By Pat Daddona
Social media is enhancing how songwriters and musicians hook up with their fans, critics and one another, speeding up promotion with an immediacy and connectivity previously reserved for concerts or mainstream news and magazine reviews.
Music, of course, is all about connecting people through melodic expression, poetic ideas, rhythm and meaning. Social media delivers content to an audience, and enables interactive sharing. Blogs blare all of it, linking back to the medium, music, and the messenger, social media.
So, how connected can one songwriting blogger like me be to another, transplanted British singer-songwriter, when, together, we have only music and social media to link us? How does the reviewer find the songwriter?
Well, in this case the songwriter found the reviewer. The Brit, living, like me, in New London, CT – had released in early 2013 an independently produced CD, Sparse, and I blogged about it – all because he put a blind request for reviews out to the universe. On Facebook.
Connection through social media has directly impacted music makers, particularly developing grassroots singer-songwriters who, before social networking, would have had to have ample funds and industry connections to effectively market a homegrown CD.
This is a tale about a meeting of two musical, social-networking individuals, and one evolving path taken toward marketing music in the digital age. True story: Our original meeting was anything but virtual. Truer reality: Alone, that first meeting did not grow into a continued connection the way our Facebook friendship has.
Vince Tuckwood and I met a couple of years ago when the Rivergods roots bandleader Ben Parent put us together with two other performers in the 14th session of the Sinners Circle, a songwriters-in-the-round venue for southeastern Connecticut acoustic artists.
All four of us supported each other, and our paths still cross here and there at the occasional open mic, coffeehouse or hootenanny. So, yes, despite his origins in the UK, Vince shares geography, friends, and stages with me. Yet, Facebook is where we communicate. Where he invited reviews of his CD. Where he forwarded a download of the disc when I took him up on it. And where I promoted my blog when the review was complete (along with a tweet, of course).
WordPress tells me 38 people viewed the review in the first three days after it was published online. Not huge, as audiences go, but for singer-songwriters like Vince, who is working niche markets in the long tail of the music marketplace, every little bit helps. And since, according to WordPress’ annual report, my blog was viewed 1,700 times in 2012 in as many as 45 different countries, the potential exists over time to attract attention.
Vince seems to think so. He has re-blogged the post to 58 followers on his own blog.
Getting critical attention for an album used to mean Rolling Stone or your local daily entertainment writer had to consider your work worthy (if in fact they ever found it). Now, keyword searches and social media connections help people discover and promote what they like. Reaching those who truly appreciate your content is possible as never before. Grassroots growth of your audience may be preferable to other routes, especially when compared with out-of-hand rejections from big name studios and producers.
What does this tell us about marketing music? The medium of music will always connect like-minded listeners. But today, and for the foreseeable future, the messenger that is Facebook, specifically, and social media generally, has the power to foster and boost that connection – both locally and globally.
The real test, of course, is conversion from readers of the blog to purchasers and listeners of the CD or individual tracks. Tricky to measure, but the trip from Facebook to blog to available content and back again is a whole lot shorter than the trip from printed review to record store.
So, when a social network enables “2 pieces” (coincidentally the name of one of Vince’s best new songs) to come together – pairing singer-songwriter and listener, artist and audience, critic and the work – the result is more than the sum of the parts. The medium partners with the messenger to distribute content, far more effectively than either could alone.
Pat Daddona is a writer, music lover, blogger and singer/songwriter making a living as executive assistant at New London Landmarks and outreach coordinator for the Interactive Media Program at Quinnipiac University. She is managing editor for Interactive Media.