Reflections #1 and 2 songs
Jonathan Sebastian Knight
Around a week ago SR Projects received a request for some marketing copy for a new website. It would have been easy to just give it a go once asked. A cyber connection had passed on my details without really knowing who I am and what I do, no one would have been the wiser, but a job wouldn’t have been done as well as it could have been! Commitment to integrity, honesty, authenticity is so easily undermined by the ease of a mouse click!
A moment’s stock taking and not being much of a ‘writer’ nor an expert in marketing/PR confirmed that common sense alone would not be enough to satisfactorily complete this much needed paid job. I politely declined but activated some real business/friendship connections to find the required expertise and skills elsewhere for the potential customer who will hopefully be thrilled with her copy for her new website written by an expert!
This brief moment alongside conversations with friends and family and recent ventures into a number of new projects (so far all in their infancy and without ‘earning-a-living-potential’) in part facilitated by the connective potential of the cyber world, as well as a friend’s attempts to turn a passion into an enjoyable and financially viable pursuit in the world of live music sparked further reflections about living in an era so intensely and indiscriminately ‘connected’ – at least through cyber ties – that the inherent detachment from and loss of substance, quality and tangible ties sadly remains invisible and neglected.
The potential is certainly evident nevertheless without remaining firmly grounded and attached to real space and real people relying on the cyber world for marketing and getting information to potential customers can be more flawed than useful as the following example might illustrate:
I am putting on a live music event with arguably some fantastic bands and decide to make the most of social media, website, facebook , twitter, friends’ blogs. Within minutes of adding the event I have around 30 people down as liking it and ‘going’ (click ‘going’ or ‘maybe’ on FB which enables you to invite more friends too). Event day arrives and FB tells me 90 are attending (Brilliant – it will be a sell-out!), another 30 ‘maybes’ and around 700 invited haven’t responded. Actual ticket sales: 30 ish. Facit: I have spent a significant amount of time this week tweeting more or less the same group of FB followers as well as updating facebook alerting people to potential ticket shortage. Gig happens: only about 40 paying live music enthusisasts, music enjoyment factor: great, financial loss and the ingenuity of FB posts on 90 people’s statuses that they HAVE attended the gig for posterity and all to see!)
It strikes me that inherently the total information overload as well as the internet enabling the sheer number of people to broadcast their news and thoughts (including me via this blog) undermines the majority of that information being accessed and processed meaningfully as well as many people, addictively, losing benefits of sleep for fear of missing something in a news stream! (FOMO)
By the time one has spent hours reading newsstreams on FB, twitter, the various blog posts as well as making sure everyone sees ‘how connected’ one is by clicking like/attending etc. on all the worthy/cool events and posts a whole evening is gone sitting in front of a computer instead of being out in the real world enjoying real people and LIVE music at one of the many venues offering entertainment by some talented people… in the very least one knows what everyone else is intending to be up to or how tired everyone is after a night with a screen and keyboard!
This week alone I had 15 gig invitations for the next fortnight (5 on the same night) – no, I am not bragging or trying to point out how popular I am just illustrating how futile the cyber world connections actually are: As part of reflecting upon this topic I looked at them each in detail. There was nothing remarkable about any of them! These invites to some extent are just the post-modern equivalent of junk mail through my letterbox – which ends mostly unread in the recycling bag.
My enjoyment of events is largely down to bands’ live appeal and atmosphere within the crowd (always better with a crowd who actually love the music rather than just chat all the way through).No real way of knowing if I’d like the bands/musicians/comedians etc. live or not. As all invitations are a fairly generic FB format there is not enough to create my curiosity. None of the actual events by different promoters displayed a sufficiently distinct identity to make a positive choice, nor are there that many truly outstanding bands instantly catching ear, heart and mind.
The Polite Room manages to be a distinct event to showcase music: the venue, distinct format and monthly schedule (every first Friday of a month) and it’s eye catching logo means i can identify their information easily in any news stream and having enjoyed evenings in the past I mark down the next one in my calendar and keep an eye out for information, and I have never yet been disappointed: even when I once didn’t enjoy the music by one band as much as I had hoped the evening was great due to the overall event concept and the occasional twist (February’s Fernando being a good example here).
Another difficulty for creating sufficient interest for any one event – and potentially not making a loss never mind a profit – is the fact that a lot of the local/regional bands gig goers are spoilt for choice when and where to see a particular artist whose progress they follow and would really like to catch live.
Personally, I’d rather have variety across genres and new bands (great promoter for this is the-outsider) for my nights out and just occasionally maybe see someone again I really loved live. Of course, one could contractually agree a temporal/geographical exclusion with the artist thereby getting all their followers in one place and guaranteeing a more profitable gig, but ultimately, musicians want to play and with many promoters/venues offering slots promoters have to work harder on their USP to create a distinct event enticing gig goers to see certain artists at their ‘unique’ event rather than a week later at another promoters. An instantly recognizable, likeable public (online) identity, a good concept with the odd twist for the events and stamina and patience to build up a regular clientele as well as the sporadic, clever use (therefore more noticeable) of social media may go a long way to enticing more gig goers away from their homes and screens to enjoy live music and events in the real world and the regular ones to come to a specific event.