Yessiree, Bob. Everywhere I looked the Internet was the place where all the cool kids hung out. Figuratively and literally hanging out in thin air. Talking to people who weren’t really there. Reading people’s thoughts that weren’t in the room.
Sounds a little crazy, no?
Hours, days, and weeks passed as I became, like so many, addicted to the time continuum of social media, Internet marketing, and learning what I should be doing to be ahead of the curve. There were instruction books all over the place. Yet no one was saying the same thing. More aptly these were opinion-based “versions” of what could happen as individual “experts” attempted to become the first brand leader.
Even if any given person were to follow the advice of the marketing gurus, where would it lead?
What was learned quickly is you had to be careful. I was very accustomed to guarding everything in my career against shadowy types music subversively attracts. To be perfectly honest, in hindsight, had I met most of these people face-to-face that I was talking with on the phone or in social media, that meeting would have been the last.
Yet determination had the best of me.
I would figure this thing out come hell or high water.
So I came to the conclusion I needed to take the plunge and have a reason for being involved not just as a publicist, but have a presence on the net. Over this period new platforms were springing up all over and to fill a need media could no longer afford, I decided a website dedicated to live music reviews was something I could contribute. The live music review had always been one of the most coveted pieces of information any performing artist could obtain – given of course, the review was a good one.
Setting out to get bids on a unique model I had in mind, the first one came in at $200,000.00 Two hundred thousand dollars! Sure, why not? Next was a bid for about a tenth that number. Finally, I set my number and had a website built for $15,000.
It took forever — literally months to construct what we can now achieve in one afternoon with no investment. This Internet platform thing was a scam. A huge living lie everyone bought into because we were pioneers with no measuring stick to tell us differently.
Scout66.com went live sometime in 2010, in a soft launch that frustrated the livin’ daylights out of me. I won’t go into details due to naming names which serves no purpose. Anyone involved in this explorative era was supposed to become a part of a larger community working with others, according to every bit of research I found. These folks didn’t want to play well with others. It was their way or no way.
The number of free things I suddenly had requests for was astounding. Because indie music was free, somehow being involved in music meant everything was free. I would love to find the guy who made up that rule.
I worked harder than ever, sure this entrepreneurial thing had legs. In ten months’ time, 12 people contributed reviews of live shows. And I thank them, but this was nowhere near the anticipated volume of live music reviews.
Then, another whippersnapper of a young pistol decided he’d offer me a deal. Take Scout in a different direction, flip the model, destroy the premise, and move the site. At the time, Scout had a decent Alexa rating, and contacts were in the making all the time. Traction, however, wasn’t part of the equation, so the whippersnapper took over as webmaster as a noble gesture, as I wasn’t about to spend any more money. The site was moved and renovated within 10 months of being launched. Reviews began to trickle in a little faster, but not near the rate one would anticipate.
YELP was in full swing and there was an offer to purchase it around this time for some astronomical amount of money but refused by its owners. Thinking I’d gone down the right path, Scout was nurtured, praised, but patronized at an alarmingly slow rate. I’d overestimated the idea of fans giving their time to help artists’ careers. Fans are the lifeblood of the live music scene, yet I’m told writing a review was too grand a gesture. Asking to phone (text) in a review was more like a homework assignment, and not at all as cool as just being there.
So much for the idea fans actually wanted to help build an empire around the indie movement.
Then what I believed was a tragedy in gift wrapping came into being. My husband had been ill for a very long time suffering from addiction he refused to take responsibility for; one that eventually took his life. On Christmas Eve 2010 he told me he wanted to part ways. Once it hit me this was an opportunity – a slim one – but an opportunity nonetheless to continue my music career in a bigger way, I packed my bags and moved to Nashville within a month.
Here, in Music City, live music is played 24/7. Scout would live, and so would I, albeit far from my children who were in the throes of their early college years. Having been successful in Seattle, it seemed Nashville was a no brainer. Certain things would work themselves out, others not so much.
My office and living space on Music Row was an adventure like no other. Tons of people made appointments to stop by, meet for lunch, dinner, or shows. Nashville’s a living, breathing network. But, to be honest about the whole thing, nothing ever comes of it. There’s an awful lot of talk, and very little action.
As the saying goes, Nashville’s a drinking town with a music problem.
Southern charm, is just that in many cases. People I’d spoken with many times turned out to misrepresent their authoritative positions here. In fact, the music business is a closed society with only a handful of people actually calling the shots.
Having never worked with a major label – ever – now was not the time to start. They were falling down badly, but it was interesting observing how things in the most powerful town in the music business worked. Thousands of people scurry around appearing to be involved at a level they believe they’re getting something accomplished. All the while a few people are pulling strings behind some magic curtain. It doesn’t matter what you know or who you know. There are power players who call the shots and that’s all there is to it.