Exposure ≠ Success

So the old theory goes that Success breeds Success.

On the internet, it’s clear that Exposure breeds exposure.

However, what few people pursuing the viral marketing plan seem to have thought about is that Exposure ≠ Success – Exposure for the sake of exposure, or the need for it, is a sign of a weirdly narcissistic streak (not of the altogether-different-benign-form – that’s to be encouraged!).

Viral Marketing was a buzz phrase a couple of years ago, and everyone got the idea that you could spread the message about something by coming up with some cool video on youtube, applying the JK Rowling endorsed set of magic tags that make people find it and love it no matter what, and immediately you’re a star.

And a few people became stars, though the notable ones felt their lives were screwed up by it, and the most successful ones involved homemade videos of people having sex (which, surely have to have been sanctioned by the people involved to have been circulated on supposedly reputable sites, no??) – so those are either an unspeakably hideous and criminal invasion of privacy or a really cynical marketing ploy by people whose career path wouldn’t allow them to do ‘proper’ porn, but is such that they’re happy to debase themselves to that degree…

Anyway, that’s clearly not what this is about… The point is – off the back of the stuff about MySpace – that it’s easy to get obsessed with exposure by confusing it with success. The point where random exposure to a worthless product spills over into product sales is well into the millions… Spam principle. So just added any old person on myspace or putting up videos on Youtube and assuming that 10s of thousands of views mean you’ve ‘made it’ is a false economy. Because there’s no economy – exposure is it’s own capital, it doesn’t lead to click-throughs automatically, and certainly not to sales or gig attendance (for musicians) – UNLESS THE PRODUCT IS WORTH BUYING IN AND OF ITSELF.

I’ve done loads of reading these last few weeks about marketing and promotion and web 2.0 and file sharing and blahblahblah etc. etc. Much of it brilliant in its observational skill. But what very little of it bothers to say is that things of value are more likely to sell themselves that worthless shit. Bringing it closer to home, I could post a bunch of how to slap/tap/twiddle bass tutorials on Youtube, and they’d probably get thousands and thousands of hits. But all they’d generate is a bunch of disgruntled teenagers complaining that the stuff they found of mine on bittorrent didn’t sound like that. It wouldn’t connect with my core audience… ANY audience is better than no audience, but you’ve got to find the right audience for it count as anything other than externally worthless exposure-capital.


Phew, glad that’s off my chest. :o)

One Reply to “Exposure ≠ Success”

  1. Dood, if you posted YouTube videos on “How to use loops in your music” that would be awesome!

    By the way, when ARE you going to get around to writing your “Stevie-bass-lessons” book? “The Zen of Bass”.

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