iTweet Therefore iAm
Social media. Social fucking media. I have a love/hate relationship with social media. When I was in a band, it was a great tool for us to spread the word about shows and other fancy stuff we had going on. It was also a place for absolutely shitty bands to force people to ‘like’ them even before hearing any of their songs.
You’d be hard pressed these days to find a band, or anyone for that matter, without some sort of social networking site. “Sadly, nowadays it’s kind of a necessary evil,” according to Mat Kiley, lead singer for Asbury-based punk rock band Hot Blood. “I think it’s a lot harder now to try to break into a new scene without social media.”
But why is that? The internet wasn’t around in the ’60s, so how did the Beatles get so huge in America before they even stepped foot on American soil, and why can’t we do that now? Is it the structure of the music industry or our attitudes toward it? Maybe the only reason we all need to have a Facebook profile for our band is because we think we all need to have one. Idealistically, this could be fixed if we all put our foot down and decided to come together in the mass deletion of our iSelves. Realistically, however, that will never happen. Even if it did, there would still be that ONE band that says it will delete but doesn’t so that it can be the only band on the internet. In fact, I could probably name about five of them that I’m sure would do that. But this is not Rupaul’s Drag Race, and I’m not here to throw shade.
…Okay, maybe a little shade. I’ve noticed a trend within the local scene over the past few years, particularly with promotion – and particularly with people who claim to be “promoters.” When I asked the bass player for the Battery Electric and guitarist for Hot Blood, Alex, what he thought about social media’s influence on promoters, he, Kiley and I all felt basically the same: the internet has made most promoters lazy. Kiley added “I won’t name any names, and not all promoters are pieces of shit (in fact, I consider some good friends), but Facebook has turned ‘promoter’ into a misnomer. Sharing a flyer on Facebook makes you as much a promoter as stepping in a puddle makes you a fish.” I couldn’t agree more.
While we are on the topic of promotion, let’s bring up a subject that I think all of us as musicians and fans share a similar experience with: Facebook invites. I’ll tell you right now that every single time I get a notification for a Facebook invite, without fail, my inner dialogue reads it as “So and So has invited you to some shit you aren’t gonna go to.” Or in Alex’s words, “you hope it’s someone attractive, and it’s just some invite to something you will never go to. But hey, sometimes you gotta just invite all your Facebook friends!” Again, a necessary evil. Especially evil when you thought it would be a good-looking lady contacting you. The struggle is real, friends. The struggle is real.
Sharing a flyer on Facebook makes you as much a promoter as stepping in a puddle makes you a fish.
I would love nothing more than to go back to the days of flyers, stickers, and word of mouth, but those days seem to be disappearing pretty quickly now. Not that they are completely gone; I’ve seen some kids with weird haircuts on skateboards wearing local band shirts, and I’ve seen some flyers posted about, so maybe there is a bit of hope for the future. I also like to believe that a lot of us in our mid-to-late 20s still stick to those philosophies. If not, maybe it isn’t too idealistic to try to sway things slowly back in that direction. I’m not saying we should all delete our Instagrams, throw our phones into the Atlantic Ocean, and run off to the mountains. But maybe we can start with at least watching a concert with our own eyes rather than through the screen of whatever Apple product is hip that day. Or let’s get out there and plaster the streets with homemade flyers and stickers you made in your living room, and make sure that when we run into other bands who are also putting real live boots on the ground, we go out of our way to support them and go to their shows. Every little bit counts. It all matters.
I’ll close this with the last bit of dialogue I received from these two upstanding citizens when I sat down with them (JK, I Facebook messaged them) to discuss social media:
Alex: “I think flyers in the real world and stickers being plastered everywhere is still the best way to get your name out there. Any random band that I decided to check out has been because I stumbled upon them in real life or someone in real life told me I had to go check them out. REALITY RULES!”
Kiley: “Fuck you, Liz!”