Being a Composer on Social Media
Tue May 31, 2022
A recent incident in the Composers Facebook group (here) caused me to think about the role and purpose of social media to the modern composer. Social media is a funny thing. It is both fun, and work for many of us. Many of us have release strategies for new music that involve a handful of social media posts or even buying Facebook or Twitter ads to push our latest creations (more on that in a later post). The takeaway here is that we cannot get away from social media in our contemporary musical world. So how should we treat this information?
When we’re talking about social media, in general, less is more in a great many cases. What does this mean? The first instinct would be to post less in each post, and to do so less often. It’s really more intricate than that, though. In reality, it means that we need to do the above while also ensuring that when we do post we contribute something new or engage a new listener/viewer. As an example, if I post the following:
Hey everyone, I just wrote a new piece for Cello and Piano. Check it out!
This is a fine post. It gets my music out there, gets the basics of instrumentation listed, and gets attention. Or does it? Let’s compare that hypothetical post to a new one:
Hey everyone, I wrote a new piece for Cello and Piano. Curious what you think, as I’ve never written in this style before.
This is better than the first, as I have a stated purpose that drives engagement by asking a question and placing the ball in the viewer’s court. It’s also much more than a simple link with an “It’s here” text preceding it. Let’s look at one more:
Hey friends, I recently wrote a new piece for Cello and Piano titled “Sonata no. 1” in a neo-romantic style. I’m curious what you think, as I’ve never written in this stayle for strings before! My inspirations were Schubert and Brahms and I was trying to evoke a feeling of longing……. Etc.
THAT is a good post! I’ve addressed everyone, introduced the piece, given the title and purpose of the work, and am asking a specific set of questions that people can recognize and engage with without demanding the reader engage with an incredibly vague “Whatcha Think” open-ended question. If you’re scrolling through, you’ll instinctively want to listen to the third post rather than the first or second because it’s actually a post with engagement instead of simply blatant self-advertising. If you’re wanting feedback, ask for more direct feedback and you’ll do better, I promise!
Now more into the composers group incident……
The incident involved a series of similarly worded micro-posts serving as links to a youtube recording. While nothing is inherently wrong with sharing your music, when we start spamming (yes, this is spam) once every day or two with no useful data being added it becomes clutter. Clutter drives user engagement with a group, user, or page DOWN over time according to every viable metric. Now, there are comments and maybe you are just proud of the piece. That’s fine, but there’s no need to repost! The algorithm will naturally bring your post up if you simply leave a comment on the original! (Magic!) The exception here is when someone purposely filters by “newest first” on a feed which will not resurface old posts but hey, you can’t win them all.
Next I want to talk about the purpose of groups such as the Facebook Composers Group. This group is an oasis, a safe haven, a collective of like-minded fellows to share music with, engage in discussions, make friends, and engage in a friendly banter on occasion about the viability of Neo-Riemannian Theory when writing music. We want to discuss things, listen to music, and engage with one another. We aren't just a "Free set of views" for your youtube video or easy listens for your spotify. That being said, it is alright to advertise “Hey, I wrote something new!” when you write something new. That’s great! We should all be listening, but the reality is that 99.9% of people in this group will never click a single listening link you post and most of the remainder will only click one that’s truly interesting to them. This is a sad (data-supported) fact of life. So what is REALLY gained by posting your piece 2,3,4 times in the group?
We gain nothing by endlessly spamming our safe space with our music! If anything, spam will make people like you (and your music) less. This is, again, supported by data easily found with a quick google search or by running metrics yourself for any tech-savvy folks reading. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t share your music, ask for help, get feedback, or try to learn from others. Quite the opposite, in fact! We all need to POST WITH PURPOSE. If your “purpose” is to get some quick views or get a brief endorphin high from getting 5-7 likes and 2-3 “Good Work” comments, then you’re making music and sharing it for the wrong reason, particularly in such an inward-facing group. This is a group filled with people who, like you, are writing music and attempting to get it out there in film, tv, concerts, education, etc. I’ll cover how to get proper attention on your music at a later time. For now, keep in mind that spamming your fellow composers will get you nowhere. Also, before we close this brief reactionary post:
RESPECT YOUR GROUP MODERATORS AND ADMINS
They do this gig for free, and typically won’t interfere with things unless there’s either complaints, rampant rule-breaking, or reason to believe the group is being negatively affected in some way, shape, or form.
Later this week, I’ll talk about how to use Social media PROPERLY in order to spread the reach of your music without annoying people!
Zachary C. Daniels