In my last post, I covered the advantages and disadvantages of multiple online identities, and briefly mapped out a model ideal. However, holding what I describe as a “strong” identity is only a starting point: one’s online profile must be developed to take full advantage of it.
UoSM2033 Topic 3: Discuss the ways in which an authentic online professional profile can be developed
There are countless ways to grow one’s online profile and I will analyse these though my eyes, those of an independent musician, looking at the experiences of other musicians.
WHAT DOES AN ONLINE PROFILE DO FOR A MUSICIAN?
Take a look at these two videos:
Both videos feature people who have been extremely successful through their online profiles. Gary Vaynerchuk’s has allowed him to develop a public brand (enabling the creation of new media, books etc.) whilst MatPat’s Game Theory series served as an online portfolio and enabled him to secure a job.
I would argue that the successful independent musician requires even greater interplay between their online profiles and offline selves than these examples; selling your music, as an extension of yourself, to your audience, the public, rather than selling yourself as a product to companies.
As I stated in my last reflection:
“The objectives of the online artist… should be audience expansion and audience retention.”
Fig. 1: The Audience Feedback Loop
My concept of the “Feedback Loop” is shown above; it displays the four main ways a musician develops relationships with audiences, and how these “Feed Back” into one another. Creating flow around the diagram retains and expands your audience by engaging them. Whilst the quality of your music, your performances and merchandise are minimally affected by the development of your online profile, your general profile and interaction with your audience are most certainly enhanced.
So, how do we make this a positive impact?
1) BUILDING BRAND
As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states in The Future of You,
“We are all individuals, but unless we are also a brand, our individuality will be invisible. Being a brand means showcasing that which makes you special, in a way that is distinctive (recognizable), predictable (consistent), and meaningful (it allows others to understand what you do and why).”
So, how do we manage this? Take the example of Adam Pacitti’s infamous EmployAdam campaign. A large part of its success, as Art Jonak states in his analysis, is that “Simple Sells”.
I adhere to this by employing the same graphics across my online profiles (See Fig. 2 & 3), and using a consistent colour scheme. The images represent who I am (Portrait) and what I’m about (Music – from one of my pieces).
Fig. 2: My current Profile Picture, which I use on all of my profiles
Fig. 3: My current cover and background image
These two images are now almost as synonymous with me as my name, and username MistmanX, which I hold almost exclusively across the web (Fig. 4).
Fig. 4: First Page of Google Results for “MistmanX” (08/11/2014) – All but one result is about me, though admittedly some others are not relevant to my music
2) POSTING CONTENT
The music industry has changed. People want to “try before they buy” (Hill). Record companies are no longer the most important ears to reach. Your AUDIENCE needs to hear your music.
The other major strength of Pacitti’s campaign was directly showcasing his skills; his video “cleverly weaves in his resume” (Jonak). This is really important, and, with dedicated platforms like YouTube and Bandcamp featuring easy integration into Facebook and Twitter profiles, there’s no excuse not to.
3) BEING GENUINE
It is, however, important that your social media does not appear to just be an online marketing campaign. Ari Herstand makes good points in his article, but of most interest here is his last point:
“…fans want to get to know you on an intimate level. They want to live vicariously through you.”
Whilst his final point is perhaps at the extreme end of this thinking, it is important that your personality comes through in your profiles; this is why I do not hesitate to tweet about Formula One or Video Games, and why Jørgen Munkeby’s Twitter profile is one of my favourites (See Fig. 5). Tweeting or retweeting about spam email, memorial concerts or strange art in his hotel, expands his personality beyond
“Singer/saxophonist/guitarist/composer for the Norwegian Blackjazz band [Shining]”
making him more relatable and engaging his audience.
Fig. 5: Jørgen Munkeby on Twitter (08/11/2014)
Ultimately, Social Media is just that; social. Numerous articles tackle this issue, from Dave Kusek’s on Hypebot to Joshua Smotherman’s on Cyber PR Music. The benefits of interacting openly with your followers are varied: adding a personal touch, allowing instant feedback and, perhaps most importantly, forming a community around you and your music.
The band hAND have an excellent conversational style on Twitter, actively inviting interaction from fans (See Fig. 6). My Twitter interactions with them made me even more interested in their music. Furthermore, and as a consequence, I went on to recommend them to friends, and they gained information from me, to guide them towards a new potential venue (See Fig. 7).
Ultimately, a community is far better at spreading the word about you through their friends, both on- and offline, than you could ever hope to on your own, auto-generating Feedback in your Feedback Loop. For instance, this news article by Damien Leech on Heavy Blog is Heavy reflects brilliantly on Townsend, Munkeby, Ihsahn and even myself, even if the mentioned collaboration is not yet happening. This content, created by a member of the artists’ communities, from the artists’ interactions with their communities, creates excitement, interest and engagement.
References & Bibliography
Burgess, C. (2014). Identity Crisis: How Many Online Identities Should You Have? The Progressive.
Burgess, C. (2014). Identity Crisis: A Reflection. The Progressive.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T. (2013). The Future of You. Harvard Business Review.
Herstand, A. (2014). 10 Reasons Why Your Band Is Failing At Social Media. Digital Music News.
Hill, A. (2013). Illegal downloaders ‘try before they buy’. Broadbandchoices.
Jonak, A. (2013). Case Study: Lessons from Employ Adam. Simple Sells.
Kusek, D. (2014). 10 Secrets Of Social Media For Musicians. HypeBot.com.
Leech, D. (2014). New Collaboration Featuring Ihsahn, Devin Townsend And Jørgen Munkeby? Heavy Blog is Heavy.
Pacitti, A. (2013). EMPLOYADAM. Adam Pacitti.
Smotherman, J. (2013). Are You Guilty? – 4 Ways Indie Musicians Are Killing Social Media. Cyber PR Music.
Calum Burgess (@MistmanX)
hAND (band) (@handtheband)
Jørgen Munkeby (@jorgenmunkeby)
Gary Vaynerchuk Teaches Basic Social Media Principles to CNN on TopCultured.com YouTube Channel.
Draw My Life – Game Theory, MatPat, and YOU! on The Game Theorists YouTube Channel.