Rock & Roll High School: Semester Wrap-Up

I may have, at some point, mentioned that this blog exists because it stemmed from an assignment in one of my classes. Our mission was to a) set up a blog that answered a question and b) develop a personal learning network around that question. I decided to look into the relationship between artists and social media, beyond “be on Facebook” and “if you decide to set up a Twitter, then you should probably tweet.” Although those are still issues some artists seem to be struggling with, they seem a bit… basic. And baby, I ain’t basic.

For those unaware, a personal learning network is, well, exactly that: a network of people with whom you interact and share information. It could have people who you know personally or just people whose opinion you trust. I decided to go about creating my PLN on Twitter via a public list, which you can view here. I started by going through Hypebot’s list of Best and Brightest Music Industry Minds on Twitter, then periodically added people whose articles, tweets, or companies I found interesting. Of course, a PLN is also about interacting, sharing what you know, so that’s where these blog posts (and certain tweets) come in.

So what  major themes have I learned this semester in rock & roll high school?

1. I will buy your music if you have a cool social campaign. 

Keeping track of my music spending habits has been strangely eye-opening, mostly because I realized how much I am susceptible to social campaigns, as well as the words “limited edition.” For instance, in September, I bought MS MR’s Candy Bar Creep Show EP and The xx’s Coexist LP. What this list doesn’t tell you is that I bought MS MR’s EP in the middle of my finance class, when I saw the band’s EP widget on Tumblr. I obviously didn’t even have the sound on, but I immediately spent a few bucks on iTunes because I was intrigued– and it paid off. The xx’s infamous superfan share-map also encouraged me to buy their album. I was a casual fan of the band before the campaign, but hadn’t bought their other album; once I saw their campaign, however, their whole aesthetic and vibe clicked in my head and I went for, not just the album, but the super expensive limited edition version of the album.

Sorry for using both the words “aesthetic” and “vibe” up there.

Of course there are some limitations here. I took a leap of faith on MS MR because the EP was only $3. Would I have done so if it were a whole album? Debatable. Similarly, The xx’s album is really brilliant and I streamed it on Spotify for about two weeks before I bought it at Grimey’s. Had it been a bad album, I wouldn’t have bought it. Had it a decent album, I maybe would have gotten the digital download. So have the talent to back up your crazy awesome social campaign. That being said…

2. Whatever your cool marketing campaign is, you better keep it simple.

I will direct you back this ancient post on social campaigns. If you’ll notice, for two of those campaigns, all I have to do is press play. That’s awesome! My attention span, as a fan and as a internet user, is really short. If you’re gonna ask someone to do anything more than that, then try to make it something that they already do, like Instagram pictures or illegally share your music with all their friends. Right now, my girl Ke$ha is running this campaign where you have to like, find these symbols, maybe on the internet, maybe in real life, and then tweet at her, and then some people unlock stuff but some people don’t, but then everyone gets whatever’s unlocked, I don’t know— it’s took more than 20 seconds for me to figure out so I stopped caring. And I am maybe the biggest Ke$ha fan who is over the age of 20! Give your fans something to do, but make it intuitive and easy or you’re just blowing cash on nothing.

3. Always ask yourself, “Am I vibin’ right now?”

This isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of whatever social network or technique is the most popular right now, know what your brand is and stick with it. If you’re a really serious band that only writes about important causes and issues in the world, that’s great! If you’re a jokey Satanic twee pop band that only writes songs about high school and Charles Manson, then that’s great too! (And you’re probably in my band. Weird.) The interactions and campaigns for those two bands will be and should be different. There are a lot of ways to be a “good” Tweeter, sell your music online, go beyond the merch t-shirt, etc. Consider your options and find the one that matches your vibe the best.

 

Did I miss a big lesson? Let me know in the comments and I’ll study up before next semester!

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