Social Networking & Blogging In Today’s Music Business

by Moe Arora on November 10, 2008

Ariel Publicity has just launched their Cyber PR Urban blog, as a service to aspiring artists & musicians in the urban music genre.

Cyber PR Urban’s Christina Duren, was kind enough to reach out to me for an interview for the launch.

Below is the transcript of the interview, in which we discussed social media, and how artists today can use social networks to their benefit:

Cyber PR: With the music industry shift into the digital world, what would be the best advice to give an artist looking to start a social networking strategy?

Me: I’d suggest for artists to first figure out what their goals are. A lot of people (artists, DJs, producers, managers, labels, etc) jump into things without first understanding the medium, the purpose or even themselves.

What I mean by that is; what do you wish to achieve by starting an online strategy? Do you want to sell music, concert tickets, merchandise, or are you just focused on raising your brand awareness at the moment?

Most people will say they want to do it all, and that’s fine, but you need to have a strategy.

One of the most useful pieces of advice I can offer anyone is to draw it out. Go get a big whiteboard and write down each of your goals on the board in a circle. Then figure out if there’s a way of connecting each of those goals to one another. You’re basically playing “connect the dots”. If there is something on the board that cannot be connected to anything else, then you either have to find a way to make it connect, or push it to the side for the time being. What this does is it allows you to understand your overall strategy and how each of your goals interacts with one another.

Too many people try to do too much at the same time but never figure out how to take full advantage or make the most use of all their avenues. How many times do we see startup record labels that also claim to have a fashion line, a sports agency, an energy drink and 18 other products or services? These people don’t have a strategy. They have a bunch of dots on the whiteboard that don’t connect. Connect your dots – that’s the first step in creating a real strategy; for your brand and for your career.

Once you have this in place, then coordinate how you will execute each phase of your promotional plan. If you have a team of multiple people helping to update all of your sites and networks, then make sure you’re all in sync with one another. There’s nothing worse than an artist whose MySpace page conflicts with information on their website and their Facebook group.

First coordinate then execute. If you don’t handle yourself like a professional, nobody will take you seriously and you’ll be left complaining about how hard it is to break into the industry with the rest of the procrastinators and unorganized artists.

What would be your top 5 social networking sites recommendations you would give to an artist to get on to promote themselves online?

It depends on what your goals are and what markets you’re focused on, but for the most part:

Twitter
Kyte/Qik.com
Facebook
MySpace
YouTube

What was your goal in starting makingthemogul.com?

It actually started with the name oddly enough. I came up with the name Making The Mogul a few years back. I had started my first internship at a major label and Donald Trump had just launched the show, The Apprentice. Everybody used to joke around calling me “the real apprentice” due to my work ethic and the fact that I’d never go home until the last bus ran.

At the same time, Diddy had taken over the Making The Band franchise and it was a major hit. I barely watched any television, but those were 2 shows I’d always make sure I caught. I loved the drive and hustle that was needed to survive and succeed.

With those 2 being amongst my favorite things to watch at the time, I always thought there should be a show that mixed The Apprentice with Making The Band. A show where people compete to make it in the business side of the music business.

We ended up getting one TV series that was almost amongst those lines, BET’s “Ultimate Hustler”. I say “almost” because the show didn’t seem to have a defined goal; if you win The Apprentice, you work for Donald Trump, if you win Making The Band, you get signed to Bad Boy, but if you won Ultimate Hustler, you won a car, a new wardrobe and I think some cash. Didn’t make much sense to me.

We also had AOL’s web series, “Tha Biz”, which was more along the lines of what I wanted to see, but it was only aired online and didn’t really receive much of an audience.

I figured if nobody else is giving me the content I want to see, then why not create it myself. Years later, I decided that a blog was the best format for me to deliver my story. I might incorporate video and other elements into the blog later on, but for now, the blog is my main platform.

So my blog is my version of the show/story that I always wanted to see – the journey of a young professional in the music business. That’s makingthemogul.com.

What benefits have you received an music industry professional by starting a blog?

I’d definitely say exposure. When you work behind-the-scenes, it’s your job to put others in the spotlight, but that doesn’t necessarily put your name out there unless make a point to do so yourself. The problem is, a lot of people who attempt to put their names out there, do so in a very pretentious way. I call those people Diddy 2.0s. They suffer from the same complex as many confused artists who watch too much TV and don’t realize that there’s so much more to it. They see people like Diddy or Jay-Z who are making major business moves, and then fantasize about doing the same without first realizing just how much work goes into it.

For me, starting a blog was my way of putting my name out there without doing so in a pretentious way. If you read my blog, you’ll notice I don’t really discuss what projects I’m working on or whom I affiliate with that much. Once in a while, of course; but I generally only mention names when relevant. I prefer keep the subject focused on issues and opinions. My blog is about sharing information. Someone might learn something on my blog, and I also learn a lot from my readers. I’ve been very surprised to find out who reads my blog, but just through the comments, emails and channels like Twitter, I’m able to interact with others and converse casually. So we all learn from each other. I’d rather do that and have my name associated with being a source of information through my blog, rather than participate in the circus of Diddy 2.0s who just want attention.

Also, being in Montreal, Canada, the blog has helped expand my reach. A lot of my clients are US-based and I make it a point to reach out to different cities and go to conferences, events, etc to network, but I only have so much budget and time. The blog helps me keep my presence relevant at all times and helps me connect with people in cities I’ve yet to visit.

Even when I’m sitting on my couch at home in Montreal eating dinner & watching a movie – my blog is actively working on spreading my name and turning the handle on the doors I plan to open.

A recent NYU study found blogs to be more effective than Myspace in generating album sales, do you feel that blogs will be the new wave of the music industry in getting music promoted or just a phase that will soon fizzle out?

Blogs are essentially vigilante media outlets as opposed to the filtered voice of a major corporation, so when you’re reading something on a blog, you’re reading the voice of someone who actually listens to the music that they are reviewing and/or featuring.

This generally translates as conversation as opposed to a promo/advertisement that you’d get spammed with on other platforms. Between a conversation and an advertisement, which one do you think an audience will likely respond to? That’s what gives blogs a one-up on MySpace and often times major media outlets.

In terms of whether or not I see this trend lasting or not; I don’t believe that blogs will always remain in the format they’re currently presented, since mediums constantly change and evolve; however the concept behind personal tone vs advertisement will definitely stick around and will remain a staple in marketing communications. It’s been around for a while, but it’s become so much more accessible and globalised, while localized at the same time. That form of communication and accessibility is here to stay and anything that’s effective at attracting an audience like that will be used to promote music and nearly everything else in the marketplace.

Bloggers are continuing to get higher and higher in priority for labels, to the point where some blogs are getting first priority for exclusives before radio or television outlets. You look at that and then you see things like Perez Hilton getting a label deal with Warner. These are clear indications of the fact that times are not only changing, but that personal tone is becoming a serious player against blatant advertisments.

Times are changing.

Bloggers are the new A&R.

I’d like to know what you think. What do you agree with? What do you disagree with?

Leave a comment below and let me know.

Originally posted at CyperPRUrban.com

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