Apologies in advance to Site Members, students and lovers of the guitar. This blog is not a Guitar Lesson, Theory Lesson, Technique Tip or a Jam Tale. It's more of a rant and about being transparent concerning my business model and practices. The Blog Category would be Rants & Musings. So for what it's worth:
I’ve made no secret of my disdain for political discussion on social media. It’s a cesspool of ignorance, misinformation and outright lies.
In my blog, Porn and Bob Dylan, I explained my position/opinion on all that, and stated my conclusion that I would only use social media to promote my business, which in my case is music.
Publicly and relative to my business, I am apolitical. Get used to it; there's a reason the voting booth is private. You want to engage me on politics? Fine - PM me. Then maybe. Email or in person, not on Facebook Messenger; I do not trust Facebook. I will ignore ANY baiting on social media.
Social media is like anything else in life, it’s not inherently good or evil, it’s how it’s used by individuals that determines the goodness or evilness of it. And that is relative to each person using it. A thing is not morally corrupt, there are only morally corrupt people who use things.
In my case, social media has been a positive thing because I’ve defined a very strict set of parameters concerning my usage, and I’ve stuck to them.
Business only, with an occasional post about my kids, grandkids, dog or whatever. And usually the posts about personal stuff are used in service to something having to do with my music career; like using a picture of one of my incredibly irresistibly painfully cute grandkids playing a guitar to promote a gig - with mom and dad’s permission of course.
I do not engage on anything else; absolutely no politics! No commenting, no "liking" - nothing. Every click - EVERY CLICK! - factors into what you see. You are not ”independent“ researching; YOU are being researched.
Over the course of time you click yourself into a room of mirrors - so...what do you want to see?
I want to see stuff on my kids, my grandkids and my friends - real friends; people I actually know, plus anything having to do with my business; music, musicians and the guitar. THAT'S what I click "like" on or comment on - consequently that's what Facebook feeds me.
One of the main dangers I see with social media is becoming dependent on it, whatever you use it for. It can be addictive - a subject with which I'm familiar. All the signs are there.
How much of my future business success requires, for instance, my use of Facebook?
Facebook has been a very useful tool in promoting one of my websites, MasterGuitarSchool.com. You may even be reading this blog because I paid Facebook to promote it. It’s called, “content marketing.”
I've created a growing income stream from MasterGuitarSchool.com. However, the heart of it is just that I love everything about the guitar and MasterGuitarSchool.com is but one expression of that. I do what I am. Monetizing it is secondary.
Is MasterGuitarSchool.com dependent on Facebook for survival? Absolutely not! Facebook is a marketing tool - one of many. And "many" of the other "many" are NOT social media sites; they are based on MasterGuitarSchool.com - not Facebook or Twitter.
Jeez, Jay - how many times are you going to link to MasterGuitarSchool.com?
Tons! That's part of the marketing game - and is my main point. You may wind up at MasterGuitarSchool.com because you clicked on that link just now. Which you saw because you clicked on a blog link in a promoted Facebook post, but the instant you opened this blog you are already on MasterGuitarSchool.com. This blog is hosted on MasterGuitarSchool.com, not Facebook.
If you are a business and your main web presence is a Facebook business page you are screwed. None of that is yours. Zero assets. All those "friends?" All those people who've "liked" your page? All those people who’ve clicked, “Follow”? Do you have their emails? No? Facebook does. Do you have any way to contact them outside of Facebook? If you don't, you're not doing social media right.
When Facebook goes away - and it will, it's inevitable (remember MySpace?) - what happens to all those pictures, posts and other "assets" that you've used to promote your business, band, CD or whatever? Poof! Gone.
Yes, I know MySpace is still around, but it’s been irrelevant for at least the last 15 years.
I learned this lesson early; in the middle '90's I got involved in a website called IUMA; Internet Underground Music Archives. You could upload your music for free, people could listen for free. It wasn't streaming - the internet was dial-up access in those days - the bandwidth just wasn't there. It wasn't downloading, it was a .wave file that buffered for a minute and then you could play it. It was the first of its kind that I know of. World-wide distribution for free. Sweet! The internet is great!
The website provided the numbers for how many times each tune was played. One of my tunes was getting thousands of listens a month. I was getting email from all over the world. Those email addresses were mine, but they were only a very small percentage of the total listeners.
I thought to myself, "How can I take advantage of this? If I could get every listeners' email I could let them know when my next CD is coming out and have a bunch of sales right from the get-go!!
That was back when people actually bought CDs.
I called up the guy that ran the website and asked him if there was any way I could have the emails of the people who were listening to my music.
"We don't have any mechanism in place to harvest emails and have no plans to do that,” he said.
"So what you're telling me is that I have all this response to my music and I have no way to contact those people; no way to capitalize on the exposure you've provided?"
- "Deafening silence."
I quit uploading but left the page up.
IUMA went away in the early 2,000s. Though no longer functional, its content managed to get saved to archive.org, which is like the Alexandrian Library of the internet. My old page is still there. My bio stops at about 2001; the phone number is the landline to an old teaching studio, long since disconnected.
The huge shitstorm going on right now in the social media world concerning politics and Twitter banning Trump, the hostile takedown of Parler and so on is due in part to all the people dependant on social media for information, news and networking.
And if you are dependant on Facebook, Twitter etc to get your message out (whatever that message is), you're not doing social media right.
If Facebook went away tomorrow, MasterGuitarSchool.com would be just fine. This blog is not hosted on Facebook. My important pictures and videos on Facebook are archived and backed up elsewhere. The hundreds of teaching videos on MasterGuitarSchool.com's YouTube channel are backed up in multiple places that I control. I own them!
BTW - most of the teaching videos on MasterGuitarSchool.com's YouTube channel are set to "Unlisted." You can't see them and they won't show up in searches. You must have the link to access them...and you can only get the links from MasterGuitarSchool.com. I have not yet begun to leverage YouTube!
See how that works? It's not about YouTube or Facebook; it's about MasterGuitarSchool.com!
The Porn and Bob Dylan blog I linked to at the beginning of this post was rejected by Facebook Ads because, I assume, of the word, "Porn" in the title. I decided not to change it. Screw 'em if they can't take a porn.
When it comes to Facebook I'm not in control. I'm at the mercy of Facebooks' AI algorithms. That post had nothing to do with porn, it had to do with why I don't engage politically on social media. The AI can’t see context.
I've had an ad for a guitar lesson rejected because of the title, "What's Wrong With My Hand? Disordered Fingering." When I changed it to "Disordered Placement" it was accepted. Thank you, pornographers and Facebook AI, for Facebook-corrupting the word, "fingering."
I'm a member of Medium. Medium is a blogosphere. There are blogs on every subject imaginable. It's a subscription website; you have to pay a yearly fee to access it. It has the same kind of AI that Facebook has. Only it's explicit, unlike Facebook. And unlike Facebook, no ads. You consciously tell it what you want and it gives you recommendations/links to writings on the subjects in which you're interested - in my case music, marketing, philosophy and religion, among other things. Plus it provides a way for writers to actually get paid for their blogs.
I can click on blogs to read and ads on those same subjects will not appear in my feed.
And I can use the word, "fingering" or "porn" or "shitstorm" and not get blocked.
The thing that triggered this post was a recent Medium blog called,
Crap! I just broke my own rule and linked to a website other than MasterGuitarSchool.com.
Anyway, this guy suggests that the future of social media will be paid subscription - like Medium. That eliminates ad revenue from the business model which eliminates the need for all the behind-the-scenes shady data collection privacy concerns that will be Facebooks' eventual (or maybe not-so-eventual) downfall.
He gives lots of good advice on how to divest your business from Facebook-dependance.
Another great article is, Your Business Only Needs Social Media For One Thing.
Conclusion: "Social media is a tactic for building your email list and making sales. Posting on social media and collecting vanity metrics is not a business strategy, it’s a hobby."
More quotes: "On top of privacy and data security concerns, there is an increasing consensus among mental health experts and artificial intelligence researchers that social media is bad for your health, and that the platforms’ reliance on addiction algorithms poses a serious public health threat."
"Email is a much better tool for driving sales. A well-written email campaign will outperform a well written social media campaign. When you have a healthy email list, you don’t have to worry about a gatekeeping algorithm hiding your offer unless you pay a toll."
There's tons more in the article and I agree with all of it.
I'm not going to debate the "ethics" of Apple's business practices and whether or not the pot is calling the kettle black here, but there's a recent piece on Inc.com titled, Tim Cook May Have Just Ended Facebook. (Tim Cook is the Apple CEO.) The issue being dealt with is privacy concerns relative to Facebook, and this article is just another checkmark in a growing column that indicates Facebook's potential demise.
If/when Facebook falls, MasterGuitarSchool.com will still thrive because we are not dependant on Facebook, or any other social media, and never have been.
What if the worst happened and the web-hosting service on which MasterGuitarSchool.com is built just goes away with no notice?
Well, that would be a major headache but not a fatal one. A new website can always be built elsewhere, and I still have my subscriber list, my membership list, and my customer list. Not a big deal to just transfer those lists to anywhere I want; they're mine.
Statistically, in spite of all the marketing value of social media, old-school email marketing still works better than anything else.
It's the LIST that's essential. The LIST is the asset. If social media is all you've got, you’re not doing it right; you've got no list!
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