Not completely. “Geekery” as a label has simply moved on to new things…but now holds less weight than it once did.
Remember when blogs were something story-worthy in the media? Or when recording music at home DIY-style made an artist seem like Mad Max in Beyond Thunderdome? Or when giving away free mp3s of songs was a revolutionary, Creative-Commons-flag-waving statement of independence and foresight?
Now, all to often, I’ll see an artist puttering around in something like Twitter, diligently tweeting into a fan-less void.
Making a splash in the music industry requires a lot of hype, and a lot of artistry. Hype (or the “story”) drives awareness. Great music creates fans.
Ignoring artistry (Brian Hazard of Color Theory wrote a great “creating hit songs” post, if you’re looking for one), let’s take a quick glance at hype and story, and over-generalize for kicks:
- If you can leverage a brand new tool or technology before any one else, you have a chance of becoming a “case study” or “poster child” for it. (If you’re a new band that just joined Twitter, or has a SellaBand.com account, or a podcast, no one will care.)
- If you can think of a creative song, video, or other publicity stunt that is amazingly unique, funny, or simply impressive, you may have a viral story on your hand. (Note the word “unique”. If it’s been done, forget it.)
- Cover songs are popular for a reason — familiarity attracts fans of the original work, and can breed new fans. If you can produce a creative spin or meme from an existing popular concept or creative work, you may attract attention and fans. (Think of the “Double Rainbow” spin off tracks that topped iTunes charts, or the artists that were discovered via cover song renditions in YouTube.)
New tech tools, music promotion websites, and discovery engines seem to launch weekly, AND they’re accessible to pretty much everyone. Simply USING new technology is not nearly as cool as it used to be… But HYPE is as powerful as it ever was. If you’re an artist, find your unique, impossible-to-ignore story — a hard thing to do — and launch it.