Bell Curve Expectations

With the growing trend for musicians, singer-songwriters, arrangers, producers, recording artists, composers et al to go Indie over the past decade, there has been an explosion of online sites to help those in the music industry to market and brand themselves to buyers and end-users.   While the pages on these sites aren’t websites, they provide a common starting point from which to find all sorts of industry people in pretty much any musical genre imaginable.

But there’s a problem with places like this and the problem is that they create them with bell curve expectations and penalize those who aren’t bell curve for any number of reasons.

For most music people in the industry, the profile checklist on such community websites is accurate and invaluable:  profile picture, music, band members, artist bio, social media networking site linkage, sync status updates, band profile, fan reach, press items, tour date, online store, create widgets for other websites, blog, et al.  If you fill in all the blanks on the checklist, your page is listed as 100% complete.

Now consider this.  What if you’re an arranger or producer or both?  You won’t be able to complete the page to 100% status for a few reasons with the top two being:  you aren’t touring and there aren’t any members of a band to identify.  Awkward, as my son would say.

And what do you make of the promotional checklist?  Sure the site suggests you create your own mobile app, launch a street team, use Facebook apps, use widgets, develop an online press kit, create banners and tune packs, and more in order to confirm promotional checklist 100% status.  The problem with that is that an arranger or producer isn’t really going to need to complete everything on the promotional checklist.  That means that someone checking out their pages is going to be left with the impression that the arranger or producer may not all that and a bag of chips, if you’ll pardon a very old expression from the very early 90s.

You see, not everyone needs to have their very own mobile phone app.  And no everyone needs to gather what’s euphemistically referred to as fan intelligence.  And not everyone can — or wants to — gig. 

Now, I’m not saying that these websites are bad things for people in the industry.  Au contraire (that’s French for ‘Woah Nelly’), my friend.  I think such websites are indispensable on so many levels.  What I’m objecting to is the stereotyping the programmers and website owners appear to have about who uses their services.

Those who make use of such websites are buyers as well and let me assure you, the fastest way to alienate or put your customer on alert is to insist that they do what you tell them to do or they won’t get promised goodies everyone else is getting by completing everything they’re told to complete.

Some of the promotional checklist must-do’s on some of the websites include singing up for services that will charge a reduced fee to those websites’ users.  If the user doesn’t complete that step and make use of the reduced-fee service offered, the user hasn’t got a hope in this lifetime of ever seeing “100% complete” on their promotional checklist.

It’s more than a little ironic that an industry that is built on the individuality of the person is the one most hyper-focused on homogenizing its end users.  Maybe someday website owners and programmers will come to the realization that the music industry isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing and as such, one can’t approach the needs of the industry with bell-curve expectations.

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