Independent Artist Growth in the Social Media World

As Facebook has become more of a hub for artists to host their “website”, Facebook has also limited the visibility of these page’s posts. For example, I know of artist pages with around 2,000 ‘likes’ and yet, each one of their posts reaches only around 200-300 people. Why is this? Because Facebook wants these pages to pay for visibility. This can make public relations challenging.

Facebook reach.

Facebook reach.

I am speaking strictly from a social media standpoint. Facebook is the main output for bands to post news and information that they want to reach their fans. Twitter works as well, but a tweet’s lifespan is much shorter than a Facebook post. Also, less people use Twitter than Facebook. For example, I’d say about 95% of my friends use Facebook. I would guess that roughly 50-60% of my friends have Twitter. People spend more time on Facebook than Twitter, thus making Facebook the main hub for posting updates.

To battle this, artists must utilize full blown social media campaigns. Using one or two outlets isn’t going to cut it. You need a hashtag, an Instagram post, a Soundcloud sound that should be getting reposted, a Facebook status that generates shares and comments, the list goes on.

For example, when an artist independently releases a song, he/she must utilize every outlet of the Internet to ensure that their sound is heard where they want it heard. Blogs are the streamline to Internet music success. Having your song blogged is an exponential growth process. One blog post leads to three others, which leads to 9 others, and the growth continues. In addition to having your song blogged, you need your social media outlets within those blog posts so that people know where to find you. Then you need to stay active on all those social medias so that you stay relevant.

Video growth statistics

Video growth statistics

If an artist has a PR team, the team can be doing this for the artist. They can email blogs, post status, tweet, post on Instagram, etc. However for an independent artist, getting a song to catch Internet momentum is a struggle in itself. Even if you have one of your songs trends, if you don’t release another one within two weeks, you’re going to get forgotten rather quickly.

Staying relevant in the Internet music community is literally like staying afloat in a body of water. Just as you begin to sink, you must do something to stay afloat, but that something will only keep you afloat for so long. It is a constant battle against everyone who is trying to stay more relevant than you. But if you utilize a creative PR campaign each time, you can be successful.

For example, there is an EDM production/DJ duo known as “The Chainsmokers”. What is the title of their most recent single? “#SELFIE” How fitting, shortly after ‘selfie’ is added to the dictionary, they name a song #SELFIE. Now whenever someone uses that hashtag their song could potentially come up. They used a trending word, put a hashtag in front of it, and thats how they named their song. Great marketing idea.

It is campaigns like the one that The Chainsmokers used that bring artists to the Internet limelight and keep them relevant. It is a long and grueling process to grow your independent brand in the Internet world.

Response Post: PR Agencies in 2014

This post by Alison Kenney captured my interest because as of right now, working in a PR agency isn’t what I want to do. Sure, working for an agency would have its perks, but I want to help build a company. I want my work fuel the growth of a successful company. Being in an agency would totally result in helping a company grow, however I want to see my work grow and develop as I’m with a company.

Alison Kenney’s post made some interesting points. She referenced Tom Foremski stating that PR agencies should get into the ad agency business. I completely agree with this. In today’s digital world, PR and advertising essentially go hand in hand. Companies seem evermore obsessed with groundbreaking ad campaigns and PR stunts. Due to the extensive use of the Internet and other digital media, some of these viral video ads that companies use to garner attention essentially are PR stunts. They will film or create a scenario that will garner a lot of publicity, and then use it as their advertisement.

Example one: type “Volvo” into YouTube. Before you’re even done typing, YouTube’s first drop-down suggestion is “Volvo Van Damme”

This video is a publicity stunt/advertisement hybrid. The video doesn’t boast product details like your traditional commercial. They used celebrity Claude van Damme’s balancing act to display the stability steering of Volvo trucks. Its videos like these that make Tom Foremski’s suggestion that PR firms should capitalize on the advertisement market, a viable suggestion.

The ad did two things. It went viral. It communicated the product’s abilities.

So if PR firms embrace advertisements as well, they can offer a client both advertising and public relations. Two birds with one stone. Everyone wins. The client only deals with one firm (PR & ad), and the firm gets paid for two services instead of just one.

In 2014 I think that good public relations will turn into advertising. Not directly, but in a transitional sense. The way to garner attention for your company is always transitioning from one thing to the next. Companies are realizing that interesting media sells a message/image/product more than a typical advertisement does. At the minimum, a captivating ad will make the company memorable. Memorable companies are talked about. Talking about a company is advertising.

From a music industry standpoint, most PR is done from within. Each band/artist/label/etc has its own PR department because company image/message/sound is what sells music. Music is sold because a band’s sound is trusted. To take my post full circle, this is the kind of PR I want to do. I want to create campaigns for a band/artist and make their name and image marketable and recognizable. I know that this dips into marketing, but that ties back to what I was saying earlier. PR is transitioning into a more encompassing role due to the digital world, and agencies will always be changing to adapt to the market.

PR Agencies in 2014, by Alison Kenney

The Influence of Publicity

A lot of people that I encounter on a daily basis do not have a basic understanding of how the music industry functions. They think most artists achieve their fame via their own individual artistry, and maybe with the help of a record label. In actuality, any artist that has hit the music circuit on even a national level, has reached that level due to one main thing: publicity. People are interested in what other people are interested in. The more someone is in the media, the more interesting a person becomes to the general public. Artists who are continually in the public spotlight have successful music campaigns 9/10 times. This is not by accident. As an example, take a look at Miley Cyrus’ recent antics. On August 25th, at the MTV VMAs, Miley “twerked” on singer Robin Thicke. The former Disney childstar had officially left her adolescent image. Her VMA actions blew up the Internet as sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube became overran with videos, images, and comments regarding Miley’s actions. A short two weeks later, on September 5, 2013, Miley releases her music video for “Wrecking Ball”. The video features a shocking image of Miley swinging nude on a wrecking ball in a small construction site. These two stunts did exactly what they were meant to do. They launched Miley into the stratosphere of Internet hype. They were both so unexpected that the general public didn’t know how to react. However, there was one reaction that was expected, record sales.

30 days after the “Wrecking Ball” video, Miley’s new album “Bangerz” was released. This resulted in Miley having the highest net sales in one week for a woman in 2013, the album went #1 on Billboard and sold over 500k copies. Selling 500k copies of an album in today’s digital age is only known to the artists who stay in the media spotlight.

Vijat Mohindra

Vijat Mohindra

What is the point of all this? That great publicity is what sells records. Of course the artist needs to get to the point where they can afford a great publicity team, but once the artist has reached this point, the publicity team does the rest. The timing of Miley’s two stunts in August and September were the farthest thing from an accident. It was timed to perfection where the Internet would see “Miley” everyday for a month straight. The music industry is sculpted by PR teams as they are the ones who control the direction of an artist’s image. Miley is not the only person to have their image and media presence lead to consistent media coverage. Deadmau5’s image (a mouse head), and his internet rants are no mistake. They give him a presence in the media. His name and brand are extremely recognizable. What magazine had him on their cover last year? Rolling Stone. Even my parents know who Deadmau5 and Miley Cyrus are. Successful music artists reach their fame via publicity teams, because these teams know how to keep an artist/band relevant in the eyes of the general public. People want music that is current, and the more current and relevant an artist/band seems, the more their records will sell.

Another example as how publicity aided the careers of Britney Spears & Madonna.

PR is essential in the Music Industry

– CJ Huntzinger

Response Post: Ghost Writing in the Blogosphere

I knew this piece would connect with me the moment I read the title. First off, what is ghost writing? It is when someone/something (group, company, etc) publishes a piece of work as their own because they have bought the rights. Kel Kelly’s post about ghost writing in the blogosphere resonates quite strongly with me. The post covers the presence of ghost writing in the blogosphere, and Kelly says it is “deceitful and at it’s very core sits a big, fat, hairy lie.” (Kelly). She states that the difference between blog ghost writing, and book ghost writing is that the blogosphere thrives on authenticity. Posting a piece on your blog as your own when you in fact did not write it, is the antithesis of authenticity.

Credit: Mixmag

Credit: Mixmag

Now, how does this connect with me and the music industry? Currently music producers in the electronic music scene are coming under fire for using ghost producers. Some of the world’s most notable producers/DJs pay off producers to release a track as their own. In my eyes this is fraud. Music is an art form, just as much as writing is, and releasing a piece of art as your own, when you did not create it is wrong. It is a bold lie to your fanbase. You are lying to your very supporters in order to garner more recognition, which will in turn lead to making more money. To break it down, it is paying for fame. These DJs/producers pay for these tracks because they feel it will boost their notoriety, thus leading to more gigs.

To expand on this, the pop music world has been using ghost writers essentially as long as pop music has been around. The pop star is a basically a figurehead. They are a sometimes talented musician who is handed lyrics, an instrumental track to sing over, and are told how to sing the lyrics. They are a robot for a record label, who goes and sells the artist’s records for money. To the general audience, the pop star gains recognition, when a lot of times, all they did was follow orders from the producer, composer and writer.

Ghost writing is very prominent in the music industry and is practiced in other artisitc outlets like blog writing. I understand ghost writing from the true writer’s standpoint. They want money, recognition, etc. Maybe they want to make music for a living, but don’t want to go on tour or deal with fame. Same goes for a writer.

Using ghost writers for your artistic brand is something I will never respect. I am totally on-board with how Kel Kelly feels towards ghost writing. It is a lie.

Ghosts In The Blogosphere

Introductory Post

CJ Huntzinger

CJ Huntzinger

This blog, run by CJ Huntzinger, is aiming to take a deeper look at PR in the music industry. I seek to obtain an extensive knowledgebase base  regarding the PR field in the music industry. Topics in this blog will vary from music jobs outside of LA, to upcoming music companies (PR, Events, Artist Management), to the history of PR in the music industry.  I want my blog to represent the latest changes in the music industry, in addition to an overarching scope of how the public relations market functions. This blog will be my tool to not only educate myself, but to also improve on my writing skills. The goal of this blog is to research on the current state of PR, and how it will affect my job search. I hope to expand on the connections and resources that I will discover in order to boost my reputation and find a job opportunity. I hope to make this blog not only interesting from a written content standpoint, but also from a visual standpoint. We are in a visual age where images carry more weight and interest than your average text post.

As an example of something I may cover is this: how PR people can use Soundcloud to their advantage
Soundcloud PR