I think too many bands and businesses are treating social media like it is their chance to run commercials all day every day. Every post is a sales pitch, a request for the reader / viewer to buy something.
This is despite the fact that everyone I know who records a show on TV fast forwards through ALL of the commercials when they watch it later. These are not people hungry for advertisements.
And I realize that bands and businesses want to sell things. But if you want to hold someone's attention, if you want to give them a reason to keep tuning in, balance things out with content that is interesting and does not have a "buy now" button attached.
You can have some deep conversations with John Keith Culbreth of clients Stop Light Observations. Sure, he can talk about the weather too, but it does not take much to get him verbally exploring the topics of life, death, the universe, etc.
When I met with him the other day, he discussed people's tendencies to use the online world as a way to distract themselves from weightier matters. They get themselves into a virtually crowded environment, but end up more disconnected than ever.
However, we agreed that it does not have to be like that. The internet and social media are tools. How you use them is up to you.
Although some people use them to soften the edges and kind of sedate themselves, you can also use them to connect with people. Just as the band's music causes people to feel, think, and reflect, so can your posts, your content.
It takes more thought and effort, and that connection won't happen with everyone, but it could be the difference between someone being a detached observer and a genuine fan.
Despite people's obsession with speed and immediacy, there is still value in the long and winding road, provided you can persist.
It was the mid-to-late 90s. I had no money, but to feed my music addiction, I did album reviews for a small newspaper in El Segundo, California so I could get free albums. I also did concert reviews because that was the only way I could get tickets to shows.
I managed to talk my way into reviewing / getting tickets for a Hootie and the Blowfish concert. Between the opening act and Hootie, the sound guys played an album I had just reviewed and loved by a band I had never heard of named Cowboy Mouth.
Now flash forward to this past weekend and Hootie's annual Homegrown concerts in Charleston, South Carolina.
Cowboy Mouth has been a client for six years and I consider them friends. I got to hang out backstage with John Thomas Griffith, Matt Jones, Brian Broussard, and Fred LeBlanc (right) before and after Friday night's show when they opened for Hootie.
I have been talking with Mark Bryan (left), guitarist for Hootie, about the solo album he just released. He was generous enough to arrange for me to see both shows this weekend.
And it is because of him that Saturday's opening act, Stop Light Observations, has been a client since May.
To top it off, at the time of the concert in the 90s, I did not even have a girlfriend. This photo was taken Friday by Michele, who I have been lucky enough to be married to for 19 years.
There is something be said for persistence, even if sometimes you are not sure where you are headed.
I bought a book about sales. After reading the first few chapters, I think the title should have been "How To Lose Friends And Completely Repulse People".
The things they suggest you say to prospective clients are kind of sleazy and condescending. There are politicians convicted of sexual harassment who have better deliveries.
Admittedly sales is not my strong suit. Hence why I bought the book. But taking the perspective of a customer, if someone approached me this way, I think appropriate responses would include mace and a restraining order.
I am looking to add to my roster of clients, but I think there has to be a better approach than the one suggested by this book. You should be able to pitch your services without people wondering how many times you've been prosecuted.
When you are the parent of a special needs child, sticking to even a basic schedule can be almost impossible. Imagine looking at the flight board in an airport and for every plane's departure time it just said, "Hell if we know."
You constantly have to change, pivot, and deal with the unexpected.
In addition to many other challenges our child has sleep disorders. As a result, he goes to school at a different time pretty much every day. Today I got him there with only two hours left in the school day. Rather than killing valuable time driving back and forth to the house, I set up camp at a nearby library and got to work there.
It would be great to go into an office at the same time every day and to be able to work all day uninterrupted. Right now that's not a possibility.
I worked a while this morning at home, bouncing between my office and the kitchen (thank God for laptops and wireless access). Now I'm working across from the "Books On Hold" section.
I'd love to pay professional photographers to photograph my clients (both bands and businesses) every week, both in their offices / studios and on the road. Right now that is not a possibility.
Instead today I found a photographer who took some great shots of a client at a recent festival. I contacted her and arranged for use of those photos.
Book critic Lev Grossman said of writer Mary Karr that she "seems to have been born with the inability to write a dishonest – or boring – sentence.”
Not only is that an amazing compliment, it's also something to shoot for with your content. Nowadays a lot of people are obsessed with video, but that text box still has a lot of power.
During a recent discussion, a friend mentioned how in the old days (60s through 90s) people would buy a new album and block off time to sit and listen to it from the first note to the last.
It was not just on in the background while they cleaned or did laundry. They would sit down and do nothing but focus on the music. Maybe they would stare at the album cover, but that's as far as the multi-tasking went.
I definitely did that. Maybe not with every album I bought. But when I was really excited about a new release, that was always the plan. Sometimes, even though I played it on a stereo system, I would listen through headphones so I could better immerse myself in the experience.
A connection was made.
The general consensus among my friends was that people probably do not do much of this anymore. For one thing, people are more about single songs than entire albums. Also people now tend to always do something else while they listen to music. Often they are online.
And I realize that social media feeds this distraction. But I also think social media is a way to break through and connect with individuals.
If you create some really great, meaningful content, you can connect with someone. You can get them to pause, to think, to smile, etc. It might only be for a brief moment, but it can still be a connection.