Music 2.0 Is Full Of Sh… Sheep

Music 2.0 Is Full of Sh... Sheep

I’m about to break one of the cardinal sins of blogging: I’m going to tell you why I haven’t updated recently.

I know I’m notorious for my gaps in posting, but that was usually due to time management issues, or writer’s block, or laziness. This time it was for a different reason.

I’m annoyed.

When I originally launched this blog, it was to discuss topics involving the music industry and chronicle a few of my experiences in it. While I did that for a while, it forced me to stay current on industry news so I would have new content to discuss & post. I always made it a point to stay up-to-date on everything before, but now I had to do so more actively & was set up to receive updates left, right and center from every site related to music news, music marketing, and everything to do with “Music 2.0”. I had a pool of information to go through every day.

As I kept up to date on everything, I became increasingly annoyed with what I kept hearing on every blog, newsletter and in every conference seminar and general discussion.

I know a few of my peers are going to hate me for saying this, but the truth is, most advice about Music 2.0 and “succeeding in today’s music business” is bullshit. There are very few real leaders around nowadays; the rest just regurgitate the same few buzz words over and over until somebody believes them enough to pay them – mind or money.

Same thing with “social media experts”;  most of them have no clue what the hell they’re talking about. And when you actually take a closer look, you realize that most of them are each other’s only fans. It’s a flock of sheep supporting a flock of sheep. But where’s the leader?

Although, I’m annoyed with the flood of  these self-proclaimed experts, the real problem is not them – it’s the people who follow them.

Is this not the entertainment industry?

The entertainment industry is the biggest cultural influencer on the planet. So then, why are so many people who are supposed to be leaders and influencers still following?

The industry can complain about the internet, and leaks, and everything else that’s not within its complete control – and I’m not saying those aren’t issues – but one of the biggest problems is the lack of real leaders and innovators.

Everybody wants a ready-made template to achieve success. If there was a ready-made template, that ensures everybody success, don’t you think everybody would jump on it immediately?

Oh wait, it already exists – they’re called trends.

Neptunes & Lil Jon tracks are what’s hot? Then get a Neptunes or Lil Jon track.

Auto-Tune hit big? Then Auto-Tune every vocal you ever speak, rap, sing or bark.

Ustream is poppin? Then live stream yourself every night so other bored people can guess what toppings you got on your pizza delivery to the studio.

Skinny jeans are in? Then wear the skinniest jeans until your little soldiers stop swimming.

Once something is proven to work once or twice, everybody jumps on it and milks it until it’s completely over-saturated and the audience hates you for it. It’s like a bunch of hungry cockroaches, feasting away until the thing they’re feeding from is completely devoured.

And then, of course, you have the people who argue with everything.

An artist or group will actually find a strategy that works for them, yet, they’re greeted by unsuccessful artists and wannabe marketing strategists crying that it only worked because the successful artist had A, B and C in place, and without A, B and C, they couldn’t have done it.

Don’t you think maybe that’s why they did it?

If someone develops a strategy that works for them, then it works for them because it was made FOR THEM!

Why would anybody stop themselves from making progress just because it can’t be converted into an industry standard? Fuck an industry standard! If you can’t develop an effective strategy for yourself, that’s your own problem. Stop whining about it and go back to the drawing board to develop one that can.

Like I said earlier, the entertainment industry is the primary influencer of mainstream culture – keyword: influencer.

That means you lead; you don’t follow.

That means you make the trends, you don’t follow them.

There’s a plethora of “Music 2.0” advice out there, and while some of it may be valid, everything should be taken with a grain of salt.

The reality is, technology and social media are developing far quicker than most can develop strategies for. I was creating Facebook campaigns in 2005 (while it was still only for college & university students), and Twitter campaigns at the beginning of 2008; and while they’re both still useful, I’m already developing strategies for other upcoming social networks and mediums, for the near future.

It’s about paying attention to the direction that technology and culture are moving. It’s about experimenting, and trial and error. It’s about using your own mind to develop a strategy that works for you.

Anybody who tells you “_____ is the only way to be relevant now” is a sheep.

Stop putting your career in the hands of random people who speak nothing but buzzwords. If the idea of social media or new technology intimidates you, then find someone to help, but what matters most is that you know yourself, and you know your music. Develop around that.

Stop changing yourself to fit a marketing plan. Change your marketing plan to fit you.

I guess that’s it for now. Just remember that as entertainers, and those who work in entertainment, you are meant to be leaders. So stop following and LEAD!

85 thoughts on “Music 2.0 Is Full Of Sh… Sheep

  1. Rebecca

    Great points you’ve made. I don’t work at a record label, but the company I work at mainly deals with music, so we stay on top of all the trends and sites but you’re right, companies and especially artists have to think of new ways that make sense to them instead of copying everybody else.

  2. Daniel "Danny Dee" Aguayo

    I couldn’t agree with you more, their are few leaders and even fewer of the spectators that actually even run labels or work with artists.

    Ian Rogers himself said that was a major problem and he began managing Get Busy Committee.

    I hear you on developing strategies for upcoming soc nets, geo location currently has my attention. I think Foursquare is doing some interesting stuff, there is something to be said about connecting both your online & offline activities.

    Great post!

    – Danny

    1. Moe Arora

      @Danny – Thanks!

      Yours is one of the few sites that I constantly recommend to others because the content you offer is based on news, case studies and potential strategies, as opposed to biased advertorials many music 2.0 marketers spew out.

      I’ve been checking out FourSquare as well. It’s not as popular in Montreal as it is in LA & NY, yet, but it definitely shows more potential than other “tracking” social networks like Google Latitude. I think FourSquare’s voluntary “check-in” offers more control and privacy, giving it a one-up on others.

  3. Phil Bowyer

    I think you’ve made some great points. Everyone is trying to figure out how the music industry will work today, but the reality is that the old school model doesn’t work anymore, and there is no definite replacement.

    Some things are one-size-fits-all (like building a community around yourself/band), but others need (and should) to be tailored to the artist/band. What works for a country band, won’t work for a metal band (although it would be cool to see Eddie from Iron Maiden come out and bite Taylor Swifts head off).

    When I hear all these “experts” who say that x works, or y works, I can’t help but think of that old Kansas song…. “If I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know”.

  4. Harold Gutierrez

    I appreciate your post! I think that over time, we will hopefully see the companies focused on developing and deploying (successful) internet marketing strategies prosper, and the fly-by-night companies just fail once the trend is over.

    It will be interesting to see how music and tech pan out in the next 5-10 years.


  5. Jay Broyer

    i totally agree man and i myself have become a little tired of hunting down new information that turns out to be the same information and then running into people trying to monetize that information. I ahve decied i have my strategies online in place everything is linked and now I’m jsut going to go out play shows and get emails addresses and not stress all the music 2.0 jnk that is making my head spin.

    Lets just make some damn music already!

  6. James R

    FINALLY !!! Somebody has finally actually stated this shit . Music is just a game of ” Follow the leader ” . People are afraid to be themselves due to fear of society accepting them or not . So instead they just follow what they see on videos and hear on the radio . I’ll shoot myself if i ever even thought copying anything these idiots do . ” Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. ”

    good article
    keep going

  7. fulldeck

    You make valid points across the boards. It’s I can relate to you being pissed off too. I’m there right now I deal with some people, I had one person tell me “let see if your at where the radio is right now”, but the only thing that sells at the end of the day is great music and some of these people that are suppose are scare of being different

  8. Dustin "ShomiOnline" Porchia

    Great article Moe!

    I was reading a article about someone saying how the internet is being slowly taken away from us. But the article was more of a rant and lacked any valid points. When I started to read your article I was thinking the same thing but then you backed it up with valid points. :-)

    As an up-and-coming producer and webmaster, I try to keep up with all the “Music 2.0” tools & advice and start to get overwhelmed myself. It’s a LONG NEEDED breath of fresh air when I see that others are fed up with this whole 2.0 thing.

    I always tell my team of producers (and the numerous artists I know) to “Think outside the box”.

    Again, great article…I will be posting a trackback on my twitter profile.

  9. 2Serenity aka TheJennTaFur

    Agree agree and AGREE.

    I have this conversation all the time with so many others. It’s beyond frustrating but aggravating when you are trying to lead but then you don’t even see any positives because their is so much negativity and con artists out here.

    Continue to lead but don’t get discouraged. Use your talent in another industry or create such a niche within this social media field that others would be clamoring for your advice.

    At one point I thought I saw some changes in the music 2.0 industry but recently seeing that myspace music acquired imeem I feel like this entire industry is going to continue to have it’s issues with music conglomerates vs. the independents.

    My focus is elsewhere now but I’m so thankful that I found you out here sharing your wealth of knowledge!

  10. Amani

    Very well written sir. I like it when you get annoyed. Just keep at it. You already know the leaders. Keep following them to stay ahead of the game. Foursquare is good for 2010. Keep an eye on the mobile apps for Droid, iPhones and even blackberry’s. The future (near future) is all about apps. Also, real time search (which Google launched yesterday but Friendfeed was on 8 months ago) is going to be “hot”. Besides that, more niche platforms (maybe Google wave) and the continued growth of the mobile games will be worth watching.

  11. Lee Jarvis

    Great points you make, certainly a kick in the butt to make sure my posts and advice is tailored to specific artists / businesses, and to share some of my results as ideas with potential, rather than blueprints to follow.

    Great Blog, keep it up!

    Lee Jarvis.

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  13. thomas

    i’ll just say as an independent artist that I completely agree with you and I’ve long since decided that the entire ‘industry’ is something I can and will live without. Well said.

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  16. BeingAKB

    Moe, I couldn't agree more with the points you've made. The biggest problem with “social media” and “digital marketing” templates is that they don't take into account an artist's originality or, more importantly, need to stay authentic to their audience.

    The use of Music 2.0 tools requires a well-planned strategy, or at least an endgame. As you mentioned, jumping on the “latest-and-greatest” is worthless. It leads to over-saturation and dilutes the power of the marketing tool. Musicians should really think about a few things before using any promotional tool (digital, social media, or traditional):

    – Why I am using this tool?
    – How can this tool help me connect with my audience/fans?
    – Will this tool help translate into more music/ticket sales? If so, how?

    Answering these (or similar) questions helps the artist figure out if they are in fact using a marketing tool that is in line with their mission and their fans' interests. If the tool isn't helping you make real, authentic connections with your fans (that's the whole point of music, right?), why bother with it?

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  18. Kevin English

    Hi Moe. I was responding to the overall tone of your post. I respect the place you are in right now, I’ve been there myself. My commentary was to prove that people are listening very closely to what you write and not just retweeting your words. I went back to review your post again and you’re right, we do agree on most things. Here is where we differ: The 5M or so independent artists online are not sheep, but in fact real people looking for direction. Saying, “Be a leader”, just isn’t good enough. I don’t think you’re readers are looking for THE answer, but instead AN answer that they can tailor to their own situation…as I was when I started my blog. Don’t stop posting. Your flock (wait…scratch that) Your people need you.

    1. Moe Arora

      @Kevin – Thanks for your reply to my comment on your post.

      After reading your reply, I have to disagree (respectfully, of course). When I write “be a leader”, this is not a “cop out”. I’m asking others to question the information they receive elsewhere and to challenge themselves to create their own strategies.

      I understand what you mean when you say “I don’t think you’re readers are looking for THE answer, but instead AN answer that they can tailor to their own situation”, however that’s still enforcing the mentality of adopting a templated strategy, only with few modifications.

      My post is not saying that all marketing advice is frivolous, or that you shouldn’t research actively – I’m simply challenging people to create strategies that make sense to them – to their music, to their art, and to their brand.

      There is tons of advice out there – some is useful, but most is garbage. The main point however, is that while scanning all this information and filtering out the noise from the gold, people need to remember that they have their own vision as well – so use that vision and start creating your own strategies that make sense for you.

      A template strategy will lead to a template career (even if you make those few modifications). Now, more than ever, is the time to try something new; so why not challenge yourself to do so?

      I hope this helps clear up any misunderstanding.

      Thanks again.

      1. Kevin English

        Hey Moe,

        Hope all is well.

        All of this commentary is meant with the utmost respect. In fact I made it a point to say how you inspired me to start my own blog. I think we are similar in many ways and come from similar backgrounds in the music, but no one can tell exactly what you were feeling when you wrote this thought provoking post.

        Maybe I have it wrong, maybe I’m reading in between the lines…but what ever I felt sparked a strong enough reaction for me to respond publicly. I’m not a big commenter on blogs but this post inspired me beyond the norm.

        I’ve definitely learned from our discourse and I hope others have benefited as well. At this point I’ll leave the discussion as is for others to weigh in.

        Thanks again for your thoughts and theories. I look forward to reading more from you in the new year.



      2. Moe Arora

        @Kevin – Definitely; I appreciate your post and comments. It’s crucial to have this kind of open dialog – without it we would never be challenged to open up our minds.

        I’ve been browsing through the rest of your site and really enjoy your posts. I’ve added you to my blogroll.

        Thanks again Kevin.

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  21. Mikah

    You basically said what everybody thinks but nobody wants to admit. I’ve always agreed with this idea but couldn’t find the right words to express it. Great post!

    And to Kevin English, I just read your post after seeing your comment & Moe’s reply. I think you missed his point. Also, I really doubt he would stop posting just because of your criticism.

    1. Kevin English

      Hi Mikah,

      I don’t claim to have the power to stop Moe from posting. These were his own words.

      “I’m about to break one of the cardinal sins of blogging: I’m going to tell you why I haven’t updated recently. I know I’m notorious for my gaps in posting, but that was usually due to time management issues, or writer’s block, or laziness. This time it was for a different reason. I’m annoyed.”

    2. Moe Arora

      @Mikah – I didn’t think Kevin meant that I would stop posting due to his post, but rather due to my own comment about being annoyed with the current flood of noise being the reason for my sporadic updates.

      Thanks for your comment; I really hope you enjoy the rest of the content on the blog!

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  25. BobWhatts

    Just discovered your blog through, and really like what you write!
    This topic is something that touches most parts of..of..everything. Art. Music. Fashion. (maybe not sports).
    There always has to leaders, both because people are afraid to really stick out and take chances, also because some people need to leech on others creativity and their ways of thinking in new ways.
    “One cannot merely define men and women in terms of the webs of significance they themselves spin, since […] few do the actual spinning while the […] majority is simply caught.” – Scholte, on concept of culture.

  26. JNB

    YES!!! You took the words right out of my mouth. I enjoyed the post and some of the other posts I’ve seen. I’m subscribing to your blog. Awesome!

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  29. Runthistown Matt

    Couldnt agree more…Almost every person out there claiming to be a “music industry consultant” is a 40 year old guy who had his hay-day in the mid-90s and watched his career self-destruct right in front of him as the music industry went into a paradigm shift. Now that same guy apparently is the de-facto expert on how to become successful and monetize oneself in the NEW MUSIC BIZ, the very same one that wiped this guy and his illustrious resume out. hmm, I bet somebody like that is probably is really knowledgeable and innovative when it comes to this Music 2.0 shit right.

    Im also sick of this as well….I’m in the midst of launching my own music industry website Feb. 2010 where it will be a collection of reports, insights, tastemaker interviews, and diaries of 6 friends (all under 25) who all graduated from USC and are all actively working in the music biz in different aspects. I hope some original & more importantly relevant insight by newer entrepreneurs and those working within the biz will actually mean something to people.

    I will say Moe, I like your blog & your style…literally almost 99% of the other shit I read is all repeatedly recessitated information and ReTweets of other peoples opinions. No creativity or innovation, just “hey look what so and so said…this is the norm for the music biz now”. stay up, peace

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