Today I intend on starting this project off simple. It begins with Facebook, and I have chosen four of my favorite Indie rock bands to analyze. I will discuss post frequency, image usage, likes, and post content. In the end, what does it all mean? Why do some bands post more than others? Does popularity and new material play a factor? Could it just be a matter of prioritizing between social media outlets? I will eventually create a final hypothesis after my research is complete.
The four bands I will dissect are Arcade Fire, Local Natives, Blind Pilot, and The National. These bands range in popularity, style, age, and proximity.
First up, we have Arcade Fire from Montreal, Quebec. They have more likes (1,618,292) than the other three bands combined (873,445), but still do not have a presence on MTV or popular radio. Arcade Fire is widely considered one of the best indie bands of all-time, and have three Grammy nominated albums (including a Best Album win in 2011) to prove their worth. Their Facebook presence is another story, however, as they do not post regularly and often times disappear in-between albums. They have not posted since February 28th, and made just five posts in all of February. These posts consisted of a t-shirt contest, a benefit reminder, two side-projects shout-outs, and a video of a popular choir singing a rendition of their hit “Modern Man.” One would assume that they simply do not need to post news about upcoming albums, shows, and studio updates as frequency as others because of their mass popularity across the globe.
Next up was Los Angeles’ Local Natives, who I caught at First Avenue in Minneapolis on Saturday. They are liked by 240,115 people and rising. Their second album, Hummingbird, debuted at number 12 on the Billboard Top 200 in late January. They are seen by many as a band to keep an eye on. They have posted seven times in March, including yesterday, and a total of 15 times in February. The majority of the content of the posts includes live streaming of concerts, images of performances, music videos, free streaming of songs, tour date announcements, ticket sales reminders, and live acoustic videos. With their new album hitting stores on January 29th they have been busy attempting to reach different audiences, as well as sell more tickets and albums. Part of this effort appears to be Facebook, with numerous posts about new shows, songs, videos, images, and television performances. Local Natives has come a long way since their debut album, Gorilla Manor (2009), which you can chalk up to social media support and die-hard fans of their unique sound who have spread the word. No one knew who these five gentleman were a year ago, but people are sure starting to take notice now. A sold out show in Minneapolis this past weekend proves just that.
Portland’s Blind Pilot is a different story altogether. They made their network television debut on January 25th, almost eight years since their inception. They currently sit at 90,941 likes, which is only 5.6% in comparison to aforementioned Arcade Fire. They still have not broken through like I believe they are capable of. Their style should appeal to older generations, acoustic lovers, and indie followers alike. Despite not being on the tips of everyone’s tongues they do not seem to be using their Facebook space. They have posted just five times over the past two months. These posts include a John Denver cover, added tour dates, and some images. Blind Pilot, despite touring, seems to be on a break away from their Facebook page in comparison to their frequent activity in 2011 when their second album, We Are the Tide, was released. I think I am starting to see a theme here. There seems to be heavier activity on Facebook when bands are in the process of recording, releasing, and touring their upcoming albums. Elsewhere, there seems to be frequent breaks between posts, not to mention the lack of interest.
I am going to switch gears and discuss one of the most celebrated and well-known indie bands of the last 15 years, Cincinnati’s The National. They are sitting at 542,389 likes on Facebook, which is a very large number in comparison to most indie bands. With an upcoming album set for a May 21st release date, this five-piece group has been busy on Facebook as of late. They had seven posts in February, and six so far in March. Each post had meaning as they have posting album updates, tour dates, new album artwork, documentary news, and studio images. You may have heard some of their material on the films Warm Bodies, Win Win, or Warrior. Their sound is perfect for the big screen. With their upcoming album, Trouble Will Find Me, approaching, their activity has been skyrocketing and will continue to do so as May 21st draws nearer. Coming off Boxer and High Violet, which are seen as two of better indie albums of the 21st century, expectations are high.
What I found here was that the closer bands are to releasing upcoming albums, the more activity on Facebook. This points to an emphasis on album sales, which trumps everything else one would assume. Also, when bands are not touring they do not seem to have the time or effort to post images, ideas, or videos. This, I assume, is because they are likely spending time with family and friends before the eventual grind on the road and in the studio. I thought that lesser known artists would use Facebook more frequently and with more purpose, but this was not necessarily the case. I have not touched on other social media sources yet, so it is possible they are using other outlets. More experienced, better-known artists seem to follow a similar pattern.
On Wednesday I plan on digging a little deeper into a few other Facebook aspects and features. I plan on using the likes of The Head and the Heart, Grizzly Bear, Sea Wolf, Two Door Cinema Club, The xx, and Beach House within my research.