As a disclaimer I apologize for any grammatical errors. I suck.
Let’s face it: there’s no denying that the internet is an important factor if not the main supporting role in our reputation throughout the world. I’ve been having discussions with people about this particular topic and I felt compelled to write a quick idiots guide on what not to do and what to do. Again, as usual, I’m writing this with musicians in mind, but this is definitely applicable to anybody in any sort of field. I’m not trying to be one of those bloggers that gives you tips on how to run your life. If you want them to run your life…cool, I guess I also hope I also don’t come off as one of those internet gurus or know it alls that is telling you how to run your life (and for more for an extra 19.95!) – this mostly spawned from previous conversations and concerns I have for other people and hopefully someone can get something out of it that maybe they didn’t think about. To be honest I don’t know any or everything. My knowledge is limited to my experience(s.) in which I choose to share with you. I seem to be on this trend of writing advice type posts for some reason…anyway…here we go:
1.Be Yourself With A 4th Wall
This may come off as a form of censorship, but if you really think about it this it is not.
In theater , film, and TV…pretty much with any story telling method in fiction, there is usually some concept of the invisible fourth wall. I think it would be a smart idea if more people applied this to how they present/represent themselves online. Please, please ,please be yourself!!! Express yourself how you want to express yourself! Please be creative, show the world your potential, but be aware or act as if there is some sort of barrier between you and your audience. You can imagine this as a thick wall, or a thin piece of glass. It’s really whatever you want to let through or what you want exposed. However, if you keep this in mind when writing your opinions, thoughts, and what have you- you’ll be protecting yourself from future embarrassment and at the same time setting yourself up as someone reputable in the overall online community or within your chosen profession.
2.Don’t Be Too Distant
That being said above, you don’t want to be too distant. Always have at least one e-mail account that is public so people can contact you with questions or comments. I think it’s not only important, but vital to engage with fans or people with common interests in your field. My biggest pet peeve is when I receive direct messages from people on Twitter whom I follow with generic messages saying to listen to their music or thanks for the follow the second I follow them. Come on. Really? I take the time to tweet them, engage in conversation, and if appropriate send my stuff their way. Nobody said it’s an easy job. Would you in the real world go up to someone and hand them your stuff like some hobo on the street and expect them to care? Probably not. Being interactive is beneficial to you in several ways and I’m not even going to bother listening them all. For starters you show you have an interest in someone and their work. If you show that interest, truthfully, they’ll show the same decency to you whether they enjoy your work or not. Let’s say they don’t enjoy your work, they’ll most likely promote or pass along what you do along the way of twitter or Facebook, there will be someone that sees it does like or love what you do and that is a good connection.
Note: THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO IS CENSOR FANS OR PEOPLE THAT CRITIQUE YOUR WORK. This is repulsive, disgusting, and if you can’t handle it or feels it breaks your “image,” maybe you should relook at your image to see if you really are who you say you are! If you make yourself completely non-accessible, no way to comment on work, or ask about the work you produce…or censor/delete what people say…I really have no respect for you, especially if they are meaningful comments. If they’re ” Yo, U suck learn 2 play better BIATCHHH” then yeah…okay, you have a case. Otherwise, no. You fail. Fail miserably.
3. Keep Up With Your Websites Even If You Don’t Use or Maintain Them Anymore
Google is the world’s library and historian all in one. Although you may not keep up with your live journal, xanga, or myspace- that doesn’t mean they don’t exist anymore and that people aren’t looking at them. Google happens to cache publicly indexed websites. I know many people who have posted stuff that doesn’t show who they are now or what they do and it takes someone to find it and question them until they take it off. Know what and where you are online. Keep the pages activated that you’re active on (hence why it’s called activation and deactivation.) If you want to keep a sort of “trail” of yourself at least update the content.
4. Have Atleast One Active Website
It’s important for fans and potential fans to have a place to go to find out more information about what you do and your services. There’s websites like about.me that is kind of like a big network of online business cards, but I think you should have a website that shows you are active. Facebook and Twitter are nice, but something can’t be more personalized than a website you own and maintain. Publish updates on your projects. Don’t be SO hidden (remember the balance.) To me, it shows when you take the time and effort to not only articulate your work and what you do, but that you care to reach out to fans. You don’t even need to put money into this. Hell, I just slapped together good old wordpress and here we are;) Maybe I’m not as professional as I should be, but eh…I’m not complaining. Having one active website can go a LONG way!
These are extras that are just kind of “duh” but thought it could work here. Kind of like 101 of being part of the interwebz;)
5. Using aliases or fake names
I personally don’t do this, but I can understand when someone does. Sometimes we just have a need to express our opinions anonymously and they internet has allowed us to do that. Some people take advantage of it and act like hot stuff, but we all know they are really just a scrawny just turned 18 year old boy boasting an internet tan. Now, if you choose to do it make sure you use a username that doesn’t follow you around. For instance, I tend to use pixel notation. That’s a phrase/name publicly associated with myself, but isn’t necessarily my name. It doesn’t take much of a brain (at least I’d hope not) to google pixel notation and find everything there is to know about me under my “fake” name or associated name. Be careful crossing paths with the two – it can be dangerous. I know for a fact there’s someone that follows me around with a fake name because she doesn’t want me to think she cares what I have to say (hint: read Censoring and Horoscopes)
6. The Most Obvious Of Them All: Posting Pictures Of Yourself With An Alcoholic Beverage, Piece(s) Of Clothing Missing, Or Doing Some Inappropriate And/Or Illegal Activity
I don’t have any problem (openly) with people doing what they want to do for the most part. However, people seem to think the only audience is the ones they friend on say, Facebook. True, if you truly keep your privacy settings at maximum security, but for the most part people don’t. Besides, even if you do have your privacy setting knob turned up at maximum, you can’t control who knows who or what is being saved on what hard drive or who or I guess nowadays what is coming across these permenant articles testifying to who you are. Right now being the young college kid or the aspiring lawyer in your 40s living in your grandparent’s basement that you are, you may or may not care about the future consequences of your actions. I’m not here to scold you for having fun. Fun is good and important. If you feel having fun (which I don’t) is getting plastered and having your body used as a canvas for sharpie marker graffiti then be my guest:) I’m basically saying I think you should be careful about what you document to the public that could haunt you in the future. I guess this is more towards anybody than musicians in particular, but just don’t do something you’ll regret. If you want pictures like that be old school and print them out and put them in a photo album for you to enjoy now or later in life, not a prospective employer or someone you may want to “hide” that part of you from.