There are two main problems with a social media exclusive approach to promotion. Firstly, there is a lot of content vying for peoples’ attention on social media, and the news of your gig risks getting lost amidst that content. Secondly, when you’re promoting on social media, you’re broadcasting to whoever may follow you, rather than targeting those people that are the most likely to attend your show.
alecplowman, in ‘Gig Like a Pro, Part Two: Bring a Big Crowd‘ on Ultimate Guitar
I was chatting to a local musician recently who had just ‘launched’ their new EP. (Which broadly seemed to equate to announcing that it was available on social media.) I threw out what I was expecting to be an encouraging question: ‘So, how many copies have you shifted so far?’
The answer was not a high number.
When supporting another friend over the past few years, the broad question of, “What does it mean to release new music?” has come up a lot.
Back in the stone age, my own student band released a CD: that is, we got a few hundred made, and set about flogging them to friends, fellow students, family, and at gigs (sometimes including ones we weren’t actually playing at).
Though Myspace was at its peak, I would say that our fanbase was broadly people who actually came to see us play. And we sold quite a lot of them physical CDs to take home, often coming straight off stage and heading out in to the crowd, cardboard box in hand. The potential base was almost certainly a lot smaller, but I wonder if the conversion rate – i.e. people buying the product – would be considered fairly impressive by 2017’s standards.
I think, for a lot of folk, launching today is reduced to uploading it to Soundcloud or Spotify, and then sticking it on social media. After all, that’s what folk the next tier up seem to do.
However, I wonder if that activity actually hides something: the legwork carried out offline to promote gigs and music, to get out there, make the contacts, and find the human beings who stand as the gatekeepers in what remains of the local and national music scene.
The technology is indeed available now to make anyone an artist. However, that neither guarantees:
a) The product is any good;
b) The music will stand out;
c) Anyone will ever stop scrolling and listen to it.
But then the question is: what can anyone who is starting out do about it?
I’m not sure; but I reckon it probably involves even more hard work than before.