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Local Musicians Curating for Mass Consumption (Part 2)
Posted September 19, 2017 by Brett Alderman
WRITTEN BY
Brett Alderman
ON
September 19, 2017
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Illustration by Brain Twins

Social media is ingrained in our cultural experiences. How else would we know the fiscal irresponsibility of spreading avocado on toast? While most users of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al enjoy them for personal reasons, many artists utilize the mediums to reach and grow their audience.

Having a few accounts myself, I don’t need to imagine what that means as an individual. If you’re reading this, chances are you found the link on Facebook or Twitter, so I doubt you’re a stranger to social media either. But the question remains: how do artists package their essence? How does an artist curate their persona online?

To get to the bottom of this, I sought input from seven local artists: Lily and Madeleine, manners, please, Forward Motion, Flaco, Moxxie, Wife Patrol and Native Sun (click the links to access their Facebook pages). These busy acts, performing locally and beyond, all have a strong social media presence. Each act was asked the same series of questions, and here’s what they had to say.

Click here to read Part 1 of the interview.

 

Musical Family Tree: Besides the obvious ability to promote shows, releases, etc., what benefits do you feel using social media offers you?

Grady Neff (manners, please): People gravitate to social so they can make a connection, so if you're only trying to push sales or releases, then in our opinion you're doing it wrong. Our main philosophy has been to have fun and connect with music lovers. If you do it right, people who dig your work will become real fans and naturally flow to your shows and music. Still, it’s a great channel to inform people of what you have going on.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): People are everything. When you play a show and there are no people there, it sucks. From a business prospective, people are what make business. Phones don't buy tickets, the people using them do. With that in mind, what I love about social media is that it allows people to discover you and you to discover people. When someone I don't know comments on our content, it's amazing because A) Holy cow, a stranger loves our art, and B) A potential supporter (as in someone who can buy tickets, spread the word about our awesomeness, and generally support our work) just fell out of the sky.

Flaco (rapper): Besides promo, social media is a great way to see in real time what I call the "social stock market". If you pay attention, you can see how the trends move and how to either avoid them or stay ahead of them. As much as it's said, social media is the go-to way to engage fans and establish a sense of presence to your audience.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): It offers an opportunity to not only talk to our fans but learn about who they are, where they are, and how they connect with what we do. It also enables the opportunity for us to connect with other bands, causes, and organizations that we like.

Lily Jurkiewicz: I really like being able to share fun little experiences or locations with people on social media. If we go to a cafe/museum/restaurant on tour, we can post about it and people will say, "Hey! I love that place too!" It's fun to connect in that way. Like we're neighbors. 

B Young (Native Sun): I think that the ability to share is a simple yet underrated quality of social media. Our responsibility is certainly to provide quality product, but for people to enjoy it enough to share it with others is awesome. You never know who they're connected with, and the fact they took the time to do so says a lot about the impact our music is having on people.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): Content is king, and the online world is small. We use social media to talk about every move we make within our band. We have been playing out regionally more recently, and it's AMAZING what kind of marketing you can accomplish with just a couple of shares from an out-of-town contact. It's like going to a trade convention and getting business cards from people whose goals/outlooks align with yours. As long as you follow up and do your diligence, social media contacts can work wonders as far as growing your brand.   

MFT: Do you find that it’s difficult to present your band within the constraints of social media?

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): Sometimes I think it's hard to portray our true selves, especially when everyone expects us to be shiny and happy all the time on social media. The music business can be super sucky sometimes! Life can be sucky! But, I don't feel like people want to see that. It's a balance to cater to an audience while also trying to be genuine.

Lily Jurkiewicz: There's just so much happening on social media all the time, it's definitely hard to get people to pay attention to what you're doing while also portraying yourself the way you feel most comfortable.

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): Not really, the most limiting is Twitter due to the character limitations.

Grady Neff (manners, please): It’s definitely a shift in thinking. manners, please is five party people who work hard at music and love playing together. It can be tough to open up to everyone and anyone by sharing constantly. But when you realize it’s no different than being on stage, the only hard part is making the decision to commit your time to success like anything else.

Flaco (rapper): Yes, it can definitely be difficult operating within the constraints of social media, especially if you're a private, more purposeful user who just wishes to use the platform as a means to promote only. Nowadays, social media users who robotically just use the platform for ONLY promo usually end up being seen as impersonal and uninteresting. If you're a more reserved, private personality, the culture of social media can feel constraining and even unresponsive. Social media demands the brands they "follow" to be personal as well as informative.

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): I think if you take social media for what it is, no. If you are trying to be as compelling as seeing the group live, then yes, of course pictures and videos aren't the same as seeing the group play live. An audience member's whole relationship with the group shouldn't be social media. The purpose of social media, though, is to be an introduction to the group. With a decent camera, or even a decent phone, you can present your group well enough on social media to serve the purpose of being that introduction.

Native Sun (Native Sun): I wouldn't say it's difficult to present our band, but I would say that we've got to be a little more creative considering our brand of music and how it fits or doesn't fit the pop music landscape of today.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): The challenge of marketing is always to have people perceive you the way you want them to. You have to be very succinct and targeted as far as who you're trying to reach, and you can't write too much because the readers will lose interest. Our goal is very similar to having an online dating profile. We want to convince someone we have never met to come out and meet us. And then, of course, we want a new fan to take us home with them (in CD or download form of course) and keep us in mind. Then, if we live up to the marketing, we have a new long-term relationship. 

Musical Family Tree: Are there times when posting seems exhausting or tedious?

Nicole O’Neal (Wife Patrol): Not as tedious as any other task that needs to get done, I think because we use tools like post scheduling via Facebook and Buffer, it takes away a lot of the stress because we can plan ahead.

Ryan Gibbons (Moxxie): Honestly, not really. We are very regimented about what we post and when. I can see it becoming exhausting to someone who posts multiple times a day. However, if you're disciplined and deliberate about the content you post, it's just another thing you do to help your cause.

Madeleine Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): Yes, definitely! Like I mentioned, I'm not very good at creating visually stylish content, so that can be a struggle. Like, just let me make music! Why do I also have to be a model on Instagram and a comedian on Twitter and a political activist on Facebook?

Lily Jurkiewicz (Lily & Madeleine): Especially when we spend all day driving from one venue to another, we hardly have time to take any photos or make any posts!

Eric Salazar (Forward Motion): Like all forms of work, there are times when it sucks. Honestly though, if I can't handle something as easy as posting pictures on social media, then I'm going to really struggle with more difficult tasks like preparing a tour itinerary, managing our budget, or negotiating contracts with record labels. I've just integrated [social media] into my daily routine. Part of being an artist is, unfortunately, doing non-artistic things to advance your career. Ever since I've come to terms with that, I've had a ton more musical opportunities. So, I view it almost as important as playing my clarinet because it really does matter in terms of my career.

B Young (Native Sun): Building a social media presence can definitely be tedious, but that feeling is temporary. From a long-term perspective, you're laying a foundation that your fans are excited to see you build upon. There's no getting around putting in the work when it comes to this music game. Everybody's not built for it, but that's what it takes when you're passionate and in it for the long haul.

Grady Neff (manners, please): Oh sure, it can come and go in waves, but you need to find a balance just like any other project to keep momentum. Though our time is spent writing and playing music, friends and fans show they want to be along for the ride, and we’re committed to bringing them with us. It doesn’t just happen at live shows anymore; it’s every day now on your cell phone.

Flaco (rapper): From personal experience, there are plenty of times where posting can seem tedious. Promoting the cover of your next project the fourth time this week can feel forced and downright annoying. But you always quickly come back to earth when you realize what you're doing it for and why it needs to be done.

Did you find this article helpful? Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook page for future educational opportunities through MFT.

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