So, why are you on Facebook?

Facebook dislikeOnce upon a time Facebook was good for musicians. Like MySpace you could set up a page, collect fans and post stuff.

It was better than MySpace. It was clean and uncluttered and music apps provided extra functionality. The Facebook population grew rapidly. There was a reason to be there.

Today, things are different.

First came heavy-handed marketing, complex privacy controls, terms and conditions and seemingly endless platform disruption. But musicians stayed even as the original reasons evaporated.

The clean interface became regimented. Every page came to look identical apart from carefully controlled images. And if Facebook didn’t like your images they would disappear.

Timeline with its uniform, ugly layout. Dull blue and grey. Standard post layouts, so much less flexible than a 10 year old public domain forum. Font sizes, pictures, links… all Facebook, and all the same. My posts were often interrupted by strings of code and if I managed to get a picture where I wanted it would be clipped horribly. Two links in one post would be formatted differently.

Details of the black economy in fake accounts, fake likes and mysterious advertising usage began to emerge.

Pages were frozen and accounts were deleted for infringements of policy, but you had to guess the reason why. Facebook might discuss it if you were famous, otherwise forget it.

Finally the connection with fans was degraded unless you paid to reach them.

So why are musicians on Facebook any more? Certainly, there are one billion web users uncomfortable with email and photo sites who rarely go anywhere else. They use Facebook to keep in touch with each other and share pictures. But even if they are fans your updates probably won’t reach them.

For those who just want a social diary and family album on the web Facebook is understandable. Facebook has a lot of supporters, and good luck to them. But independent musicians can only still be there out of habit.

5 thoughts on “So, why are you on Facebook?

    • Hello Rod. Long time no thing. I like the cassock by the way.

      When you say alternative, I’m not sure there’s a site with a captive audience where you can publish effectively in the way you could when MySpace or Facebook were new, and where people are still in a frenzy of looking for stuff. Also, the early adopters on all these things (Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., etc.) seem to be much more alive than the mature population they have in later life.

      But I don’t think the answer is to jump on the next big thing and hope for a bit more action. I suggest the following, but I don’t think there’s a formula:

      – Your own web site and blog as a hub
      – Bandcamp as a “shopfront”
      – Twitter as a day-to-day feed, news, links, thoughts
      – an aggregator for digital

      For the lucky folks who draw a hundred or more (outside their home town) and reliably shift upwards of a 1,000 of a new release it might be worth using ReverbNation or one of the other artist hubs. (I know some people swear by them from day one so don’t rule it out but it’s not for everybody.)

      The new MySpace will probably be worth a look (although I’m not too impressed, as an old account holder, with their communication about the new site).

      In terms of “discovery” I think SEO and Google (and Facebook) have had their day and musicians would spend their time more wisely researching web media and music blogs in their genre.

      As always it’s a dog-eat-starving-artist world but there is a DIY web economy out there for the lucky, persistent and talented ones.

  1. “for the lucky, persistent and talented ones” this is the key thing. There are lots of people out there who are very good (but not good enough), some who are very very good (but not particularly dedicated to the marketing / promotional side) and some who seem to be doing everything right but just don’t get the breaks.
    Then there’s people like me who just like to bumble along with a few listeners, the occasional purchase (but really I find I’m as happy with a download as I am with a purchase) and for us things are pretty dandy actually.

    Interestingly I have just received my invite to the new myspace, but I haven’t looked yet.

    • I agree. There used to be a barrier to visibility between artists and the mainstream. And that was it. If you didn’t break through you would be invisible to everyone except your local audience.

      Now, musicians can reach an audience, whether that’s a dozen, a hundred, or even three. Many people just want to express themselves and I have noticed among young bands a tendency to treat it like a gap year, or four. They get a small touring circuit going, put out a few DIY recordings, get label interest, and then go off to do jobs that earn money. It’s all different to what it used to be.

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