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Q: I’m in a band and most of us are of the mind that we should have as much material out there on social media as possible. We’ve started posting snippets of rehearsals, live streaming gigs and encouraging people to post videos of our shows online, etc… One member of the band is very much against it all. He wants to have control over what goes out because he doesn’t want any weak performances or mistakes – of his (especially) – going out there into the world for people to hear. He’s a perfectionist though and is never really happy with the quality of most videos. What do you think? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by posting everything and letting people shoot video at our shows? Or would we wind up in obscurity because we never post anything that isn’t good enough (when nothing is ever good enough for this one person)?
A: I’ve had this discussion with many musicians. I know musicians who get angry when they see audience members recording things on their phone or get annoyed when somebody from the band posts things that don’t meet his standards.
I’ve always been a “warts and all” type of person, meaning that I’ll post things with obvious mistakes in them because I’m not overly concerned with the mistakes. I feel like they are human. I also feel like if I’m unhappy with a posting from a live show, well, I should have played better!
I embrace the technology that lets a million people watch the gig that I played in a club that seats 150. In this age of media over-saturation, the only thing that really cuts through the clutter is quality (whether it’s production quality, musical quality, technical quality, etc…) In fact, personally, I only began to get traction in the bass world when I started posting damn near everything that I could. Not everybody liked everything, but many people dug much of that stuff and it worked in my favor.
There will always be haters and trolls out there in the comments and forums, but my feeling is that if you are going to take place in a public performance of your art, why would you not embrace a larger audience? Your band mate may just need a thicker skin. It sounds like they may be overly concerned with how people feel about him personally in these videos.
I wonder if he is giving constructive alternatives? If he has a plan of some kind and wants to create some specific content for the world, then he should brainstorm and start moving on the idea.
That said, you have to take his concerns and preferences into account. It would be rude to tell him to “suck it up” and ignore his preferences. Maybe you can all come to a compromise, i.e.: no more rehearsal streams but gigs are public performances and those are ok to post?
I take it a step further. I encourage people to also pirate my music. I’m not worried about the extra $2 I might make from an album download if it means that somebody will be listening to my music and (hopefully) sharing it with their friends. That money comes back to me in instruction, books, and clinic/concert attendance, and so on.
I envision a bar. While I am below that bar, it works in my self-interest to give material away in an attempt to build my brand. Once I have reached a certain level of success, maybe then, once everyone already knows what I do and my playing, it’ll make sense in the future to discourage that kind of thing. But I don’t think it’ll ever bother me.
I began making my name by giving myself away online (on MySpace) and it very much translated into actual paying gigs, recording sessions, remote recording sessions for musicians around the world, clinics, teaching opportunities, etc. If I had never given myself away, I never would have had the work that I now have.
This is an interesting question though and one that I never had to consider until I was already in the game. Young players are coming up in this world where everything can and will be posted online. I would love to hear from you readers out there!
How do you feel about the “more is more” approach to social media sharing of your art? Please post in the comments.