Is the future now? Ok then, when is it?

The last time this blog was REALLY active, Spotify was not yet a thing, Napster was a problem, iTunes only sold downloads, and MySpace was still a real thing. A lot has happened since then, and I wonder, are we better off? I ask this question in two domains: how people hear our music, and how we connect with the people who (may) want to hear our music.

Let’s start with how people hear our music. I probably wrote somewhere on this blog something to the effect of, “once we find a way for cheap easy legal music distribution, piracy will be a thing of the past (or at least we will quit talking about it).” That has become true. It is now way easier for people to hear my music, and I believe more people are hearing my music. I’m probably not making much less money from recorded music now than I was then. Those all sound like wins, but my concern is around the question of control. Since people are getting to my music through Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, or even Bandcamp, I am in a position in which a policy change by any of these companies can effect how I get music to the people who want to hear it. What happened to the internet being democratizing, and removing the middle men (people/entities/bots?)? Why can’t I simply directly interact with my listeners?

Which brings me to how we interact with our listeners (or friendly experiencers to quote a favorite artist). Social media has the same problem streaming services have: when they change policy it thwarts our plans to reach people. I liked email lists…apparently I was the only one. How do we get to a system that lets people get the information they want from the artist/label/venue directly? I don’t want to have to figure out Facebook algorithms (or Instagram or whoever, and yes, I know they are really the same thing) to get to people who already know they want information from me (or my series or whatever). I get playing the social media game to find new listeners, but can we be in control of the relationships we already have? Is text/SMS lists the new thing?

I would love it if you would comment with your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “Is the future now? Ok then, when is it?

  1. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as well. As it pertains to interacting with & dispersing information to “friendly experiencers”, my bullet point frustrations are:
    -I don’t want to be at the whim of the algorithm. I want my message sent evenly & unfiltered to the people who care.
    -I don’t want to give away the rights to my media via the distribution method (pictures and videos posted on FB/Insta).
    -I don’t want my stuff lumped in with everybody else’s, as conceited as it sounds. All of our individual worth is diminished when we appear side-by-side in an endless feed. It’s the modern day, subjectively worse, version of the telephone pole covered in flyers so densely that you can’t make out any of them.
    -It scares me that we are all relying on a 3rd party for this stuff. I get that it’s been happening in various ways for centuries, but still. It just creeps me out, and makes me feel powerless/like I’m just serving an overlord rather than myself.

    On the topic of gaining new friendly experiencers….this is tricky. Ideally, people hear me play live, stumble upon me online, or hear me on a track. But social media has introduced another way. Seems like an evolution of going on the radio to reach people who have never heard of you before. As I attempt to move away from social media, I will no doubt miss this aspect of it.

    On the topic of texting, a conversation we have had in person before, I actually like it. I used to hate it. Simon Lott does not have social media. He does more than fine without it. But I’m sure that his career unknowingly suffers from this abstinence as well. Whenever he has a show as a bandleader, he texts me a photo graphic for the show. Not to a group chat, but to me individually. I really love it. Luckily, no one pays per text anymore. I also wonder what his system is for sending these texts. How does he keep the list? Is it a long and arduous process or does he have an app/program that makes it easier?

    I’m going to stop there for now. If I get a second wind later maybe I’ll write my thoughts on streaming.

  2. Cyrus Nabipoor posted about this earlier….I think about this stuff WAY too much.

    I do believe we’ve reached the tipping point for SM promotion…at least for musicians that is. Direct messaging IS more accurate, but it’s like driving a bike on the highway in relation to coverage. I’m very interested to see what the fallout is and what the next viable platform (not specific SM vehicle) will be. This is all coming from someone who spent years promoting bands/music pre-internet (or at least pre SM). About a million times more effort involved in direct grassroots marketing, but I do believe it is still viable…just wondering what that looks like in 2020.

    Could be a number of different avenues that prove fruitful moving forward. Maybe blog/e-journalists? Maybe a combo of that and direct messaging/email? We’ll see, but unfortunately SM is still necessary IMO for the coverage it provides (if you curate your posts/engagement appropriately).

    I’ve been doing some experiments with the placement, type, and amount spent on promoted posts over the past year and still don’t really have any answers other than the algorithms have changed drastically and I’m no longer getting the coverage I used to…that and people are just jumpy my ship en masse.

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