Internet Buzz Is Not the Same as Street Buzz

I was helping to produce a seminar for musicians at the front end of the MySpace explosion — this was a few years ago — and a band pitched a booking agent at the event by saying, “we’ve already got 2,000 friends on MySpace!”

And the booking agent replied, “ugh, you’re not one of those MySpace bands, are you?”

While you can make the argument that MySpace has kicked and clawed its way into the mainstream since then, talent buyers still have that attitude.


Because internet buzz is not the same as street buzz, as this weekend’s disappointing results for Snakes on a Plane showed. All of that great hype and excitement worked to keep the disaster flick from becoming a total box office disaster. But, by Hollywood standards, it didn’t fly. Hopefully, it can live on, like Office Space, to become a monster hit on DVD.

Now, look at a gig through the eyes of a talent buyer. Let’s say she books a band that doesn’t sound so hot on tape, but has a convincing booker and 5,000 MySpace friends. For her to break even (and for the band to get paid), she’s got to see 50 fans in the door. On a modestly performing, targeted mailing list, you could make the right offer and get 1% of your fans to show up. However, this band’s MySpace list isn’t targeted, isn’t organized, and is full of folks who love to click around online — not necessarily go to shows. The band gets ten people in the door and finds it hard to get gigs in the same zone for six months because of it.

The critical thing to remember is that, when you’re in the business of getting folks out to a show (or even a movie), the Internet is your competition. Yes, there are lots of ways that you can use MySpace as part of your overall music marketing campaign. (And if you’re not using Bob’s guide, you’re probably just spinning your wheels.) Just make sure your entire bet isn’t riding on the MySpace crowd, or you’ll get some snide remarks from club bookers when you call to get yourself booked.

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4 responses

  1. You are spot on with this post! Internet buzz is not at all the same as street buzz. I spend several hours per day reading blogs (and RSS feeds), so I have a pretty good grasp of what the hot topics in the blogosphere are on any given day. But when I bring these topics up to my non-blogging friends, they have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. So yeah, Internet buzz is useful to a certain extent, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on anyone’s online popularity translating into success in the “real world.”

  2. Online promotion and having a strong online presence is essential of course, but it has to be remembere d that it is a “supplemental” tool. Other areas of promotion need to be in full swing for the online promotion to really fulfill it’s potential and boost the overall effort.

  3. This is VERY accurate. I am the owner of On Target Media Group, a music industry Internet marketing company. Record labels hire us to promote their bands online, usually for a new release.

    It’s interesting to see how the coverage we get for a band translates into record sales and show attendance. It’s very easy to see web traffic and email list signups spike, but seeing an offline spike isn’t always so easy. What we find (and this is a common theme in marketing) is that our efforts need to be partnered with offline strategy (radio, tv, press, etc) in order to be truly effective. Repetition, especially across multiple formats, is really the key. Internet buzz and exposure is simply one part of the puzzle.

  4. …..and of those 2000 or 5000 MySpace friends how many are within a reasonable distance of the gig — never mind willing to come out. How many are actual fans rather than just random clickaholics?