Monday, March 29, 2010

Musicians & Social Media: Who Makes the Grade?

Taylor Vick and I are at the University of Miami where Taylor, a UM alumnus, moderated and I sat on a panel Saturday at the MEIEA (Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association) Conference. It was a gorgeous sunny 80 degrees, and I wondered (while laying on the lawn outside the Frost School of Music after our panel) how any UM students get any work done. This campus is more like a resort than an institution of higher learning. I grabbed my venti skinny caramel iced latte that I bought at the on-campus Starbucks, and watched students sunbathing while a light mist that blew from the fountain in the center of the lake cooled me. I heard one of the student guides, while he escorted a UM hopeful and her parents around "Yeah, we have every sport you can think of here...even sand volleyball."

But, I digress, which is easy to do in this weather. Our topic was advanced social media strategies as they pertain to musicians and music businesses, and several interesting points came up during our discussion, which you'll see in a couple posts from me and TV.

One of the questions asked was which musicians did we think were using social media well. The panel, which included Fran Vincent of Retro Island Productions, Tony Grotticelli of TOGA Entertainment, Katherine Stimson of Suman Entertainment and Bennett Law Office, Taylor and myself, while offering up different examples seemed to agree on a few key criteria --
1. Authenticity
2. Engagement
3. Just Doing It (Aka: Risk & Experimentation)

While we agreed that Lady Gaga owned YouTube (you can't swing a cat without hitting one of her videos), we also agreed that she wasn't very engaged with her audience. OK Go! are successful because of their incredibly creative and original viral-on-steroids videos that have led to a big community of fans and followers who are championing the band just waiting to see what they'll come up with next.

Tony mentioned Run DMC's Rev Run who has an honest extension of his reality show brand in his @RevRunWisdom Twitter feed. He broadcasts rather than converses, but his use of the platform is original and certainly makes my day a lot.

Disappointments by celebs who were at the forefront of social media, but who have disengaged (Miley Cyrus) or have not used SM to its best potential to help in crisis management (John Mayer) were mentioned, as well. Our hope is that other celebs learn, improve and stay engaged with fans.
Last, but not least, Ben Folds brings home the recent honors of ballsiest user of SM by engaging his live concert fans with the ever-growing in popularity of Chatroulette. His piano improvisations of the people he "nexted" on the site take the trophy for risk vs. risque experiment.

Which musicians, artists, bands, etc. do you think are using social media well? Who is missing the point in your opinion?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

So a Maven, a Ninja and a Guru all walk into a bar...

We've all heard the thousands of terms used to describe social media "experts" - so what's in a name? Here are 3 of the most popular terms and what they mean:

Maven (n.): "Maven" comes to us from the Hebrew, by way of Yiddish. In Hebrew, "mavin" means "he knows". So a "maven" is someone in the know, a real expert, or maybe sometimes just a self-styled expert. - Sharon Ann

Typically - I reserve Maven for any woman who is a social media expert. This means she leads the way in developing new ways to do social, and stays on top of the new sites that are coming out.

Ninja (n.): a person who must assume many roles, navigate the darkness, and stay on the path of the true. -

Ninjas are definitely new to the game. They're more excited about new products and marketing ideas than either the Mavens or the Gurus. They also tend to be more prone to the work hard, play harder mentality! Additionally, they seem to be more about the "sneak attack;" surprising you when you least expect it. Definitely up and comers.

Guru (n.): an intellectual or spiritual guide or leader; any person who counsels or advises; mentor; a leader in a particular field -

Gurus have been in the social media marketing game for 10+ years. They have the best understanding of what works and why. They also have a more traditional marketing mind-set.

What do you consider yourself? A maven, a ninja or a guru? Or perhaps I should introduce you to the term n00b?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's Your Story?

Everyone is heading to South By Southwest, and in addition to great bands, the new rock stars of social media will be there, including my social rock god @ChrisBrogan . You want to know why I admire him? Because he knows who he is. He's the author of his own story. You will get the opportunity to meet him and many others I admire, like @Tessa . When you do, you'll need to know your story.

Know why you're there, why you want to meet them, and what you have to offer the brief conversation. Don't sell, but know your pitch. Brogan wrote a great piece about a year ago called Be Sexier in Person with great tips from him AND the commenters on how to present yourself in person in a brief amount of time. Tom Truitt created YourElevatorPitch to help individuals and companies develop this crucial tool in an extremely crowded marketplace.

I just did a presentation with @TaylorVick at Podcamp Nashville this past weekend. Amid technical difficulties, we stayed true to ourselves, and found humor in the fact that our social media tools weren't being very social. After the presentation, we were surprised by the number of people who came up and complimented the session. I know now we shouldn't have been. The tools we shared were solid, and our hearts were in the right place. We know our story, our value, and we know where we're headed.

Our presentation was about how to make friends while keeping the ones you already have on the web, which you'll see in a series of blog posts to come. I'd like to share a few of the tips from that session with those of you headed to SXSW who aim to meet your idols:
1. Idols are people too. If they are rude, don't waste your time.
2. Be Yourself, but be the BEST version of yourself. Be the person your mom and your kid think that you are.
3. Know your story.

Practice here in the comments. Tell me your story in a nutshell.

photo credit: Emily Starbuck Gerson

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons Learned from Classical Music

I used to hate practicing. At 12, there is nothing worse than being forced to sit at the piano for thirty minutes on a summer day, when the rest of your friends are outside playing in the sun. I think that playing solo piano is one of the loneliest instruments a child can play. However, those thirty minutes a day taught me something invaluable.

1. Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.
If you continuously practice something incorrectly, that's how you will remember it for the rest of your life. Always strive for perfection when you're practicing. It is truly the only way to get better.

2. Someone will always be better than you, and someone will always be worse.
There was nothing more terrifying that playing right after someone who was great. But it was even worse if you performed right after someone who was horrible. Surround yourself with great people who continuously challenge you. If you ever feel like you are the best at something, chances are you're just becoming lazy.

3. Small bites finish the sandwich.
I always hated this expression, but usually because I was gorging myself on something delicious in huge mouthfuls. However, this is definitely true in business and in life. Whenever I find myself struggling with a daunting project, I find people or the time to break the project into its' simplest tasks. I typically do the easy stuff first, so I can spend the most time getting through the hard stuff. If you knock one or two easy items off your list, you will feel more accomplished and more motivated to get through the tough stuff.

4. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself.
Don't do something simply because it sounds easy. I watch many friends and colleagues maintain the status quo and complain about how little they're getting paid, or how bored they are. Don't be that person. Companies can always be improved, and when you feel overwhelmed with the challenge you gave yourself, see #3.

5. Seek advice of others.
If you don't know how to do something, no one is going to fault you for asking questions on how to achieve your goal. I learned that by listening to recordings of pieces I was to perform, I better understood the piece that just by sight reading it. Emulating something that works, but adding your own personal touch to it works.

6. Go for it.
Never do anything half-assed. Everyone can see right through it. Trust me. When you don't give it 110%, conductors, instructors, teachers, colleagues will remember it. You truly get to make a first impression every day, because every day is a new day.

7. You can't be everything to everyone.
I have small hands, so Rachmaninov and I do not get along. I had to learn the hard way that there was no way I could play most of his pieces. If you simply can't do it all, it's okay. Learning to say "no" is one of the most powerful tools a person can have in his or her arsenal.

What is a life lesson you learned early that's stuck with you?