Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My advice to indie musicians about Twitter

I think Twitter is a phenomenal vehicle for interacting directly with the world, especially your fans, and your future fans.

My advice to you is the following:

1. Tweet links to your songs that people can play.

2. Tweet links to your music videos.

3. Tweet about upcoming gigs.

4. If you would like to get mp3's of your music circulating out there, tweet links to free downloads when available.

5. Be interactive with people who show an interest in you; don't be a stiff.

6. If you think that as a "creative" person you're too busy to do what I just suggested... revise your thinking.

7. If you think all you need to do is get signed with a label, and then they can take care of everything for you... revise your thinking. The record companies are out for them, not you.

8. When you tweet your music, DON'T (a) address your tweets to any specific person or (b) send direct messages... that would be s.p.a.m. [unless you are actually engaged in actual dialogue with them]

9. If you want to connect with other people tweeting about your type of music, use "search" to find them, and follow them if you like what they tweet.

10. When you tweet about your music, consider using hashtags to make it easier for people searching for your type of music to find you. [E.g., if you are a jazz guitarist you could use hashtags #music #jazz #guitar, whereas if you're a gospel vocalist you might want to try #music #gospel #spiritual]

11. Think of twitter as a place to interact with, and hang out with, your fans, and to show interest in, and respect of, others... not as a place to just keep promoting yourself and tooting your own horn. Some examples of great musician peeps, who treat their fans like friends, not "fans", are @zoecello, @amandapalmer, and @marysarahmusic.

12. Never send auto-DM's (automatic direct messages sent when someone follows you).

13. Do not write your bio in the 3rd person.

Any questions? Post them in a comment to this post, and I'll try to answer them.

Any additional twitter tips for indie musicians? Post them in a comment, and I'll select some for inclusion below.

Additional tips [most recent first]:

5/10/11 4:25 pm tip from @rob_t_firefly: Avoid the temptation to just hook your Facebook or similar to Twitter, let it pull down your posts into Tweets, and think "okay, I'm on Twitter" and leave it at that. Most Twitter users will not be pulled in by posts they could see elsewhere; if they wanted your Facebook they'd probably be following your Facebook. Tweeting your Facebook posts, Youtube uploads, or whatever else is a good thing to add to a Twitter presence, but it's not the only ingredient in itself.

1/11/11 5:04 pm tip from @GraceRodriguez: Use a tool like Hootsuite, CoTweet or Tweetdeck to schedule reminders for upcoming gigs or links to merch/music for sale.
Since Twitter is a constant info-stream, you can't expect people to see every single tweet..... just make sure you inject your personality into it so it doesn't become spammy
[note from RB: I use SocialOomph to schedule time delayed tweets. Also sometimes Tweetdeck Desktop]

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Retweet the old fashioned way, using 'classic' or 'traditional' retweets only

Updated Sept. 3, 2013

Ironically, the most important feature on Twitter is one that Twitter itself did not develop, and has never adopted: the traditional retweet.

It was developed by the customers, on their own, and not by the company. And amazingly, to this date Twitter itself has never incorporated it, although doing so would be as easy as pie.

My advice to all Twitter users is that you should not use what Twitter calls a "retweet". It is a counterfeit, and does not have any of the key properties of a retweet. Just skip it.

The true, traditional "retweet" is the life blood of Twitter, and what has set it apart from other similar "microblogging" services. [See my blog post "The awesomeness of the RT" : ]

Here's how to do a traditional retweet if you're accessing Twitter at

1. Copy and paste the message and name of person sending it to you.

2. Precede it by "RT @" [type "RT", then a space, then a @. It's important that the @ and the name NOT have a space between them].

I.e. it should start out like this: "RT @Username "

[Easier way: If you're using Firefox or Chrome as your browser, you can use the "Classic Retweet" button supplied by Jon Pierce's add-on "Classic Retweet 1.0". If you're set up with that, all you've got to do is hit the "Classic RT" button instead of the fake "retweet" button.]

It may be even easier if you're using a Twitter "client" or application.

If you're using Tweetdeck, Seesmic, UberTwitter, Plume, Janetter, Echofon, Tweetlist, or any of the other myriad "clients" and applications which support Twitter and other microblogging platforms, many provide a way to incorporate the "traditional retweet" as your retweet method of choice. Each uses different terminology, sometimes quite peculiar, such as e.g. "quote", "edit and reply", "Edit and RT", "retweet with comment", etc., and many do not allow you to set up classic retweets as your preferred, default method, but do allow you to choose the classic retweet when you're actually doing the retweet. If your app doesn't enable you to do classic retweets, you should consider replacing it with an app that does.

E.g., in Tweetdeck for Chrome, if you want to do a classic or traditional retweet, after you click the retweet icon you get a choice: "Edit and RT" or "Retweet". ALWAYS choose "Edit and RT" even if you have no intention of "editing". And you'll have a traditional, classic retweet [I usually do NOT edit, but know that I must check the "Edit and RT" option to get a true retweet, rather than a pseudo-retweet].

What's wrong with the thing Twitter mislabels a "retweet"

(1) You can't insert a comment, start a conversation, or join a conversation;
(2) you can't edit;
(3) instead of showing your avatar, it shows the avatar of the original tweeter, which might be someone your followers don't know or have any relationship with;
(4) it prevents you from seeing multiple versions with different comments from different people;
(5) if someone retweets you, it is difficult for you to learn that they did, you will have to go outside your conversational thread [e.g., on, you have to wade through your "interactions" to see which of them are twitter-fake-retweets];
(6) if you retweet people, they will never learn that you did, unless they go through that same investigative process; i.e, except for the commercial accounts which use analytics & care a lot about the number of retweets, they will probably never learn that you retweeted them;
(7) your so called "retweets" either will not show up, or will show up in an inferior way, in Tweetdeck or any other Twitter "clients" or applications, and if they do show up, will not prominently display YOUR icon (they will prominently display only the icon of the author of the original tweet);
(8) a fake retweet has no URL and is therefore not searchable. It has no separate identity. It has no identity in, and will not show up in, any kind of twitter search, such as keyword and hashtag searches. Examples of how this undercuts the value of your twitter experience are too numerous to mention, but a stream come to mind.*
(9) you won't be found when people are looking for people to follow with similar interests;
(10) the identities of intermediate tweeters will never be known;
(11) in many instances, to the extent your identity is recognized at all by the recipients, they can't reply to you, or retweet you, or DM you, and may not even be able to verify your user name;
(12) it eliminates discussion;
(13) when the pseudo "retweet" is itself retweeted, whether by rubber stamp retweet or by traditional retweet, you won't be mentioned at all,
(14) if you want to be part of a "hashtag" "trending" event, your pseudo retweets have no impact, since they're not considered separate tweets... only classic retweets will count.

In sum, it takes the "social" out of "social media" by [a] eliminating conversation and interaction, [b] insisting on blind rubber stamping, [c] preventing you from letting your friends know you've honored them, [d] preventing you from knowing your friends have honored you, [e] making you invisible, [f] making it harder for you to meet new friends with similar interests, and [g] removing any clear indication of your identity to your existing friends.

One of the primary uses of the traditional retweet is not to 'repeat' something at all, but to start or continue a conversation, with 2, 3, sometimes even 4 or 5 people participating in a single tweet. In this type of classic retweet, you're repeating something in order to preserve the conversational thread. Here are a couple of everyday examples from some good conversationalists, who use traditional "retweets" as conversation:

The people who engage in such conversations are the people having the most fun of all on Twitter and are the coolest communicators here.

Twitter's pseudo retweet makes such engagement and interaction impossible.

Twitter's management thinks Twitter is for information only and is not supposed to be "social", and that a retweet is for the purpose of repeating, or rubber stamping, the original tweet.

Why did Twitter do this?

My guess is that it has to do with appealing to Twitter's "business" customers (read "paying" customers) -- corporations, celebrities, social media professionals, major news media -- who do not themselves retweet but who wish to be retweeted by others, making it easier to quantify their "impressions", and to enhance their visibility at the expense of the rest of us. Twitter thinks it can make more money from its advertising [euphemistically termed "promoted tweets"] by being able to quantify the number of repetitions they receive.

If you fall into the trap, your interactivity with your friends is shattered, and your visibility to your friends is removed.

Even the "paying" customers for whose benefit this was done are being screwed, although they may not realize it. Instead of becoming a part of the Twitter conversation, they're just getting the same type of paid advertising spam they could have bought anywhere else. And if they do get rubber stamped, they're being 'rubber stamped' by the least experienced, least visible, least influential, people on twitter -- since those of us who are knowledgeable are likely to avoid touching the rubber stamp button like the plague.


This is my advice:

1. Don't use Twitter's so called retweet function.... ever.

2. Use genuine, traditional retweets only.

3. Configure any twitter apps which you may be using to do traditional, rather than 'rubber stamp', retweets. If yours cannot readily be configured to do that, drop it and use one that can. Period. [see "How to set up your twitter apps (or "clients") to do traditional retweets rather than rubber stamp retweets"].

Some people ask "what if the original tweet is too long"? I say that if you really can't shorten it, edit it, or use a "longer tweet" service, then forget it. Why punish your followers by injecting spam into their stream? Your followers are looking for stuff from you, not from strangers. Stuff from strangers, which they didn't ask for and don't recognize, has a name: it's called s.p.a.m. [When people complain that they've been seeing a lot of tweets in their stream from people they don't recognize, that's because of peeps using twitter's rubber stamp button]. 

The "length" problem should become less and less of a problem, as automatic "elongated tweet" features become more and more available. For example, see Twitlonger and Twtmore

* [a] In the 2010 round of Shorty Awards voting, people were advised that one way to vote was by retweeting. The retweet votes were retrieved through Twitter search with the aid of Twitter hashtags. Apparently none of the votes lodged by the "fake retweet" button were counted, since the tweet had no URL, hence no identity, of its own. It is unclear what votes were or were not counted in the 2011 Shorty Awards. [b] Many tweeters, and many internet twitter applications, use keyword searches in Twitter search to find new people to follow who share similar interests; all use of Twitter's pseudo-retweet is excluded from such searches (Let's say, for example, I am looking to find new people to follow who are interested in indigenous peoples' rights, and use the hashtag #indigenous or the term "indigenous" to locate them. Or let's say I'm asking Mr. Tweet or some other application which helps with "friend finding" to find me people who tweet using the keyword "indigenous". And let's say you're someone who constantly uses twitter's fake retweet technology to send out tweets using the hashtag #indigenous. I will never even learn of your existence, because my search will turn up NONE of your pseudo-retweets. The poor saps who use Twitter's fake retweet are constantly losing opportunities to make new friends who share similar interests.)

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Saturday, July 6, 2013

The lesson I've learned about URL-shorteners

It goes without saying that when tweeting links, it's a good idea to use URL shorteners, in view of Twitter's 140 character limit.
But if you're ever going to reuse the tweets, you should be very discriminating about which URL-shortening service to use.
I've shortened a lot of links with different URL-shortening services, not concerning myself with the company's pedigree. Big mistake.
A few weeks ago I learned that all of my links don't work, and just discovered that my links are often no good either.
So I've been going through the very painstaking work of converting them to links (Google's URL-shortening service. I figure if Google goes out of business, then the internet will probably have gone out of business).
I've converted all the links, but have hundreds and hundreds of links to go through. Some of the links work, but most do not, so I have to test each one, and replace the non-working ones.
If you come across one of my links to a YouTube video which doesn't work, you can try searching for the name and singer in my playlists, find the playlist that has the recording, and go to that video.
And if you ever come to any link that doesn't work, either because the shortened link doesn't work, or because the video has been taken down, deleted, made private, etc.... please tweet me about it so I can update the link.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Twitter Basics

The 5 basic rules for happiness on Twitter

1. Upload a picture for your 'avatar' so people can see who they're talking to.

2. Put something in your 'bio' so people can get some idea of what you're about.

3. Be interactive (see "the power of ' @ '").

4. Be yourself, not phony.

5. Don't be all about yourself, take an interest in others*.

That's it. Those are the basics. Follow them, and you will have a ball.

Application of the 5 basic rules

The following points are just refinements of points 3, 4,and 5.

6. Retweet other people (see "awesomeness of retweets"). If you like it, retweet it. Use traditional or classic retweets, not the "retweet" button.**.

7. Don't worry about how to get a lot of followers. Just follow, and pay attention to, people you appreciate, and your network will keep on growing. As a general rule, unfollow people who aren't following you. (To learn how to identify and unfollow them, go here).

8. Don't follow celebrities, "suggested" accounts, "must follows", "power" twitters, or "best" or "top" twitters or lists; that is all hype meant to benefit them, not you. Following these types is the easiest way to get frustrated and wind up -- like most people -- quitting, or going inactive. Look for people who are interactive and unselfish, whose style you like, and who tweet about things that are up your alley. You're not here to be a "follower" but to make friends.

9. Don't let yourself be boxed in by Twitter's terminology as to what it is for. It is for anything conversation and writing are for: making new friends, making people laugh, getting a laugh, sharing thoughts, sharing information, making the world a better place, learning, teaching, kvetching, commiserating.... Using it mainly to "update" your "status" is a good way of ensuring that your status is.... lonely.

10. Avoid spammy behavior, such as :
(a) sending auto DM's to people who were kind enough to follow you;
(b) asking people for favors;
(c) following people and then paying no attention to them;
(d) picking fights, starting arguments, splitting hairs, and/or responding to tweets without making it clear what you are responding to; and
(e) sending comments on tweets without retweeting them.

11. If you would like to be retweeted, here's how to improve your chances: (a) make your tweets good, (b) make them short, and (c) be a retweeter yourself.

12. Get one of the free software applications or "clients" that provide a nice, conversational interface and make it easy to follow people's tweets. My favorite is @Tweetdeck for Chrome.

13. Don't follow someone until you've looked at their tweets, and decided you're really interested.

But if you like to keep it simple, you can distill the above rules into 3 simpler rules which are real easy to remember:

1. Share.

2. Share.

3. Share.

* If you're promoting a "cause", help other people promote their causes too. Promoting your agenda, but not those of others, is just selfish.

** When I use the term "retweet" I'm referring to the traditional retweet, not the "rubber stamp" button which Twitter implemented in early 2010 and mislabeled a "retweet". For a more detailed explanation of why you should never ever use Twitter's rubber stamp version, go here.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Coalition for Queens Presents "Access Code" : learn how to build your own iPhone & iPad apps; no background required

We’re excited to announce the launch of Access Code, our comprehensive and affordable iOS Development course led by an expert practitioner. No previous background required.

We believe that everyone should have an opportunity to learn how to code and begin a career in technology. Our 8-week, 50 hour course will give you the foundations to create your own iPhone and iPad applications. Full scholarships are available.

Learn more and apply today for our Spring Class (starting on May 18th):

We hope to see you soon,
Jukay, Dave, Frank & Ben
The C4Q team

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Ways in which Twitter foolishly diminishes interactivity

1. Twitter for some strange reason imposes limits on the number of tweets. Since I'm a high volume tweeter, I'm always bumping up against those limits. If I go over the limit, I wind up in "twitter jail" -- i.e. I can't tweet for an unspecified period of time. So I often have to refrain from responding to people who've tweeted to me directly, or thanking people, or asking people questions, or greeting people, or saying "you're welcome" or "how are you", because doing so would put me "in jail".

2. Again because I'm a high volume tweeter, I try to space my tweets out when possible. I use as my tool for doing that. However, whenever I have "@" in my tweet, Twitter often rejects it as an "unsolicited mention". Which means that I can't use my spacing tool for tweets which (a) respond to someone, or (b) mention someone, or (c) retweet someone. So the people whom I would have liked to mention, often the authors or publishers of the blog post or article in question, will never know.

3. The twitter retweet button is another anti-conversation impediment. If anyone retweets me with that, I usually never find out about it.

Twitter is shooting itself in the foot with these things.

Twitter should listen to its users.

Oh and how exactly does it help Twitter to (a) limit the number of tweets I tweet, (b) prevent me from mentioning other twitter accounts when my tweets come from, and (c) prevent me from knowing who's retweeted me? Answer: it doesn't.

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