Social media, music and the coronavirus lockdown

I don’t sing (much). I don’t play an instrument. But all my co-writers do. So I’m feeling their pain, to a degree. What happens when your livelihood is snapped away from you overnight? I can’t answer the bigger questions about that, as we don’t know how long the lockdown will last.

But I do have a few thoughts about social media for musicians at the present time.

No concerts = Out of sight, out of mind

No concerts = no chance of meeting your audience. The times are so confusing and scary that people can easily forget you. So you have to up the social media game and be as visible as possible.

BUT: terms and conditions apply.

No one is interested in reading about your new album. No one is interested in why you wrote track n° 3 and how working with So-and-So was “awesome”.

Promo is a no-no.

People want to connect with other people, and once again performers can do that better than most people.

“Let’s stream some music against the virus”

Loads of people have turned to streaming videos on Facebook. That’s great. But you don’t necessarily have to stream them. Filming them is just fine.

Just remember to do videos that share really basic human emotions. The quality of the video is irrelevant. Give people something to like. An occasional co-writer of mine, Clarence Bekker, posted this a few days ago.

It’s rough but it connects: 3,500 views in two days and well placed on YouTube recommendations at the moment. The shots of people crowding onto balconies in Italy to sing along is another great example of this.

Not everyone has Clarence’s voice or personality. What can you do?

Preferably, songs that people know, but done differently. Avoid cleverness and get to the emotion. Can you sing to your street? Let people know you’ll be doing something at 6pm (8pm is a better time in Europe, but it’s dark). They might come out and film you themselves (which is what happened to Clarence). You might even discover your neighbours – and maybe one plays a hand drum or something. Maybe they’ll even join in tomorrow.

If not, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms (yes, Madonna shot one in her bathroom!) and just about anywhere will do the trick. Sing to the camera. Make it special. Try something like, “For all you people that can’t get out dancing, here’s our version of “Dancing in the Street/Teardrops on the Dancefloor/What a feeling – Dancing on the Ceiling”, or whatever song resonates with you or is relevant to the people in front of you.

Afterwards post to all the media, of course. Do that a few times and then ask for requests. You have to think like a street busker. Put your career on pause and just have fun.

This will not pay your bills. But you will be doing what you were born to do and people will remember how you make them feel (remember that principle – people will forgive crummy sound and handheld cameras and remember the fun or appeal of the song).

Any questions or thoughts to share (it’s a very sharing time), drop them below. Post any of your videos too.

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