The one with all the self promotion
It used to be that self promotion was to be avoided at any cost. It was almost always better to be thought of as humble, unworthy and politely self deprecating. These are the old rules.
It’s ironic that I’m writing about this, being the owner of a blog that’s been around 2002 or so… meaning I’ve been thinking my thoughts have been important enough to publish for nine years. Clearly those of you who have gotten me to over 83,000 views (since I put up the counter) know how deluded I am 🙂
Anyway, back to the rise of self promotion. I started thinking about this when I watched two actors on Glee (don’t leave! this is not about Glee).. Dijon Talton and Harry Shum. They were both background characters that had maybe 3 lines all of season 1. Now the Glee people are really marketing savvy. They set up each of the kids with a Twitter account and a phone to be able to post with. Lo and behold, we ended up seeing some separation between the two bit players.
Dijon fairly ignored his account… the random tweet about going to this place or that venue and a word or two about random things he was doing. Very much Internet 1.0. His last line on the show was ironically “… I was just another football player” and by week one of Season 2, we heard that “Matt” had transferred schools. Not even a goodbye to poor Dijon.
But Harry, ahhhh Harry. He knew a thing or two about self promotion. He used Twitter actively and talked about his role on the show. He talked about his love of dancing and where people could see him perform. He engaged his followers by talking to them directly and grew his followers from a few hundred to tens of thousands. Eventually, the Glee fanbase was well aware of the exploits of “Other Asian” that he was promoted to a series regular in Season 2 with lines in almost every show. Pretty good rise to success from essentially nothing but words on a website.
The other guy who has been really successful with the new self promotion is Peter Hollens. To back up a little, the record business of 2011 is a barely recognizable entity to those in the business even 10 years ago. Gone are the days when Radio was the only path to success… social media and iTunes are the new ways to musical success (a way paved by the illegal file sharing site Napster). It used to be the only way to become a successful musician was to get the attention of a record label, get signed, record an album and then tour, tour, tour. And while this way was well guarded and taken only by the hand chosen golden few… it screened out a lot of good talented musicians who had passion and talent. Today, you still need passion and talent… make no mistake (unless you’re Taylor Swift, then you just need a good song and autotune)(yes I’m still bitter about her Grammy). But today’s successful musician also needs marketing and promotion skills as well as a working knowledge of social media.
That’s where Peter Hollens is doing well. Peter was a featured singer of On The Rocks, an a capella group that competed on NBC’s The Sing Off. They didn’t win but they won many fans with their energetic and high spirited performances. And while many of his fellow choirmates and competitors have faded back into their local communities, Peter has been recording and using places like Facebook and Youtube to get his songs out there. His video of a medley of Rhianna’s What’s My Name and Only Girl is closing on 60,000 views in just over three weeks, probably passing that mark as I write this. How good is this? Well Slate’s research says that only 3% of all videos pass 1,000 views in their first month. So he’s doing alright. Add to this a personal website, video teasers, and personal interaction with fans on his Facebook page and you have an an increasingly large launch pad for new song releases.
So obviously I’ve taken a particular take on the phrase “self promotion” and applied it to the entertainment business. But if it gets the next Coldplay or Matt Damon to get out of the practice room and out on the net sharing their talent… we all win.