Monday, January 4, 2010

Internet Promotion in the Digital Age

Blog # 36: Internet Promotion in the Digital Age

I remember when I first moved to New York City back in the fall of '05. Growing up in the suburbs and attending an undergrad college in a suburban area too, I was a bit overwhelmed at first by the hustle and bustle of the city. Visually, there is so much information to take in: loud noises, people hurrying off to their destinations, street vendors, cars honking, and people shouting. Times Square is nothing but billboards, flashing lights, large TV screens and even people on the street talking directly to you trying to invite you to 'comedy shows'.

During this first week in New York, I had my first lesson with Laurie Frink. I went to her apartment studio, sat in the chair and got my horn out. She asked me how I was adapting to life in NYC. I responded that I was still taking it all in. She stated profoundly; "After a while you won't even see the people".

My first days in NYC really have a lot in common with the state of Internet promotion. We are bombarded with so much stimulae that as viewers, we are having trouble sifting through it; THERE'S JUST TOO MUCH! Sites like Amazon, Myspace and Youtube have so much content on them, from different genres, topics, styles; all mixed together. If you type 'Jazz' into youtube you'll get a lot of videos of student musicians playing along to aebersold records, right there along side of videos with amazing cutting edge performances from around the world. You have to look through a LOT of crap to find the real gems, and after a while, it all sounds the same.

After a while, our brains are completely overwhelmed and we just 'turn-off and tune-out'. We watch a clip of 'Chris Potter' or 'Miles Davis' on youtube and we take for granted how amazing it is, because our senses are dulled but the quantity of music(and all information) we're exposed to. Its not our faults, our brains just can't take it.

Another problem arises from having everything at our fingertips. People start getting accustomed to having everything instantly, so when they listen to a new record, song, or clip, they must like it instantly. If they don't, they're one click away from watching or listening to something else. It seems shallow, because it is. I remember when I first listened to 'Giant steps' in high school I hated it! I just couldn't get my ears around it and really thought John Coltrane was just randomly hitting notes on the saxophone. Now years later, I feel it is an amazing song that really defines a period in jazz. I only grew to feel this way after repeat listenings.

I think this situation has some real implications for musicians today trying to get their music out there. People looking to check out new artists are presented with a sea of talented performers of different styles and genres. If you go to jazz media website, there are so many links and ads for different artists being pushed by their (dying) labels. I get the impression that the audience checks out these people because they are seeing and hearing so much of them, not because they necessarily are the best or most original.

Another problem that arises is that because people can listen to so much online for free they feel no obligation to buy a record or attend a show;

"Why go to the show? I can listen for free from the comfort of my living room".

"Why pay when I can get it for free?"

There are some positive things that come from the digital age as well. Artists can put their music out for anyone to see, as long as someone can find their way to your page. That 'instant access' can get a fan to find out about you by following a link. Fans can even connect Artists directly; sharing feedback, giving encouragement or just saying, 'I dig your music'. The problem that remains, how does that fan find their way to your page amongst the BILLONS just like you out there?

-How does that Artist, who's music demands repeat listenings', get that potential fan NOT to click away and move onto something else?

-Why does that fan go to the show when they can listen for FREE from home?

So what's the solution?

-The audience needs to somehow take the time to REALLY listen and check new artists out. Don't just accept that someone is 'Great or innovative' because you've heard this. Judge for yourself.

-Go see live music; This is where artists make their money, and they need it just to live and keep creating more music. If you want to download free music or listen to songs online, go check out their live shows, if you don't that Artist may stop producing music altogether.


  1. Nice post Jon. However, I'd rephrase your question "How does that fan find their way to your page among the BILLIONS just like you out there" to read "How does the artist find the fan who will be receptive to their music?"

    Marketing is no longer passive. Those labels you speak of, their dying because they haven't figured this out. They still think that buying an ad in a magazine and putting a banner on a website is enough. It's not. And that's why the internet is such a win for artists like you and me.

    We now have the ability to go find our fans. That's never been the case before. Now it's essential. So go to the trumnpet boards, converse on the jazz blogs, start talking to people on Twitter and you'll find the people who will like and buy your music. It takes a lot of time and energy but I have found that it pays off.

    Not only you like to cook? Ride a bike? Read 17 century poetry. Go converse with those people on the internet too. Once you establish a relationship with them you are likely to find new fans there too.

    I do agree that instant access has completely changed the way some people listen to music. But music fans are still music fans, and jazz fans in particular still like to hear stuff and give it some time. Again, the trick is going out and finding those people.

    Your new CD is great! I think you just need to go out and find the audience for it. I highly recommend keeping the blog rolling and getting invovled with Twitter. It's been the best way I have come across to find fans and supports. Plus, I've met lots of really cool people!

  2. I think you make some great points Jason. It really is up to us to hunt down people that would be receptive to our music, they aren't just going to magically find us.

    I know one thing that I think about is that line between 'having a presence' on the internet, and offensively and annoyingly plugging my own music all the time. Even though I really believe in the Music on my record 'Connections', I don't want to be constantly dropping the phrase "Connections, now available!!". Like I mentioned above, people tend to tune these things out.

    Haven't we all at some point blocked people on Facebook that are constantly updating to the point of being annoying?

    Its a difficult path and a new frontier that we're all in


  3. You don't have to be "offensively and annoyingly plugging your music". You just have to be real. Talk to people. Not necessarily about your music. Just get to know folks. Talk about OTHER people's music that you love. Talk about art, science, food...whatever.

    The thing about "social media" is that it's social. Those who use it as a marketing ploy fail. Those who use it to connect with like-minded people and talk about cool stuff win.

    At least that's what I've found...