As I fight the urge to spend every chilly evening curled up on the couch, knitting and watching crap tv, cosy, hot chocolate in hand, enjoying the excuse winter brings for doing such things, I come here to focus on the business of my music.
And just as well, because the last 9 months haven't produced much in the way of the business of making music.
I've become part of a small think-tank of independent songwriters, who are getting together monthly to brainstorm ways to use social media to further our "careers". We've all done the courses, read the books, been to see the speakers. We all have our social media presences, as I mentioned in the last blog. But we're all getting no where and wondering why we're bothering with it all.
It's a perfect group for where my last blog post left off. And I'm no more the wiser about any of it.
A friend of mine, a university lecturer in literacy, is very big on social media engagement, not just personally, but as a necessary way to be literate in our society. I was discussing my disillusionment with the whole idea of social media as career building necessity, and he asked a very interesting question - What do you want to achieve by using it?
Everyone wants more sales. Everyone wants more people to come to gigs. Everyone wants a big fan base. But we've all seen, to greater or lesser extents, increases in our facebook fans, our twitter followers, our blog readers....but for none of us had this translated to more sales or attendees at gigs. Is social media not working for us.
My friend suggested that using social media for those things explicitly is not the right approach. Social media is there for exposure. For getting the message spread, heard, known. It does sometimes create fame, or followings that generate income - like the Amanda Palmer story I mentioned in my last blog. But mostly, it does not.
What it does to well is spread information. It can get you known.
Psy, the Korean superstar singer of the hit "Gangham Style" is now a well known entity (or his song is), in pretty much every country with access to YouTube. His product, an inane but catchy and humorous dance tune, was one of those inexplicable phenomenons that caught people's attention and funny bone. Mostly because he isn't afraid to do stupid things in front of a camera, like he was already a superstar known for this, before he was such a star.
But it's unlikely that Psy, or his songwriters, have really earned all that much from their song. Sadly. Exposure, yes. Income, maybe, but possibly not.
When you reframe the definition of successful social media engagement, you can approach the whole thing differently. And perhaps be happier with the result.
But it does beg the question, from a muso like me, who's too old not to be a bit cynical and too tired to want to put effort in for no reward, whether all the exposure in the cyber world is worth it, if it doesn't really translate to being able to quit your day job and give you the life you really want.
And that comes down to what you really want. I'm wondering - is that where really effective social media engagement really starts? Knowing what I really want. Then figuring out if social media can get me there. And then how. And not worrying about doing all the things the social media coaches want to tell you is important.
That feels far more relaxing to me.
What do you think?