This weekend I attended a local music festival called Rifflandia. This epic four-day event featured over 170 artists, performing at fourteen venues all around the city—everyone from mainstage bigwigs like Courtney Love to beloved local acts that draw a small but dedicated crowd. On Thursday night, while watching the next band set up and do sound checks, I went to update Twitter on my phone and my new friend smirked. “You use Twitter?” he asked. “Why? I’ve never understood the appeal.”
It’s unfortunate for him, because events like Rifflandia are the exact place where Twitter shows its true strength. It takes those big moments—like a Courtney Love concert or a surprise encore performance of Bear Mountain—and makes everyone a part of the collective experience. We uploaded photos and video, made plans to meet with friends old and new, and got up-to-date information on which venues were at capacity. Through the network of thousands using the hashtag #Riff2013, we shared our collective experiences and were able to be many places at once.
One particularly poignant usage of social media to connect with fans was on display at the performance of the Montreal band Stars, who are a personal favourite of mine. In the hours leading up to their main stage set, they spread the word that the audience should film the band and themselves during the concert singing along to the song “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It”, and upload the video to their SwitchCam streaming video feed. The files will be used to create a crowd-sourced music video for the song, to be aired on CBC. Even though it was pouring rain, hundreds of us held up our smartphones and became videographers for a few minutes. It was an absolutely wonderful way to connect with fans, and we felt like part of the band’s family; our perspectives as music lovers were becoming a vital part of their newest album.
It’s not just the concert experience that’s enhanced by Twitter; it’s also been an invaluable tool for me as a radio host and aspiring journalist. I can attest to the fact that a personal outreach to someone on Twitter can make all the difference when it comes to getting an ‘in’ with that person elsewhere; I’ve made dozens of musician friends and connections on Twitter, and parlayed it into bringing a local musician into the radio station with me for a live show and cohosting event. It all happened because I saw them at a show, followed them, and sent a message praising their talent and asking if I could obtain their songs to play on my show. After some back-and-forth, a legitimate working relationship has emerged.
It was tough to explain all of this in just a short sentence to my friend, or anyone else who smirks at my heavy use of Twitter, but I wouldn’t trade it with anything. Becoming an SEO has only increased my knowledge of just how powerful the social network can be; it’s the best networking method for introverted oddballs like me, as well as people from all industries and demographic groups. I’m not surprised that Twitter has announced a new partnership with the advertisers of big television and live events, because live-tweeting the experience is half of the fun and it’s the perfect way to catch your audience in a direct, relateable manner.