DEADBEAR is the moniker of Manchester-based producer and electronic musician Nick Donovan. Growing up in a world where digital rules, we had a chat about what it's like to start making records in a social media-savvy 2014.
What’s more important? Being on the front of NME – or a million followers on Twitter?
For me - it has to be the one million followers. Being on the front of the NME can raise your profile and has a certain cache, but it only serves to get you more fans. If you can speak directly to that one million genuine fans through Twitter that's so much more meaningful, and you can react and respond much quicker.
How do you ‘get yourself out there’ on social media?
Often it's through tie-ins with blogs, for example I just did an exclusive mix for a blog called Music Is Art which we are both promoting right now - it can expand your audience and creates fan-crossover if the blog is appropriate for your music. I guess the other way is tying your platforms together, so utilising Twitter with Instagram (for example) and linking that back to your Soundcloud or Tumblr, this can have a similar effect as each platform has different discovery options and can reach new fans in different ways.
What’s your favourite social media platform, as a musician?
For me it's Twitter. I don't like Facebook, I can see how some artists use it really well but it's a choice I made early on. Twitter focuses on bite-size interactions and you can interact with anyone even if you're not following/followed by them, something facebook caters to less.
As a musician it's been the most useful for that reason - creating contacts and interacting with artists you admire is a big plus.
How do you yourself find new music?
It's starting to sound like I work for Twitter now! But often through the tweets of friends, bloggers and blog sites I follow. Other than that, it's simply a process of looking through the new music sections of blogs I like.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Two things, they're pretty old school and we've heard them all before but I still they're relevant and I always try and bear them in mind:
1. Never compromise on anything your create. If you have nagging doubts about it being shit for some reason, it probably is so fix it as best you can and try to be objective about your work.
2. Be the person you want to be, you only get one shot at life so make it into something you'll be proud of.
Never compromise on anything your create
Do you agree with streaming services like Spotify?
This is complicated. I'm a Spotify subscriber, so I suppose I have to be ok with it. I do agree with the notion that these services will become more useful and fair for artists as they gain momentum and solidify their place in the industry as viable outlets for promoting your music.
However, they can homogenize the listening experience - the discovery options may be dictated by promotions, the catalogue might omit records you really like (or whole artist back catalogues in some instances), and so you resign yourself to what you can manage to find through choices someone has made on your listening history. It diminishes the chance of serendipity, in my opinion.
Do you think we’ll still have record shops in 10 years time?
Physical still has pull. I think the independent record shops know that and cater to an audience who appreciate the feel of something designed by the artist in their hands. I doubt we'll have a lot of them but I'm almost certain the good ones will survive.
What are the top 3 things an artist needs for a good ‘online presence’?
- The will to interact with their fans personally.
- A constant stream of content - drip feeding material is quite important so there's not loads of radio silence betwen your last post.
- Realising you don't need to be at every party (platform). Pick a couple of social media platforms to focus on and do them well, and decide what purpose they serve. For me - Twitter does everything I'd want my Facebook group to do, so I don't have one.
You can learn all about DeadBear on his official website, and enjoy his forthcoming single Snow in Tokyo right here!
Are you a new music producer too? Tell us your thoughts on starting up in the digital music industry.