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How NOT To Social Network

Myspace, as a medium for social networking, is useless. The signal to noise ratio has plummeted so low that there is essentially no point in trying to reach fans through MySpace. It's all comment spam, automatic "friending" programs, and bots. Most myspace comment boards look like this:

Do your fans really want to be spoken to in this way? What does it say about you as an artist if you use the same tactics that mass junk mail operations to reach them? Does ANYONE ever have meaningful conversations through this medium that lead to a minor fan to becoming a superfan?

Let's think about this. You are a musician, and you have limited time. Presumably, you are much better at music than most other things and should be spending most of your time on it if that's how you intend to create a career. As such, you should always be conscious of the return on your investments (ROI), whether you're spending time, money, trust, or fan attention (yes, it IS a currency). If you put in x amount of time putting up myspace comments, how do you expect this time spent to pay you back? If you're sending out spammed messages, you're spending time, attention, and trust.

Would it take 10 of these comment posting to lead to someone buying a song? Probably not. How about 100? A 1000? Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw a comment posted on a MySpace page and thought "Hmm, I should give these guys ten bucks" ?

Think on it.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

When you are choosing how you're going to market your music and talk to your fans, be very conscious of your ROI. You've got limited resources. When you spend, make sure that you'll be getting more back than you spent.

Unless, of course, you really want to get burned out and quit music forever. Then by all means spend frivolously!


"The Scene"

Grunge in Seattle during the 90s (now it's Indie Rock), Rap in Chicago and Atlanta in the mid 00s, Jazz in New Orleans since always, these are some of the famous scenes and sounds that define them. 

This didn't happen by accident. A "scene" is more often than not consciously created by similar bands who decided they wanted to make a difference.

"Power" in any industry comes from like-minded people helping each other out.
 Like it or not, humans are social creatures. Friends of friends are the primary engines of progress.

Why are you ignoring your community?



We compose our songs initially using tab writing software so we can write parts for everyone and play with more complicated ideas. Plus, it's fun to write parts you can't even play without massive amounts of practice.

In the process of passing around ideas, I noticed that some (what I thought were) seriously good ideas were flopping. It was frustrating, especially when I had that feeling of knowing this song was good.

So I began to ruminate, and after many cups of tea I realized something. We all saw the same music file, but only I got the full picture. I was hearing a different song than everyone else. Every time.

Although I wrote in a guitar part or a bass part, the rest of the instrumentation I didn't transcribe. Even though they were an integral part of the song, I assumed that the drum parts were obviously implied complements to the melody I wrote down. "Why bother writing them down? Everyone knows what I mean!" And another song would flop.

Bad assumptions kill communication. By not completely transcribing the music I heard in my head to the software program, I was effectively "spking n brkn st n o ne cld ndrstn me." Talking like that is not persuasive. Hearing incomplete, stuttering music tracks is not moving. It is not fair to your song to improperly communicate it.

Effective communication is clear. Don't mumble. Don't make assumptions. Spell it out.


You Are Only As Profitable As You Are Differentiated

I love this business school mantra because it captures the music world perfectly.

Read it again: you are only as profitable as you are differentiated.

No one cares about "the new AC/DC". If people want AC/DC they listen to AC/DC (or a tribute band with tiny guitars). No one is interested in a band that bases themselves off AC/DC's sound.

It's tough to play music different than the rest of the scene. But it's essential if you want to have long-term success.

It's was tough to play rock n' roll in the 50s too. Cities would ban bands from stepping foot into any of their auditoriums, citing a "riot danger" (For more reading on rock and roll censorship). But the Stones did it. And they broke down many of the barriers we would still face today if they had not.

If you are creating music, do something new with it. Otherwise, you're a cover band.