The web, and social media in particular, has closed the gap between the artist on stage and the fan sitting in the nose bleed section, and I’m sure I speak for all music lovers when I say we are grateful. While there are plenty of examples of how musicians are embracing the new medium, here are five of our favorite ways that musicians are utilizing social media.
A Failed Idea
Back when I worked for Viacom, I pitched an idea to VH1 for a TV show called “Toss the Mic.” The concept was simple: An artist would record a song track and then that piece would be delivered to another artist who would build on top of it. All artists would remain anonymous to each other until the end of the episode when they would gather to hear the final result, shocked and amazed at who contributed and the direction the original track went.
I never got the green light. But I still think it would be REAL music television.
That was 2004, the year that Facebook was born in a Harvard dorm room – before the social media explosion. These days, musicians are leveraging social media to do everything from raising money for their favorite charities to collaborating with strangers. Here are a few recent examples:
Live from Daryl’s House
I stumbled upon this site when I was reading about one of my favorite musicians, Matt Nathanson. Daryl Hall, who was THE Hall in Hall & Oates, has a running Webisode series where accomplished musicians join him in his New York state home to eat and jam. The videos are well produced and everyone’s passion for music (and food) is evident. There is social media presence on all of the majors, moderated Website comments and an iTunes podcast. At 62, Daryl is embracing the Web in a way that many of his younger counterparts have failed to do so.
30 Seconds to Mars
The rock band might be fronted my former tween actor Jared Leto, but their music deserves to be taken seriously. Proving to be fan friendly, 30 Seconds to Mars used their 700,000+ MySpace friends and 80,000+ Twitter followers to solicit backup singers for their recent album ‘This Is War.’ They also featured 2,000 fans on individual album covers.
Ben Folds on Chatroulette
Best known for the 1997 hit single “Brick,” the piano-playing singer-songwriter has used the video chat site as a muse for songs. He’s also broadcast an entire concert from a laptop and allowed audience members to see who was streaming on the other end. (In a stroke of luck, a single penis never showed up) Rockers Faith No More have also streamed a full concert.Â With the advent of more focused Chatroulette “rooms” – the possibility of a band ambush increases.
Joey Kramer, the drummer for rock legends Aerosmith, has recently launched an app called Hit Hard where users can test there drumming skills a la Rock Band. All of the audio was recorded by Kramer himself, and as you defeat each level, he appears in video messages to congratulate/encourage you.
Several unsigned and up-and-coming musicians have taken to Kickstarter, a Website that allows people to fund creative ideas. For example The Pauses, a Florida-based pop band, are in the process of raising money from fans and strangers to record their debut album with a professional producer. Donators can choose any amount, and the funds are not taken unless the Kickstarter user reaches their goal. Other bands can be found looking for money to tour or giving fans the opportunity to get limited-edition merchandise.
It’s only a matter of time that a bunch of famous musicians gather around an iPad and produce a single that is recorded, edited and mixed on the new Mac gadget. They’ll then have their Twitter followers write the lyrics and release it exclusively on iTunes. It’s no “Toss the Mic,” but social media has brought artist/fan collaboration to an entirely new level, and that my friends, means the future is bright.