Almost two years ago, I wrote an article for this website about how the internet has a tendency to hurt your musical career. I stand by this article, but I think it’s important to continually change and recognize your approach to the internet as an artist. Because as much as it has made things harder, it has probably made more things easier. That’s right folks — you have to take the good with the bad. Ultimately, your online persona is your first impression for most people who may become your listeners.
Younger me was pessimistic and unfortunately took pride in being so. Older, wiser, more prestigious me is a bit more thankful. Or maybe I’m just writing that to fill this paragraph. Oh well! Here is the lowdown on the importance of navigating your music career through the internet: what you need to do with it, where we’re going, and how to maintain a reputation.
It’s not brand awareness; it’s band awareness. Okay, sorry for the cheesy pun (well, not really), but look — the groundwork for what it takes to be an active musician is primarily built online nowadays. Emailing people about shows, creating social media accounts, engaging with publicists and press, uploading your music to streaming services — all of that is done online. Chances are, in this day and age, your touring groundwork will be laid online as well, and a lot of it will come through the connections you’ve made through the aforementioned channels.
Yes, flyering is good. Yes, calling people sometimes works. And word of mouth is wonderful when getting people out to your show. But generally, the internet is what’s going to get people who have yet to hear your music interested in what you’re doing. Your entire public profile will be founded on your web standing — don’t underestimate the power in that.
A social media presence is important for any kind of professional reputation or public persona in this day and age. Even if you view music as more of a hobby than a job, you still have a reputation to build the second you start playing out of your garage. It’s important that you keep yourself active on social media, because it’s what will bring people out to the shows you’re booking and let people know when you have music out.
Now, you may say “I don’t care about bringing people out. I do this for me, not anyone else.” I get where that mindset comes from, but it’s a completely naive and selfish way of looking at things. Not because you should change your music or shill to anyone, but because playing out doesn’t only involve you. It also involves the promoters, labels, publicists, record store owners, other bands, and the like that take risks on your music and your shows. The least you can do for good people in the music industry is get other people to support them, because as we all know, they’re a rare breed. So staying active on social media and making sure people have ways of hearing your music online is really the least you can do for people who go out of their way to help you. Otherwise, you can stay in your garage.
The Future With VR
If you thought social media and video chat was intense, technology and the world wide web may have more in store for us yet. Urban Daddy (um, excuse the website name?) recently shared the news that the world’s first virtual reality (VR) music venue is here, on a platform called Melody VR. If VR concerts are now possible, why not VR interviews, press conferences and the like?
To be clear, VR is just one technological change, and we don’t know how it will affect the music world yet. I would bet it doesn’t replace real concerts for one reason: the physical experience of a concert. The volume of the music, being crammed into a crowd, dancing or moshing with others, and singing along in unison can’t be duplicated by VR in a way quite as meaningful as the real deal. However, the music industry has to be pro-active in producing and promoting content through all channels. Soon, VR may become important for label showcases, music videos, and press conferences. Would that be cool? I think it might be. But that kind of change may come in another form, not necessarily VR. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how it all pans out.
Here’s to the next 10 years of technology! What’s your take? How do you navigate your online persona in regards to your music? What do you love and hate about it? Let me know all the things over on Twitter @Robolitious. – Robert Lanterman