It seems like only yesterday everyone was going mental for MySpace and the role it played in helping talented folk like Arctic Monkeys ‘make it big’.
The true power of the internet was on display, as bands ‘bypassed’ traditional routes and promoted themselves directly to the fans, and had great success doing so.
But as MySpace sits alongside other struggling virtual ruins, bands have naturally moved to where the kids are at.
How do new and smaller bands make the best use of these channels?
Facebook didn’t initially light up the music industry with its design and functionality, but with the creation of tabs there are options to show off the music behind the band ‘brand’. But what’s more interesting is the total dedication and intimacy bands are creating with their followers on Facebook and Twitter.
I recently discovered a band from Norway called Blood Command (I thoroughly recommend you check them out). Leaping onto their social media channels I was happy to see numbers weren’t enormous, it gave me a sense of ‘discovering’ a band early.
But what is so impressive about Blood Command, is their open attitude to these channels. The difference to Myspace is staggering. Leave a message on their wall and they’ll happily (or begrudgingly based on the enquiry) get back to you with a personal reply. When we first discovered them there was even a Twitter discussion with the band about getting them to play a local pub in London.
Add to this, I’m increasingly seeing members of bands set up their own personal page on Facebook (Twitter has always been the case). Greg Puciato from the Dillinger Escape Plan for example is active across Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. Impressively all these accounts are generally used uniquely to each other but again, the interaction level is really decent.
It’s often the case to get the most exposure is to do something controversial. Social media sure isn’t hampering bands in this respect. Take iwrestledabearonce. In a move that was considered a huge leap, the band announced to their fans and through a carefully circulated press release that they would now be a black metal band. This was naturally picked up on music blogs and discussed. Fans on the whole recognized the gag but the metal community covered the news en masse with a surreptitious ‘O Rly?’.
Successful troll was successful!
When the band’s new song with its much promised new direction was leaked through a partner blog the site crashed through the demand of fans and haters alike. A brutal new track it was, but black metal it was not. This deception gave them even more coverage, especially from those who didn’t take to kindly to being trolled (see Gun Shy Assassin). As a fan, it made me love them even more!
Myspace was a revelation. A free service to connect your music to the masses. But it was one way, old-school communication. A service that could pump your music, news and events out to your adoring fans.
Facebook and Twitter, when used well, are building stronger ties between the artists and their fans. It’s no longer about one-way communication and purely promoting your own stuff. It’s far more personal.
Metal has always prided itself on a loyal and passionate fanbase. For a smaller band, what better way to forge ties with fans early than being human and responsive? It’s natural that those embracing social media are winning.