The technology gap, that is to say, the difference between say a Brooklyn hipsters knowledge of technology versus his grandmother in the south of France’s, is one of the biggest issues that people are going to have to deal with in the next fifteen to twenty years. Eventually it will start to go away as technology gets more ubiquitous (or becomes ungodly to deal with) but for now, we all have to realize that dealing with folks who have different levels of understanding of technology is a fundamental problem in +9*96the music industry – especially when you have a lot of legendary figures out there who don’t quite know how to send an email (Is that a money making opportunity? You should be the judge of that) The point being – you need to embrace it and realize that it can affect the industry on just about every level. I want to take a deeper look at it in order to give you and your band some ideas how to deal with this and even use it to your advantage.
The main way that you are going to see the technology gap impacting your band is with older people. There are a lot of folks out there over the age of fifty who spent their time gigging while their peers were learning about social media. They know a lot, but they can’t communicate it in the modern context. I’ve learned that you need to be careful with what you assume other people are capable of and be willing to step in. I mean, if you think about it technology can be very intimidating for an older person and you need to be sympathetic. Being willing to do those kinds of things and be a servant is going to make people like you because it shows that you’re not too high to do even frustrating grunt work. If these people can properly handle an email you should count yourself lucky. I’m not trying to talk down – merely lowering expectations. You need to be willing to work with anything because sometimes you get a veritable legend who just needs help with his technology and when you do that you will be able to help guide them to the next level.
You can actually see this in action among celebrities all the time. Cracked.com editor in chief Jack O’Brien often talks about his theory that famous people lose track of technology the year that they get a personal assistant. That’s how I regularly find myself talking to famous musicians and having to explain what social media is. It’s easy to get lost in the world of bands where everyone is sharing tips about Facebook followers and optimizing their Bandcamps appearance and forget that a lot of people out there have a hard time with technology, and a lot of those people are the very same who hold a lot of power in the industry and recorded some of your favorite songs. It can be a struggle to deal with those people sometimes, simply because their mindset is so different, but if you crack them, you know what you are going to be able to do great things.
The tech gap is problematic because it also is a class issue – even if you don’t want to admit it. The fact of the matter is that most poor people don’t have iPhones or Facebook or any of that stuff. Other people opt out of it by choice, there are more of those than you might expect. This can impact you on several levels. First of all it’s just a warning to be careful when dealing with anyone that you shouldn’t assume technological literacy. It also means that depending on your location in the world alternative methods of promotion, outside of the internet realm can be extremely valuable. For example in the crust punk friendly city of Philadelphia people promote primarily with fliers because so few people who define the scene are regularly involved in Facebook and other social media promotions. You can’t just assume that because you primarily find out about shows and whatnot through Facebook that your peers will too – it’s part of why you need a holistic approach to promotion.
This is one of those things that’s interesting to think about because it reaches so far beyond just the music industry, even if the lens of the music industry is how we are choosing to view it in this article. It’s important for the future of mankind too, just consider how we will move forward in a world where most of the population doesn’t have internet, but for those of us who are the wealthiest have a hard time imagining life without it. Then realize that only 74% of American households have internet and only 72% have Facebook with the number being lower for other forms of social media. Obviously a lot of the people who don’t have internet are going to be outside of your target demographic but still – just consider that as you move forward and try to figure out the best way to promote your shows. The technology gap is this weird pervasive thing that very few of us even bother to talk about.
In short – keep this in mind. I know it’s something that you think will never affect you, but then suddenly you find yourself accessing audiences who never have found out about shows via the internet and making money and you kind of have to sit back and smile. Sure it’s a shrinking portion of the market and you shouldn’t dedicate ton of time to it, unless your target demographic is primarily senior citizens, but I think you see the appeal. It’s something that most bands don’t think of and a career opportunity that is not really taken advantage of enough. You can build something great by being patient and kind – you just need to take the time to do it and have that heart of service.
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