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Broadcast Is Over

“My whole philosophy is to broadcast the way a fan would broadcast.”
Harry Caray

How many times have we been inundated on Facebook with “spray and pray” wall messages from “friends” promoting their music or tagged in photos and videos that bear no relevance to us? How many times have “Tweeple” tweeted us to watch music videos that we didn’t ask for and don’t have an interest in. It’s annoying isn’t it?

This happened to me recently (again) whereby I received a charming rock video that involved all kinds of torture, sex and death imagery (evident within the first ten seconds you could see where it was going … no major label deal for this band!). They were a follower of mine on Twitter. This video however, was unsolicited and not to my taste. Consequently, I blocked them.

Theoretically, we have permission so why do we find this kind of thing so irritating? Surely, by default, we are fans of our friends’ and followers’ musical endeavours? This got me curious why we feel this way and got me back onto a marketing strategy I am working on based on trust.

With our social networks opening further and further, our beloved Permission Marketing seems to be open to abuse and is becoming a precious thing. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that a connection via a social network gives us permission to promote to others when it hasn’t and doesn’t. Approval on a social network gives you permission to be social. It gives you permission to strike up rapport and then start a dialogue. You might then become better acquainted and form a relationship. When you know enough about the person concerned and have a friendship you might then move to promoting yourself. In the end, it feels a little like when you willingly pay a friend for the work they do for you and the work is of an exceptional standard because both parties care.

The reason we find unsolicited promotion via social networks so annoying is that it smacks of interruption marketing. What I mean by that is “commercials,” think radio, TV and press. In the early days, we used to find commercials irritating. They would come on in the middle of a film or programme we watching interrupting our reverie. Our professional commercials are now targeted entertainment. Therefore, a raw “watch my music video, come to my gig, listen to my track, buy my stuff” message saturating a newsfeed is much like the first round of commercials that came about when the first ad-funded TV stations emerged. It roughly shakes us out of any enjoyment we might be experiencing and demands that we do something for someone else we don’t know so well. As such, we might approach with caution.

Our true friends, however, know us; they know our tastes and preferences and respect them. We are open to what they have to offer as we share plenty in common with them and they will have our best interests at heart. In the spirit of preserving those relationships, they wouldn’t suggest anything to us that they suspect we wouldn’t like. When friends come to us with music they are a fan of it is because they are a raving fan of it. They love it and want to share the love with us. 

This means that we are now in the firmly back realm of relationship marketing (we have been here before.) TV will soon be interactive - broadcast is over. Broadcast is “pushing one way” and this doesn’t nurture trust and is definitely not suited to a multi-way digital medium like the internet. The important thing to remember is that without trust there can be no relationship. Trust is our guarantee that a person will deliver to expectation. Without trust, there can in fact be no permission because if I lose trust in you I revoke my permission and I can help revoke the permission of existing fans and potential ones. I would do that because I care about my friends. Trust is an important component of the fan experience.

“Band - To – Fan,” simply is not enough … think about “Fan – To – Friend”. Fans already have their friends’ attention they don’t need to interrupt anyone. Fans have the ears of their friends. Fans have dialogue. Fans have formidable leverage.


Author Biography



Leena Sowambur is an established expert in digital music business. She has two music business degrees and ten years in digital marketing and PR. Leena has held roles within Sony and digital marketing agency Outside Line and the pioneering music dotcom Peoplesound where her clients included Universal, EMI and Warner. Leena also has indie sector experience with clients such as Sanctuary, Echo/Chrysalis, Beggars Banquet and Ministry of Sound as well as boutique labels such as Tummy Touch, Warp and Wiiija and Telstar.
Some of the artist campaigns that Leena has worked on include:- Shakira, Longview, Chris Brown, Destiny’s Child, Darren Hayes, Take That, Angie Stone, John Legend, Rod Stewart, Luther Vandross, Paul Oakenfold, Pulp, Pink, 50 Cent, Eminem, Bon Jovi, Empire Magazine soundtrack compilation, The Total Music Mirror Premium CD Giveaway comprising of Pet Shop Boys, Cream, Kaci, Muse, BBMak, Zero 7, Beverley Knight, Cher, Depeche Mode, Oxide and Neutrino; Red Magazine Feel Good compilation including Moloko, Lisa Stansfield and Catatonia; Metro Life Live In London covermount CD including Suede, Basement Jaxx, Turin Brakes and Carl Cox; Instant Music Premium CD Giveaway comprising of Stereophonics, Travis, Marti Pellow, Stereo MCs, Feeder, Shaggy and Gabrielle; Eve Magazine compilation including Groove Armada and The Orb.

Leena speaks all over the country on the subject of digital music business. Events regularly include University of Chester, University of Westminster, The Manchester College, London Metropolitan University, Croydon Council, Southwark Council and Portobello Business Centre. Leena also currently lectures at the University of East London.

Leena’s business “Positively Music “is a coaching business that helps the music industry create communities of raving fan customers. She is writing a new book called “The Fan Experience” focussed on the music fans’ growing role in the music business with the audio visual product and training courses to match.

Read more about Leena Sowambur at
Find out more about Positively Music
Keep updated on The Fan Experience here

Reader Comments (11)

Thank you Leena. I hope "bands" heed your advice. I think that many of them are hurting themselves more than helping by spamming their social media. I was once guilty of this practice. HOnestly I have no background in marketing and my primitive pleas seem pathetic when I look back on them.

If you move someone, they will tell their friends about it.

August 29 | Unregistered Commenterhudson k

I don't have a problem with this kind of marketing on Twitter as I don't have a "personal" twitter account. All of them are set up as businesses so I expect solicitation.

However, I find it quite annoying on my personal Facebook page as I have business pages which would better be suited to this sort of thing.

I block people the instant I start getting promotional messages sent and/or posted to my personal account.

Hey there Hudson K thanks for your tweet! In a way it's not our fault because we have had over 50 years of push marketing/broadcast. We're only mimicking what we see. I agree 100% if you move someone they will tell their friends. Leena

August 29 | Registered CommenterLeena Sowambur

Amen! Thanks, Leena. I remember the days when permission marketing started and it was a "feel good" because it was ethical and right, not slamming your message in the faces of unsuspecting people. It seems like social media has "caught us off-guard" and eroded some of the values that we instilled years ago. Thank you for sharing this! hugs, Deborah

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah E

Eh, if you don't want a band or company promoting things to you, then why did you friend them or allow them to follow you in the first place? When I liked many bands or brands on Facebook, I got a lot of unwanted promotion, too, so I just selected to hide all posts by them. No biggie! Complaining about something that is SO easy to stop is ridiculous. On Facebook I pay for ads that people choose to click on and possibly choose to like my page. If they don't want to read updates from me then they either shouldn't have selected to like me or can choose just to hide all posts from me.

When you're an independent/DIY musician you have to to whatever you can to get your music out there. You can't be afraid of bothering people because you simply make everyone happy and you can't read minds. You're in competion with every other musician out there like you AND the major labels, so you have to keep pushing forward.

Free album download at

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterChancius

I don't agree that if you move someone that they will tell their friends. Their is a thing called 'social proof' which suggests that if you aren't already popular, people will be naturally hesitant to tell their friends about you.

That & I believe many people don't realise how powerful it is ti share some music of a lesser known indie artist & therefore will not bother to share, even if they personally dig it.

I don't like ott spam either, but sometimes saying 'plz checkout my new song & share it if you like it' is the only way to put the word out.

Great work speaks for itself but people have find out about it somehow.

August 29 | Unregistered CommenterStanmore Phoenix

Chancius is right. You do what you can.

Restraining your promotional efforts because you're worried that some people might not like your product is ridiculous. If you have a greater net negative return from telling people about your music as opposed to NOT telling them, then you either are promoting a terrible product, or promoting it terribly.

Spam is promoting terribly. Broadcast is just promoting. We've been hearing about the end of "push" marketing since at least the whole "LonelyGir15l" youtube ruse back in 2005. It's not really happening.

That said, your marketing efforts should indeed be focused on getting existing fans to spread the word. (Whether you can actually do that or not separates the men from the boys.) But this is not a substitute or replacement for traditional promotion. People need to hear your band's name, and hear about your songs. Most people won't like you - deal with it! You still need to play the field in hopes that the 1-5% of people who hear about you and don't think you suck will consider downloading some of your songs... but they won't do that until they hear your name for the fourth time, reminding themselves for the second time that they meant to torrent your album.

August 30 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Interesting... the reason this type of activity happens is because few artists understand how to campaign and focus on increasing numbers rather than quality relationships with their fans. A reliance on push messages shows a of lack strategy and imagination which is unusual if one is truly creative. Being a pre-internet artist myself and having been offered a deal which I turned down, we created comic book press releases and film strip transparencies for flyers. We were engaging in content marketing as far back as 1996.

August 30 | Registered CommenterLeena Sowambur

"focus on increasing numbers rather than quality relationships with their fans"

This is a myth. I guarantee that you do not have a quality relationship with your favorite artists. Neither do I, or probably anyone reading this. Instead, you heard about them either through some form of "broadcasting" or word of mouth from a friend. And they are your favorite artists because you like their art, not because you had a twitter conversation with them.

A 'relationship' between the artist and fan is based primarily on the artist's output, and how well they are able to provide a genre or thematic context for their music in which the fan feels a sense of identity or belonging. This is generally an artist-to-fan directed stream of communication. The best artists are able to create the illusion of a relationship by expressing these themes in ways that resonate with their listeners.

Fans self-select. People don't listen to or go to concerts of bands that they don't like. They don't engage in social media relationships with bands they don't like. And that aspect of liking or not liking is determined very quickly and easily: within about 30 seconds of the first time they hit the "play" button on your audio. No amount of personal attention is going to change that.

After they choose to become fans, their engagement will largely be based upon the consistency, frequency, and quality of your work. Granted, at this point, it would help to engage fans more directly. But it is simply not the case that this is the factor which determines whether fans stay fans or not. The larger and more popular the act, the LESS they do this.

"non-broadcast" communications and direct fan relationships are a good bonus to your existing marketing plans. But I have never once seen a band succeed without major "broadcast" efforts, and it has always been clear that those broadcasts are the backbone of turning people from passive listeners into fans.

August 31 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

Justin I appreciate your point of view however in over a decade or co-ordinating international marketing and PR campaigns and leading European ones I can say from major label and indie experience that it has always been the relationships with the fans that drive the music and therefore the artist and not broadcast. We have always reached out to the fans first and foremost even before internet became a part of the marketing mix. Fan clubs were originally run by the labels prior to 2000 and this would be the first port of call for even new artists as we would introduce new artists to existing communities. Unless an act has been manufactured which is relatively new, acts came from communities where they have built up fans locally this applies to all subgenres of music. Pre-internet our scouts would see those bands with their communities of fans and leverage this. I find it very concerning that anyone would favour broadcast over the needs of the fan and find it very unethical. The fans always come first.

August 31 | Registered CommenterLeena Sowambur

I have a friend in a band who once wrote online, "My music is my life. If you don't want to hear me talk about it or promote it, then get the fuck off my facebook/myspace."

September 11 | Unregistered CommenterBlinky

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