A musician’s online identity

A musician’s online identity. It’s good to talk.

Read it or listen to it.

Getting work as a freelancer in the music business is a lifelong challenge! I don’t want to tempt fate here, but it never ceases to amaze me that I keep working (touch wood) in this dysfuntional but strangely inter-connected community. In the (bad) old days, networking and socialising had to be physical. Your contacts grew in studios, cafes, bars, over the telephone, and the maxim that if you were working, you kept working was very true – if your face was ‘in’ then you generally kept getting more work. If you disappeared off the radar, then people quickly forgot about you.

Undoubtedly, that sort of personal contact still counts for much. My credits page has turned into a record of my job sheet per quarter and well over half of those sources of work this year come from people I have known a long time, or via that other catalyst for employment, personal recommendation. But I’ve tried to increase my chances of connecting with people who want to work with me, by having an identity online.

I’ve approached this in a couple of ways. Straightforward, in your face advertising and the more gentle, human approach of talking through self-publishing. For advertising, I’m using google adwords and spending about a pound a day for those sponsored links that come up with a google search. I’m on a couple of virtual musician sites too – screenedmusic.co.uk and esession.com. Screen Music has a modest subscription charge and is aimed at media composers, while esession takes a fee from the producer who wants to hire you and seems to be more of a songwriters community. I’m new to both so I can’t offer any more advice from experience on these yet!

My website is also an advert but it crosses over into the other side of promoting yourself – socialising, or simply talking, having your say, self-publishing. When you express yourself you are not only saying something specific, you are projecting your identity. And, warts and all, that’s what I’m doing here. I’m expressing opinions, I’m relating experiences, I’m demonstrating that I have a keen interest in working in music, and hopefully building an identity that suggests I’m competent. My list of credits show I can do the job I say I can, but it’s my identity that should show I’m OK to work with.

Expressing myself is only half of a conversation. I’m not a prolific blogger and I only get a smattering of comments on my blog; but I respond to other bloggers, or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and some other social sites like composers forum, and I publish videos on subjects that interest me on YouTube and blip.tv. This isn’t about saying ‘gimme a job’ it’s just simply joining in the music business conversations because it’s good to talk. And a by product is that I have a kind of professional-cum-personal identity online.

I don’t pretend I’m doing the self-publishing thing fantastically well, but here are a few of the music blogs I respect – great examples of online identities in the music business.

Ian Shepherd
Adrian Ellis
Tim Prebble
Ken Lewis
Sentric Music

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2 responses to “A musician’s online identity

  1. Hey, thanks for the love, Pete! I’m in excellent company…

    I think your efforts are a great example, especially in the ‘triple threat’ category, where you are providing information in text, audio, and video formats. Your videos are especially relevant and informative, and you use your voice-over skills to great effect. Anyone looking to provide high quality video learning could use you as a model.

    Which brings me to a point about our discussion on mentoring – this is in a way what you are doing, I’m sure – it’s certainly a ‘giving back’ and sharing of information – hallmarks of good social networking.

    Keep up the great work!

  2. I totally agree with the power of online communication Pete. I know, through my recent work with composers and recording sessions in London that networking (in the musical sense) is at the heart of the 21st century musician, freelance or not!
    ESession got a good review in the last Sound On Sound – in fact their last feature was all about the online session musician – Did you catch it?

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