You Have No Right To Someone's Attention

Marketing used to be about shouting at the masses. In a music context, this was a blitzkrieg involving above the line advertising and buying oneself to the top of the charts. This is no longer effective - nor is it acceptable. In fact it can be a complete waste of time.

The best communication now involves an invitation to join into a dialogue (with a gentle nudge now and then). Permission is key. Most important of all, to get an audience for your message you need to have one that compells them to listen in the first place.

What we're seeing lately, however, is that just asking for permission to grab someone's attention isn't enough. This is evident in what has happened with MySpace. By sending someone a friend request, bands thought they then had permission to engage them as often as necessary. They also assumed that the "friend" would take some responsibility for keeping the relationship going.

Once MySpace started to take off, a deluge of bands masquerading as wanna-be friends started to bombard music fans. The result was a population of people who just stopped listening. The MySpace principle of quantity of fans over quality seems to still be in place. I wonder now how many "friends" of bands are actually still active users of MySpace - or indeed, have any interaction with the artist once the initial contact has been made?

Three things are required for permission now:

1. What's the glue?
Why should the audience care? What do you have in common? This is the glue that connects you. I personally don't give a toss about Cambodian gabba folk - which is pretty obvious if you took the time to find out a bit about me. Also - I don't live in Texas so I'm probably not interested in your gig. You've just wasted your time and I'm not listening.

2. What's in it for them?
This is crucial - the basic principle of reciprocity. All relationships have give and take. If you want to take up some of their time and attention, what do they get out of it? If you are letting them into your world, make sure you are giving something back. And make those actions visible so new audiences can see that you will respect their attention. I'm not suggesting you give your back catalogue away for free - for starters, a simple thank-you will suffice.

3. What do you want them to do?
What is the ask, and how can they get involved. Passive relationships are pretty dull - how does their attention make a contribution? Facebook groups are great for this, allowing a high level of "fan" interaction. But avoid tokenism - keep it genuine, and respect the time that the fans give you.

We are all bombarded with thousands of brand messages daily. To make an impact you have to do more than just stand out - you have to give the audience a reason to listen in the first place. And if you don't respect the time they are giving you, you might find that they stop listening altogether.

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