Image by via CrunchBase
First, for the still-uninitiated: what is Twitter? It’s a so-called micro-blogging service that allows you to send up to 140 character messages (called Tweets) to people that ‘follow you’, both on the web as well as on the mobile phone. It all started out with the trivial question “what are you doing right now” – and believe it or not, millions of people started sharing those kinds of messages (e.g. ‘drinking coffee at Starbucks on 46th Street’) with each other. Today, Twitter has some estimated 5-7 Million users (and traffic of 30 Million+ uniques per month), and people are sharing ideas, links, news, videos, books, tour-dates, program updates, record releases etc with each other. All this updating is generating a huge flood of calls & responses (I sometimes call this ‘the river’) which is – ADD effects aside – starting to become a very important new way of marketing and promoting something (sharing is caring, remember?).
Ok, ok, I know: who has the time for this? But trust me: once you know how to juggle things like Twitter, you’ll see first-hand what it does, and your time-wasting concerns will evaporate. You really do have to get wet to swim!
All you need to do is go to Twitter.com, sign up for a free account and start following people (here is my list of people that I follow, for starters) and post a few things every day. For handling Twitter traffic and pings I use Tweetdeck which is a great free software app that makes the Twitter user’s life a lot easier. If you want to know more, here are some resources: Video on Twitter for Business (OReilly Webcast), video: Twitter in plain English
So here are my thoughts on why everyone in the music industry (really!) should get busy with Twitter:
1) It teaches us the meaning of Conversation – and we need to learn that, urgently. If you don’t tweet anything good (i.e. post relevant messages) nobody will follow you, and if you don’t respond to messages people will stop looking at your tweets, as well. In 2009, the tweets of the top-twitteratis may well become more influential in this industry than anything that Billboard or MusicWeek will write so …get ready. But as far as marketing our artists and /or services is concerned, Twitter indeed offers a crucial lesson for all of us in the music business: stop pushing, start talking. Broadcast less, micro-cast more. Stop the monolog and start the collaboration. Win by attraction not Control.
2) Instead of email, use Twitter to transmit news and updates to people: it’s a lot less work, you can do it as often as you want, and nobody will complain about spam. Think of Twitter as your own, free SMS broadcast service. Example: Artistshouse Music
3) People react very quickly to what you post on Twitter – the more followers you have the quicker you can get your message out there; and with real, tangible results. As an example, when I posted the fact that those cool new Macbooks have DRM’ed displays (!) I received several responses within 2 minutes from people that thanked me for warning them – they were just about to buy one! This is a great example for the power of the Twitter network – imagine this (hopefully the other way ’round) for a new video release by an artist you are trying to promote [I still did buy that new Macbook btw!]
4) Twitter really does create that direct connection, for free, between you (the artist, the label, the writer, the publisher, the agent…) and the people formerly known as consumers, the fans, the users – all you have to do is start the conversation!
5) Twitter is a great new way to monitor the buzz online, whether it’s new record releases, music recommendations via blogs, the discussion around MIDEM 🙂, music industry news, what Nettwerk Music Group is up to, the death spiral of CD sales, or the best sushi in London 😉 I use this way of ‘social searching’ all the time, and it has opened up a world of new resources for me.
6) If you are using Twitter on your mobile phone (I use Twitterfon on the iPhone, and the OperaMini browser on my Nokia e71), you can use your Twitter network of followers to source stuff on-the-fly while traveling, incl. last minute tech-help and ad-hoc meetings or local hotel or food recommendations. I have tried it, and if enough people are following you, it works out great.
7) If you think that Twitter is just for timewasters and geeks, you are dead wrong – everyone is getting on twitter as I write this – traffic is exploding, and major brands are coming aboard. Even plants are now on Twitter, too! But seriously: Twitter is gearing up to be a fantastic marketing tool for social media ‘products’ such as music – and we will see a veritable explosion of twitter-charged successes in 2009.
Some other relevant links:
Blip.fm – the Music-Twitter
Britney on Twitter
My bottom line: get on Twitter now, and start tweeting – let’s see who can contribute some success stories when we meet at MIDEM in January. Cheers, Gerd Leonhard