Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Is being "verified" for improved notability a bad thing?

I've been verified again.  I'm increasingly verifiable.  I'll explain what that means, and why it might be a stepping stone to increased notability by some measures.  Then, finally, I'll explore the bigger deeper question of whether that's something to be desired in the first place or not!

It's a weird age we live in when a guy like me who likes to make up songs can inexpensively record himself and then sell those recordings online to people who buy music all over the world.  Just because you can do it doesn't mean people are going to buy it (or like it, or even find out it exists in the first place for that matter)!  Supposedly, there are "apps" to help with that now.

This app called Shazam sent me an email I first thought was spam but then realized could be legitimate.  Before I continue much, I'll admit I have no idea what this Shazam app does or is good for, except that I know my friends who have iPhones use it for something music-related.  That really all I know still, even though they've now made me a "verified" artist.  What that means is they put a check mark next to my profile picture on their website.  Somehow they have a picture of me and pictures of my album covers and my music is apparently on there too.  I've got no idea how it got there.  The only other thing I learned about Shazam is when I clicked a few things they prompted me to click on to become verified, I noticed that I had already been Shazamed by people 57 times, mostly for my song American Dream.

A confused kid gets clarification on a few things related to the word
I think when I was a kid I remember this word because it was the name of a super hero on a tv show by the same name played by the guy who was later the 6-million dollar man if I'm not mistaken, and it might've been based on a comic book, and was also somehow associated with a companion or sister show called Almighty Isis that I always confused with the Wonder Woman show starring Linda Carter.  Back then you either asked friends or adults about these things and they either knew the truth, didn't know, or lied, but you that's all you had to go on unless you wanted to try a library, which was a dewey hassle.

Nowadays, however, we've got the almighty and always-reliable internet, so here, let me google that for myself to get clarification I've wanted for so long....back in a second here....OK, apparently, Shazam was the name of the show, but Captain Marvel was the superhero's name, and it wasn't played by any well-known actors, however, both Danny Bonaduce and Jackie Earle Haley were in that show - didn't remember that, but those guys have always been cool.  Further, what I thought was called Almighty Isis was really called The Secrets of ISIS, and she was a goddess who fought evil with powers she summoned by chanting "OH, mighty Isis" not all.  This one had no well-known people in it at all, and neither had Lee Majors or Linda Carter in it.  Now I know, whew, thanks internet, I can rest easy now.

That's literally all I know, except, oh yeah almost forgot, the fact that when I was a kid there was a tv show with a character named Gomer Pyle who had a distictive southern accent I used to be able to imitate and one of his catch phrases was "shazam."  Interestingly enough, Jim Nabors who played that character just happened to be a great singer and recording artist himself, sounding nothing like the voice he used for the character.  Even though I repeated it in that voice along with the drawn-out "golly" and got a few laughs, I didn't know what it meant except I figured it was a synonym for declaring "ureka" or something like that.  Here, I'll look it up real quick...ok, I'm back now and the incredibly annoying and lame user interface of the free Merriam-Webster dictionary site tells me it means "used to indicate an instantaneous transformation or appearance."  Well, I was a little off there, but yeah, that reminds me it's a phrase I've heard magicians use in place of "abracadabra" or "presto" or something similar.

While I'm blogging about it, let's learn what it does, shall we?
Back to the app again, I bothered to scour the interwebs again to learn more.  Apparently, if you're listening to music already on a device like an iPhone through headphones or a speaker that also has a microphone (this is where older tech-unsavvy folks will surely begin to glaze over if not long before now) the microphone will listen to the song being played and then send you the name of the song, the artist name, the name of the album it's on and other stuff.

Scenario:  So, presumably through your Apple Music streaming subscription (that never pays Scott a dime), you hear a Scott Cooley song playing randomly you didn't pay for (why would you?), then you fire up this app to tell you what iTunes should already be displaying for you anyway-that it's Mackinac Island from the Lakeside Landing album or American Dream from the Used To Be Good Looking Album or Coney from the Rest Assured album, etc..So that's all I can gather for now, and thus still don't get why you'd get any use out of it, but now when it tells you Scott Cooley song-related info, it's on a "verified" profile where I can supposedly have some minor amount of control to make sure you get the correct info that is already there somehow anyway (that I never get even a fraction of a cent for anyway).

Not your cup of tea?
Like it or not, people like me release music they make in their homes on computers.  They're going to keep doing it.  It's something you have to get used to - like when people lock their cars now, they beep, parking lots full of beeps that never used to be there...or people's cell phones ringing and people talking on the phone while you are trying to enjoy a quiet meal in a restaurant, or a million other scenarios for that matter.  These things are societal changes that took some getting used to and they're here to stay.  Same for DIY bedroom songwriter/musicians who can't sing or play very well but release music anyway.  There are a lot of us out there, trying not to be discovered like hopeful musicians of the past, but rather to just be "discoverable."

Be careful what you wish for 
In a past post, (From Nobility To Notability), I wrote about what sites like Wikipedia think qualifies you to be "notable" enough to have a page.  It's a catch-22 of sorts, being a songwriter/recording artist, because you want an audience, you want other people to hear your music, with the hope that they'll like it and even buy it.  It would be nice to make some money for the art you make - the songs you write and record - something you love to do for fun anyway.  However, you're old enough and wise enough to know that you would hate the "being famous" part, so at the same time you want popularity, you know it would kind of suck to actually be a celebrity and all the hassles that apparently go along with that.  I don't know about that.

If you're like me and a lot of other people in the world, you hate hearing famous people complain about being famous.  They asked for it, you think to yourselves, and they seem to have amazing lifestyles, and it's really hard to feel sorry for them when they whine about not knowing what they were getting themselves into, am I right?  So, although a part of being an independent musician involves the necessary evils of the seeking of publicity and self-promotion and DIY marketing, it's a part older, wiser creative artists typically dread.

Notta Madonna WannaBe
Not everyone wants to "rule the world" as a young artist like material girl Madonna once told Dick Clark.  She was seemingly unabashedly out for the money and fame more than other aspects of it, and she was no doubt a master marketer.  I've heard of people authoring/submitting their own draft of their own wikipedia page and submitting all these supporting articles and links to demonstrate their notability.

I suppose I could do the same, but then I might think, oh no, I'm hereby losing a big part of my anonymity and although I'd be doing it to have my music reach a larger audience, a part of me would feel unworthy, embarrassed, and uncomfortable about it all.  Putting your music out into the world for judgement is difficult enough.  So, becoming verified as an artist is another such step, small as it may seem, and I'm finding should be approached with caution.

Other verifications 
That said, I was slightly annoyed that Twitter wouldn't verify me as the official Scott Cooley musical artist and put that "coveted check mark" by my name because I wasn't able to provide enough "notability" evidence to meet their criteria I guess.

So far, I'm now "verified" already in these other online places:

Moving forward slowly and unsurely...
As they become available (only for free of course), I'll continue the "vanity" of clicking a few things to say yeah, that's me, I'm that guy.  Some, like Soundcloud, only give you the check (they use a star actually) unless you actually pay them and have a paid account.  I'll never do that!  What a waste.

I like slow, steady organic growth in people finding out about my music, thank you.  I'll never buy likes, follows, shares, friends, etc. either, even though I know that's possible and effective - appearance of popularity is proven to breed actual popularity.

On my social media profiles, you'll see I always follow way more people than the number who follow me.  I've heard it said it should always be the opposite for a true artist, but they can think what they want.  I'm sure if you've got major label backing, they set aside money to make sure you appear as popular as possible!

Proceeding with caution, yet if free opportunities to improve my notability status continue to present themselves, I'll probably continue to go for it, since the end goal is to have my music reach a larger audience.

It's a bit egotistical and vain and thus uncomfortable but I have to remind myself it's for a good cause - me being able to actually make a couple bucks by selling music once in a while.

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