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.