Social media : those who get it and those who don’t

In the most recent Pew Internet and American Life report, released May 19th :

37% (of respondents) said the Internet led them to buy more music than they otherwise might have

39% of online music buyers reach out directly to artists’ websites

While offline sources continue to dominate,

56% (of respondents) say they find out about music through various online tools, such as going to a band’s or artist’s website or streaming samples of songs to their computers

44% of music buyers have done at least one online activity relating to their music purchase, such as going to an artist’s or band’s website or reading blogs about the artist or band

13% of Internet-using music buyers either post their music to a social networking site such as Facebook or post their own reviews of the music they purchase

That’s free promotion, folks. Word of mouth gone exponential.

Social media being a relative newcomer to the PR strategist’s toolbox, it’s to be expected that there will be those who get it, and those who don’t. This, despite the fact that you must be living in a cave not to be hearing about blogging, MySpace, Facebook and the like, especially if you’re in the music business. Podcasting is admittedly lower on the mainstream radar, which may explain why the reaction of two Ontario festivals recently faced with a podcaster’s request for media accreditation couldn’t be more different.

Here’s the backstory:

I met George Motoc at PodCamp Toronto. Nice guy who does a Romanian- and English-language podcast out of Toronto called Canadian Immigrant Song.

George had promoted a couple of summer festivals in his podcast so, as he says, his listeners could mark their calendars. As is his usual practice, he sent a note with a link to the podcast episode to festival organisers to let them know about the visibility received. (Wouldn’t life be nice if all media did that? But that’s besides the point) This time, he also requested media accreditation.

Here’s his email:

Hi all,
Just to let you know that I mentioned (ed. note: insert festival name here) in the latest episode of my podcast:
Is there any way for a podcaster willing to cover the fest to get a PressPass?
Thanks and cheers from Toronto,
George Motoc

Luminato in Toronto received his request as follows :

Hi George,

Thanks so much for letting me know about your podcast! And thank you for mentioning Luminato.

Yes, I am open to having a podcaster cover the festival. Just let me know what events you are interested in. I will send you a link so you can pinpoint the shows/dates/times you are available for, or interested in, and I will see what I can do for your tickets.

Thanks again George!

Laura Erika Barron
Public Relations Coordinator
LuminatoToronto Festival of Arts & Creativity

George also received a followup email from a second member of the festival’s PR staff thanking him for his interest and his patience and reminding him to forward his interview requests.

Professional. Nice. Someone who gets it.

Not everyone does …

Same request, different reaction, this time from the Ottawa Blues Festival:

Short, curt and to the point, I guess.

Hi George, Please see our media access policy for 2008.

I’ll stay mum on questions of etiquette, for the purposes of this post. I’ll also stay mum on another thing : George has asked me not to name names, so I’ll respect his wish for some level of discretion. That said, I’d invite the Ottawa Blues Festival rep to out himself and join the discussion. Maybe there’s something I’m just not getting.

Here’s the Ottawa Blues Festival’s media accreditation policy. Note the insistence on known, main-stream media:

Please note: Media representatives that provide proof of affiliation with a known, main-stream media outlet will be given access to the festival site for the day(s) they are assigned to cover the event.
Photo calls for main-stream media representatives will take place each night, 30 minutes before final acts. Access to front-of-stage photo area will be granted ONLY when approved by artist management.
We will NOT begin fielding requests for media access until June 1, 2008. If you are assigned to cover the event by a known, main-stream media outlet, send your request for access to Joe Reilly; state Media Access to Bluesfest as your subject line.

And by the way, when I say the folks at Luminato get it, I’m not kidding. Check out their online ‘Share Your Festival’ contest.

As for George, nice guy that he is he still plugged one of the Ottawa Blues Festival artists, Adrien Belew, providing a link to his MySpace page. I checked him out. Not bad. Wonder if his music’s on iTunes ..

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