This past week I decided to make a change in the way I run my Facebook profile. Up until now I’ve just had a personal page that I post everything to, and I just accepted anyone who wanted to be my “friend”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that having a Facebook Page where I post all this stuff would be more appropriate. I’ll spare you the details of why, since that’s not what this post about.
So I set up the new page and told people about it. I told them I’d be deleting my old profile and that they should follow me on my new page if they were still interested. I also sent out invites to like the page to most of my current friends, since I knew not everyone would get the memo. After that I got this message:
Hey Andy I just received a request from you to like your page. Now this is from one musician to another. I sent you a request about 3 wks ago to like my page and have yet to see you come around. So tell me why on this earth should I do for you what you’re not willing to do for me? Something as simple as tapping your phone. I know you’re busy and I love what you do all around but answer me that question. It works both ways my friend. Think about it.
I went back and forth with this person just a little bit and answered their question, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this message very succinctly summarizes a sentiment that I see far too often in musicians who are trying to find their way and get their music heard.
The absolute wrong attitude
It’s true. Liking someone’s Facebook page is easy. Just a click of a button. Same goes for listening to one of their songs. Or downloading an album on iTunes. It’s so easy that I think this is where musicians get frustrated. If it’s so easy, why don’t people do it?
The short answer is that you likely haven’t given people a good reason to do any of those things.
People are inundated all day everyday by people wanting them to do something. Facebook is telling me I should eat a Quiznos sub and buy a Subaru. My Twitter timeline is full of people posting new songs, new videos, and new albums I should check out. The billboard on the highway is reminding me of the sleazy lawyer’s phone number should I ever get into a car accident. NPR is doing their fundraising spiel and want my money.
When am I actually going to take action on any of these things? When I’m given a good reason to, that’s when. Maybe if I get into an accident I’d call that lawyer. But he looks pretty sleazy. Maybe when NPR makes me feel guilty enough I’ll donate some money. And maybe if the songs being posted in my Twitter feed look interesting enough, I’ll check it out. And if it sounds good enough, maybe I’ll buy it!
This is how the real world works. The self-entitled musician thinks that if they can just get their music into the iTunes store, then they’re going to start selling albums. Heck, this is what services like TuneCore want you to believe. It’s how they market their product. That’s not how it works though.
The self-entitled musician thinks that just because their Facebook page exists, people should feel obligated to like it. I had never talked to the sender of that message before. I have no idea what kind of music they make. I don’t know anything about them. They gave me no reasons to like their page, and felt I was still obligated to do so. This is incredibly unfortunate, because it’s an attitude that’s detrimental to success. And I really want to remove any such attitudes.
The right attitude
Guys, you have to earn it. You have to work hard. Don’t mistake ease of access for an expectation of success. You have to figure out how to drive people to your music. It’s not going to happen without your hard work, and it’s not going to happen by guilt or brute force.
Start by making the best music you know how to make, and keep improving it. But don’t stop there. Now you’ve got to build connections and relationships. Give people a reason to come to your Facebook page. Create content that is attractive to people and proves that you are good at what you do.
This is the most important thing: You are solely responsible for presenting a case for your music. It’s not up to iTunes, TuneCore, Facebook, or some self-entitled set of principles to do it for you. After that it’s out of your hands. People get to make their own decisions at that point about whether to connect with you or not. You need to respect their decision either way, and focus on creating more and more compelling reasons for people to connect.
There are only two things you’ve got to do.
Make great music.
Make great reasons for people to check it out.
Don’t worry about anything else.
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