Vocalist Tim Lambesis of San Diego metallers AS I LAY DYING has posted the following message on his official blog:
“A few days ago I was checking the schedule of some friends’ bands to see if we’ll be crossing paths on tour anytime soon. For instance, I check the EVERGREEN TERRACE Facebook page every once in a while in hopes that they’ll play San Diego while I’m home or that we’ll play Jacksonville while they’re home. I even have to check my own band’s Facebook page at times to see where we’ll be on tours coming up because all of the traveling seems to blend together at times.
“Anyway, all of my searching around led me to a very interesting new realization. Everyone knows that the music industry is rapidly changing and it’s talked about so much that it gets annoying at times. Yes, there are fewer places to buy physical CDs and bands need to survive on merch money or live show income. Bands are adapting their products (and even their sound at times) to keep up with that. However, my newest realization is how much the fans themselves have changed.
“I noticed in the news feed of one band in particular that they posted a new song last week. Since then they have also posted some random info/photos almost entirely unrelated to the sound of their music. Because Facebook lists stats everywhere, I couldn’t help but notice that the views, likes, and comments regarding some new photos were almost double the count of the brand new song. For a second I couldn’t believe it, but then I caught myself checking out a number of these shorter non-music posts as well.
“When debuting music is less important to fans than a musician’s thoughts on partying or fashion or whatever, then it’s natural for true music lovers to question how healthy the more direct interaction between bands and fans really is in information age.
“I used to talk to friend’s bands about the pressure from their label to write a record better than the last. Now there’s more pressure from some labels to post info on what we ate for breakfast, comment on trending topics, and take wild press photos.
“I don’t want to simply complain, though. There’s a lot of a good that comes from a direct band-to-fan relationship that isn’t controlled entirely by labels anymore. I’m able to think out loud through this blog and fans can help me digest the new things that I’m learning. Fans have a new perspective that can help musicians see themselves or their ideas from a different angle. However, I still think that even something noble like a musician commenting on his/her political position is somewhat irrelevant when it comes down to deciding if I will like their music. Music still should be the initial attraction and hopefully reading all of the semi-pointless non-musical updates will help us fall more in love with the music.
“On a related tangent, I actually like some bands less the more I learn about their personal lives. I put them in the same category as bands whose CDs are awesome but are disappointing live. It’s easier to enjoy the music if I don’t go out of the context of what initially turned me onto them. The extra non-musical info posted by bands can sometimes be the Internet equivalent of a reality TV show where you forget what the person you’re watching is famous for in the first place. Remember the days when someone had to patiently wait for an update or stalk interesting people to learn more about them? Now it’s like stalking a flasher who wants to expose himself anyway. It’s just plain confusing who is really being creepy in the band-to-fan relationship these days.
“My last thought on all of this is to question what information age band/fan interaction says about us. Statistically analyzing what fans are viewing reveals the truth. Most of us want something new that is easy to digest and appeals to a limited attention span. Short clips, pictures, and blurbs are more important than full, complex and beautiful songs in many cases. Should bands change to interact with their fans the way that the majority are requesting? Or should bands purposefully ignore what their fans want at times to stretch the few who desire more/better content? I don’t want to admit that musical composition or though provoking lyrics and interaction is secondary to the fluff yet, but I also predict that a long winded blog like this one seeking a more intelligent dialogue with fans will have significantly less views than the shirtless picture I’m planning on posting next week.”