Today I thought I might write about social networks as they relate to indie musicians.
Social networks are another hurdle for artists and represent a very complex part of an artist's life.
I once had a college professor tell me in their own words that "the last part of a musician's career is the audience."
You spend perhaps years perfecting your skill and eventually your music reaches out to large amounts of people at one time. Artists usually join music out of a pure love for it. It comforts them and speaks to a part of them that hears through the silence and noise. Once an artist has become prolific they begin to feel the sensation like there is more than just loving music and they start sharing their art. Not all artists feel the need to perform live, some just like the solitary gift of music.
How to reach people becomes a learning curve. One way is locally and the other way is through digital and analogue media and broadcast.
An artist can meet as many people as they like but being able to convey to them a full spectrum of their own musical experience is another task.
Thus devices like the CD player, mp3 player and stereo systems are designed and made available on a mass scale. File or song sharing had changed the landscape of reaching people with music much easier. Yet the complexity of music has exponentially been simplified, the residual is still a great feat to accomplish.
So assuming you have made a great song. You have composed the song and written the lyrics, played and recorded the instruments, sung and mixed all of the song elements equalized and mastered it. This alone takes an enormous amount of work and attention to detail.
For instance, consider what type of device the person (or machine) on the other end will use to listen to your song and that your song will be subjected to so many different types of acoustical environments. Each place where your song will be sent will have its own set of required variables. Some websites want songs in .mp3 format with 320kbps, some websites want the songs in .wav format at 44khz 16bit and so on.
Concerning the music mix, how will the mix sound on a mono amplifier with speakers? How will the mix sound in stereo? How will the mix sound in surround sound? How will it sound on small speakers and how will it sound on very large speakers? How will it sound when the speakers are placed in different areas of a room?
So let's say you have this song in the formats you need and all of the mixing and mastering requirements have been met. Even if these requirements have not been met you still have the song in the various formats and ready to send out to the world...
So you upload your song to many places and overnight, nothing happens. This this can be terribly disappointing when you realize that just making the music and putting it out there does not amalgamate to any success at all. So, what to do...
There are quite a few venues... None of them directly insure success. Thus again, you have to do them all. This may not appear evident at first and you may gravitate to certain ones only. This is a highly illusive business where noting is usually placed right where you can just, stumble upon it.
So you have to search very hard to map out your possibilities. Learning to search is an entire discipline in itself. Smart search key words and searches that filter out results so you can hone in on the information you need to further your goals.
Here is an example, say you win a song contest on a certain website... Your name is in lights! YAY! But, the website only has the producers of a big company and a few indie musicians who frequent it. So your winning this was like a tree falling in the forest with no one around. You can spend months preparing for this contest all so it can pass by without even a sound. Then you ask yourself what is wrong? Your song won! But no one heard it. So we trudge on. This is when you realize you have to invent yourself, or perhaps reinvent, or maybe more precisely, just bring out the inner essence of yourself, come alive and shine.
You speculate on how to make friends so there will be more than a hand-full of people who you can share this little bit of success with the next time it happens. Remember music itself is about waves and momentum.
This is a music "business", the owner of a restaurant does not want some freelance "home cook" selling hot dogs in their restaurant parking-lot. They want control of every music buyer. They group people who buy music into an elite list that is privy only to them and guarded as their greatest corporate secret.
So it seems at this point useless, 99% of the artists just cave in and pay the tech corporations to allow them into this privy club of music buyers.
So they sell their music to walmart, amazon, itunes, imusiciandigital, etc... and these businesses get a cut of your profits. If there was a good way to avoid this perhaps you could apply the same algorithm to solve the energy crisis.
So these stores like to take anywhere from 5 to 15% of your profit.
Everyone has their hand in the pie. Not that 15% is a lot when one thinks about selling a million songs at a dollar each. Owing only 15% of a song to another company is perhaps the greatest of scenarios where most artist's only receive 10% or even end up in debt after the record companies have finished with them. Often their music sits on a shelf and is never heard from again.
In light of that... What can one do? Well, the only way forward is with poverty... Yes, if you seek no monetary gain you can use that as pry into the market. THAT MEANS GIVE ALL OF YOUR ART AWAY FOR FREE! The worse case would be to pay people to listen... You suddenly realize, fame is better than fortune.
Paying people to be your fans is definitely a low point in your career but whatever it takes to get your music out there you will consider... You believe in your art.
Many artists have done worse things to facilitate a career in the business. You have to draw the line somewhere. Preserve your body and soul for the long run for it may be a hard road.
By inventing yourself you open a door to becoming likable. It is not all about guitars and a strict code of disciplined art but sometime it is loosening up and going out and having a good time with people and letting them be close to that "loner who sacrificed so much".
This is where writing (blogs) and social networks come in.
I will preface that with, be prepared for some BIG failures in the social network areas before you start to make some actual ground. Be ready to lose friends that may even take you years to make. HOW? Because the social networks own the portals to these people. We certainly learn a lot about ourselves and what kind of person we are in the midst of failure. Each hard-knock makes you stronger and more determined. If you lose the network you lose your friends. What I means by friends are, "over a thousand friends" and years of work in gathering them and correspondence trails.
And what would you do with over a thousand friends? Well, play them a song maybe? That is provided that the social networks will allow you to do this with your friends. So with each and every social network (and there are many of them) there is a completely different set of rules on logistics and technological barriers to overcome.
Some of them see your desire to play your songs to your friends as a form of "spam"... I personally find this insulting. I say, let my friends decide if I am spamming them or not but don't just classify all indie artists as spammers. But not all social networks are like this but many are. I don't blame them for guarding the people on their networks and providing them with some safety. But this safety policy also blocks the real and direct love between an artist, their art and their fans. On the other hand they will let corporations spam you to death with ads. Some even put their ads on your own song before they let your friends hear your song or watch your video. I guess walking up to total stranger and asking them to be your friend is spam but, IT IS THE ONLY ROUTE YOU HAVE.
Other than going on a talk-show and plugging your social network address. This can get you millions of fans... But there is a catch 22... Who wants to interview a nobody on a talk-show? So you have to gradually push your way in. You do this by making friends with everyone! Even if they do not make friends with you. You have to trust that you are a good soul and your capacity to love is endless. Even when it becomes hard you have to endure or your friends will turn on you. They will put up with only so much self righteous indignation and then drop you from their list. Thus you need to be more than the hermit that shut the doors as a child and learned the art of angels but you then have to go out into the world and become a cult personality, break out of your shell and learn to fly...
I will write more on this soon.