Lost in Cyber Space – How Many Websites Does One Musician Need??!

Sometimes I imagine there was a golden age when being a musician mostly meant creating music and writing songs, going out and performing at shows, and and then going home to practice and get better. But it’s easy to look back through the rose-tinted glasses and forget that making a living from music has always required a lot of other work to support the creative side of what you are doing.

Since the invention of the internet being a musician means you spend a lot of time in the virtual world. As of writing this article, I maintain 9 websites –

And the only reason it’s 9 and not more is because I had to put a limit on it somewhere, otherwise ironically my plan to leave my desk-based job and do music full time would still leave me sat in front of a computer screen all day.

But there are new sites coming along all the time to draw me in and are hailed as THE site you must be on if you want any presence on the internet, just a few suggestions include; StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn, and Flickr.

Once you start looking into which sites your videos should be shared on, how to get your songs on internet radio shows and podcasts, where your blog should be hosted and how to connect with other bloggers, how to make sure search engines like google and yahoo know your sites exist, and how often you should be updating all of these sites with new and interesting content, your head starts spinning until you feel you would be lucky if a short thunder storm passed through and caused a temporary power cut to shut your computer off and give your brain some temporary relief!

The huge upside of all this is that there are now  so many new ways for musicians to connect with their fans and to reach new people who will also hopefully become fans. I really love the ease that comes with having a Twitter and Facebook page where I can chat with the people who came to my show last night, or recently bought my CD. And it’s a great way of letting people know about a new song I’ve written, a video I’ve made or a show in their area.

But what’s the cost of all this time spent communicating virtually? I was discussing it with a musician friend last night and we were wondering whether we are all forgetting what it means to connect with someone on a personal level, look them in the eyes when we talk and take the time to listen to what’s going on in each others’ lives, instead of scanning through short bursts of impersonal information posted to computer screens each day. I’ve believed for a long time that if you spend a lot of your waking hours passively engaged – whether that’s on the internet or watching TV, it’s not a good thing. It makes it a challenge to suddenly try and engage your mind and imagination, to write songs, or to take an active role in what’s really going on in the world around you.

And perhaps even more sad than that, as a good friend of mine is always lamenting, the internet has killed the art of the well told joke. No one can ever remember a joke they read on an email, no matter how funny, hours later sitting in the pub with friends.

I guess like many aspects of life, there are downsides and upsides that have come with the invention of the internet. So, I’ll just have to remember not to overdose on internet time. Like the super indulgent Thomas Keller brownies I made yesterday, everything is good in moderation.

Now, I’d like to ask you to not check my Twitter or Facebook page, and instead go and tell someone a joke!

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11 thoughts on “Lost in Cyber Space – How Many Websites Does One Musician Need??!

  1. I know exactly how you feel. Just managed 2 weeks of daily blog posts – feel exhausted. Time to switch the computer off I think and to think of some jokes instead 🙂

  2. Wow, daily blogs is quite a challenge. Good idea to get some time away from the computer and enjoy the sunshine this weekend! 🙂

  3. you make some really good points about what this is doing to us on a personal level. however, on a professional level i’m a person who remembers the days before all of this online stuff. it was very difficult. in order to invite anyone to a live show, i had to send out old fashioned mail. i must have spent $1000 in stamps and flyers per show, and the musicians had to send out cards as well. being able to gather like-minded people this way is an incredible tool for anyone trying to get folks to listen to their stuff or know their name. there used to be a decent indie radio station with interviews in only certain cities. so those, the newspaper, and the snail mail were the only ways to promote anything. and as a presenter i couldn’t preview anyone’s music or performance style as easily as you can now. the time a musician spent making packets and mailing them out was grueling compared to the time spent on sites now. it’s always a trade, but just some caution in romanticizing how it used to be! 🙂

  4. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your comment. You’re right that it’s important not to romanticize life before the internet, which I tried to be careful of doing, and talked about an imaginary golden age. It’s a real privilege to live in a time when I can communicate directly with thousands of people about my music. I’m just sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer number of websites there are out there and how much time it takes away from the creative stuff. It can be difficult knowing which websites are worth spending your time on.

    One of my musician friends told me about how it was touring before cell phones were around, how they had to stop in each town to find a pay phone to call the radio stations to find out if they’d received their music, and how a mailing list was just that – a list of people you had to mail. So I’m definitely a believer in how technology has helped us overall!

    Plus, I get to have interesting discussions on here!

  5. Bob K says:

    Now you’ve put me in a massive paradox. Most of what I would write here would be contradictory of posting on a blog! And it’s worse because the website rejected my email address the first time and everything I wrote was lost!

  6. i agree that the number of sites now IS daunting though! oh i forgot about the cell phone issue….how true! it’s amazing we ever pulled a show together back then, really! and no GPS or mapquest either. i have no idea how everyone found their gigs. but they did! 🙂

  7. Keith Siegel says:

    “we were wondering whether we are all forgetting what it means to connect with someone on a personal level, look them in the eyes when we talk and take the time to listen to what’s going on in each others’ lives, instead of scanning through short bursts of impersonal information posted to computer screens each day.”

    Don’t sell yourself short, Callaghan. From the three times I have had the pleasure of seeing you in concert here in Maine, you and Steve have always made the time to say hello and get to know your audience on a personal level. It really means a lot to me that when I see you at one of your shows, you and Steve are actually able to remember my name.

    You are a rare breed in today’s music world, and I thank you for that!

    • Hi Keith, thanks for your lovely comment. That’s definitely one of the joys of getting to perform live, getting to meet people and fans face to face and really make a connection. And I think that probably how ever crazy things get with technology live music will always be around!

      Have a great weekend, and look forward to seeing you in Maine again!

  8. I recognize that problem too. But I’d rather have the situation we are in now, where we can connect with fans/customers directly, than the old world dominated by middlemen

    • Yes, Colin you make a good point. The internet has enabled a lot of musicians to raise their profile greatly and be discovered by music fans, which was virtually impossible when the music world was dominated by the large labels only.
      Thanks for joining in the discussion! Have a great weekend 🙂

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