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« Picking a studio, engineer or producer - discount the silly list of names. | Main | Spotify isn't available in the states yet. Can someone please tell me what's so earth-shattering about it? »
Sunday
Aug092009

A Shilling for Your Thoughts

Shill - somebody who promotes somebody else or makes a sales pitch for something for reasons of self-interest

An accomplice who pretends to be an interested customer or gambler in order to lure others into buying or gambling

I’ve been thinking lately…it’s about this problem I have…it’s one of those “How do I tell a friend that they…” problems.

They and I are pretty active on social networks…and we are all involved in today’s music world. We champion new technology, self determination for artists and creators and giving fans and communities value and memorable experiences.

We know that the day where people could be influenced by paid advertising has given way to peer recommendation and the ability for each of us to discern when we were being communicated with rather than spoken to. Bluntly…advertising is on the ropes, because hardly anyone trusts paid messages anymore.

And herein lies my problem.

It’s about full disclosure.

Full disclosure as in when writers point out (usually early on) that they have a relationship with the subject of which they are writing or that someone is paying them for their effort…and that it may be seen as being a conflict or having undue influence.

I have zero problem with people who create posts promoting something or someone and clearly indicating that this is a job…there is money involved and yes, this is a paid commercial.

I think sometimes this is done in a way that is contradictory to good business and marketing…for example: I am a serious foodie…and was way disappointed when I picked up Whole Foods on Twitter. Reading an apparently endless stream of private reply messages and “yes, we are opening soon at…” was uninspiring (to say the least).

No value to me…where was the passion for all things food?

You can imagine how long it took before I unfollowed them. Too bad.

The problem that pushed me to write this is the one I have with people (especially those who I know and even more, those who I like and respect) that use their personal online identities to push and promote their clients without full disclosure - especially when they only promote their own clients even though they are in a position to offer their followers much more based on their knowledge, talents and, frankly, likes.

You see, I know who their clients are…and maybe that puts me in an awkward position. Telling me that so-and-so is an amazing artist would mean much more to me if it wasn’t always about one of your own clients. And…if it is about your client…tell me so…I can take it…

Better still, create an online identity aside from your personal one that clearly tells me that I’m being business courted. I can decide for myself if I care enough to want in.

(Full disclosure) I business coach people on these issues and I teach Marketing and Cyber Marketing at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University. See…not hard…and you know that this is part of what I do.

If you’re an artist repped by one of these people, maybe you should have a talk with them. Sooner or later…there’s a good chance that fans and the public may figure out that the good recommendations and comments you got from this source are tainted…yes…tainted…and you will be the poorer for it.

Let them clearly tell people that yes, they’re working with you…because they like you, they think you’re awesome, and mostly because they believe in you…can’t get a better statement than that. They are investing their time and their money in you - and you might suggest to them that by sharing with their public a bit more about what makes them excited (especially if it’s not another client) chances are fans out there might see a link that would make them want to check you out…this is basic peer to peer recommendation…it’s not rocket science.

So…there you go…to those of you who I love as allies and associates in the brave new music world…I’m writing this because I believe in you and I think the risk of you losing your voice isn’t worth the short term gain. Full disclosure :)

Reader Comments (3)

Wow Shelley... Thank you for this post, really!

It's been a little while since I too noticed this very pattern. I personally love to post links on various networks regarding useful and interesting stuff I see on the net, I also enjoy to read what others "are reading" and too often I see one single user post 5 entries or more with links in less than 3 minutes.... It makes me wonder "Did you read that before posting it?" Uninspiring... for sure!

Hi Abi...thanks for the feedback and the smile :). I noticed one of the "culprits" did the right thing today...we'll see about the others...

I'm glad I ran into this page. Personally, "honesty" is one the most important trait a man can have. As a musician, I am constantly confronted with whether a particular "tactic" is honest, or not.

Such as hiring someone to get you another 1,000 "friends" on myspace; just clicking friends, without even determining whether they would really like our music; or, leaving blog posts, pretending to be a fan.

I have not done this... but it amazes me how many people do or suggest it. When I get a fan request, I feel proud that our music was good enough to bring him/her.

I found your site, looking for ways to increase our fan base... honestly.

-Odin

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