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?
To answer, let 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 two phone lines in our house with an answering machine that told callers “Leave a message and we’ll get back to you”. The last thing we wanted was to be interrupted by in our leisure time when we went out of the house.
But then my wife and small son did the London to Brighton bike ride. My job was to drive down to the south coast with our baby daughter and pick them both up at the end of the ride. But then – in a town choked with cyclists, spectators and traffic jams – the car broke down, a mile away from our rendezvous point.
I had to find a payphone, call the AA and wait by the vehicle while trying to soothe a screaming infant. The rendezvous time came and went. My wife was wondering what the hell had happened to me – but I couldn’t leave the car. The AA couldn’t get to me because of all the crowds, and there was no way of letting my wife know what had happened.
It was a comletely avoidable nightmare. If just one of us had owned a mobile, the other one could have called it from a payphone. So next day we bought a cheap PAYG handset – and within a month we had one each.
Owning a mobile turned out to be phenomenally useful in ways we hadn’t even dreamed of. Calling ahead to let someone know you’re running late. Summoning a taxi late at night. Avoiding ripoff call charges in hotel rooms. And a whole new world of text messaging.
We realised we could use our mobiles in whatever way suited us best. We didn’t have to keep it on all the time or give the number to everyone in our address books if we didn’t want to. We also didn’t have to piss off everyone in earshot by bleating loudly into it on crowded trains.
And so fast forward to 2018.
Your band is already on Facebook – do you really need Twitter as well? There are plenty of people who strongly 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 for musicians the real value of Twitter is not as a megaphone, but as something more like a telephone. Think of it as one gigantic telephone exchange with 330 million users – who include pretty much everybody you will ever need to contact in the world of music.
It also works in reverse. Once you have a @twittername then other artists, promoters, venues, agents, managers, bloggers, journalists and radio presenters can easily get a message to you even if they don’t have your phone number.
So not being on Twitter is a bit like not owning a mobile. If you’re not even a subscriber, you’re just that bit harder to contact – and that last minute support slot or radio session may go to someone else. Just because some people waste time yakking on the damn thing all day, it doesn’t mean you have to.
Being on Twitter also makes it easier for fans of your music to spread the word. If someone tweets “I’ve just discovered a great band called Ritual that’s a dead end. People will need to type the band name into Google, hit “search”, and then sort through all the results in order to actually hear the group in question.
Whereas if they tweet “I’ve just discovered a great band called @weareritualband” then all their friends find and hear that band’s music in just two clicks. For instance, I tweet a list of artists we’ve featured on this blog every week:
The above tweets instantly notified nine of the artists that they’d been featured, and 30,000 of my friends got a direct link to their homepages. The two final band names were just words on a screen that led nowhere.
Of course there’s no law that says any musician must be on Twitter – or even own a mobile phone. But you may find managing a music career in 2018 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 🙂