Why music needs Twitter

It seems artists want to stay away from the bane of social networking sites. They don’t want to stoop to the level of “tweeting” or “posting.” Instead, they would rather be creating higher art that is not subject to the virtual judgment of potential readers, listeners, or art gallery-goers. While visual artists and writers can avoid the allure of the Internet fairly effectively, it’s an entirely different set of circumstances for musicians. For one thing, music is a far more popular medium than the written word or painted picture; more people download songs from iTunes than check out books from libraries or pay for tickets to a new exhibit at an art museum. Perhaps this is due to music’s almost direct channel to the listeners’ emotions. In the Romantic era (Europe, circa 1800), writers and painters aspired to be like composers. Indeed, the Romantics viewed music as the highest artform simply because it offered such a direct path to peoples’ “hearts.” Although many artists and writers don’t discount their respective trades as “lower” than music in today’s society, it cannot be denied that music’s popularity has persisted and grown since the Romantics first tried to compose anything. How can musicians hope to attain more commercial and artistic success? The answer lies in the jumbled and rather unattractive mess known as the Internet. The key to exposure and increased album sales is having a web presence. If you are off the digital grid, you might as well play shows in your basement for your parents and your good friends. Some musicians don’t have a problem with keeping their fanbase extremely small, and I’m not saying that artists should be willing to sell out to big record companies just to make a quick buck; I would merely like to point out that the key to a group of loyal listeners is communication. Even Central Iowa musicians, who may only have a few hundred “likes” on Facebook or “follows” on Twitter, use the Internet to their advantage. People come to their shows after seeing an event on Facebook. They respond to their tweets about new albums or singles. They suggest their favorite bands to their friends and followers. My point is this: music is fueled by the people who are willing to listen. Why spill your emotions and experiences if no one is willing to listen to your personal artistic sacrifice? Why make yourself vulnerable to judgment if you have no intention of having several people hear what you have to say? You don’t have to be after millions of followers or billions of dollars to know that live shows are often the best part of being a musician. Why not have a few dozen people there to support you? So if you’re a musician, and especially if you’re a small and up-and-coming musician, go out on a limb and start tweeting and posting away. Communicate with your potential listeners. Make them aware of your opinions and share your little slice of the human consciousness. And potential listeners: let these hard-working artists into your already busy newsfeeds. If you follow the ones you enjoy hearing live or on your iPod, I promise you won’t regret the extra line of communication. Here are some links to Internet-active Iowa musicians whom you might enjoy hearing from (when they aren’t singing or playing instruments, that is). Chris Ford (of Christopher the Conquered) Nate Logsdon (of Mumford’s) Patrick Tape Fleming (of The Poison Control Center) The River Monks Nuclear Rodeo Utopia Park