Social media can often serve as a time-consuming stream of distractions, but occasionally it offers up a bit of dialogue that reminds us why it is we pay attention. For me, one of those moments occurred yesterday when former Fleet Foxes drummer J. Tillman took to Twitter in response to PASTE’s post on his Letterman performance.
Tuesday night brought Tillman’s television debut of his new Father John Misty project. The band’s debut album Fear Fun was released by Sub Pop that same day. Watch a video of Father John Misty’s Letterman performance below of the track “Only Son of the Ladies Man” below. As expected, all of the major music blogs fell quickly in line with posts on the footage the following morning, offering minimal context. Later in the day, Tillman took to Twitter for a brief rant on his distaste for PASTE and the current state of music writing in general.
At this point, PASTE’s Multimedia Editor Max Blau interjected in hopes of some clarification. Side note: Blau is a great follow on twitter, and in general seems to have a level head on his shoulders. I was impressed with his attempt to open a dialogue in an effort to more clearly understand the source of Tillman’s backlash. Many editors would have been tempted to ignore the situation in the hope that it disappear quietly.
Music, and the coverage of it, is in a strange place at present. The internet has fragmented the way that we discover new artists and sounds. This subsequently provides anyone with a modem the opportunity to turn critic. This leads to a rat race where blogs are constantly competing to post the latest video or release first. The rush to the front of the pack often results in rushed writing that offers little information. These issues are addressed, rather eloquently, by the recently defunct Louisville blog The Decibel Tolls in their post “The Problem With Blogs.”
Unfortunately, this current arrangement is unlikely to change any time soon. In order to compete for traffic, the rat race will inevitably continue. Search engines and social media platforms are growing increasingly adept at discerning which content is being shared. In theory, this should allow the cream to rise to the top. However, the vast majority of readers are not seeking out phenomenal writing. Instead, they are competing with their peers to break the new “hot video” first and the vicious cycle continues. Therefore, the blogging behemoths will continue to post mediocrity so long as traffic is the end objective. Tillman spoke for a lot of us when he tweeted the following.
Written by Rob Peoni
Some bands just have it. These bands understand their market and strategically find ways to expand their brands. I believe we are seeing an unbelievable movement occur within the independent music scene. The bands that thrive and escape the one-and-done album lifecycle are those that truly own every element of their band. The good ones are true entrepreneurs and continue to find ways to make themselves interesting to us. They collaborate with their audiences and gather feedback to improve. We are experiencing the engagement era of the independent music scene. They are marketers and their product is the sound that transmits from a myriad of both traditional and unconventional instruments (i.e. guitar, bass guitar, drums, horns, synths, maracas, turntables, violins, cellos, beat box, harmonica, jazz flute, loop machine, and recorder). They provide the beat and then take the time to ask us how it felt.
We have seen bands build their brands out by using easily accessible free tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Wavves, Best Coast , Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Tyler the Creator have grown in popularity by communicating with their audiences. They understand the power that social media can provide and they are capitalizing on all of its projecting strengths.
Case in point:
This was a RT (retweet for non-social media users) by Wavves this week promoting their CMJ Showcase. The RT of the venue / promoter is a common move by engagement driven bands. A simple click of a button can drive more people to the door. I will bet my bottom dollar that this got the attention of a few Hipsters in NYC that saw this and said to themselves “Oh shit, Wavves is in town. I have something to do tonight”. I am thrilled writing this and finally sharing some of my observations with the readers of this blog. My other favorite part about Wavves front man, Nathan Williams, and his use of social media is that he builds off of the engagement. Another tweet he sent was so easy, but so thoughtful.
“Who’s coming to fader fort tonight?”
Williams not only chooses to promote his show, but opts to engage with his audience. This is so awesome and is a perfect display of someone who just gets it. Williams also lets his fans into his life of drug use, partying, and random whacky thoughts. I have never met Williams, but I know exactly who he is and this man is a character that I find interesting. He likes to party, write radical music, and eat at Applebees. I will always pay attention to him and always buy his records because he has earned this loyalty. An owner who is himself…and he creates pretty kick ass music.
These bands are allowing all of us to understand who they truly are and what they do when they are not behind the microphone. It is amazing that 146 characters can project as much power as a live show these days. An @ mention from a band you love truly makes a fan feel special. They are really out there, they are real people, they care enough to thank me for promoting their show. This is cool and causes me to build a special allegiance with these engagement-driven bands. It does not matter what musical direction they decide to turn to with their next album because I will automatically accept it. I trust them because they allow me to engage and connect with their vision. This is tremendously exciting not only for me, but it is also thrilling to these bands who are on a tight budget searching for easy promotional resources.
Here is my story:
One of my favorite independent band’s Hooray for Earth came through Indianapolis this Saturday night as the supporting act for Cymbals Eat Guitars. I was an early adopter of Hooray for Earth as they caught my attention when they released their six-song EP Momo in 2009. This band did a fantastic job of using social media to keep their audience engaged and after releasing their full-length True Loves, in June of this year, I was hooked. They are such a cool band and are a prime example of a band that finds as much value in their instruments as they do with social media. Noel Heroux is an incredibly fascinating visionary that displays his inner creative genius with his fans through many channels of communication. Heroux & Co. did an absolutely amazing job during their stop in Indianapolis. They verified everything that I thought about them because they had already built that impression with me via their Twitter account.
I left the White Rabbit Cabaret convinced on two fronts. This band rules as much as I thought because they sound incredible live and they are authentic. They truly care about building a relationship with their fan base.I was truly humbled after their set. I was sitting at the bar enjoying a Kentucky Lexington Bourbon Ale (which is perhaps the most fantastic brew I have had in ages – I am serious, if you are a beer drinker you MUST try this) when Heroux stepped off of the stage and approached me. He thanked me for using social media to pump them up and drive traffic to the show. He went on to tell me that he truly appreciated Indianapolis’ scene and fans. He felt a special energy in the room that night, people were connected with his vision. He gave me one of the best compliments I have received since I started promoting the music I love. Heroux told me that bands like Hooray for Earth could use another couple thousand people like me. This was an absolute honor for me. He gave me the opening to stay in touch and it is my greatest hope that I can continue to engage with amazing people like the guys from Hooray for Earth.
I tried to remain cool during this chat, but found myself playing the role of fan by the end of the conversation. I told Heroux that “No Love” was in contention for song of the year for me because it had an outstanding energy. I asked him what it was about and his response was fantastic. He attempted to piece together different reasons and themes for why the song was written and what it meant, but at the end of the day the song was just instinct. This song now has become not only my favorite song of the year, but an “indiegnma” (word I just created: noun, An authentic, good song in the independent scene that leaves you a bit puzzled). I left knowing less of what I thought the song was about, but I feel like I have gained so much more. This was truly a compelling dynamic.
I am so passionate about creating more stories like this that I have been working on a start-up company called IndiEngage (follow us on twitter @IndiEngage). This is a start-up company for start up fans and bands. My vision is to create an online interactive community for like-minded individuals to collaborate, influence, and be scene! I am spending a tremendous amount of work connecting with fans, bands, and promoters to help bring my vision to life.Saturday night was not just a routine night of attending a concert. Saturday night was an experience. I am hoping to build a unique unity during this new engagement era. I want more people to experience these experiences. Who knows how long it is gong to last and where it is going to go? What I do know is that I want it to blindly take me for a ride and then strategically build engagement with this time. I am happy that I have a good band to reach out to when this thing goes live. Hooray for Music, Hooray for Engagement, Hooray for Earth.
Written by Brett McGrath
So it is safe to say that I’m a full-blown raging Turntable.fm addict. A music obsessed social media junkie’s perfect drug. I’m already searching for Betty Ford clinic options for this obsession. I would choose Dr. Dre to prescribe a remedy: white room, a Walkman, Beatz by Dre headphones, and The Chronic.
The more I hop on TT the more fun I have. Things I love most:
- The ability to build connections and become digital friends with like-minded peeps
- Hearing that song that you have not heard in ages that absolutely blows your skull (see: Neil Sedaka – Bad Blood, Silk – Freak Me, Martha Reeves & The Vandellas – Jimmy Mack…etc.)
- Chat rooms are old school
- Knowing the room is going to AWESOME OUT the song you are able to rock and your prediction is correct
- Themes – 90’s movie soundtracks, wrestling theme songs, Motown (see my room “Oldies for Hipsters’ for some grooves)
As I continue to fall in love with my new interactive music sharing/messaging tool I have decided it is only appropriate to begin documented the last 10 songs I played the last time I was owning the 1’s and 2’s. Here is my list for Saturday night / Sunday morning.
Stevie Wonder – Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Not quite sure I know anyone who does not like this classic. It flirts with perfection.
Lee Dorsey – Everything I do Gohn Be Funky
Great music produced by the legend Allen Toussaint. I had been waiting to play this song for a while and I finally found the perfect moment.
Rare Earth – Get Ready
One of the first white bands signed to Motown. The song runs a spanning 21:27. I got permission and yes I played the whole thing.
Alice in Chains – No Excuses
Change of pace hits with some grungeful goodness. The version I ran with was their Unplugged jam. I think this guys place after Nirvana in best grunge-era bands.
Little Black Backpack – Stroke 9
90s. 90s. 90s. They have boatload of albums, but this is the only song you’ll remember.
Eve 6 – Think Twice
As you can see, the poppy 90s alt rock began to catch like Willie Mays and flies. They are continuing to make music as they signed to Fearless Records in May of this year.
SR-71 – Right Now
I know. It has to stop sometime right? Pop punk. You couldn’t escape this song in the summer of 2000.
Robin S – Show Me Love
90’s R&B songstress from Queens gave us a gift with this cut. I am afraid I might like this song more than most. The creepy thing is that after playing this song (which I haven’t played in years) I found the single on vinyl at Luna music. I am now a proud owner.
TLC – Creep
They are Crazy.Sexy.Cool. TLC was the Supremes of the 90’s. So many classics that never gets old. Out of all of them I think Creep might reign supreme. Vibes were high, bed time was near, decisions, decisions, decisions.
Jagged Edge – Where the Party At? (LP version, no Nelly)
I chose to play the version without Nelly to really emphasize the voices of Jagged Edge. This song is silly but I love it. The summer heading into my Sophomore year in high school was when this song was at its peak. I still find myself asking the question. Where. The. Party. At?
Written by Brett McGrath