Eight Recent Social and Technical Phenomena That Are Making Your Music The Only Thing That Matters To Your Success.
I will argue here (just to be controversial) that prior to becoming popular (as in financially viable), you could choose to have no website, no Facebook fan page, no widgets, no videos, no album, no twitter, no centralized location on the Internet, and never do much of anything on the Internet that could be called self-promotion, and that your fans can and could effortlessly do everything for you now; including the recording and the distribution of your music.
Moreover, I will also stipulate that all the stuff I just listed above is practically a waste of your time now, as it’s all being steamrolled anyways. See the list below:
Social Amplification. With the unprecedented, widespread use of social utilities like Facebook and Twitter, hundreds of millions humans now have super simple mechanisms that enable all of us to rapidly connect, communicate, and share thoughts and stuff between targeted and/or widespread groups of people. Collectively, people are currently doing this billions of times a day.
Swarming Capabilities. With wireless devices, GPS, and the location-aware and geo-tagging capabilities that are (or will be) part of Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Flickr, YouTube, and part of countless other programs, humans can and are swarming upon physical sites, happenings and events. If the swarm/crowd/herd wants to be someplace together, they can and will be.
Fan-Driven Crowd-Control. Prior to obtaining 50,000,000 spins / impressions (niche-fame), fans can and will exert unprecedented and real-time control over the size and the composition of your crowds. The shared knowledge of who is going to your shows, and who is already there, is equal to, or more important than…you are.
Effort Shifting. The camera, video and recording capabilities that are baked into the devices that ordinary people carry in their pockets now, are capable of capturing moments and events, and at a quality level that’s entertaining enough, to engage today’s entire online population. Fans can and will record everything and anything that’s remarkable. You no longer need to do this for them.
Brand Un-Control. Your brand name, your images and your music will be linked and tagged to thousands or even to tens of thousands of images, videos, and status updates that may or may not have anything to do with you or the brand you once tried to control. You and your brand will often be sideshows attached to someone’s permanent online memory.
Thumbs Up. And all those images, videos, recordings, and status updates that are linked and tagged to your name - they’re all being quality-rated…in real-time. Think about the Facebook thumbs up button; it’s not only a rating tool, it’s a social amplifier.
Decentralization. Both Microsoft Bing and Google Search feature mixed search results that include traditional text-based search results, audio, video, images and real-time stream postings. Look for social (quality) ratings, location awareness, scheduling and other tidbits to also become part of every search-results presentation.
Your brand (and brand rating) will be everywhere and anywhere fans put it and rate it. Search results are becoming (to artists and fans) what MySpace use to be (a glorified directory). However this time, you won’t be able to completely control the presentation. Every bit of information about you will be found and smartly presented as the result of a search query.
Remixing. The ability to slice, dice and remix whatever you create is also unprecedented. There are even smart phone applications that will enable fans to remix your show before you have even left the stage. Don’t expect anything to remain as you intended it.
Given these eight relatively recent social and technical phenomena, the only three things you have to get right now are: 1) incrementally improve your songs or a song, until it is, or they are, all over the Internet (via the efforts of fans); 2) incrementally improve your live show to the point where fans are asking you to turn up the volume; and 3) learn how to throw an ongoing party that keeps people coming back week after week, or month after month (to be covered in my next post). If you give fans great songs, a great show, and a great party…they can and will do everything else now. Everything.