In spite of dodgy weather and major news events, the London Bloggers Meetup on the theme of Music, Blogging and Social Media was packed out. Bloggers, music biz types and techno heads all wanted to learn more about making the latest tech trends work for them over a couple of drinks in a cosy North London bar.
© London Bloggers
First speaker was Kitmonsters’ very own Terry Tyldesley, who began by explaining what it is we do here, and how our site is accessible, independent and artist-led. She thanked the artists who have all been so generous with their time so far, interviewees that are a mix of new artists like teen girl grunge band Skinny Girl Diet, Mercury nominees and music gurus like Matt Black and Martyn Ware.
Artists featured on here tend to stick around and become part of the family, so this is becoming more of a multi-author blog all the time, and there’s plenty of useful info for musicians thanks to some innovative web design.
Kitmonsters is superflexible, the web developer is a Bafta award winner. We’ve got something very special under the bonnet, so to speak.
© London Bloggers
Terry also quoted producer Jagz Kooner, who reckons that the whole music scene is ‘more punk now than it’s ever been’ in terms of people doing things themselves, as the traditional music industry collapses. At the moment, a lot of independent artists such as She Makes War, are making fantastic careers for themselves using social media, as it’s such an excellent way to connect with fans. However, there is a small downside.
Artists are getting absolutely overwhelmed by platforms and expectations and trying to be creative and feed these monsters all the time. Trying to contain this is hard. New platforms are popping up all the time: if you do a gig you get a profile and another page you have to fill, and the last thing you want is tumbleweed… Artists we talk to get nostalgic for MySpace, because it was all there, putting something in one place, brilliant for artists.
Terry’s final tips for bands were to have proper facts about yourself available, a mailing list, pics to download, not to forget about flyers and, when naming your band, pick something googleable.
I saw a band called Up, which is a terrible name for search engines, it just doesn’t register.
The next speaker was James Howard, Head of Music for Google+ in the UK. James started out as a computer scientist, and joined MySpace when they needed someone with his technical skills.
His first key piece of advice was ‘Don’t overpost, focus on what works’. He reminded us that blogs were there from the beginning of the internet, pretty much, and that the first wave of social media was all about the presence of the individual.
He pointed out that blogs allow us to hone our craft and create a place for ourselves, and explained how much of what we currently see online has been user-driven rather than created by corporations. Apparently, the whole hash tag thing on Twitter was started by users.
Of course, we at Kitmonsters know how much music matters, so we were glad to hear James say that music is the most socially impactful topic on the internet.
The biggest trending moments online in 2012 were all music-related. Saatchi said, ‘Music is the fastest shortcut we know to the heart.’ Google+ is heavily involved with music and musicians, it’s a way of adding an extra layer to your online presence, as everything you do is immediately linked to your blog and profile, and additional interest is generated every time someone likes something of yours.
Professor of Music Industries Innovation Andrew Dubber, from Birmingham City University, was the third speaker, and took a slightly different view.
Quite a lot of things James said make my hair stand on end. Content is only content from their perspective, to us it’s meaningful communication. Thinking of it as content is the point at which it becomes part of the economic system.
Andrew stressed that music is self-expression rather than salesmanship, and that musicians want to make their music meaningful to people. He also warned against overusing social media to market your music.
Your online friends… It’s great marketing strategy until they realise it’s marketing then they are not friends any more. Turning sociality into a market place when the whole purpose of being friends is to market stuff.. that’s so not the whole picture.
He told us about Hope and Social, a Leeds-based band whose whole intent and purpose is to bring people together to have a good time.
They have an amazing fanbase. They are not the most popular band in the world but they are a sustainable band. That is interesting because it never used to be like that, it was either lottery winners or nobodies, in music terms, either Justin Bieber or Madonna or nobody.
A Q&A session threw up a few more useful tips, such as the way in which making a name for yourself is incremental and if people know who you are, they will call you when they need you. As Terry advised bands: venues often have cancellations, and if you are on their radar you can get to play a gig that’s a step up the ladder.
Also discussed were the number of online platforms you need to be on if you want a workable Internet presence: everyone agreed that Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud are essential for bands, but that Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube are important as well.
We wound up with a great short performance from indie rock singer/guitarist Toufique Ali and a fantastic session of networking. Blog on, folks!