Being among the first to adapt to a new idea can either be a huge advantage or a huge waste of time. Adapting to a new idea after everyone else is almost always a huge waste of time.
I’ve been thinking about this more and more as people ask me about building a web presence and developing internet marking strategies for musicians. We don’t need to look any further than the major record labels to see what happens when you resist change. The world might be a very different place, at least for musicians, if labels had been quick to monetize downloads. But they missed the bus are having a really hard time adapting to the new landscape.
When it comes to independent musicians, especially those like me that are relatively obscure, the only advantage we have is our adaptability. Change while the changing is good and stay ahead of the curve.
One way to avoid getting lost in the crowd is to arrive before the crowd. When MOG first hit the internet back in 2006, I immediately created a profile and started talking about the music I was listening to and the music I was making. A few months in I was one of their first featured artists. I don’t use MOG anymore and the site has changed quite a bit, but I know I’m still in the sphere of consciousness (or iTunes’ library) of several of the Moggers I connected with because they either joined my mailing list or we’ve since connected on similar music sites. I credit a number of these connections to having that feature early on.
I’ve been seeing a similar pattern on Twitter. I was nowhere near the first to use Twitter, but luckily some friends pestered me enough to create a profile that in 2008 I signed up. At first I was just one more person staring at my screen, scratching my head over what I could possibly write in 140 characters that anybody would care about. Eventually I got in my own groove and figured out how to make Twitter work for me.
As more of my musician friends start using Twitter, I notice they have greater difficulty getting followers. The site has grown so much that people are less likely to follow others. Once you’re following a few hundred people, it’s hard to follow many more and be able to pay attention to what’s going on. I wouldn’t go as far as to say joining Twitter at this point is a waste of time, but it definitely takes more patience and effort to make it effective.
A third and final example would be the use of iMixes to promote your music on iTunes. I started doing this with a few other musicians in 2006. We all saw a significant bump in our sales. Four years later, the strategy is still helpful but not nearly as effective. Not only are more musicians are doing it, but the iTunes Store has evolved and unfortunately doesn’t recommend music as deeply as it once did.
I guess my point here is that regardless of how pointless a new social media website appears, or how few people are doing it, you have to give it a shot. You may end up wasting some time, but the hits will be well worth the misses. At the very least, you’re building a larger internet footprint, making it easier for more people to follow links back to your website. Your website, naturally, should be at the center of your web presence.
If you want to know where to go next, get your music on Bandcamp and The Sixty One. I’m also checking out Official.fm. There’s something new every week. Good luck!