What’s the point of Twitter? My band already has a Facebook page to interact with our fans. Why would I want to tell the world what I’m eating for breakfast? Why would I want to read what Stephen Fry is eating for breakfast? What’s the point of it? It’s just another way of wasting time. I don’t have a smartphone. I wouldn’t know what to say. It’s only for “cool kids” and hipsters. It’s just so shallow and narcissistic. How can you say anything meaningful in 140 characters?
Letr me take you back to 1997. The mobile phone industry was still in its infancy, while Orange and Vodafone had just begun marketing the first generation of cheap Motorola bricks.
My wife and I couldn’t see the point of buying a mobile: we already had one telephone in our house, and another one in the office. We had an answering machine that told callers “Leave a message and we’ll return your call when we get home”. We didn’t want callers to be able to harass us by phone in our leisure time once we’d left the house.
Then – that year – my wife and son did the London to Brighton bike ride. My job was to pick them up at the end and drive them back to London, but that day the car broke down in a town choked with cyclists, spectators and traffic jams, about a mile from the rendezvous point.
I had to find a payphone, call the AA and wait by the vehicle. The rendezvous time came and went. My wife and son were wondering what had happened to me, but I couldn’t leave the vehicle in case the AA came. The AA of course couldn’t get to the vehicle for all the crowds: it was a nightmare.
We later realised that if even one of us had owned a mobile phone, the other one could have called it from a phonebox. We bought a basic handset next day and it proved so useful that we quickly ended up with one each.
It wasn’t till be actually started using a mobile phone that we finally “got” the fact that you can use your phone any way that suits you best. The fact that you don’t have to keep it on all the time, or that you can restrict the number to a few close friends if you want to.
Having a mobile turned out to be brilliant for calling ahead to say you were running late. Or for summoning a taxi late at night. Or for avoiding the ripoff call charges from hotel bedrooms. And then there was the whole new world of text messages. Back in 1997 owning my first mobile phone opened up an entire new world of convenient communication.
And so fast forward to 2016 and the matter at hand.
Your band is already on Facebook – do you really need Twitter as well? No question, there are plenty of artists who believe the answer is no – and you can sort of see their point.
From the outside Twitter looks like a giant megaphone. Celebrities bray about every inane thought that crosses their mind – while media outlets constantly bombard the world with marketing messages.
But the real value of Twitter for a musicians is more as a kind of telephone more than as a megaphone. Think of it as a huge global exchange with 200 million subscribers – who include pretty much everybody in the world of music you will ever want to contact. Being on Twitter is like having a mobile phone – you don’t have to spend all your time yakking on it. But if you’re not even a subscriber, nobody can ever send you a text message.
If you have a @twittername, anybody from new fans to fellow bands, to managers, bloggers, and radio presenters can send a message for your personal attention. And bear in mind that people who’ve discovered a great new tune on the radio – or a fab new band at a gig – like to tweet about to their friends.
If their message reads “I’ve just heard a great new band called Wretched Wafer that’s a dead end. Whereas if they can tweet “I’ve just heard a great new band called @WretchedWafer” then everybody who reads it can find and hear that hear that great new band in just two clicks.
Each Monday, for instance, we tweet out a list of all our featured artists on the blog that weekend, thus:
Nine of the above artists quickly found out they were in our favourites that week. All 30,000 of our Twitter followers also had a direct link to each of those nine artists. But the other two band names were just words on a screen that led nowhere.
Of course there’s no law that says any musician has to be on Twitter – or even own a mobile phone. But you may find managing a music career in 2016 just that little bit easier if you do.
With thanks to @adicarter, @alexhighton, @alexmoir, @allyson_ezell, @alphabetbands, @AndyMcH, @andywelch81, @Banananey, @bear_kp, @BenStax, @billt, @BlackFeathersUK, @BoBUnsigned, @bongbrummie, @brodiegal, @chrisilett, @citizenhelene, @craigthomas1, @danmason85, @davorg, @dfr10, @DoctorRad, @DrRubberfunk, @DrWynneof_Music, @eduardoamigo, @ElecCompMusic, @FeralFive, @formes_band, @fruitbatwalton, @GaslightTroubs, @Gert, @gothiron, @Greg1954, @hilliatfields, @JargonParty, @jede39, @JosephGalliano, @jwandtheoutlaws, @kayeinglis, @keithofchester, @ladytubedriver, @LewBearMusic, @lostagencymgmt, @LukeWride, @MaRaineyBlues, @mediaqueenuk, @mlittlebrother, @paulbellmusic, @pnh, @RKZUK, @russellc116, @RyanHalsey, @Sandskwan, @seanamcginty, @ShaoDowMusic, @silent_radio, @Sisteray1, @SkinnerRay, @SKtheWombelle, @SlapYaMamaBand, @smokytheredhawk, @soops77, @steveharris, @Theatre_Royal_, @thedarlingtons, @TheGravityDrive, @therovingjewel, @theshootingof, @Thunnnderbird, @TrippyWicked, @TSCinc, @victoriajhume, @WaspBox, @wearegoswim and @woodmanstone. for their helpful and sometimes heated discussion on Twitter this afternoon that led up to this blog post :-)