Music Marketing 2.0: You’re Not an Expert; You’re Probably an Idiot

Music marketing 2.0–everybody’s an expert all of a sudden. The problem? Everybody’s saying the same thing, just different ways, and nobody’s actually saying anything worthwhile. This came up in an email exchange with an editor at Hypebot after some of my comments on the site questioned this very thing. I pointed out to him that it seemed like a bunch of amateur sports commentators that every Monday morning say “they have to score more touchdowns to win” but never say how. Some say they need to run to score more touchdowns, some say to pass for more, and some point out how somebody else scored more points. All of them are technically right, yes, but none of them are actually saying anything that everybody doesn’t already know. It’s all essentially worthless information that’s nothing more than a reminder of an earlier article or somebody else’s comment on another article saying the same.

That’s become kind of a problem these days in music. For every no-name “next big thing” indie hipster “artist” with a generic voice and up-tuned acoustic guitar, there’s two self-proclaimed social networking wunderkind ready to get them to give their music away for free so that they can “engage” their “fans” and hopefully sell a t-shirt or two so that they can afford to leave work at the coffee shop early to “tour” at the coffee shop two exits up on the highway. Okay, that’s pretty harsh, but it’s unfortunately not far off from the truth (and is the truth for more people than you’d think).

Look, I’m not saying I can do better. I’m in the same boat as everybody else trying to figure out how an artist can possibly make a living in music. Sure, I have my own ideas, but I’m going to try them out and study them before I go preaching them to other people. If I did though, at least they’d be specific ideas and not the same generic thing over and over. I think it really only happens because the people saying it know they have a place to say it. They’re saying the same thing, because it gets their name out there and gets their names thrown into the mix with their own marketing heroes, and because in the comments of each of those articles are the same people kissing each others’ digital asses and applauding the latest author to say the same thing.

Honestly, I wonder if some of them even remember that they’re in marketing to market their customer or customer’s product and not themselves. People in music marketing 2.0 are way more obsessed with themselves and networking with each other than I’ve ever seen in the industry. Remember when myspace was first popular and you had those weird people that were just obsessed with getting more friends even though the connections were completely worthless? Those people are the new marketing “experts” today. They can show you a whole rolodex of email addresses, twitter usernames, and avatars, but they couldn’t show you a single success story of their own that would be seen by others as a success and could be applied to anybody else.

Seriously, I think communities like that are like the fishing boat captains that sit around the diner at the marina talking about all the fish out there that they know about. Everybody thinks they’re great fishermen (as they all do themselves), but when you ask them where to fish, what bait to use, or even where their boat is located at the moment, none of them can answer you. When you ask how many fish they’ve caught themselves they say that doesn’t matter, what matters is that there’s plenty of fish out there and you just have to go catch them! How? By catching them! Get it?

Don’t say you have a solution unless you have an actual solution. Everybody knows the same old thing. When are people going to stop worrying about being one of the 500 people making the same noise, and step up and be the different voice? Do something special. Be different.