What’s the point of Twitter?

Twitter AppWhat’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?
Motorola D-160 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.

London To Brighton Bike Ride

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.

Megaphone

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:

Tweets

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 🙂

16 Comments

  1. Love Twitter and also think Master Fresh Net uses it in a brilliant way x

  2. Have to admit, despite often feeling we are talking to ourselves, we have picked up a lot of gig tips by following the right people. Have a look at who we’re following on http://www.twitter.com/ohthevillainy to get some good tips!

  3. Spiffy and spot on article – I love my Twitter and can’t recommend it highly enough as a promotional tool and a means of personal contact…

  4. Thanks Tom for another great and helpful post. I’m not really sure why I keep seeing that I’m not on twitter though (message on facebook too) when I’ve been there since late Feb: https://twitter.com/chloejmarch – had a shoutout from @freshnet on March 3rd – but maybe there’s confusion about my identity there?! Thanks again for all your support 🙂

  5. I’m still adjusting to twitter…. at least its an honest and fair relationship between fan and artist… Facebook has become totally disengenous……Fans click LIKE thinking they will recieve all news from an artist, when in fact they will recieve less than 5%… Unless the artist pays for FB adds of course. At least twitter isn’t charging per post…. well not yet….

  6. Tom

    Hi Chloe – I had a good look when we first featured you in mid February and you didn’t seem to be on twitter then. I THOUGHT we’d had a tweet from you during my Saturday show, but then I checked your homepage and your Facebook again when writing this article and couldn’t find any mention of twitter there. So I thought I must have been mistaken. Apologies all round!

  7. Paul Groves

    Hi
    I love finding new music and would say 95% of it is found on the Internet with well over half of that via Twitter so I would say to any artists not using this media take a reality check and get a twitter account if you want to be heard !

  8. goats

    “But if you’re not even a subscriber, nobody can ever send you a text message.”

    Good thing we have E-mails, Facebook, Skype, Discord, WhatsApp, Kik, VOIP, LinkedIn and a million other ways to contact a person. Also, it’s not the end of the world if people can’t click on a @Username. Google exists, too. Twitter is pointless.

  9. Dan Gmaj

    “When Alexander first suggested we get a telephone I admit I was conflicted. After all, our roof terace was visible to half of Higate and we already owned two sets of flags!” 😀 xo I too was tasked with rescuing friends on the London to Brighton and picked that message up on my coverted Panasonic Ansaphone wirh speakerphone! :-D. Great story Tom 🙂 When used with Love, I Love @Twitter <3 I wonder what platform will win out in the end? After all, any of these providers can change rules themselves or be forced to stop. Humans are great for the most part so I think It will always be interesting. ttfn TR <3 #ApeMusic #PoshApe

  10. How useful is Twitter in gaining attention about your music as a new artist, and how do I increase my follower account from two?
    https://twitter.com/@redswanA

    Hello RedSwan
    1) Twitter isn’t very useful as a means of advertising your music – when people treat it as a megaphone to shout promotional messages about themselves it doesn’t really work at all. But for a music artist it *is* a good way of making connections with people who may be useful for your career. Music fans, fellow artists, bloggers, venue managers, small record labels, radio DJs, publishers. The key is to engage with other people – if you show interest in them and their work, they’re more likely to be interested in you and yours.

    Just aim to broadly make more friends – chat with people, joke with them, respond to things they’ve posted. Early on it’s best to make only 1 tweet in 5 about yourself and your music, and keep the rest sociable or topical. Tweet about other stuff you care about or are interested in, not just your own music.

    Spend about 10 minutes a day browsing through random stuff on Twitter – and every time you find a person whose tweets are interesting, or funny, give them a follow and reply to something they’ve said – not just famous people, or ones you want to do business with. That way as your group of contacts slowly builds, you’ll gradually get to exchange all kind of wisdom, advice and support with fellow Twitter users.

    Also, as mentioned in the main article, if somebody discovers your music elsewhere and needs to contact you in a hurry, they’ll be able to easily get in touch. It’s like a telephone, not a megaphone.

    2) You’ve only been on Twitter five days, and you’re still finding your feet and figuring out how it works. So two or three folllowers is fine for the moment. Don’t be too impatient about this, it takes time. It’s good that you follow some of the more interesting blogs plus various 6 Music DJs and companies like Spotify, Bandcamp and Tipping Point, because that will give you interesting stuff in your timeline. But those accounts aren’t likely to follow you back. So once you start following ordinary people whose tweets you like, and engaging with them, your follow count will slowly start going up.

    The most important advice would be to start regularly posting interesting tweets with opinions and ideas of your own that people will enjoy reading – even though *at the moment* almost nobody will see them. The point is to gradually create an interesting and varied timeline (10 minutes a day is easily enough). That way, in three months time, if someone checks out your twitter to see if you’re interesting enough to follow, the answer will be an emphatic yes.

    Hope this is some help
    Tom Robinson

    PS Some people think having Twitter profile picture with a face can really help increase your engagements and follows. Doesn’t have to be *your* face – it could be a cartoon of a superhero, or an old photo of Charlie Chaplin. But human being are (allegedly) programmed to respond more to the faces of other human beings than to logos. Worth thinking about anyway.

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