Over the past few years, Instagram has worked its way up through the ranks of social networking apps and websites, earning itself a place of significance alongside Twitter and Facebook (which happens to own Instagram). Needless to say, when companies like these reach such a level, every little change they make to their product or rules falls under strong scrutiny by our society.
Therefore, as you can imagine, Instagram users did not take too kindly to the company’s new terms of service adjustment, which, according to the L.A. Times, stated that “Instagram had the right to turn images into advertisements without any approval from or compensation for users starting Jan. 16. ” part of Facebook’s drive to make money from the service it bought this year for $715 million in cash and stock.”
Backlash from users has been rampant, with threats to delete their accounts and move on to similar photo apps like Hipstamatic. In respond to the uproar, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom was quick to try and quell everyone’s concerns by publicly stating, “Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos,” he wrote. “We respect that your photos are your photos. Period.” While somewhat reassuring, this does not change the fact that the company tried create such a dubious policy. Some might say that the app service is on thin ice right now, as users will be on their toes, keeping an eye on Instagram’s next move.
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When Justin Timberlake took ownership stake in MySpace following the site’s acquisition by Specific Media, we weren’t sure whether the pop star had a brilliant idea up his sleeve, or whether he just wanted a million dollar personal server to store all of his selfie mirror shots. Thankfully, JT has spared the world from any more swoopy-haired profile pictures, choosing instead to steer the former social media giant towards a beautiful new design emblazoned all over with, yes, himself. A new promotional video posted yesterday shows the redesigned MySpace in action; huge, high-definition profile pictures move effortlessly across the screen, streaming videos play smoothly in the background, and Timberlake’s frozen, smiling mug appears at almost every turn like a creepy uncle who won’t leave you alone at Thanksgiving.
It’s a new season and that means only one thing: time to release new music, head out on tour, hit the festival scene and, of course, score your band more opportunities to spread your music. Just like a business needs marketing campaign initiatives, so do bands targeting various markets to hook their music to the end-user. As I have mentioned in the past, look at your band as a business and your music as your product”it’ll be the easiest way to separate yourself from the lovable musician looking to connect with your fans and the manager looking to push your band into the industry. Every summer there is an influx of new releases (usually in June “ I know of at least a dozen CDs being released on June 22nd alone), as well as large festivals and tours. Since many of the music fanatics out there are in their 20’s and younger, summer break is the time to target these kids and get them out to your show. This week’s Generation DIY will touch upon how to create and run a PR campaign for your CD release, larger scale local shows or tours. Let the games begin!
Welcome to the second installment of “Generation DIY” . As promised in the initial post, the first topic to be discussed is social networking sites. Let’s break it down so we can get the most out of the Internet and all it has to offer.
Getting Familiar. By now you should have some sort of idea as to what genre you’re working within. There are many sites out there that can cater to you; it’s just a matter of finding them among the hundreds that promise to make you a star! The first suggestion is to research (and make a list of!) other artists that fall in (or closely around) your genre and see where they are showcasing their music. From here you can strategize as to where you’d like to create a focus for yourselves while keeping morals and dignity in check.
The advent of the digital age made a lot of things easier for musicians (i.e. recording, distributing and promoting material). But there are still a couple of areas that require some good, ol’ fashioned elbow grease. Like, say, building an online fanbase.
Since there’s no magical application that can comb through cyberspace to locate the ideal fans for you (though some 13-year-old computer genius is probably working on it as we speak), you’re going to have to dedicate some time to crafting the art of making friends. But before you go crazy sending out friend requests, we have a couple of suggestions …
¢ Don’t spread yourself too thin. There are countless social networking sites out there, and you may be tempted to create as many profiles as humaly possible. Remember, you have to update your profile with news, tour dates, MP3s, videos and the like on a continual basis. We recommend you limit yourself to three or four sites that you know you can maintain.
¢ Find common ground. The best way to build your fanbase is to reach out to the friends and fans of similar-sounding musicians. Our advice: be practical, not aspirational. You may aspire to draw all of U2’s fans but chances are good that these followers won’t be interested in you if your sound is more like Miley Cyrus. So start with artists within your genre who share the same influences, are well-established or garnering buzz. In other words, focus on someone you could feasibly open for without getting booed off the stage by their fans.
¢ Don’t sound spammy. Once you’ve done your research and located fans who you truly believe would appreciate your music, send them a friend/fan request accompanied by either a personal email or comment on their profile. Be sincere and conversational. Write something like Hey, I noticed you’re into Mary J. You’d probably like my music too. Give it a listen when you have a second and tell me what you think, but make sure you use your own voice. The more you sound like you’re speaking to each fan one-on-one, the better the chances you’ll get a positive response.
¢ Communicate. Every fan you make is a new relationship and, just like with friends or family members, fans require attention and communication. This means updating your profile with news and blog posts as well as uploading new songs, videos and photos are absolute necessities. But the single most important thing you can do is respond to your fans when they send you a message or comment. It’s a small investment of your time that will” not to freak you out” take your “relationship” to the next level.
Look, until Steve Jobs or Bill Gates invents bionic fans that can be programmed and set to autopilot, you’re just going to have to settle for the human variety. Yes, they are a little more high maintenance, but trust us, they probably sound a lot better screaming the lyrics to your songs.