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Here’s The Most Important Thing Every Artist Should Stop Doing In 2014

By David D. / 01.02.14

the smoking section twitter

A few months ago, a rapper – or the person running this Twitter account – told me he was going to shoot my newborn son in the head.

Let me rewind.

About three years ago, I was on a panel at A3C and the topic centered around new media and the best way for musicians to utilize the Internet for maximum exposure. The panel had one unanimous answer as to what artists should not do: spam people with music links on Twitter.

The practice of hitting up a blogger/journalist/label person’s mentions with a “listen to my new song, RT” has been long reviled by anyone in the industry and generally accepted as the least effective way for anyone to get posted on a site or noticed. This was known in 2010 at the A3C panel and it holds true now…which is why I’m surprised that musicians still use this tactic.

There’s really nothing more annoying than getting a random mention from a musician telling me to click on a link to a song out of the blue on Twitter. Spoiler alert: I won’t do it. It’s especially annoying when I click on that artist’s profile and it’s just a page of him or her sending the same cut and paste mention 50 times.

Think about it like this: Twitter is where we go to hang out. It’s like your office happy hour. We all really go to have drinks and shoot the sh*t and you’re the tool trying to pass around your resume while we’re all just trying to relax and look at #SkinnyButtThick pics. Instead of endearing yourself to anyone, you’re just making yourself unlikable.

Which brings me back to a rapper wanting to kill my son.

Links in my mentions make me so angry – mostly because I hate when people waste their time refusing to use logic and things that work – that I’ve started just replying with “no” or “that never works” to artists. Most are good sports and reply with a “lol, what should I do, then?” or just ignore me.

One, though, was so furious that he responded he’d shoot my son in the head and there would be a funeral. Through some coincidences, the rapper and I crossed paths and I was told that the account was run by a since-fired relative and everything was fine. However, there’s a larger lesson that the process of sending songs through Twitter like that never ends well for anyone. And it’s usually a symptom of shortcuts and thirst that would be better spend with more ingenuity and innovation.

Twitter has been around and popular for about five years now and we at TSS have never posted a song or video from an unknown musician who sent us something in our mentions. I guarantee you’ll never tune into VH1′s Behind The Music in 10 years and hear the story of a rapper who got discovered on Twitter mentions. It just won’t happen. There are proper channels for getting your music published on a site: we have an email address listed in our profile that takes roughly one click to find. Yet, it doesn’t deter artists from asking “How do I send my music?”

Usually, when I tell people that tweets don’t work, they respond with, “but it’s just so hard to get noticed in emails…it’s really difficult for people to listen…I don’t know how to get their attention.” Well, you want to sing songs for a living while people pay you millions of dollars. Like, this is a goal you have for your life. It’s supposed to be f*cking impossible. You have a one-in-a-million chance of getting discovered. Chances are, you won’t. But you want to be Jay Z and being Jay Z is rare. So, there’s going to be some luck involved.

We at TSS really do try to listen to as many submissions as we possibly can. Some slip through the cracks. Most aren’t that good. And the rest get published on the site.

However, before you send a song and want a link put up on a site, you should ask yourself why you want to be on The Smoking Section or whatever site you choose. So often, we put up songs or videos from random artists who catch our ear and there isn’t any follow-up. The artists don’t do anything again for months. So, you’ve finally gotten on the site, now what? It’s like when Wil E. Coyote finally caught the Road Runner and didn’t know what to do with him.

Getting an article on TSS won’t make you famous. Hell, we hardly do anything to make people famous. That’s the myth. Despite your favorite “tastemaker” standing on mountaintops claiming credit for creating any selection of superstars, the onus to actually capitalize on an article and move a career forward lies on the artists’ shoulders.

It’s not like you’ll get posted on a site, then Lyor Cohen calls you up 15 minutes later and offers you a deal. The trick is figuring out what’s next: what song do you have prepared to drop next week? What videos have you filmed? What can you do to stay on everyone’s mind? Because in this warp-speed era, if you disappear for three months it’s like you never existed in the first place.

There aren’t any shortcuts to success. Sending a link in mentions is an ultimate shortcut that only insinuates that you don’t have the desire to put forth the effort to reach the goal you think you want so bad.

In 2014, I just hope all musicians strive for different, creative ways to get noticed. Who knows…it just might work.


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