Tag Archives: futurem

Take Five: Rock Shop #8 – A Social Media Experiment

On Oct. 6, I attended the eighth installment of the Rock Shop series of music biz/promotion workshops for Boston bands. This event (cosponsored by JitterJam) was part of the FutureM series of events taking place across the metro Boston area this week, focused on the future of marketing.

Aaron Perrino of The Sheila Divine/Dear Leader, Keith Freund of RIBS, Michael J. Epstein of Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling and Jake of Lagoon shared a stage with organizers/sponsors Charles McEnerney (Well-Rounded Radio), Clay N. Ferno (Middle East), Steve Theo (Pirate!) and Marty Watts (JitterJam) to talk about how they use social media.

Here are the band’s social media backgrounds:

  • Aaron – With the funds they’ve raised via Kickstarter to support the recording of a new album, they plan to Ustream weekly recording sessions and interact with fans during that time, and the fans could affect the ultimate product. A crowdsourced recording effort – pretty cool. Note: Aaron also works at Barbarian Group.
  • Keith – Reddit, of all places, gave the band their start, via  a personal post he made as an afterthought. That led to the band having the top rock release on Bandcamp, getting played on mainstream radio in Canada and selling 600 copies of their debut EP in the first week of release. The key, both Keith and Michael agreed, was posting as Keith, not as RIBS (such as Amanda Palmer tweets as herself and not as Dresden Dolls).
  • Michael – Since Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling (from their name to their songs) is inspired largely by the old 60s TV show “The Prisoner,” the band identified the places where fans of the show hung out on the web and reached out to them. That led to press interest in England (where the show was quite popular) before they had even played any shows. Connect with audiences that will respond in a unique way to what you’re creating, Michael advised.
  • Jake – Lagoon acquired a rather large but scattershot international Twitter following, for reasons unknown, and they have had to try to balance this against the need to cultivate a IRL presence in the local scene.

Aaron Perrino (performing my favorite Dear Leader song, “My Life as a Wrestler”)

And here are some of the key points made during the panel discussion:

  • Charlie – Every band needs to manage themselves like a small business.
  • Clay – Use social media for immediacy, to get info (like new ticket availability) out to fans quickly and directly
  • Michael – Balancing both sides of music – the creative side and the business side – takes time and hard work, and if you don’t like it, you may be doing the wrong thing.
  • Keith – In RIBS, they keep a standard list of administrative tasks that need to be performed, so that whoever is available — whether it’s a band member or a friend — can take care of them.
  • Keith and Jake evangelized for Google Docs and Google Calendar. It was odd to hear such testimonies on the Middle East stage.
  • Michael: “There used to be an obvious path, but there is no correct path anymore.”
  • Jake – The music scene is thriving on collaboration, not competition. Examples: Michael made a video of bands he shared a bill with to help promote a show; Clay gives band members admin access to events he created on Facebook.
  • Jake – Content is key, but don’t share unless it’s meaningful, and be consistent and stick with it — success and results do not come instantly.
  • Keith – RIBS mobilized their Reddit fans into quality connections who became ambassadors for the band.
  • Everyone agrees Bandcamp is the best thing ever.
  • In the website vs. Facebook/MySpace/etc. domain, the group was split. Aaron said he only uses Facebook, whereas Michael said it is important to have a website (which is the point of view I share).
  • Prior to the event, Michael blogged a social media manifesto, which is really quite a good overview of the basic principles of social media. You should definitely read it.

Lagoon

So, my thoughts:

The points made here echoed much of what I’d heard at previous rock shops on pitching to music bloggers and getting played on local radio: if you work hard and work smart, things will happen, and the music industry is ours for the reinvention. I was impressed by the savvy some of the musicians showed in their understanding of the social media landscape, particularly Michael J. Epstein. They echoed much of what I hear everyday from people who make a living in that field, so good on them.

Still, I think I had misguided expectations for this event. Dubbed a “Social Media Experiment,” I was hoping for crazy things to happen, like bands crowdsourcing cover song requests via Twitter, live streaming video, digital EPs or free MP3s distributed via QR code — activities that would demonstrate the way new media are changing the music business. None of this — aside from some iPhone UStreaming and my failed attempts to use Qik — took place. People shot videos and took/tweeted pictures, sure, and folks like Trish tweeted from the panel, but none of that to me really qualifies as an experiment. Also, while e-mails preceding the event implored attendees to check in to Foursquare and use the #rockshopboston hashtag, none of this was reinforced during the event. And hashtags, nowadays, are really the backbone of any initiative on the social web.

Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling

Initially, I was fairly disappointed by the way things turned out, but now I realize my expectations were probably unrealistic. I would, however, love to see a performance that encouraged this kind of social media experimentation and a breaking-down of the conventional walls between consumption and creation. You’d probably need to do more work ahead of time to get people invested in the idea, but I think it’d be worthwhile — a true experiment.

I was also disappointed in the turnout. Four really, really amazing bands gave their time and put on awesome performances — for free. And by the time RIBS came on, the place was nearly empty. I have no idea why that was the case. But I consider myself lucky I was there.

RIBS

Steve Theo has done a great job with the Rock Shop events. They are an incredibly valuable resource for the local music community. My effort in chronicling the ones I have attended is in the hopes that musicians who didn’t have the opportunity to attend may come across these recaps and gain a few tips that will help them better navigate these self-charted waters.

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Take Five: The New Music Industry

In my grand editorial plan, this post was supposed to be a recap of Rock Shop 7: Meet the Press, where music writers from papers all over town held court with local rockers. Alas, I got whisked into the #140conf world one day earlier than I had anticipated and had to miss it. However, at #140conf, I did get to hear the “Rock Stars in Real-Time” panel, moderated by podsafe musician to the stars Matthew Ebel and featuring digital publicist Ariel Hyatt, TAG Strategic’s Ted Cohen and none other than Amanda Fucking Palmer, the poster child for self-made, net-fueled rock stardom. Here is video I shot of the event (in two parts):

I was heartened to hear back a lot of the same things I’ve been hearing from DJs and music bloggers at the Rock Shop panels I’ve been (intermittently) attending and covering: the old model of stardom is dead and artists need to work hard and tour hard to succeed; musicians need to gain a modicum of marketing savvy and take responsibility for their own success; opening up and breaking down walls can make amazing things happen; be listening so you can take advantage of the golden moment when someone mentions you in order to build a relationship.

One really great point the #140conf panel made was that music is returning to being a service from being a product. Implied in the provision of a service is that the recipient of the service — the fan — is now at the core of the enterprise. To the other points made by the panel, it is incumbent upon musicians to capitalize upon the serendipity of the web to make connections and not just have a fan base, but forge relationships with fan. Yes, the music business, now more than ever before, is about relationships.

And what better way to connect with people than, well, music? I am seeing more and more music released for free (or at a name-your-own-price model, or perhaps a song for the price of an e-mail address) than I know what to do with, from John Vanderslice to John Shade. (And guess what? Having listened to his album, I’m totally going to a John Shade show next week.) My friend Mike’s band, the Daily Pravda, is performing this weekend at the Middle East Upstairs, and you’re going to be able to download their new single at the merch table. Tools like Bandcamp and Soundcloud are making it increasingly easy for bands to make their music social and to take control of distribution and sales. The Sheila Divine are financing a new record themselves via Kickstarter. With his Musicians for Music 2.0 initiative, Well-Rounded Radio’s Charles McEnerney is working to create a mechanism to fund the next generation of these music discovery and taste maker sites/technologies:

In short, it’s a really exciting time for music, I think. It’s a really a big bang, with an entirely new way of doing business taking shape centered around the two most important elements of the equation: fans and music. With that in mind, I can’t overstate how much I am looking forward to Rock Shop 8: All Access Arts. Just the idea that a music-focused event is a part of FutureM‘s week of web marketing events pleases me to no end. But to make it a real laboratory of how music performance and social media can interact to build buzz about a band is exciting and curious. The fact that it poses more questions than it answers makes me psyched to attend.

And there are lots of open questions about how this new dynamic is going to work. Heck, if I’m this curious, and I’m just a fan, the musicians must going nuts trying to figure it all out. But this is the time to keep asking, and keep suggesting answers. Who knows what great ideas are out there? All I know is that there is a lot of great music. Imagine what could happen if the two match up.

Next week: A new digest, full of fun links and commentary. Woohoo!