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Nancy Baym, "Connecting with Audiences: Musicians and Social Media"



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  • Lloyd Cole: I try to keep my-- especially as my wife is hyper-sensitive to it-- I try and keep my wife and children pretty much completely out of it. Stephen Mason: I think if there is something to guard, it’s that. You know, it’s to be careful in honoring our families.


  • 1. Connecting with Audiences Musicians and Social Media Nancy Baym Microsoft Research New England @nancybaym
  • 2. Why interview musicians?Practical and Theoretical ConcernsThe methods Data collection Analysis processNegotiating Disclosure: Presence vs.Absence
  • 3. Practical ConcernsDirect interactionChanging and DecentralizingIndustriesChanging RelationshipsHigh uncertainty and anxiety
  • 4. Industrial Transformationifpi riaa
  • 5. “In the old days pop stars, rock stars used to just drop out of the sky didn’t they? And now they’re tweeting about what they had for breakfast or whatever. Well, interesting days though. Its one of those things I suppose people are still trying to find out - where to draw the boundaries and what works and what doesn’t, you know?” - Mark Kelly Benoit Mahe
  • 6. Theoretical PerspectivesInteraction between social and economic(Social Exchange Theory, GiftEconomies)Identity management (ImpressionManagement)Relational negotiation (RelationalDialectics)Social Realism (vs. Determinism orStrong Constructivism)
  • 7. Open-Ended ResearchQualitative Interviewing Benefits: Rich data, private perspectives Challenges: Recruiting, Distance, Ethics of Public Figures, TranscriptionAnalysis Benefits: Deep understanding of meaning Challenges: Rigor, Focus, Sacrifice
  • 8. “Legacy Artists”US: Jon Ginoli (Pansy Division), Kristin Hersh (ThrowingMuses/50 Foot Wave), David Lowery (Camper VanBeethoven/Cracker), Jonathan Segel (Camper VanBeethoven), Jill Sobule, Gary Waleik (Big Dipper).UK: Billy Bragg, Lloyd Cole, Mark Kelly (Marillion),Roger ODonnell (ex-Cure), Brian Travers (UB40)Canada: Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies)
  • 9. “Last Generation of Analogue Musicians”US: Ahmed Best (Cosmic Ghetto/STOMP!), HoneychildColeman (Apollo Heights/Pollen), Zoë Keating, ErinMcKeown, Stephen Mason (Jars of Clay), AnonymousDrummer from Successful Indie BandUK: Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Steve LawsonSweden: Johan Angergård (Club 8/Legends/Acid HouseKings), Jonas Fårm (Starlet)Canada: Richie Hawtin (Plastikman), Chris MurrayNorway: Sivert Høyem, Thomas Seltzer (Turbonegro)Spain: Nacho Vegas
  • 10. Post-Myspace GenerationUS: Nathan Harold (fun.), Greta Salpeter (Gold Motel),Kate Schutt, D.A. Wallach (Chester French), SydneyWayserSweden: Gustaf Kjellvander (The Fine Arts Showcase),Rickard Lindgren (Hell on Wheels)UK: S-Endz (Swami)Norway: Sindre Solem (Obliteration/Nekromantheon)Australia/Germany: Rick Bull (Deepchild)
  • 11. GenresSinger/songwriter JazzIndie DesiRock ReggaePop New ClassicalElectronica AmbientPunk SkaAlt Country Slash Death Metal
  • 12. Practical Analysis IssuesRich data850 pages of single-spaced transcriptsSoftware limitations NVivo vs. Dedoose vs. Pen and Paper MS Word Outline Function
  • 13. Analytic StrategiesSeeking ThemesSeeking Logics Asking questions (What are the dialectics? What are the goals? What are their strategies? How are people different?) MatricesReturning to TheoryWriting and Drawing
  • 14. Analytic Process(1) Identifying all the issues that were raised(2) Grouping those into broad topics(3) Generating list of themes from that (250+ codes)(4) Returning to transcripts and doing course coding(5) Returning to course codes and doing finer coding(6) Arranging and rearranging finer codes(7) Returning again and again with different questions(8) Writing and drawing
  • 15. A Typical ExcerptSivert: Yeah, some people seem to-- some people pick up oneverything I do, and they seem to think that its all very significant,so they just seem to get a little too much-- I dont know. Yeah,theres been quite a few who have been a little scary. But alsosometimes, since youre really available to people all the time-- ifpeople want to get a hold of me, they can-- so some people-- youjust start communicating with people and they just kind of-- it cantake up a little bit too much of your time, because they write backall the time, and I dont want to be rude, so.Nancy: Yeah. So you feel kind of compelled to keep responding?Sivert: Yeah, and it can get a little too friendly.
  • 16. Initial hierarchical list of topics
  • 17. Top Level of 7 Page Outline
  • 18. First Pass At Coding
  • 19. After iterative coding(reworked again through writing)
  • 20. Matrix (Higher Order Coding)
  • 21. Summary Matrix
  • 22. Responsibility for ‘self’ presentation
  • 23. “You could see the progress fromMyspace to Facebook to Twitter.Everyone just loses their minds atthe latest thing, and says ‘No, thisis how you do it.’ And there’s neverany sort of consensus. I mean ascorrupt and horrible as the oldrecord industry was, at least it wasa barely stable way to get the wordout about music and get the musicout for decades. Gary Waleik Big Dipper
  • 24. “I didnt bring up[bipolar disorder]but people found outabout it and I justdecided to be willingto discuss it so thatno one would sayanything wrong.” - Kristin Hersh Hunter-Desportes
  • 25. What stages for performance? Own website Personal Email Myspace Blogs Facebook Official Fan Forums Twitter Unofficial Fan Forums Tumblr Other Sites Flickr Text Messages Email Lists
  • 26. Concerns: Privacy
  • 27. “Twitter and Facebook […] kind of demanded fresh personal content and I have certainly felt the pressure […] That is often at odds for me with the amount of things that I’m willing to talk about with like the three or four thousand people who follow me on line […] it’s like having boundaries without having the appearance of having boundaries and trying to find a way to interact in a sincere and genuine and meaningful way with people and thatreflects your personality but also you knowis not completely transparent.” Erin McKeown Jester Jay Music
  • 28. Concerns: Protection
  • 29. “I dont allow any discussion of my kids on the Web page. We delete any comments or Facebook comments or anything about that. And I dont know where that started, but that started a long time ago back with our community bulletin board. We just would delete any comments about it” David Lowery CrackerJason Thrasher
  • 30. “I won’t talk about other familymembers unless I ask them […] I don’twant to impact somebody else’s life. Butfor me, I don’t see a distinction. It’slike I’m an individual and I happen tohave this creative life. That there is nodistinction. I think that’s why socialmedia is so-- I find it-- I’m kind offacile. It’s sort of easy for me because Idon’t have to think up is that my insidevoice or my outside voice. For better orworse they’re the same voice.” Zöe Keating jfinga s
  • 31. Concerns: Lost Mystique
  • 32. “I do think that that inequality in the relationship is what keeps it alive. And I think one of the things that’s possible with my web presence is that the last shards of my mystique are in danger of being completely obliterated” Lloyd Coledjenvert
  • 33. “I like the idea ofwriting a song in theafternoon and lettingpeople hear it that day;and letting them knowwhat the process is,letting them know whatyou do in your studio,how it works, how youwrite music. But I knowa lot of people arentcomfortable with that,and like to maintain themystique. ”- Roger O’Donnell ex-Cure
  • 34. Concerns: Who is the Audience?
  • 35. “Facebook-- my familys onthere. You have conversationswith people. Its a little bit moreof a social thing, and I think that--and I like it for communications.I like it for talking about politics--all those things. I think thatshould be separate from theartist page, and Im starting tosee-- I dont wanna be talkingabout, "Oh, someones in thehospital," and five minutes later,"And by the way, I have a show."To me, that-- there needs to be aseparation” Honeychild
  • 36. Strategy: Topic Management
  • 37. “Im quite happy to talk aboutanything revolving around themusic. My personal life is mypersonal life, and theres nothinginteresting in there anyway […]Its just I prefer to keep stuff-- Iprefer to talk about the music.Especially with an audiencemember, thats why theyre there.” Mike Timmins Cowboy Junkies
  • 38. “It’s a tricky one because […]you’vegot these fans that are into yourmusic and […] the musician isn’t themusic[…] and maybe they should bekept a bit separate […] People saythey want to know everything that’sgoing on but again, when we’re in thestudio writing and recording if I wasto tweet everything that happened,you know, the things that people say,the arguments that we have, the stuffthat goes down, it would probablydestroy the magic a little bit, youknow?” Mark Kelly, Marillion
  • 39. “All of the regulars on my forumthey’re on Twitter now and they alltalk to each other and they all talk tome and they talk about other things aswell. Because most of the chatterfrom the forum wasn’t talking aboutme because there’s only so much youcan talk about one person without itbecoming like really bizarrelynarcissistic. Or it’s just dull. So wewould talk about TV and politics andother music. And, I mean, I stillspend nine-tenths of my time onsocial media platforms talking aboutother people’s music.” Steve Lawson
  • 40. Strategy: Intentional Silence
  • 41. “People feel like if you starttweeting or if youre onFacebook, everythings opento the world. And its like ifyou dont want people toknow your phone number,dont put it on Facebook.” Sydney Wayser Stephanie Halmos Photography
  • 42. Kmeron“You want to create an exciting experience of being a fan foryour audience. And that involves both presenting andconcealing information in interesting and surprising ways thatmake it fun to follow you, fun to wonder what you’re up toor whatever […] I think as an entertainer there might be kindof a value to answering one out of every ten so that it feelsreally special if you do, and you’re kind of reinforcing somesense of inaccessibility or stardom.” D. A. Wallach Chester French
  • 43. Strategy: Opting Out
  • 44. “If I have 15 minutes am I goingto read some fucking, excuse myFrench, but fucking small printabout Facebook, you know, whocan view this and that and tryand figure it out in my brain orwould I rather practice my guitarand become a better musician? Iwould rather practice my guitarand become a better musician.” Kate Schutt
  • 45. Theoretical TakeawaysAffordances of sites matter in subtle and unexpected ways.The consequences of social media are neither good nor bad.Social media are deeply tied to practices that transcend them.Personal, relational, professional and social factors matter.Social media require continuous and nuanced strategicnegotiation.Relational and economic practices deeply implicate one another innew ways.Pre-internet theories usually still work. Beware ahistoricism.
  • 46. Practical TakeawaysThere is no one ‘right way.’Need to reflect on goals.Need to understand affordances ofdifferent systems.Need to understand own boundaries.