every web page is a drop in a vast ocean of content, inside of which it’s difficult for new music and new fans to connect.” No one knows this better than this Seattle native – with three national tours under his belt, major media exposure and song placement on the Fox drama series “Bones” – English is a working example of how imperative a focused strategy is needed to rise above the noise.
So it’s time to be honest. Do you have a working marketing plan that serves as a guide to your online promotion? Is your music the best it can be? Is your image cohesive, professional looking and in alignment with your persona and musical identity? I could go on with an entire list of things to ask yourself in relation to the way you position yourself online, however if you even somewhat hesitate in answering yes to these questions, it’s time to re-align what you are doing, even if it means, pulling content off the Internet and re-aligning your image and music. It may take some time to do, especially if you have to re-record music, fix arrangements and re-design your website. Trust me, in the long run it will be well worth it.
With all the talk about technology – you open up Billboard where all you hear is technology this and technology that. It’s all bullshit, as far as I’m concerned. It’s about the human connection…it’s about getting an artist to achieve excellence and taking them through the developmental process. -Marty Winsch, artist manger to recording artist Corey Smith (taken from Next BIG Nashville Digital Summit hosted by Eric Garland)