I had an "ah ha" moment recently, discovering a loose trend amidst some decidedly non-scientific research I've been quietly conducting relative to my reviews here on Audiophile Review. Here is the non-science part (which I realize some of you might call non-sense): I keep track of how my published pieces are doing by watching the counter on each blog, counting the number of "shares" of a particular story across social media.
I don't study this closely, mind you nor do I dwell upon it. But... when a story gets some "traction" as they say in the industry, it is a good feeling to know that people are likely reading my writing and spreading the word and maybe even getting turned on to some good new music they may have not heard of before. Its even better when people who have seen and read the articles give us feedback. Some readers do this on Social Media platforms like Facebook and Instagram while others take the extra step and leave us comments at the end of each blog posting here on Audiophile Review.
But, all that is not really super surprising...
What is surprising is that fans of certain bands and certain types of music "seem" to be more engaged and passionate than others when it comes to the Internet and Social Media. How do I know this? Well, I am guessing based on the number of re-shares which show up on our tracker for a particular article. Again, remember my caveat that this is decidedly non-scientific observation.
Take my recent review of the new album by Yes' Jon Anderson. In the first day of its publishing it was re-shared more than 200 times. Not super amazing performance (especially compared to my review of Yes' Close to the Edge 5.1 surround Blu-ray which is currently at more than 7,000 shares!) but also not bad given the album is not being sold on Amazon and as of this writing was not yet on all the streaming music services.
On the contrary, my review of an album by jazz great Wes Montgomery has only been shared about 40 times and more than half of those shares were by myself to a multitude of social media platforms. Its a bit sad and pathetic showing as the album is great!
What seems to be the problem?
Well, here again is my non-scientific best guess: fans of certain bands and certain types of music are simply more engaged and into "their" music. Accordingly they participate and actively spread the word to friends and acquaintances. While we don't know this for sure and there are certainly many other reasons why one story might be more popular than others -- quality of the news headline, news clutter on the day of the story's release, etc. -- it stands to reason that the groups and artists with engaged fans participating on Social Media are doing more to help get the word out about a positive review, leading toward a viral distribution of the article.
My articles written about the Beatles, Yes, Jimi Hendrix and XTC have all been re-shared a lot, some many thousands of times. Heck, even my review of the first album reissue by San Francisco's Flamin' Groovies has been shared more than 400 times!
Yet, my articles about Jazz however tend to just sit there, relatively speaking. Here are links (click on the underlined text) to some reviews about amazing artists like Bill Evans and Jaco Pastorious. On one hand these are "ok" showings for a Jazz release (archival live recordings) but then I have higher hopes for these releases and more respect for the artists to accept such a response. Perhaps the most sad-trombone-inducing response to a review is for a fine CD and streaming reissue by Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong -- this is some amazing music by two of of Jazz' most beloved legends. Even a new fusion oriented band I discovered from England, Mammal Hands, isn't getting much traction it deserves.
What gives folks?
Well... looking at this as a broad stroke / big picture snapshot, we can infer some interesting pointers. Perhaps -- and I say this with the love and enthusiasm of a long time Jazz fan myself -- Jazz fans need to be more aggressive about helping to spread the news about their favorite form of music and their favorite artists. It's not that hard to make that leap even with this non scientific information I have at my disposal.
And this process isn't that hard. If you see a review about an artist you appreciate showing up on your newsfeeds such as Facebook or Twitter, simply take the time to "like" it. If you really enjoyed the article, consider re-sharing on your own personal feed. If you really really like the artist and that particular review, then repost the original story link in other relevant Social Media forums such as the multitude of enthusiast groups on Facebook. I participate in many of these forums on Facebook where you'll find my regular posts about music I'm listening to (and sometimes review links if group rules permit) including: YouTube Vinyl Community, Now Playing, Jazz Vinyl Lovers, Audiophiles North America, Avant Garage, MQA Audio Developments and many others...
I also post on my Instagram feed (where my handle is @Dynovoice) and Twitter (@Smotroff), employing creative use of hashtags (the # sign next to key words, used by many on those social media platforms for search enhancement). And while I haven't gotten into Reddit, I do maintain a light presence on Pinterest where I archive links to all my online articles -- my Pinterest pages are called "Music Is The Best," click here for #1 and #2.
So, it's up to you folks. We are doing our part to try to help keep the flames of Jazz alive (and other lesser known artists and non mainstream music genres including classical). Frankly, its not "just" Jazz that is the problem (my latest review of an Elvis Costello EP has gotten off to a very slow start!). The point is, you and the artists are part of this awareness process. In these days of algorithmically controlled news feeds we all need to do our part in spreading the word to help the stories rise above the clutter.
You, Dear Readers, should be proactively turning friends onto this great music that we all love and revere and review. Even for your friends who are not on social media, email them links to the reviews saying: "Hey, thought you might like this..." or a simple "check this out!"
Again to recount, here are some simple checklist items that shouldn't take you more than a couple minutes to do:
-- Remember to "like" a story posting on Social Media if you enjoyed the article...
-- Re-share the story on your own personal news feeds and via email if you liked it...
-- Repost the original story link in other relevant Social Media forums if you really like it a lot...
-- Participate in enthusiast groups on Social Media spaces like Facebook.
I'll close here with a quote from Yes' Jon Anderson from a 1970 song of theirs called "Time & A Word" that has been resonating as I am writing this:
Spread the news and help the word go round.
There's a time and the time is now