On Saturday, January 10th, I attended the YOUR MUSIC, YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR CAREER seminar led by Michael Whalen and Ariel Hyatt (Cyber PR). The seminar featured several other distinguished people in today’s music industry who seek to educate independent artists on how to gain more visibility. I found it extremely informative, and afterwards I was so excited that I ran to the nearest cafe immediately afterwards and wrote this blog post about it.
When I got to the seminar at City College in New York City, Michael Whalen was speaking about YouTube monetization. I was proud of myself for already knowing and implementing tactics like tagging your music videos with as many keywords as possible, listing all the people who worked with you in the description, choosing images that are consistent with the songs you upload, and evaluating whether or not what you upload is your best work. These tactics have something of a common sense element to them, but in an age where everyone is online all the time and over-eager to over-share, some of us need to be reminded.
The Call To Be You
During the seminar Michael Whalen talked a great deal about the importance of authenticity when interacting with people on social media. When I heard this I almost laughed, because this is something I was immensely relieved to learn. On my Twitter, Pinterest, and blog I feature content about my interests such as Greek mythology, Hamlet, fairy tales, and psychology. When I share content about topics I am interested in I am surprised at how naturally utilizing social media comes to me. Sharing beautiful photos and blogging about my interest in mythology, psychology and Peter Pan feels almost indulgent. Michael Whalen has essentially instructed us independent artists to be human.
Branding: Communicating Who You Are Online
Ariel Hyatt led the marketing and PR panel which included the powerful voices of Jo-Na Williams (The Artist Empowerment Firm), Pamela Workman (Workman Group Communications), and Patrice Fehlen (September Gurl). An important theme that ran throughout the panel was branding. The way I interpreted the conversation is that branding can be described as creating a unique, recognizable type of product that you offer. Jo-Na Williams suggested having, what she referred to as, a branding manifesto in which you declare what it is that you stand for and what it is you believe in. Your manifesto serves as your underlying focus as you address all the other parts of being an artist. Having what you stand for clearly defined for yourself will help when it comes time to hire a professional publicist to help you promote your art. You will be able to communicate more effectively to your publicist what sets you apart.
My Personal Take Away from Saturday’s Seminar
What I realized after I began to attend more networking events is that pursuing success in the music industry, in this day and age, is not about indulging yourself or torturing yourself. It’s not about being self-indulgent or about forcing yourself to be something you’re not. What it means to be an independent artist has increased in complexity, but the redefining of the role has also opened up new opportunities for us to play to our strengths as well as more opportunities to challenge ourselves and step outside our comfort zones.
For me, posting about my interests and personal information and identifying openly as a human being, not just a musician, is the easy part. I can’t deny the extent of my relief at discovering that posting pretty pictures on Pinterest and schmoozing virtually about Disney movies and Greek mythology is actually part of my job now as an independent artist!
What’s difficult for me is going out to network with people I’ve never met before. For someone else, it might be the reverse, but what I realized at YOUR MUSIC, YOUR RIGHTS, YOUR CAREER is that it’s okay to be either way, because there will be opportunities for all of us to play to our strengths. The internet, even though it seems in some ways to make things more confusing than before, has given us more opportunities to be ourselves and connect with others.
About Samantha Echo:
Samantha Echo is a Mountain Nymph who happens to sing and write songs sometimes. Mostly about adultery, but also about sleep and Fairy Tales. She has been featured in several documentaries and articles about street performers, including the Award-Winning book The Noise Beneath the Apple, by Heather Jacks, who calls her “a Salvador Dali of sound, challenging and disrupting perspective.” She has just finished a photo shoot with photographer Michelle Fernanda Varela entitled “The Pinata of Life and Drowning in Adulthood” on the themes of Ophelia and the Peter Pan Complex. The photos (and other cool things) are coming soon to http://SamanthaEchoMusic.com