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So We’re Doing “Pay for Tweet” F**kery Now? AwesomePosted by Nathan S. on 07/03/12 | Filed under Features, Opinion, Pay for Post
I'd like to believe that I've done my part to stop Pay for Post fuckery, but since this is 2012 we've now got to contend with Pay for Tweet fuckery. Just yesterday I came across this tweet from @BrianGarrett:
"Just wanted to reach out and let you know about a special we're doing this week. For a very low price you can have Brian Garrett the CEO of Future Star who has 500k followers on Twitter send one tweet promoting your song or video. He is also a verified account with the blue check mark and has tons of celebrities and high profile industry executives following him as well. This is perfect for all of you labels, artists, producers and DJ's that want some cheap exposure and don't have the big budgets for our other services. Here's the different pricing options for this.
$25 - One tweet that will have the hashtag #Ad at the end of it stating it's an advertisement.
$50 - One tweet with no hashtag at the end of it unless it's one that you would like as part of your campaign. No advertisement noted.
$125 - One tweet per day for one entire week with the hashtag #Ad at the end of it stating it's an advertisement.
$250 - One tweet per day for one entire week with no hashtag at the end of it unless it's one you would like as part of your campaign. No advertisement noted.
We're also doing specials on Twitter followers, Facebook likes, Instagram followers and YouTube views. Remember we don't need your password or access to your account to do any of these services. You just order and watch your numbers increase. Let us know if you need any of these!"
Ok, one step at a time. And before I begin, I should make it clear this isn't really about Future Music and Brian Garrett - they're just an example. There are literally hundreds of other people and companies doing the same thing, but there are some concepts we can learn from Future Music that you can apply to the entire industry.
First up, is paying for a tweet worth it? There's really no easy answer here. Certainly the more people who see your music the better, and a Tweet will likely mean more people hear your music than not. So if you've got $25 you want to spend just to see what happens, I can't say you'd be wrong...with some clauses.
First, considering Garrett also offers to inflate your Twitter numbers for a price, you have to at least consider that he's inflated he's own 500K followers. I of course can't prove if he has or hasn't, but blindly trusting that the numbers of anyone who messes with numbers for a living are legit is like blindly trusting that the girl who cheated on her past ten boyfriends won't cheat on you.
I can say that I literally don't know a single blogger/A&R/exec who discovers new artists via Twitter links. There could be some out there, but I don't know them. At the least I can assure you that RefinedHype, DJBooth ignores tweets from artists we don't know as a matter of policy. It's more fans and the general public who are willing to click those links, who you're probably looking to reach as well.
Second, there's nothing shady about paying someone to promote you. It's called advertising, and it's a billion dollar business. But whether it's Pay for Post or Pay for Tweet, the shadiness enters when a reader wouldn't reasonably know if it was paid for or not.
For example, Puma's currently running an ad campaign on RefinedHype. Everyone who looks at the Puma ad at the top of the site knows Puma paid for that ad, so no shadiness. But if Puma paid me to write a post about how dope their new shoes are (called an "advertorial' in the business), and nowhere in that post did I mention that they paid me, that's shady. If you spent money on those Puma shoes on my recommendation and didn't know Puma paid me to hype them, you'd be pissed, and rightfully so.
Or to use Twitter as an example:
It's immediately clear that McDonald's and Subway paid for those tweets, consumers understand that they're ads, so no problem.
So when Garrett offers to take off the #Ad hashtag for an additional $25, he's essentially saying "for just a few bucks more we'll engage in some shadiness on your behalf!" What's odd though it that Garrett also Tweeted out his offer to do this Twitter promotion. So now anyone who read that tweet knows that looking at his timeline, any music he links to without an #As hashtag was likely paid for.
In other words, by announcing that you can pay extra to have him remove the #Ad hashtag, he's seriously devalued any Tweet without a #Ad hashtag, since readers will likely assume it's an ad that was paid for. (Follow that?)
Ultimately, I can't tell any artist to either pay or not pay for any post/Tweet/etc. Everyone's circumstances are different, and there are too many variations to make a blanket statement. But hopefully posts like these at least help artist think critically about the services they're offered before putting down their hard earned money.
Feel free to hit me with questions or other topics you'd like to see covered in the comments below.
See Also: Breaking Down This Week in Pay for Post F**kery