Social Networks: Necessary or Nuisance?
Today’s discussion topic was sparked from a recent chat with a friend about using social networks to promote music. The conversation started with a simple question – “Mimi, why should I create Twitter and Facebook pages for my music?” I replied with so many reasons that you would think Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are paying me a commission.
Perhaps my mini lecture was just a matter of timing. The question was posed on the same day that I watched the extraordinary new group KING (who you should check out ASAP if you haven’t already) generate such a Twitter buzz in less than 24 hours that they were featured in LA Weekly the following day. Or maybe I was so eager to sell the good points because my Twitter and Facebook acquaintances keep me in the loop about good music. Whatever the reason was, it tugged at me enough to open the discussion to a larger audience by asking you all – Are social networks good or bad for music?
I’ll keep the discussion focused primarily on Twitter with a few Facebook references since those are the current leading social networks. Speaking of which, Facebook and Twitter are so popular now that it’s hard to remember what it was like before they existed. I think the times were something like this:
Fans and consumers relied on concerts, television appearances and website posts as their means for keeping up with artists.
Artists seemed to be more private. The question of “Has (insert artist’s name) done anything lately?” was not uncommon.
That being said, I’m definitely a supporter of the social network-music relationship. So, let’s start the discussion with the good side of their connection.
Social networks offer free marketing, which presents a win-win for artists and consumers. In a time when marketing budgets are stretched thin and lots of consumers are tight on a dollar, the cost for promotion and access doesn’t get any better than #free.
Social networks are fast. With one click, artists can release news to thousands, (and in some cases, millions) about their current projects. In return, consumers gain access to real-time info from their favorite artists, which could drive their purchasing.
Social networks connect millions of people. I suppose that’s a large enough statement in itself.
With perks like these, we may see the social network-music relationship get even stronger in the future. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s not ignore the not-so-good side of their connection.
Artists have to be concerned about “Way Too Nosy Rosey“. There seems to be no limit to what consumers want to know about artists. But, are there some things that are really none of our business?
Social networks offer anonymity. I’ll go ahead and state the obvious. I admittedly write with a pen last name. I do it because it allows me to interact with followers of Finding the B-Side via social networks without having to mix my business and personal affairs. But, do artists have it that easy? What recourse do they have for responding to negative Twitter and Facebook commentary?
I’m not saying that we music consumers have to like all music, but why use social networks to express our opinions of the music (or artists) we don’t care for? It seems almost unfair that social networks can be used to insult artists so easily. Sure, it’s only 140 characters (a little more if you use Facebook) but as the saying goes, sometimes a little goes a long way.
I can understand the argument that some will make – “Mimi, if I made a truckload of money as an artist, I wouldn’t mind the backlash of anyone who doesn’t like me or my music.” I get that. I really do. But, at some point, I think it all comes back to the root word “art”. The beauty of art is in the eye of the beholder. And, whether the art sells for $1, $10, or $10 million, the process to create it was unique to the artist, who oftentimes releases it without the luxury of an alternate identity.
I could talk for hours about this, but I suppose my best summary is that I support the union of social networks and music, but I urge us to play by the rules of common courtesy. I want to hear from you though. Are social networks good or bad for music?
And, just in case you’re wondering…yes, I will be tweeting about this discussion post. I hope you’ll do the same.