Canadian Musician - March/April 2023 | Page 11

writing a song or an album in the isolation of your home in order to connect with hundreds of millions of people that are nameless and faceless who don ’ t know who you are .
Let Fans Connect with You Alper : That ’ s why Taylor Swift is so good on social media . She ’ s like , ‘ here ’ s me with my squad , here ’ s me with my cat , here ’ s me making packages for fans — buy my album .’ So , you feel that connection to her . And her fan base will not only want to see her succeed , but they ’ re going to help her succeed . And that ’ s really what it ’ s all about . You got to think , why on Earth is a print media outlet going to write 700 words about me , after ‘ so , you ’ ve got a new single .’ But again , who cares ? What is a radio station going to ask about in seven minutes , 12 minutes ? You ’ re Canadian . Doesn ’ t matter . They can talk to Sarah McLaughlin . You got a new single . That ’ s okay . Caroline Polachek has one out . So , you keep going down the list and tune in your mind . You think about what makes you so vital , what makes you so interesting . What makes you so important ? And if you ’ re ever stuck , just think about the Beatles ; think about the classic artists that we all know and love , that there were four distinct personalities , and you knew more about them than probably most people . And if you think like a music fan , why should I be interested in you , that has nothing to do with the verse , or the chorus , or whatever it is . That ’ s what I do as a publicity person , is try to come up with ideas and angles , making it really super easy for the journalist or the producer or the host to say , ‘ I kind of dig this idea ,’ rather than ‘ we covered an Indigenous artist last week .’ I know you did — but this is why the story matters .
Capitalize on What Makes You Interesting Alper : Even if you are playing an acoustic guitar , even if you ’ ve recorded your song in complete isolation away from everybody else , again , tell me about the first time you wrote a song , tell me about the day before you decided that you were going to record — what was your life like ? Think about what your parents were . Were some of them musicians , were some of them not ? I ’ ve got an artist whose father has actually been a legendary figure in music in a very close community in northern Ontario . Boom , that ’ s it . That ’ s the influence . Do your parents hate you ? Bruce Springsteen has always said , during his live shows for decades , and in interviews , ‘ growing up , there were two things that my father hated in the house : me and my guitar .’ Now doesn ’ t it make sense that “ Born to Run ” exists , doesn ’ t it make sense that “ Darkness on the Edge of Town ” exists ? I ’ m here , because you ’ re not . I ’ m here because as a musician , most people don ’ t think about those things . It ’ s why for most products , they will always invariably say , ‘ I looked in the marketplace , and I didn ’ t see this , so I created it .’ Awesome . Why did you create it ? What gave you the sense to create that product ? Give me the story . People will like a post . It takes a lot for somebody to follow you . And they ’ ll only follow you if they believe in what you ’ re doing . Anybody can go buy your guitar , anybody can go buy your tone in a little box , anybody can go buy whatever , you ’ re selling , your amp . But Les Paul has a really great story . Fender has a really great story . Zildjian cymbals is in six generations of a family that goes back to literally 1400 . That ’ s the story .
Know Your Audience , and Target Them on Social Media Alper : There ’ s always going to be a brand new shiny social media site that ’ s going to be up there . Today ’ s Tik Tok was yesterday ’ s MySpace . And I ’ m always a firm believer that your website is probably the most useful tool that you will ever have in your entire life . There are different social media networks that work based on what kind of music you play . But keep in mind that nobody wants to go on a social media network that the previous generation was on , meaning that if I ’ m in my 50s , which I am not , because I ’ m 29 — but if I was in my 50s , my first social media site was Facebook . Everybody then went to Twitter . A few of us went to Instagram , a few of us are on Tik Tok . My daughter who is now 20 , who will always stay 20 , her first social media site was Twitter . Everybody in her generation went to Instagram . Most of them are on Tik Tok , never on Facebook because that ’ s where her 39-year-old dad is . So realistically , think about where your fanbase is . If you play rock , if you play roots , folk , blues , classical , it ’ s Facebook . Twitter is nothing to you . Instagram is fun . Tik Tok , you ’ ll never be able to hardly ever make any traction . And I ’ ll explain why . If you are new rock , if you play pop , then forget about Twitter . Maybe get on Facebook just to please people , definitely Instagram , definitely Tik Tok . The main reason why the music industry loves and hates Tik Tok at the same time is because not only is it controlling and dominating how sales are and how streams are , but none of the successes are having to do with them . The music industry is suffering greatly to try to figure out how to manipulate Tik Tok and bend it to their will . But the fanbase isn ’ t having any of it . Think about how many things have gone viral : GAYLE ’ s “ abcdefu ,” Mother Mother ’ s song . During COVID , you had hundreds of millions of streams based on people wearing overalls singing work songs from the east coast . You ’ d think that the labels , like True North Records , where I work , that had a lot of those artists — we didn ’ t come up with that . The fanbase did . So , the minute that the music industry took away the power and gave it to the fanbase , they don ’ t really have any control over it . Now you can just have your song that ’ s three and a half minutes long , splice it up into 19-20 different videos of one line each and see if that somehow connects with an audience . But it ’ s so rare where I ’ ll read that somebody actually said , ‘ We spent a quarter million dollars on Tik Tok and watched it blow up .’ Rarely , it has anything to do with you as an artist . It has everything to do with a connection — that line , or that word , or that dance , or that groove , or that guitar lick had to do with somebody else connecting with that and spreading it far and wide . The reason why the music industry right now is in some serious trouble is because if the US government decide that they are so anti-woke that they want to ban Tik Tok for security reasons , then the music industry will have some figuring out to do because right now , they can ’ t rely on physical products as much as they used to and the music industry absolutely , 100 percent wants to get out of vinyl . Vinyl is costly . It ’ s a lot of money to spend for them with such little returned on it . Vinyl is cool , it ’ s hip , but it ’ s only really less than 12 percent of what the North American gross product is when it comes to sale . So , they want to raise their prices to $ 70-80 in order to move everybody on over to streaming services where it ’ s literally free for them to upload all of the songs . So , social media is ideas . It ’ s passion . It ’ s coming up with different ways to connect with the audience .
Market Yourself , Not Just Your Music Alper : Again , the idea that you come up with , that I use for the media , talk about you . Talk about the things , reveal behind the curtain what it ’ s like to be you as a musician , as a person , as a father , as a friend , about all of those things , and make that connection between people .
To watch the full webinar and other past sessions , go to nwcwebinars . com .
Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician . He can be reached at mhopkins @ nwcworld . com .