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The Great Facebook Rock’n’Roll Swindle

Social media for bands meant one thing and one thing only at first – MYSPACE. It was new, fun and practically useful, despite one glaring drawback (i.e. the way you could crash your computer by inadvertently dropping in on a page designed by some complete arse of a human who had loaded so much horrific content onto their profile that your internet connection simply couldn’t cope, and neither could your eyes).

Then after a few years Facebook came along and started eroding the Myspace market share, the main point of difference perhaps being a newsfeed timeline that enabled you to get a rolling feed of updates from any pages you liked or friends you had made. This was a great idea and bands soon jumped on it, quickly realising its potential for marketing gigs…

Facebook of course had already realised its potential some time back, but happily sat back (presumably in a swivel chair, with an evil grin on their face, stroking a white cat) while bands made the most of it.

People are at heart lazy creatures who really love convenience, so to be able to “like” all your favourite bands on Facebook and then get a post in your feed when a new release or tour was happening was far simpler than having to keep visiting a band’s website, or subscribing to yet another email newsletter.

As a result, bands started to concentrate their energies onto enlarging their following on Facebook, encouraging people to like them, entering into conversations with them as well as simply promoting stuff.

And ye olde official band website became a rather forlorn middle-aged dude at the back of the room that nobody paid any attention to anymore (even though he was quite interesting), standing under a broken light bulb and remembering the glory of his youth when all these other people here thought he was pretty damn groovy actually. In fact the only person that even acknowledged this dude now was the email newsletter, a tired looking chick who, while never being half as cool as this guy, had been reliable and fun, before the constant strain of rejection by security staff had led to her becoming something of a recluse who now rarely went out at all cos like what was the point y’know?

There was a period for few years when Facebook was pretty much the only promotional tool worth using for your band. Heaps of your fans were on there, post-sharing was rife and if you played your cards right the fans would basically end up doing the promotion for you.

Then, once Facebook realised that phase one of their plans for world domination were complete, they enacted phase two. New algorithms were aimed and launched, ready to obliterate their targets and we all expressed indignant surprise that a large corporation’s primary motive wasn’t providing us with a handy tool for no charge but rather was to make money for itself.

Suddenly your posts were being shown to 100 people instead of 1000, but hey you can increase the visibility of your post by paying to reach these people instead, isn’t that great? Instead of logging in to find a flurry of notifications from fans commenting on your latest tour snaps, you could experience the joy of logging in and finding a flurry of notifications from Facebook telling you that your latest post was receiving more views than ninety percent of your other similar posts so why not pay to extend that reach further?

We’d been totally had, naively falling for an epic scam and now it was too late to do anything about it. Practically all other online outlets had been neglected or discarded in favour of Facebook, and now it was next to useless unless you paid for it, which was of course the exact opposite of the reason you started using it in the first place.

Every band I know has opted at some stage to try the “sponsored post”, but I don’t know any that have done it more than once. I’m not even convinced the sponsored post reached more users than normal, but I do know it would appear multiple time on the same people’s newsfeed, to the point of genuine irritation.

Meanwhile, internet users’ habits are now so ingrained that hardly anyone bothers straying too far from their social media accounts, and email – outside of business – has almost become a thing of the past. Basically Facebook invited us all into their fancy mansion, showed us a good time, knocked down our own houses while we were enjoying theirs, and then told us to pay up or they’d kick us out onto the street. The bastards!

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