The Stigma of Consistency

Stress.  Anxiety.  Performance under pressure.  That is what bands are facing when planning and performing an album release show.  Add to that chemical blender, that the album being released is deeply personal, and about depression and anxiety in one form or another, and you get a night that could be absolutely zero percent fun, or absolute live musical performance gold.  In the case of Fairy Bones… you get both.

 

I write about bands that I like like.  I write about bands that can teach me something.  I am a creative entrepreneur, as are indie musicians, and we can learn an awful lot from each other.  These Ghost Writer Radio, LIVE articles are a lot of fun because of that.  I get to combine my love of live music, with a business question, and use that information to try to build this series of articles that gives a look at multiple plans and formulas: a bit of a how-to guide… or at least a think-tank.  

 

With last month’s Episode One: With a Little Help from my Friends… , I tried to tie the review of the show into a showcase of small business platforms.  For this particular outing, I was hoping to feature marketing, specifically radio and social media marketing. 

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I reached out to my friend Dani Cutler, Social Media Guru, Comic Geek Girl, Horror Fan, and DJ extraordinaire over at KWSS: Phoenix Independent Radio, and asked her to help come up with some questions for the stellar group of acts that Chelsey Louise {Fairy Bones} put together for the 0% Fun album release at Crescent Ballroom.  Of the four bands that played that night, three of them fully participated in this interview! and for that I am immensely grateful.  As far as Doll Skin, the ladies just got announced for Warped Tour… so, they are probably a bit busy. 

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We give them a pass.

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And by the way…. why have you not bought 0% Fun yet???  Get On IT…. HERE !!  Or HERE!!!!! Or HERE !!!!!

Question One
In today’s climate, especially in light of streaming services {Spotify} and stores like Best Buy discontinuing CDs, do you feel that radio is still a valuable medium to reach a local audience? Do you notice radio directly helping you maintain your reach with your current fan-base as well as marketing this reach to a new audience?

Fairy Bones: Absolutely. The radio community here in Phoenix has been a tremendous help in growing our fan-base. Mo over at 93.3, Dani from Kwss, Fitz and the guys KUPD. Without their support, I doubt we’d have reached half the people we have in the last few years. Say what you will, radio is crucial. It always will be.

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Paper Foxes: I feel that radio is a valuable medium to local audiences and to small bands, however consistency is key. If bands only get played on local stations or anywhere once a month, nobody will take notice.

Bear Ghost: 1. Well, I think mainstream radio is still the best way to reach a local audience, strictly because of its mass listenership, and any airplay on those has brought us some significant attention. However, the importance of independent radio stations like KWSS can’t be under-emphasized. Putting great local music into regular rotation with big names takes away the stigma if being a “local band.” And being on air with Beef in the old days, and getting to do interviews with Dani now is a great way to help both our band and the independent radio thrive.
Every outlet is important and it gives people an opportunity to hear something on the radio that they normally wouldn’t, which is very valuable.

Question Two

Speaking of Spotify, first in terms of real numbers and the bottom line – would you rather a person buy your album, put it on their computer, and or other devices and play it indefinitely… or would you rather people pay to stream songs? Second – especially in comparison to traditional radio, do you feel that Spotify significantly impacts the number of fans that discover your music?

Fairy Bones: Bottom line …. we want people to listen. Radio, Spotify, ITunes, BitTorrent, karaoked, or covered by someone else, we don’t care, we want people to hear the music. We all listen and absorb music in different ways. It’s a little crazy to “want” a person to hear it a certain way. So as long as they’re listening, we’re happy.

Paper Foxes: I personally love physically buying and collecting CDs and playing them over and over in my car when I’m touring, but streaming is important and in the long run probably has more of an impact in overall legitimacy of the band. Selling CDs is always money in our pockets which helps us out in the short run. But if we get one of our songs on a major playlist on a major streaming service that could bump us up to the next level.

Check out PAPER FOXES…….. They’re a bit Interpol… a bit Smashing Pumpkins…. but Disco Sexy.  Dig it!

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Bear Ghost: This is a difficult question for my band specifically to answer, because our Spotify numbers are pretty bonkers. Obviously, we’d love people to buy our records because that helps us continue financially. However, if streaming is someone’s only option, them hearing the music is what’s important. We count the fan as a success, not the $10 we made from that person. And Spotify has been very significant in growing our fanbase. We personally have had way more new fans discover us from Spotify than from radio play.

Question Three

Do you feel that it is worth it to you, again referring to the bottom line, to market your music to radio stations outside the state of Arizona? Further, when thinking of your reach and your business model of growth – how would you rank and compare traditional radio, Youtube video views, and Spotify in your personal plan of reaching and maintaining a fan base?

Fairy Bones: Everything’s important in today’s digital world. Everything’s worth it. You never know what’s going to pop off. Ranking things is difficult because of that. Twenty years ago there were specifics paths to take, now anything can become your platform for reaching people. It would be naive to not try everything possible to get our music out there.

Paper Foxes: Yes I believe it is worth your time to use radio marketing outside of AZ but only if you consistently hit those areas and build a fan base and plan on hitting that area at least every 3 months.

Bear Ghost: For this question, I will again say that any opportunity we can take for someone to hear our band, it’s very little risk for us. Marketing to other state radio stations seems like a no-brainer. And if someone in Seattle hears, and hears that we’re an AZ band, again somehow that removes the stigma of us being a local band.


Question Four

And now…. if I may… a criticism that I would love your response to… Unfortunately, with social media, many bands don’t know how to do the footwork that I believe is still required. They think they can write a post or two and become famous. Comments?

Fairy Bones: There has always been, and will always be, lazy bands. That’s not new. But you still have to put in the footwork with social media, but we should call it “thumb-work”.

Paper FoxesSocial media is super important for us and honestly we’re not the best at it. The more consistent we are about it and the better we are about growing and maintains our presence the more impact it will have.

Bear Ghost: Haha, I don’t have anything to say in our defense of not knowing what the fuck we’re doing with social media. We definitely don’t think we can write a post or two and be famous, but we also definitely want to let our music speak for us as opposed to how witty our posts are. Also, we’re very lazy.

From our Friends over at 80/20 Bear Ghost brings the party!  Check it PEEPS !!!!!!!

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Thanks man, this was fun! I admire what you’re doing, and I’m glad you enjoyed the Fairy Bones show. I had a blast and I love them with all of my hearts.


Some Take-Aways…

Speaking of social media…. my job has become infinitely easier with being able to reach out to bands on Messenger and conduct interviews via print. It helps to not misquote… and also allows for easier conversation when you actually see the band. To say nothing of the fact, that as I mentioned above, album release shows are high stress…. and being able to do an interview in a way that does not add to that stress for the bands is a huge bonus.

As I was going through their answers to {Dani Cutler‘s} questions, I was reminded of a great quote from legendary comic book artist, Alex Ross:

“I wanna get just about everybody I can lay my hands on. I wanna get all the guys who are buying concert tickets to buy my comics. I want to get all the girls who are going to see N’Sync {well… we did get a Bear Ghost cover…..} to buy my comics. I want your parents. I want your children who aren’t even born yet.”

The roots of my question about the mediums through which we purchase music, is because I am a CD guy. I buy albums, I download them onto Ghost Writer Radio on my phone… and away I go. I do not even have a Spotify account. So, Chelsey answering… “It’s kinda crazy to “want” people to listen a certain way” is awesome to me. However, the reason I bring up the example is once again to solidify this point: there is not a lot of difference in the way we as artists, whether we draw comics, play music, or write books… seek to engage with our audience. We don’t discriminate. We want everyone. We want our work to be experienced. We want our work to live, and the ways that we go about trying to do that are exactly the purpose of this series of articles.

From this particular article… I took away two major points that transcend platform. The first is consistency. Both Paper Foxes and Bear Ghost reference the need for radio to be consistent in order for it to truly increase fan base. In this way Spotify playlists can be more helpful. This also works and is necessary for social media. It is important to find a balance between self promotion and audience engagement. Fairy Bones is fantastic in this way, constantly using posts to start conversations and dialogs. All of us as Indie Artists need to work on being more creative to navigate the continually changing algorithms of social media.

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Ghost Writer in da HOUSE !!!!

The second point, and one that is also deeply personal to me as an Indie writer, is stigma. When I was doing my signing for Spirits of Jerome at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, I was a bit offended by their billing of my event in their monthly newsletter. Lots of authors do signings at Changing Hands. To be honest, I doubt many of the big guns have to rent the space, but that wasn’t my issue. I had no problem renting the space for the reading, but once I did so I believe that I should have been given the same opportunities as larger publisher writers. My event was never shared by the venue, although the share the big guns all of the time. Additionally, in the newsletter I was singled out as “self published” – which is a dying, but still deeply ingrained stigma in the writing community. There is a difference between a Vanity Press that prints anybody, simply to make money off of the author, and a small indie press that is only such because they are new and starting out. Anyway, I digress. The point is, as Bear Ghost points out, there is s stigma attached to being “local” or being “indie”, and the more that we as independent artists consistently work to remove and diminish that stigma – the more we move onward to being a true grassroots powerhouse that can rival the big guns. It is necessarily about representation. It is about consistency, person-ability, genuineness, and talent. This particular billing has a solid handle on those characteristics, and I very much enjoyed getting to know each of them. What a great bunch of folks doing really nifty things we have here in Phoenix!

In closing… as I have oft pointed out. One of the sole purposed of Keep the Greasy Side Down is to facilitate that grassroots thinking here in Phoenix. We have a solid community of great, established and new, artists, and … well… Chelsey says it best, so let’s let her close the show. {Old Interview…. but I love what she has to say about the Phoenix Community.}  You Rock Chelsey!

 

Keep the Greasy Side Down My Friends !!

ghostwriter-final

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