Jeffery Cotton talks about Wired Musician, the Internet, and why you should have a website.
You might be surprised by his reasons.
etting a business off the ground that’s as unique in concept as Wired Musician has been an education. Reactions to the idea have ranged from unbridled enthusiasm (largely from musicians) to derisive disbelief. The nay-sayers have warned that musicians don’t understand how to market themselves, they don't understand the need to market themselves, they actively avoid marketing themselves. To which I’ve responded, “Who was talking about marketing?”
The Internet has been such a remarkable commercial success, the dot-com bust notwithstanding, it's easy to forget just what a cultural sea change the World Wide Web has brought about — and what other things it has to offer. The Internet Revolution corresponds to another technical revolution one hundred years ago: the advent of the telephone as a common means of sharing information quickly over large distances. And how many of us nowadays would be able to manage our careers without a telephone?
Much like a hundred years ago, the division between those who believe in this new-fangled technology, and those who don't, falls largely along age group lines. For people of my generation, let's say in their mid-forties and beyond, the Internet is something that's been around for a little while, and we’ll wait and see how it plays out. But for people in their twenties and even thirties, the Internet has existed and been part of their daily routine for most of their adult lifetime. The result is predictable: young professional musicians see a website as basic necessity — older, established professionals see it as indulgence.
rofessional musicians need to be on the internet. My reasons for saying this have nothing to do with marketing, or a fear that the youngsters are getting one up on the rest of us. I know the Wired Musician concept will work, because having a website has done one very important thing for me as a composer: It's made my life simpler, and that's an idea you can sell to anybody.
My own website has been around for about 9 years. As the amount of information there has grown, I've been creating more and more useful ways of linking it and manipulating it. Let's say I've just received a new commission, and I'd like to announce it on my website. I can enter the news item today, while it’s on my mind and I have the time, but tell my website not to display it until three weeks from now, to coincide with the ensemble's announcement.
My website also provides visitors with one-stop-shopping: they can download sound clips, score samples, program notes, performance materials, even high-resolution head shots. Virtually everything anyone could want or need to know about me as a composer is available on my website. My works received more performances this past season than any other time in my life, yet I made fewer trips to the post office than ever before.
Equally important is that the main Wired Musician database is rapidly growing into an impressive archive of performances. Visitors to my website can view performances of my works back to 1999. Twenty years from now that information will still be there, and anyone wishing to know when and where a particular work was performed, and who performed it, will find the answer in a couple of mouse clicks (that is, if we're still using mice in twenty years).
s it worth $875? If you're a young musician whose career is still in its earliest stages, having a website will certainly help you get the word out, but Wired Musician might be more than you need at this point. If, on the other hand, you're a busy professional who needs a professional website, $875 isn't much, especially when you consider everything we provide. To offer a little perspective, one of our ensemble clients, before coming to Wired Musician, went to a professional web design firm for a complete make-over of its website. The firm wanted $8,000 — for a website full of static content that the client would have no direct control over.
If all you saved were time, I’d still argue it’s worth $875 to set up a new Wired Musician website. But there are more benefits coming, as the Wired Musician community grows and we add more features.
I look forward to my own website being a part of the fully-integrated Wired Musician system. My life will be made even simpler: if an ensemble in the Wired Musician system is performing a work of mine, any change the ensemble administrator makes to the performance information will automatically appear on my website without my involvement. And the administrator’s life will also be made easier: any update I make to shared information on my website, such as my bio, will automatically update their website as well, if they so choose.
This is, after all, what the Internet does best. It allows us to share information more quickly and with less effort than any other means available. At least, until the next revolution comes along in a hundred years or so.
Jeffery would like to hear what you think. Please send him an e-mail at .