The opening lines of my bio sum up this blog post pretty well. How does an artist present themselves to the world when they don’t fit into a predefined box?
I started using a service – headliner.fm – which allows you to selectively share your social media space with other artists, on a case-by-case basis. So, for instance, I’ll receive a request from PeteBongoPlayer to “broadcast” a message for him across my Twitter stream, or Facebook / MySpace page.
In the end – this message comes from me – and followers are very very very dear to me, so I absolutely won’t accept one of these if I don’t love the music.
When I set up the account, I was only allowed to select one genre. I chose Rock – though everywhere else, I would normally choose Rock / Pop / Instrumental.
Well, I was presented with a bunch of promotional messages for approval, most of which I didn’t like the music for – I took the time to listen to every artist.
Then I saw a Twitter message come from my newfound Twitter friend Kareña Kelly – and realized that she was using this service too. I like her voice a lot, and we’ve become fans of each other on ReverbNation.
One of the “features” of headliner.fm is that you can search through other artists and target their fans. (While this sounds predatory, it’s not – the other artist always has the option of not accepting the message.) She and I mutually agreed to target each other – so I started my first promotion, and went to target Kareña in a search. I couldn’t find her – by first name, or last name. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was, as I had selected “all” from the genre list on the right.
But here’s what happened. Because I’m set up as Rock, and she’s set up as Blues – we can’t even see each other. I tried changing my genre to blues just to see what happened – bang, there she was.
So, in the end, we can’t cross-promote with each other using this service unless we change our profiles to matching genres. This is, to me, a fundamental flaw with this service, and I’ll probably end up not doing any promotions with them at all.
But this little episode lead me to a bigger question – I can’t be the only artist out there who crosses genres… and why is it that we still continue to pigeonhole ourselves and the artists around us? To feel safe? To narrow our exposure to only that which we feel comfortable with? In a world that is so ripe, with a million different flavors, why in the world would we still feel that limiting artistic categories to a single genre is relevant?
I’m not just Rock. Or Pop. Or instrumental. I’m my own animal. I don’t go out of my way to be that – I am that. I know I’m not the only one, and if someone’s going to go to the trouble of creating a service that is supposed to help artists, and have it succeed – they’re gonna have to stop thinking inside of boxes.