December 17, 2008
Internet Music Promotion (pt2)
Following on from last week’s post discussing the pros of internet marketing from a NY Times article by Clive Thompson, here are a few of the cons that are worth considering when you promote your music career online...
One of the drawbacks that interested me most from this article, is the fact that artists could be "ruining their own aura by blogging". I can definitely see the validity of this point - rock stars have often been 'untouchable' and the pedestal on which they perform is part of the reason that fans adore them. Remove this, and all of a sudden they are a bit less rock-n-roll and a bit more tea-n-biscuits. One interviewed band member even goes as far to say that "the intimacy of the Internet has made post-show interactions less intimate and more guarded", speaking after one comment to a fan was later quoted online and spread like wildfire. Being burnt from this interaction, he now keeps his comments muted and possible more 'banal'.
Obsessing over the numbers after a successful online campaign can drive you crazy. The belief that if 10 people commented on one record and no-one did on the follow-up means that the latter track was a failure can torture an artist. Coulton would "rack his brains trying to figure out why people loved those particular songs so much", and the pressure of trying to achieve the same numbers would "sort of ruin me for a few weeks" he says. Sticking with Coulton and his promotional peaks, his biggest spike in traffic to his Web site was after he appeared on NPR’s 'Weekend Edition Sunday', something that he thinks "proves how powerful old-fashioned media still are". He has a very good point, old-fashioned media aren't completely dead, and maybe "there’s no way to use the Internet to vault from the B-list to the A-list. If A-list celebrity status is what you are after, then you could consider this another drawback of online promotion.
A major negative is the "relentless and often boring slog of keyboarding". Coulton "hunkers down for up to six hours of nonstop and frequently exhausting communion with his virtual crowd" pretty much everyday, and I can certainly relate to that kind of commitment to maintain my online presence, without as big an established crowd (simultaneous yet smaller fan-base DJ / producer / pseudonym producer / remixer / blogger / marketing careers will easily eat up my working week). It certainly is tiresome, but a necessary evil if you will. It could be argued that this keyboarding is taking time away from the artist being creative, and possibly even eating away at their creativity itself. Many would agree that it is "precisely the sort of administrative toil that people join rock bands to avoid", which voices another well raised point in this article.
Having called it a 'necessary evil', it is also addicting in an empowering way. Retaining ultimate control over your career is a strong pull, and as Coulton states “I think I’m addicted to running my own show now.” This addiction could also be seen as a positive or a drawback, depending on how much you enjoy the control / dread the responsibility / what kind of day you have ;)
Finally, next week, I’ll discuss how you can apply the lessons learned by the artists in the article to your music career and develop a strong online strategy ready for success in 2009!
Cross-posted at UK Music Jobs