Social Networking is a relatively new term with overlays of something older–plain old networking. Networking was a term I first heard in the ’70s and I thought at the time it had to do with woman’s groups and how they did business. Woman networked; men got together in smoky backrooms, had power lunches, wearing power ties, and brokered deals that excluded anyone outside their influence. A similar thing is occurring in music between the Indie Music artists and the major labels.
Major labels seem to be running scared, and while they are making enormous money, and I suspect profits, they are no longer run by people who are musically oriented, but by money-driven investors who have sucked the musical heart and soul out of the industry. Millions are being spent creating stars out of no-talent, non-singers who have a look that might sell, rather than a sound or a vision of music. A risk-taker is shot in his or her tracks, and kicked off the road so the cookie-cutter A & R drones won’t trip over a good idea and hurt themselves.
Anyway, this has left Indie Music artists to make their own way and discover new approaches for succeeding. Social Networking is one of the ways we are doing that. Social Networking differs from the old Networking in a couple of significant ways: 1) It is done many times between folks who have never laid eyes on each other, and 2) It is electronically driven. I communicate with people I have never met, and through the internet we have come to respect each others music, style, thoughts, and humanness.
There are some huge Social Networking engines out there, a few of them being Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, ReverbNation, Linkedin, among many others. Some of them work well for somethings, some work poorly for others. The ones I have listed above communicate with each other, and offer a means for the Indie Music person to spread data to thousands of fans. Myspace has been a great tool up until recently when it started having financial difficulties and began selling invasive advertising space that intrudes and overrides its users. At present, it is still a good way to grow a fan-base. ReverbNation is great for much of the same, but provides helpful tools for communication of a musician’s stats and press kit.
There is a new Social Network I am testing out, and it seems to have potential–DOERSNOT. I know, I always want to say, “Does too,” when I see it. It is pretty. I mean it looks really great! It seems to have some options that the others do not have–great music playback and galleries for photos that look really professional. It also is growing, and developing as I write this. I suggest checking it out at http://www.doesnot.com. It does not have interconnections between other sites as of yet, or at least that I have found, but it is smooth in other areas. I think it, or one like it, at some point, may well be a viable alternative to the ones we are stuck with now.
With all this said, and writing as a songwriter, a singer, and a band leader, I understand that it is also extremely important to be seen in person, and shake actual rather than virtual hands. The Songwriter Social I played at last Friday night was one such event. I met folk that never knew who I was or what I do, who now are fans, I was also asked if my band, 45-90, would open for Dry County Drinkers–important stuff happens when the virtual moves into the actual.
Promotion is not simply one thing. Promotion is multi-layered, Demos, Videos, Press Kits, Bios, Photos, Reviews, and more, but my most effective component consistently seems to be personal contact. People seem to like the human touch.