Social media is not known for its intimacy. When bands share pictures and updates of which city they’re going to next or how great the audience where the night before, there is no real connection between fan and artist. Indie band Parquet Courts strive to maintain that intimacy through a full boycott of social media. By returning to traditional forms of advertisement the band use face to face human interaction and billboards to get themselves noticed. Lead singer Andrew said in an interview with BBC 6 Music:
‘On the back of the records there’s a physical mailing address that people can write to and they do. And we have good old fashioned email too so we’re not complete luddites. I mean of course there’s the old tried and true interfacing method were you talk to people at shows and look them in the eye. I usually venture out after a set and try and get to know some people. ‘Hi, how are you, my name’s Andrew, thanks for coming to the show tonight. We’ve found a way where we are comfortable operating a band without it, and it shouldn’t be expected of groups, I think.’
“The use of social media means that bands have lost their mystique”
Many in the music business find adopting this anti mainstream stance a risk, and yet bands were and continue to be successful without social media. The use of social media means that bands have lost their mystique. Showing us a picture of the band’s Halloween costume or a band member’s new haircut means that bands have lost the charisma that bands like The Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin had.
More important than thousands of Facebook followers are the fans that go to the same artists’ gigs every month, or every year. The fans that pre-order the albums or stay after a concert and buy the merchandise. The fans that truly want to experience the music rather than like the newest post about the bands single. While the fans are busy creating fan pages and websites as a dedicated bulletin board of every time a band breathes, the band itself should be looking for interview opportunities or any chance of meaningful interaction with their fans. There is no better opportunity with fans than grassroots exposure. Getting to know your fans by name, on a one to one basis. Engage with fans, do a Q and A, ask them their favourite song from the new album, ask them if they’d like you to visit their city or town.
“a band that grows organically and not through a social media driven frenzy, is a lot more likely to build up a loyal and caring fan base”
The Stone Roses continue to advertise with billboards, with some surfacing recently in Manchester with a large lemon on it and no writing. An article in NME magazine stated that ‘fans of The Stone Roses are speculating that the band could release a new single this week after mysterious lemon adverts were displayed on billboards around Manchester’. The band did something similar last year to announce their 2016 gigs. The speculation and fascination this spurs with the fans is something that social media could never offer.
In my opinion, a band that grows organically and not through a social media driven frenzy, is a lot more likely to build up a loyal and caring fan base. A band posting about where there next gig is, or posting a picture of their latest album cover isn’t the problem, it’s the bands who believe themselves to be demi-gods because they received 1,000 likes on their latest post about how amazing their music is. Social media is fine to use as an online billboard, just remember that human interaction is the best proven way to build an impressive fan base.