I’ve become very fond of Craigslist.
Searching for players, gigs, and gear, somewhere between my first cup of coffee and a cleaner pair of underwear, I feel like I’m going to need a pair of bunny slippers and a robe this winter in order to fully realize my out of work potential.
I stay in the musician section for the most part, but even those ads are littered with nerds, real-estate agents and date rape enthusiasts. It’s a great place to be if you’re a “serious”, “drug free”, 22 year old female vocalist with your own equipment. And it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to Reality TV.
The searching, however, has paid off.
I now know there is a Timpanist available in my area for any and all of my timpani needs.
For those of you who don’t know what a timpani is, it’s those big copper drums used to create that boom boom boom sound of thunder, or an army of invading orcs, or anytime a German enters a room.
In five short minutes, I have come up with hundreds of uses for a local Timpanist ranging from door bell substitution to following around my neighbor’s chihuahuas.
The Timpanist has a card that says he does weddings as well.
My god, how could I have possibly missed that?
But Craigslist isn’t all timpani and giggles, I’ve booked shows, collaborated with some nice people, and learned which marketing scams are worth my time and which are just not.
Of course they’re all scams. If you’re a talented musician, willing to work hard, and have what it takes to go to the next level, then I’ve got a five hundred dollar 12 part video course that is going to change your life (Or blow your mind, either way).
But some scams might backfire with intended consequences.
Let me explain:
Did you know that there are companies out there that will guarantee a certain amount of page views, YouTube hits and Facebook ‘Likes’ for a fee?
Neither did I.
Now, this part of the story is four-fold:
First, they do it by creating millions of fake accounts all across the social medias, and then program the fake accounts to check out your stuff. Give ‘em a few bucks and you can quadruple your reach. Everyone is in on it, from Reverbnation to Facebook itself.
But, since its all fake, you haven’t increased you reach, you’ve only increased your metrics.
Given enough dollars, my little songs can pretend to be as popular as a kitty playing the piano.
Yet secondly, for obvious reasons, this practice is severely frowned upon by the industry insiders who are very quick to point out that because it doesn’t really increase the amount of people who are being entertained by your stuff, then you’re just lying to us, like the kid who insists he has a girlfriend in Canada.
But the third bit is where it gets interesting:
Actual people might click on something if it looks like it is popular.
Everyone wants to be in the know.
Things go viral by looking like they’re going viral.
I will absolutely get booked at bigger venues if a promoter sees that I have 25,000 Facebook fans instead of the 87 I have now.
Songs will get heard more, videos will get watched more, nobody likes to stand in line, but everyone wants to know where the line is going. Nobody ever made their first million honestly. This way to the ‘Egress’
And if you’re asking yourself why you haven’t tried this yet, the answer is simple:
Fourth, it doesn’t work, and if it did, you’re not ready.
Are your songs as freakishly awesome as Lorde’s. Are your videos a sexy as Gotye or as brilliantly choreographed as Okay Go? Do you appeal to cat lovers and Jennifer Lawrence fans?
Can you imagine the kind of local reputation you would have if you booked a gig in a thousand seat house and only your mom shows up? (Unless, of course, your mamma is so fat she can fill an auditorium)
The reason it doesn’t work is because for virility to occur, content must far exceed the hype, and if you’re content is that good, it’ll generate all the hype you could ever want.
Here’s a free lesson: Take all that money you think you might want to spend on your imaginary friends, put it in a bank, take some time away from your day job and go play in every dive bar, coffee shop, open mike, street corner within a 100 mile radius of your apartment. Gather fans in the crudest way possible. This won’t get you to prime time, but it will toughen your skin and tighten your chops.
And I promise you, I promise you, you will be found, you will be liked.
Unless you’re terrible.
Then consider blogging.
(Joshua Macrae is a singer/songwriter who writes a daily blog about being a musician, a pop culture enthusiast, and a terrible, terrible parent. You can find more at his websitewww.waitdad.com or “Like” him at facebook.com/waitdad)