Social media and the DIY music scene: Part 2 (the interview)

This may come as a surprise to those in the music industry, but for musicians who’s careers are not based solely on hype, social media is not the most essential tool they have.  For hardworking musicians who write, record, manage, book, and promote themselves, the personal connections that are most valuable to them are made the old fashioned way, according the Frank Copenhaver, Hurricanes of Love.  Frank’s amiable and memorable personality makes it easy for him to make strong connections quickly, and besides being a phenomenal musician, this is probably his greatest asset.  Frank says he does use Facebook to keep in touch with the people he meets on the road but more often than not he will use his cell phone to get a hold of contacts while on the road.  There is something just a whole lot more personal about receiving a phone call and hearing someone’s voice on the other end.  This fits in with Frank’s whole ethic, as described to me by Andy Kruczkiewicz.  “Be involved and be flexible.   You have to use social media to get the word out but it helps to be memorable, nice, and larger than life, like Frank,” said Andy.  Facebook’s events function makes it a lot easier to promote shows.  Frank said there is a Facebook event page for every show on his tour and Frank is usually pretty active on these pages.

Frank cautioned me about getting detached from this process.  He told me a story about a band he played a show with the other night that had a booking agent and all the other “hot-shot accoutrements”.  He said this band showed up to the gig, played their set and left without talking to a single person.  Frank said they didn’t even stay to collect their portion of the donations.  Instead, they had their booking agent contact the guy who collected the money to ask for their cut.  “They were good but they were so detached. They didn’t want to communicate and they expected this anonymous person to collect their money.  It was out of this world,” said Frank. “ It was like a lesson in what not to do.”

Shane Donnelly warned me about getting caught up social media hype.  He said, “A lot of music blogs are super specialized. They might only have about a hundred readers.”  This seems logical when you think about the long tail theory. Shane also said he has met a lot of bands with “blown out egos, that think they’re famous just because some blog mentioned their record…For me, as an artist I try not to pay to much attention to that.  I try to stay in touch but not get wrapped up in the hype,” Shane said.

Shane also noted another peculiarity about the music blogosphere; the fact that for a lot of bands it’s hard to solicit a bloggers review.  “A lot of bloggers don’t want to hear from bands. They want to feel like they discovered the band, not the other way around,” Shane said. “It’s a strange mindset, it’s almost like some music bloggers are just vying for bragging rights.”

All the hype aside, Andy noted, social media does have one really important role to play in the DIY music scene.  “It’s a great way to listen to music if you can’t get a hard copy. Social media is eliminating the need to physically pass a CD along,” said Andy, “and that makes it a lot easier for your band’s music to spread by word of mouth.”

My interview closed with Frank, Shane and Andy all giving me a little sound advice from their experience on the road.  ”More than anything else, you want to connect with people spiritually, you need to get in tune with the spiritual web of life,” said Frank.  ”I bust my ass seven days a week eight months out of the year so I can have the winters off to do this sort of thing and when I’m waking up at seven a.m. on a Saturday during the middle of summer I just tell myself these experiences make it all worth it,” Andy said.  ”The point is, it’s hard work but, if you want to do it you can do it,” Andy stated in summation.

 

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