Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Please Don’t Be This Artist

In 2010 I saw a great movie that went totally under most people’s radars. Even I barely watched it, but caught the trailer and was intrigued enough to put it on my Netflix list. Among the movie’s many strong points was its soundtrack, which mixed ambient sound, classical music and modern instruments, turning some scenes very cheeky and others downright disturbing. I was excited to hear it over and over, to write to it, and to promote it to others. This is how I respond when I like music.

I’ve spent the last two years trying and failing to buy this soundtrack.

I won’t name the movie or its distributor because I don’t want to single out its composer for derision, nor will I name that composer. The day after I saw the movie, I searched for the soundtrack through Google, Amazon, and eventually tried iTunes and Youtube. I couldn’t find it for sale or streaming anywhere. I even resorted to the forbidden areas of the internet, without luck.

Figuring it had limited distribution (if any), I tracked down the composer’s recording label. Their website was a post-modern mess, so minimalistic that it took me what felt like an hour to find a contact feature. They never messaged me back, but I did find the composer’s social networks. When I discovered his Twitter account, I was elated.

He didn’t respond to any of my tweets, and I found that he’d set his account to Private, so I couldn’t read anything he said. I sent him a request to follow him.

It was 2011 before he accepted my request. In 2011, I still hopped on the opportunity. I tweeted at him that I enjoyed the score very much, and was there a way to buy it?

There was no response that day, week or month. A month later, I tweeted at him again. I couldn’t DM him because he wasn’t following me, but I didn’t mind that. It was also then that I noticed his account only tweeted every few months, when his music showed up in something. At that point there would be a single tweet, telling his hundred followers to go watch this movie or show. Because his account was set to Private, no one except his hundred followers ever saw this. It couldn’t show up in any keyword searches or conversations. And never in his accounts history had he actually responded to anyone about anything. He was unilaterally marketing to almost no one.

Within the last month I entered the most desperate and stupid ploy. Seeing that he’d tweeted within the last three minutes, I sent him one more @ message asking if his work might become available eventually. He’s never replied to it. Good chance, he never will. And that's fine - it's clearly a lost cause, and I'll leave him alone.

Maybe he doesn’t know how Twitter works. Maybe he can’t get the rights to sell the soundtrack and is too frustrated about it to talk to potential consumers. Maybe he’s almost blind and can barely use screens, or maybe he’s in a cult, or maybe he’s secretly a dog. I don’t know and I don’t want to judge this individual, but to judge this public appearance.

Specifically, everyone: don’t do this.

Maybe you’re so busy that you can’t reply to every fan comment, or you can’t check into social networks daily. That happens. But come on, the least you can do is:

1)      Don’t hide your promotion.
2)      Don’t refuse to engage with people who need help buying your stuff.

Now ideally, there’d be a 3), and to me, 3) is the most important.

3)      Be courteous to the people who like your art.

But I understand that 3) is tough for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and nobody can sustain that all of the time. Even the nicest people have raw days. You’ll have a lot more, though, if you do the above.


  1. so why tweet if no one's listening? perhaps he fear crowds?

    I've also looked for a score for one film but find no release for the score but at least, we still get to watch the movie and enjoy the music.

    hope you have a great day.

    1. There are many possible reasons for it. He may have wanted to make it work and didn't have time, or doesn't really care, or is too busy to learn or do it effectively, or only set this up for a few friends and just accepted other followers along the way. I've got absolutely no beef with the individual, though I did think it was a good case for others who are in any sort of promotion to think about.

  2. That's nuts. I can't imagine someone NOT wanting a fan to purchase their music or support their art. Pure nuts. And by nuts I mean balls. Yucky, sweaty balls.

    1. That's gross. Where can I buy a copy of that gross thing? I want to give you money!

  3. A very strange individual indeed. Not to mention his recording company, that doesn't even have the good sense to compile what they have & put it on iTunes or whatever.

    1. The recording company site was singularly odd. There are a few sites out there that seem almost meticulously art-designed to be difficult to navigate.

  4. Promotion and interacting with fans has a learning curve all its own. I have one follower who favorites almost everything I say on Twitter (literally, not figuratively), retweets me constantly (even bon mots like "Long day today. Need some coffee."), @ includes me in many of his tweets and generally assumes a MUCH closer personal relationship exists between us than I believe to exist.

    It's a little unnerving, and it makes me glad that we live in different cities.

    No doubt your musician doesn't know how twitter works, and nobody at his label explained it to him. I'm sure that what you were trying to say is, "Hi, Musician X. I heard your music and liked it. I'd like to follow you the same way I'd follow Lady Gaga."

    That's what you said, but what he may have heard was "Hi, Musician X. I'm one of 200 people who heard your music on that movie nobody saw and I fell in love with it... and you. I have been hunting for you everywhere and even contacted your label so I could find you... that's how much I love you. Now I've finally tracked you down via your twitter feed. I know you set it to private, but I don't think you really meant PRIVATE private. You didn't mean to keep out true fans like me. I'm going to keep pestering you until you let me into your private life. Every time you tweet, I'm going to ask again to be let in. By the way, what is your home address?"

    Maybe the guy is an accountant, and only plays music part time under an assumed name, so promotion is secondary to doing the quarterly taxes.

    1. "I fell in love with it... and you" seems like a rather silly embellishment, though I see why you'd enjoy making it. I did not convey most of what you said there in any of my tweets to him, and only tweeted after he did once. I'm hoping your restatement of him having a reasonable distraction is an agreement with my statement in Para9 and that you didn't miss what I was actually saying about business practice rather than an individual.

    2. I do, though, absolutely sympathize with you about that one over-eager fan and being glad you're far away from him/her. That's one reason I gave up asking this musician - even though I only tried to contact him a few times in about a year and a half, at this point it's clearly fruitless and quite possibly a nuisance for him.

    3. I saw the point you were making about other reasons why he might not be using twitter properly, besides "he doesn't know how" and "he's an ass". The exaggeration in the love love love (a joke which clearly did more to offend than amuse you, and for which I apologize) was intended to be how he might be perceiving your friending requests. All it takes is one stalker (or even a quasi-stalker) to make somebody gunshy about how they interact with fans.

    4. I'm sorry if I expressed that I thought the only options were ignorance or arrogance on his part. Particularly when I mentioned that he might be partially blind, I was referencing possible illness, which is actually where my imagination goes the most frequently when artists delay their work or withdraw. Not that I made that nearly as explicit as I could. Why my mind goes there is probably pretty obvious now that I've said it, but also, I think that's only a third possible reason. Yours, of fear of stalkers or over-enthusiasts, is also valid. I'd certainly hope that my few messages didn't scare him (and I swear, I kept them all brief and about merchandise), though if I did scare him, then I'm glad I gave up. I can only imagine the irony of antagonizing someone you want to patronize.

  5. Agreed. The least we can do is be polite to our fans!

    I can't imagine not being friends with my readers and not responding if they needed help buying one of my works.

    Wow, what an extraordinary artist this must have been to have ignored you like that.



Counter est. March 2, 2008