Kevin Buckle: Meet the musicians’ vital new friends

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I’ve never really been an early adopter of technology or social media and have only recently inherited my youngest daughter’s smart phone. But whereas email and mobile phones are now used by virtually everybody, I’m amazed at how many people and indeed entire professions are not up to speed on how social media affects them.

I completely understand somebody not using Facebook, engaging on Twitter or posting pics on Instagram, but not understanding how all these things work when it impinges on your job is unforgivable.

Regularly I get people telling me they have posted something on Twitter or Facebook without realising they might as well have written it on the back of an envelope and put it in a drawer for all the attention it is going to get.

That at least is not understanding how these platforms work, but other things are simply caused by a lack of thinking things through.

Musicians and authors genuinely wonder why a shop has not retweeted the announcement of their book or album that links to Amazon, for instance.

Again, a band launches their video on Twitter for the first single from a forthcoming album and wonders why with both a Twitter bio and YouTube description saying ‘buy our new album from our website and get exclusive extras not in shops’ that shops don’t retweet that.

Many shops are simply too busy and find social media just one thing too many to deal with, but there are many good shops out there which could make a real difference, especially to a smaller band’s profile, if they weren’t cutting their own throats by doing so.

One thing that people don’t understand about social media is that there is no point paying people to say what you do is good. Nobody except the most gullible pay attention to that and when it comes from a PR company it is almost worthless.

What is needed is to get the information about whatever it is out there and then try to interest people enough that they will investigate for themselves.

That of course is only half the battle. Assuming an artist needs to be paid for what they do, if it can be accessed for free any time somebody wants, it is hard to incentivise them to hand over hard cash.

Rarely, though, does any thought go into the checks and balances of using social media and it really is a shame because so many artists are missing out on vital promotion. For myself I never intend again to go back into the world of trying to promote and compete with bands at the same time, as there is no balance that works. I’m very happy to help with a different criteria and that, of course, is what the Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre will be all about.

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to sell from a house to a song download, certain principles still hold and while it is never possible to keep everybody happy all of the time it does no harm to consider what is for the best.

In other organisations such as councils, when publicising events even basics like tagging those mentioned are ignored.

Sometimes if an event is close to my heart I will tweet it properly, tagging all the appropriate people and adding an eye-catching picture, because often these events are plain statements with no pic at all.

Regularly as if just to show the person responsible for promoting the event has no clue whatsoever they will “like” my tweet but not retweet it, which is the equivalent of saying I’ve seen your tweet but I’m not going to tell anybody!

That so many professions and organisations get it so wrong is one thing, but I even once got an email from a PR company with their “twitter etiquette” that consisted of them tweeting on a Friday afternoon and then having a meeting on the Monday to discuss as if real-time interaction, another important element of social media, was unnecessary.

What we have with social media is actually the equivalent of enclaves and sometimes entire offices that are insisting that you send them a fax when you offer to send them an email.

Unicorn Fund? I’ll drink to that

One light in the darkness was the recent announcement from BrewDog of their Unicorn Fund.

They will give away 20% of their profits over the next five years, half of which will go directly to charities, and if targets are met that will be £45million.

When I think about the tax dodging Amazon and the thousands of less well publicised companies that do the same, I do wonder exactly what could be achieved if companies just paid their dues rather than operating under legal loopholes, never mind following BrewDog’s lead.

For the record, having seen all the worthy charities immediately enquiring about the Unicorn Fund I certainly won’t be applying myself, but BrewDog should be applauded.

As they say, “This is not about altruism. It is about impact.  This is not about profits. It is about purpose. We want to create a new blueprint for a 21st century business.”

Well said.

Where would we be without lottery funds?

MY inbox today was brought to me by the letter Q with both The Quietus, an excellent online music and culture website, and the Queen’s Hall looking to raise funds.

Barely a day goes by that I don’t see some new need for funding and, of course, my own Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre is in the same boat.

Even those who do get funding spend so much time applying for that funding and worrying about future funding that it does feel like there has to be a better way.

So much funding is lottery based now that it makes me wonder what existed before. Certainly those who play the lottery are to a large extent not those who benefit from lottery funds and I struggle to justify most arts funding ahead of the NHS.

I once put that to Willie Gray Muir, chair of the Royal High School Preservation Trust, when discussing how precious the views to the school were, never mind the school itself.

If for some reason the demolition of the school meant a new state-of-the- art cancer hospital could be built, then there would be few indeed insisting the school remained. To be fair he agreed.

For my own part the plan is to make the music centre self-sufficient after three years, so I don’t feel quite so bad about looking for initial funding.

Most arts organisations, though, have a model completely based on permanent funding and in these very different times you have to ask if something needs so much continuous funding if it can be justified.