I rant a lot about the music industry. And it never fails to give me plenty to rant about, especially when label execs and major label apologists insist that something must be done to allow them not only continued employment but that their industry be legislated back to its former glory.
However, if there’s one thing the music industry has proven it’s unable to do, it’s connect with its customers. Most major label artists are pretty much silent partners with their label-supplied publicity team. Sure, they may fire up the occasional blog or tweet a thing or two, but these additional avenues are often paved with identical “Buy this!” posts and tour date announcements.
Yes, fans do appreciate this information but this isn’t really a connection so much as it is targeted advertising. And it’s redundant advertising. Music fans usually have accounts at iTunes, Amazon, etc. so diminishing returns on these updates are almost immediate. The live gig announcements are also useful but again, most music fans will have found a better aggregator like tourfilter to alert them when a band they like is coming to their town (and presumably assisting them with partying down).
The problem is that hundreds of smaller artists are running their business the same way. I like (with as capital “L” and an upturned thumb) over 100 bands/artists on Facebook.
First, a quick primer on Facebook for the .004% of readers who are not Facebook members; “Liking” a band adds their stream of status updates and posts to your feed, which allows you (the fan, or “Liker”) to see all of these updates in real time, scattered amongst your friends’ announcements of mood swings and where specifically they need help on their farm.
So, I have a lot of indie artists supplying me updates periodically throughout the day. The problem is most of these feeds are indistinguishable from a publicity feed set up by a major label. I would say that easily 90% of the feeds I subscribe to do nothing more than loop “click to buy” links and announce tour dates.
Because so many of these bands use this connection tool for nothing more than advertising, their information becomes subject to “ad blindness” by regular users. We begin to tune out their posts much in the way we tune out banner and sidebar ads. Pretty soon their “connection” is reaching no one.
There are very few exceptions to this unfortunate misuse/underuse of the biggest platform available to new artists. Whitey’s feed is usually entertaining but he doesn’t have an artist page so you’ll actually have to be his Friend to get it on it. A few others will post videos from other bands they like or single out something that happened on tour, but for the most part it’s always tour/buy/repeat.
And then, just when you figure that the new boss is a lot like the old boss, even when they’re their own boss, you stumble across someone of sheer brilliance who gets what this is all about and revels in the limitless possibilities of a direct line to a few million fans:
D E A D M A U 5
The man lives on Facebook. He posts everything. He uploads videos. He has photos. For everything. He spouts random shit. He gushes about new equipment. He asks questions. He posts notes thanking his fans for being awesome. He’s consistently entertaining.
Basically, Deadmau5 invites you into his life. He knows he’s living the dream and it seems like he’s still as awed by the whole experience as his fans are. So he uses his online existence to allow everyone to live vicariously through his detailed and frequent posts.
There’s never any dismissiveness or jaded attitude. He’s just genuinely thrilled to be in the position he’s in. And as you read the posts and view the massive amount of photos, you catch some of the jittery “holy-shit-can-you-fucking-believe-my-life” vibe that pours out of every post.
Check out Deadmau5 geeking out during a conversation with Jim Carrey!
Look, it’s Deadmau5’s cat, Meowington!
He loves that cat! How do we know? Peep his neck tat!
Check out this hunk of electronics! It makes “pewpewpew” noises apparently!
LOL! Live Windows fail!
How can you not want to support this man? He lives and breathes and loves music. He wants you to be as close to being him as is humanly possible.
But that’s not all. He actually enjoys hanging out with his fans and works hard to repay their loyalty.
Deadmau5 has carved out his own island in the ether of shit-hot indie world-builder Minecraft. While that’s impressive on its own, he also sprung for 20 copies of the game for his fans. How many artists have purchased copies of a game just to get more people to hang out with them? That’s a fucking connection. Tell me that investment won’t pay off.
He also keeps close tabs on his online presence. If something seems a bit “not him,” he’s fixes it, going so far as to remove the label’s publicity team from the Administrators’ list. He has no interest in being pimped into irrelevance by a thousand pushy label-created ads.
This is how to make the digital world work for you. He’s also on Twitter and still maintains a “well, it was already there” Myspace presence, but he has conquered Facebook. And why not? 500 million registered users is a whole lot of potential fans.
Every artist, indie or not, needs to be taking notes from Deadmau5. Once you’ve seen it done right, you’ll wonder why you’re giving your fans and potential customers so little.
Take more pictures. Digital cameras are cheap. Show them what happens away from the stage. Talk to them as people rather than some loosely connected group of open wallets in search of spending suggestions. Find a common interest away from the music and explore that. Just say whatever comes to mind even if it doesn’t seem to be “closing the deal.” Facebook is full of random statements and observations. People know when they’re being treated like the business end of a mass mailing, no matter how “interactive.”
You make music and you have anywhere from a few hundred to a few million people who love you for it. You’ve already won over their ears. Grab their brains and their hearts. Their wallets will have no choice but to follow.
(Hat tip to Techdirt for their recent article on Deadmau5 which allowed me easy access to the label v. mau5 battle. Big, big tip of the oversized novelty mau5 head to Deadmau5 himself for, well, being himself.)