At a recent jam night, another bassist asked me about how important Facebook is to being a working musician and while I can only speak for myself, I do have some thoughts. Rather ashamedly, my online presence is quite poor. I have no official YouTube account and my Twitter account is used for seeing what my favourite musicians are up to. However, one site I DO use is Facebook. Alot.
I get quite a bit of work through Facebook. As well as being a social thing (family and friends), at least half of my ‘friends’ are musicians. And about 20% of those are professional. Some I’ve met or played with, others I can only dream of working with. Some ‘friended’ me, and I ‘friended’ the others. I see alot of the semi-pro or amateur musos falling into these traps and as a result, any potential employers will be put off IMMEDIATELY. I’ve seen it happen all too often and I’ve fallen into a few of them myself.
So, to the DOs and DO NOTs of Facebook (and any other site for that matter).
1) I like to call this the “Hey guys, I’m a musician!” trait. Anyone worthy of being a ‘friend’ on Facebook will already know you’re a musician. There’s no need to update your status EVERYTIME you learn a new tune or have a rehearsal. Unless you’re trying to promote a product or event, keep these kinds of posts to a minimum. Only use these types of updates if it’s REALLY cool or of interest to people (ie. you’ve just given Victor Wooten a lesson or something…) You’ll just annoy people.
2) DO ask peoples opinion. People love to know they’ve aided someone in a quest for a new instrument, theory knowledge or studio time.
3) Drop the negativity. DON’T slag off other musicians/producers/The X Factor/etc.. You really don’t know who knows who in this business. If you don’t like it, keep schtum - they could be paying your wages one day. This also includes techniques and ideas such as slap bass, autotune and getting your girlfriend to drive you to the gig. It’s the industry. You don’t have to like it, but you’ll be doing yourself a favour. Instead of a status like “Isn’t Justin Bieber a pile of rubbish?” try “Has anyone heard the new Beyoncé track? I love it.”
4) DON’T involve yourself in the arguments at all. Even if you’re invited into them. Even when you know you’re right. Even when your hatred for ultracrepidarianism is overwhelming, stay away. Don’t even associate yourself in any way with that conversation. That way, you won’t go taking any sides and you won’t look like a pillock. If you really feel the need to talk about the subject, do it in person. That way there’ll be NO NEED FOR THE CAPS LOCK SHOUTING!!!
Photo: Janek Gwizdala - not only an animal musician but a guy who REALLY knows how to make his online presence work for him. (Courtesy of http://daviddevereuxmusic.tumblr.com/)
5) As if in complete contrast - don’t be boring and ‘safe’. You can express yourself without looking like an egotistical, opinionated dipstick. Strike a balance. If you’re unsure, just think; are you writing this to prove yourself as a musician or person? If it is, don’t… your playing will do that for you once you’re hired.
These are just some of my own thoughts and advice on this matter. Read Victor Wooten’s Twitter feed. That should provide ample proof of what I’m saying. I’d recommend Janek Gwizdala’s book ‘You’re a Musician. Now What?’ and the Twitter article in the latest musicians union newsletter. Get in touch with any thoughts, tips or ideas. Greg.