Is Facebook a laziness pact between musicians?


Todd A

, Inspiration

I deactivated Facebook a few months ago. It’s a thing I do every few months to see if I can truly cut the cord. This time, I decided I could. So last week, I deleted my account. A friend — questioning me about what finally drove me over the edge — confessed that he only remains on Facebook to know where his musician friends are playing. I responded that I hadn’t used Facebook for that purpose in a long time but I understood the conundrum. That led us to the conversation that is as old as Facebook: why don’t musicians do a better job of making their news public?

One reason with which I completely sympathize is that it can feel like it just doesn’t matter. As long as bands have been staying in Kinko’s until midnight Xeroxing flyers and stapling them up all over town, we’ve been telling the public about our shows and having no crowd show up. For just as long, we’ve been telling local papers, blogs, event listing services, and everyone else where we’re playing and when our new record comes out and getting no press.

When no one writes up the news or the show, it can resign you to do as little as possible so that your effort doesn’t feel so wasted. The problem is that only announcing your shows on Facebook is doing less than the least. It’s just telling people: I belong in mediocrity.

Say this aloud:

I can’t do much to convince people to come to my shows. But I can make sure the maximum number of people know about them.

In this digital age when hanging your shingle outside your virtual shop is free with Bandcamp, $12 a month with Squarespace, and cheap or free with dozens of other services, it’s inexcusable to post your shows and news only to Facebook. Here, on SongCast, we’ve talked about how Your Facebook Page is Not a Web Presence before:

Hell, it is even better to have your only public web presence be through Instagram, Twitter, or other non-Facebook social networks — you know, ones that are truly public. That’s why I’ve also advised musicians: just pick one.

When you’re relying on Facebook, you’re making two mistakes: one social and one strategic. Firstly, you still believe your friends to be your fans; they’re not. Secondly, even if you use a Facebook “page,” you’re not delivering your message to the greatest amount of people. (Updates to pages aren’t seen by all who “Like” that page.)

You would be better off posting all show listings and important news to your own website and then buying ads on Facebook where you can target non-friends who like music similar to yours in your town, which then link to your website.

This brings me back to the conversation with which I began this piece: I’m in a crowd of musicians who only update their friends on their shows through Facebook. Each of us has probably felt at times that we might want to leave Facebook or at least stop checking for a while. But then something worse than FOMO kicks in: we feel a guilt that we might miss a friend’s show (at least, the posting of it). Or we might not get friends out at our show if we don’t play along.

It’s a laziness pact among musicians. It’s killing our drive and our reach. It’s assuring us that if anyone comes out, it’ll be the same old crowd. Don’t do that. Get off Facebook and get out into the public.

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