Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Why bands should leave pester power to toddlers

This tweet from Nialler9 last week probably spoke for many who’ve seen their email in-boxes, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and blogs invaded daily by bands looking for votes in online competitions. You know the kind: a band have entered some …

Wed, Aug 24, 2011, 09:29

   

This tweet from Nialler9 last week probably spoke for many who’ve seen their email in-boxes, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and blogs invaded daily by bands looking for votes in online competitions.

You know the kind: a band have entered some battle of the bands’ competition to be the first act on the bill at some sponsored-up-to-the-eyeballs’ hooley or other. In order to win this allegedly valuable prize, the band need everyone they know to click “Like” or reteweet a tweet or vote for them on some heavily branded page. Thus, because they don’t know any better, the band pester their fans, friends and people they don’t know from a gap in the ditch to vote for them with their clicks. It’s bad enough when bands do this once, but many come back again and again looking for your time, annoying you even more in the process. It’s the same kind of carry-on which a toddler usually employs to great effect to get you to buy them a bar of chocolate at a supermarket checkout till.

The problem for bands who use pester power is that they’re really not doing themselves any favours. For a start, pestering or hassling would-be fans and influencers is not a good look. Moreover, if a band really thinks that their only chance to succeed or shine will come from winning some competition to be the first act on the bill at some sponsored-up-to-the-eyeballs’ hooley or other (a victory based on a popularity contest rather than anything to do with their music), they really need to cop themselves on. If a band think spending their time racking up emails and tweets and status updates and the like in order to publicise that competition is the best use of their time and resources, they really should be in another game.

The only winners with these shenanigans are the brands who are behind the silly competition to begin with, not the bands who are collectively annoying everyone they know with their pleadings. It’s high fives all round for the marketing department, where the value of the prize bears no relation to the value exerted by the brand from their involvement. All the pestering, hassling and annoying is done by the band, not the brand, so the latter get to gain from the former’s exertions.

To be fair, you can see where the bands are coming from. They operate in an ever-changing music business where it appears that new players like brands and corporates hold more sway and present more opportunities for them than the traditional industry players. If there’s a new set of rules by which to play the game, bands have to get with it. That most brands and corporates have absolutely no real interest in music or building sustainable careers or developing a band seems to be left unsaid in the brave new post-record label world. You can say many things about those old-school labels, but many actually knew that there was far more profit to be made from a band with a long-term career than an one-hit wonder. Brands want the instant hits which come from Facebook likes and calls to action.

Turning bands into grunts for some poxy online contest with a poorer prize than you’ll get in your local bingo hall on a wet Tuesday night also reinforces the notion that bands are supposd to in constant competition with their peers for attention, profile, gigs and opportunities. If you don’t go for this amazing opportunity to be the first act on the bill at some sponsored-up-to-the-eyeballs’ hooley or other (or, indeed, any online competition where it’s about the number of people you can pester to get behind you), some other new act will get there instead and you’ll be left behind. Stupid, untrue and illogical, but many acts sadly seem to buy into this mentality.

To be honest, acts should really view any online popularity competition with great suspicion rather than bail in with great gusto, unless they have some weird desire to help a brand reach a bigger audience. After all, in the long run, that competition and your association with a brand (who will be shaking you down for more rights than any major label would dream of demanding) is doing feck all for you, your band and your music. And you are, aren’t you, in this for the long run?

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