Reading back over 2011’s Prescription articles it seems as though I spent a lot of my time telling you young whippersnappers to ‘forget about the music’ and concentrate on adding loads of funky content to your site or Facebook page.
There’s a lot to be said for that; if you keep going on about your band ad nauseum, people will switch off and think you’re a dreadful bore (believe me; I know). Whereas if you write an interesting blog post about – oh, I don’t know, Megan Fox in nice underwear or something – you’ll get a shedload of visitors to your band’s website, and of course they’ll simply love your music. They might all be pervs, but yes, of course they’ll buy your records. And that’s all that counts in life obviously.
I’m going to start the year anyway with a slightly different, and I suppose contradictory, thought: remember the music. Because as important as blogging, social media, data capture, SEO, analytics, online business models and all the rest of it are to the independent musician…these new-fangled entities have one huge drawback, and the start of a new year seems like a good moment to face up to it: they take up LOADS of your time. Time that you could be spending on what you as a musician are meant to be doing in the first place: writing and recording music.
Think about it: how many times have you been writing a song, only to put down your guitar to go over to a computer and check the number of Facebook fans you’ve acquired that day? And then got sidetracked by some funny post your witty mate has posted on your wall? And then thought how now would be a good time to check your site’s Google Analytics, followed by a couple of hours tweaking the tags on the Youtube video for your latest single? And after that it only seems only right surely to spend the evening emailing some MP3s to some taste-maker blogger types…
It’s easy to see where I’m going with this: all these online gizmos and services are great (and in general I’m a big fan) BUT they are also involve a huge time commitment – either in terms of the hours you spend on putting a decent online promo campaign together, or frankly, the amount of hours you waste religiously checking web stats, friend counts, song plays and so on (not to mention getting distracted by those wits on Facebook).
And the irony is this: really good music arguably doesn’t need half as much of an online push as you think it does. Because aside from making you spend every living hour reading inane Facebook status updates, one thing the internet does really well is help good stuff travel. If a song is truly a great one, it will get shared online. All those little ‘share’ buttons, dodgy torrent sites and perhaps even some humans will happily see to that. Yes, there are ways to maximise a track’s visibility online, and these are worth putting time into, but only after you have made your song as ‘shareworthy’ as possible. And this, translated, means only after you have made your song as good as you possibly can. And you are not going to make your song as good as possible by looking at your Google Analytics account every hour.
So, here’s a new year’s resolution for you: turn off your wireless router for a week, lock yourself in a room with a guitar and spend every hour the Lord of Rock gave you making some art worthy of the name. Write yourself a nice tune, pen some tasteful lyrics and embellish it all with a production that even Alexis Petridis would find hip. When – and only when – you are convinced you’ve got something great to share with the world, switch the internet back on and start spreading the news.
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