We’re in the midst of promoting the fuck out of our material and it does not really make sense to start questioning those promotional tactics right as we’re in the thick of it. But I’ll do it anyway because this has bothered me for some time.
Like many others, I have serious concerns about what social media is doing to us as individuals and as a society. The new Netflix doc ‘The Social Dilemma‘ nicely summarizes those concerns, but this topics is also something I work with in my day job and it has been on my mind a longer time. While I hate what Spotify has done to musicians in redistributing the little revenue there is to the platform instead of the creator, there is something much worse going on in our society. Our societies are aggressively divided, we cannot trust facts anymore, and as individuals we have become social-media-dopamine addicts.
How does this relate to a band promoting their music? Well, after MySpace (which wasn’t so bad after all now that we think of it) bands like ours are increasingly dependent on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and a few others. It’s the only way to reach listeners and potential fans. And the only way to make these platforms work for a band is with money. As a band we have to pay into their schemes and leverage their business model of making money out of people’s attention. If we want something as simple as everyone who has liked our page to see a post mentioning our new single, we have to pay for it. And that money goes into supporting and enabling this sick and twisted business model that turns users of the platforms (us, individuals, humans) into data providers, and essentially into products. Our attention is then sold to anyone willing to pay for it. As a band we are there competing with Russian bots and QAnon conspiracies, supporting the same machinery making all of us addicts. It fucking sucks. Just like Spotify inserted themselves as a new middle-man to collect all the revenue, these social media platforms have become money-making gatekeepers for bands, artists, communities and others who simply want to engage with like-minded people.
As a band, do we have a choice? Well, I’d love to know one as I genuinely don’t know. At this point stopping the use of Facebook is something I feel we cannot afford as we’d lose all engagement with our fans. One option could be email lists. Nobody wants more email, but at least we’d know how to communicate important stuff to those that have opted in for receiving that stuff, and no third party would be there making money out of it. It would then simply be up to us to ensure we don’t send too much too often, and make the messages relevant. We have a website too (you’re on it right now), but driving traffic there and making people find it, costs money, and that is money into that same fucked-up machinery again. Music magazines and fanzines are either dying or moving into those same platforms, where the same attention monetization rules apply.
We desperately need governments to control these platforms and update laws to this century. But that will take time. What can bands like ours do to avoid funding these evil machines and still maintain a connection with listeners?