About kttwrites

Freelance writer about the business of music, leadership, education and sometimes tasty eateries. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area but write everywhere.

Ha Ha.. Excellent!

eggton

My grandma wasn’t going to win any prizes in the gourmet food department but she could cook the crap out of some cream of mushroom soup.  She put it in everything except ice cubes–which makes sense, but not for the reasons you’d think.  It makes sense because her ice cubes already had stuff in them.

You’d be drinking a glass of ice water and all of a sudden you’d say–

Wow, Grandma.  Did you put food coloring in the ice cubes or something?  How fancy.

[pause]

Oh.

Wait.

GRANDMA, IS THAT. . . A PEA?

. . . AND A LITTLE CUBE OF CARROT?!?

Because frozen vegetables were always falling out of their bags and into her ice cube tray.   When her freezer was particularly crowded, a single ice cube could contain up to 25% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.

But like I was saying–she put cream…

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The Price of Fake Fandom

Fake Likes

Musicians buying Facebook LIKES, Twitter followers, You Tube views..personally I find it depressing but it’s also bad, bad business.  I recently saw a new song, from a new artist, debut on You Tube with 10,000 views.  A quick check revealed 20,000 plus Instagram followers, 30,000 plus Twitter followers.. What may have seemed like a good promotional short cut, or an attempt to attract big fish attention is a deceptive, expensive mistake. Fake Fandom is an ineffective, unethical and, sorry to say it, pathetic practice. Here’s 8 reasons why you, a talented musician, want nothing to do with it:

1) Peer Group: Likely the first people who will notice a huge jump in “fans”, or suspiciously high debut numbers, are  fellow musicians.  They don’t appreciate someone cheating the system when they’ve been building their fans the old fashioned way. Lack of respect also means lack of available collaborators on projects, referral gigs drying up and general ridicule. Ouch.

2) Imperfect: Fake Fandom is an imperfect practice. All social media is not manipulatable on a grand scale. A billion followers here, half a mil LIKES there and then crickets on four other music social media fronts tell the truth.  An incomplete picture is illogical and a glaring tell. Embarrassing.

3) Ineffective: Social media is a powerful marketing tool. Musicians use it to build their fan bases, promote shows, sell CD’s and tickets.. purchased followers don’t exist or don’t care. No increase in ticket or music sales. In some instances, musicians with fake fan bases stop tending to their social media because they know it falls on deaf ears. Thereby losing more legit fans and fan opportunity.

4) Transparent:  It’s easy to spot “vanity” social media. Musicians, agents, entertainment directors are all familiar with the signs of Fake Fandom.   Status  People is a relatively new, free site that reveals percentages of real people twitter followers verses bots. Users can search any twitter handle and in seconds see the breakdown. People buying followers do major damage to their credibility.

5) Public Gigs: At first pass, buying fans and followers might seem like a good marketing hook for music venues.  They make their living on packed houses so the impression that there is a solid following could be to a project’s advantage. It won’t stand alone, but it might get you a conversation with the entertainment director. What are you going to answer when they ask about your fan base?  You’ve already misrepresented yourself and set extravagant, unattainable expectations.  The only way to go from there is down.  In flames with bridges burning as the bar signals last call.

6) Agencies: A musician’s best friend is an ethical, licensed and insured booking agency. They will spend their time and resources filling your calendar so you can focus on making great music and developing your show. In the introduction phase – an agent will google your project.  Inflated numbers are a huge red flag.  Agents see many, many acts daily and know how an authentic fan base translates to You Tube, Facebook etc. Even before you have met with an agent- you’ve lied and cheated. The Artist/Agent relationship requires good faith and trust. No reputable agency will move forward with a shaky foundation of misrepresentation. They will not gamble their relationship with their clients booking an unreliable, dishonest act. Any agency who will is bad news.

7) Producers: See above. No trust = no relationship. Twitter is especially opinionated on the topic of musicians buying followers. Tweets one producer: “you know they are unsigned when they have 60,000 followers and 98% are FAKE. Smh”

8) Rolling in the Dirt:  The business of buying followers, LIKES, views..is a shady trade. Many will trigger banning or add fake fans briefly before they are deleted. Obviously, there’s no honor here and you are at risk of wasting money that would better be used legitimately investing in your career.

Fake Fandom for musicians is particularly depressing to see. Reality stars and politicians are easier to understand but we have always relied on artists to be the honest voice of our culture.  Home recording studios, Garage Band, You Tube, CD Baby.. the capacity for diverse music and artistic expression is now, as never before, unlimited. That musicians and artists are investing money to dupe their fan base and potential clients is sad, wrong and soulless. Beyond that, these artists read as insecure and lacking confidence in their own talent. No artist can afford to feed that dragon.  As one agent said “artists who have real accomplishments don’t tell people how great they are or buy fan bases. I keep saying ‘focus on your music, the rest will follow.'” Wise words.

 

Business isn’t a dirty word.

To me it is a sad, sad thing to see great artists languish and self defeat because they can’t apply regular “job” behavior to their artist life. Gifted and amazingly talented artists who inspire with their glorious voices and musical ability but can’t maintain success in a project because they are always late, lost in substance abuse, can’t collaborate effectively and on and on.. Egos, insecurities, perfectionism are barriers to great musicians making great music. We’ve all heard tragic stories and use phrases like “the artist’s mind” to explain some of these eccentricities.  I think most of them can be eliminated with a little better understanding of the business side of music and what it takes to be successful. Talent, yes.  But also: Reliable, likable, trustworthy and on freaking time.  In other words, unless you are Aretha, diva doesn’t work. And artists won’t if they indulge in diva like behavior.

I’m hoping to help a little by blogging on the business side of “regular” music. That is, writing on topics that help professional gigging musicians be more successful. There’s more opportunity than ever to make a living making and performing music. There are also more pitfalls, distractions and oceans of “producers” and Indie labels.

Shoot me an email if you have a question or a topic you’d like covered – I’d love to hear what you have to say.  Thanks!   ktthompsonwrites@gmail.com