In my deliverables for my Personal Learning Plan, I promised “One blog to rule them all. (Or at least one that summarizes my findings, any potential interviews, etc.).” Here is me holding true to that promise. (For any who need a refresher on what my plan was, here is my blog explaining what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.)
For this last blog, we were asked, “What is the Next Big Thing [in Social Media]? What will Connect Us Next?” I think to answer the questions, there might have to be two different answers.
To answer what the next big thing is: I don’t know. I don’t think anyone predicted that a website with walls on which you can write, people you can poke, and things you can “like” would be a huge success until it actually happened (even though “likes” are a more recent development on Facebook). I’m not sure the sound of limiting oneself to 140 characters in things called “tweets” would strike people’s fancy, but somehow it has. Predicting specifically the next big thing is impossible. It is not a science. In many ways, if a social media site gets big, it’s because it gets lucky.
What I do feel will be the next big thing is something that is increasingly more comprehensive and invasive than what we already use. Erik Kessels recently did an art exhibit to illustrate how “we’re exposed to an overload of images nowadays” by printing off all the pictures uploaded to Flickr in a 24-hour time period. You can see the result to the right. It seems less like connected-ness and more like drowning.
We’re increasingly living our lives on and through social media sites, and we’re addicted to it. While we use them as an escape (from reality), we’re actually making them harder to escape. To be blunt, we are narcissistic and fickle, and because we rarely limit ourselves, social media is often used to feed these vices.
So, now that I’ve painted a sufficiently bleak picture and possibly offended some people, onto question two: what will connect us? The same thing that’s always connected us: actual, real-life community. I’m not a Luddite who thinks that social media is antithetical to this, but often times it is not used as it should be used: to aid community.
With this as the goal, boundaries will naturally occur. One’s goal should not be a frenzy to connect to as many people on social media as possible. Sure, it’s fine to be friends with someone on Facebook. But when you use Facebook as the primary source for learning about the person, you’ve missed the point. When you go on vacation or to a concert and spend your whole time taking pictures to share on Facebook and Twitter, you’re not being there.
I’ll play myself out with this Jeff Tweedy video. I shared this video in a tweet last week and a blog comment two weeks before that, but it’s worth sharing more properly here. He reacts specifically to people talking at concerts, but I think there are principles that can be applied more broadly. “I want us all to be here together.”
These days, personal interaction happens more and more exclusively on social media outlets, and live concerts are getting harder and harder to successfully market and be well-attended. The sad irony is that because music sharing online as an almost assumed reality, along with the exodus from major labels to smaller, independent labels, has left most artists depending on live shows as a source of revenue—but, “the vast majority of artists don’t have tour support from major record companies and have to go out-of-pocket in order to ply their trades beyond their home bases,” as explained in the article “Would Beatles make it in today’s world?” Consequently, “a lot of great bands break up because they just couldn’t afford to do it anymore.”
The age of Internet and social media have required the majority of music artists to be their own promoters for their shows. This article “How To Promote A Show” explains: “When trying to promote your show, you would expect there to be a team of people to help out: the club, the booker, the other bands, and the promoter. And, yes, they sometimes do help out. However, more times than not, that level of support just isn’t there. ”
One thing with which music artists are having to come to terms is the fact that record sales are no longer necessarily the indication of one’s fan-base, but rather dedication. Charlie Peacock tweeted this quote a while back that I “favorited”: “It’s not a problem if 20,000 people ‘illegally’ download your music. It’s a problem if they don’t.”
I want to take this brief intermission to note that while it may seem this way, this is not a blog on how the music industry is doomed (though it is certainly changing drastically). Look at these opening, somewhat scattered, paragraphs as a long-winded “why I’m doing this,” the backdrop—setting the stage and giving context for some of you, and reminding others. Nowadays, concert promotion is most of the time dependent on social media. And so, my intent is to examine how this is (and should be) done effectively.
After finally graduating with a Biblical Studies major, I plan on doing nothing vocationally with that degree. I realized a little late in my college career that I actually wanted to do something with band/concert booking and/or promotion. I’ve had some experience with this booking bands like The Civil Wars, Anathallo (RIP), and Seryn at Barefoots Joe as well as being the voice behind @BarefootsJoe, so it isn’t completely a foreign concept to me; but I still have a lot to learn.
Luckily, as I said, I am from Nashville, where there are concerts, and corresponding tweets about said concerts, aplenty, so I’ll be primarily looking at how social media has affected the live music scene in Nashville. Many of my sources will be Twitter accounts from different perspectives: record stores, concert venues, concert promoters, people established in the music scene, music magazines, and actual music artists that are using social media to draw people to live shows. I’ll also be looking at some blogs, some of which speak about the music industry more generally, so as not to be (too much of) a Nashville concert snob.
But I’ll still probably have to go to some concerts to experience them first-hand. What a drag!
My junior year of high school, I remember giving a presentation on my teacher’s PowerBook. Presumably I navigated it well, as my teacher asked me if I was a Mac user. Still a user of a Sony Ericsson phone and an eMachines desktop at home, I replied that I hoped to be soon.
I realized that it doesn’t really take much to be a Mac user. Within minutes a person of almost any age can, more or less, figure out how to operate almost any Apple device. (Seriously, have you seen the videos of two-year-olds and people in their 80’s playing with iPads like it was second nature?) There is something that is so basically intuitive about Apple products. Continue reading →