TWO LESSONS FROM ‘YOUTUBE FOR THE ARTS’

14 Oct

CatSharkRoombaVia Le Guardian.

1) Marc Kirschner, founder and CEO, TenduTV/Cultureband
Plan ahead (more than you think): Where a lot of the arts organisations we work with are going wrong is that they don’t plan long-term enough. A lot will post a video related to an upcoming performance two weeks or less in advance, which is simply not enough time to generate interest in the video or to maximise the potential long-term benefits of that piece of content within YouTube’s algorithms.

Can everybody who does PR, marketing and audience development for galleries, public talks, readings, gigs, festivals and venues please pay very close attention to what Marc is saying here? It’s nice when your friends spontaneously call you or send you a message about doing something, having a coffee or a swift pint, just hanging out and catching up, or whatever. Shoestring, artist-run places can be somewhat forgiven for this one because they usually work bloody hard and don’t have full time staff or very much money. Major commercial or publicly funded spaces can’t be forgiven for it. A MAJOR ART GALLERY IS NOT MY FRIEND. I’m not at its beck and it doesn’t get to call me up when it’s in the mood or because it’s having a last minute flap that nobody seems to be interested. Maybe it’s because they never tell people anything or get their shit together until it’s too late. The first I know about an exhibition or event shouldn’t be two weeks (or worse, two days, and worse still two hours) before it’s happening. Two weeks, two days and/or two hours before is when I should be additionally getting a reminder. I don’t even know how many times I would happily have gone to things if I’d had more than twenty seconds notice. In many cases I would have bought a ticket, i.e. given them money, which is the whole point of your marketing job, Mr or Ms Marketing.

On the other hand, many galleries seem not to care if nobody sees the art. Indeed many of them seem more comfortable if nobody sees the art, so I don’t forsee many of them rushing to accommodate YouTube’s audience-maximising algorithms.

2) Simon Walker, chief strategy officer, Rightster
Influence: What we are seeing is the emergence of a new set of influencers…  it was only last month the rest of the industry noticed that sitting on the front row next to Anna Wintour was a bunch of YouTube kids who have suddenly got the same kind of editorial power as the editor of Vogue.

The question for the arts sector is: who are the new influencers?

My emphasis on the last sentence. This gentleman is from Rightster, beneficiaries of a £1.8 million Arts Council grant for a new arts video network. (Previously on Career Suicide…) The team working on that project seriously need to take Rightster’s own advice if they don’t want the ACE MCN to turn into another pointless money pit, or the art world equivalent of a shark cat riding a Roomba. The latter is a particularly big trap lying in wait, because most contemporary art that gets covered in the mainstream media already doesn’t have any more depth than a video of a shark cat riding a Roomba.

There definitely are new influencers in the visual arts, and they most certainly ain’t critical darlings like Ryan Gander, Ai Wei Wei, or Grayson Perry, critics from national newspapers or big art magazines, or dead horse floggers like Emin or Hirst, despite the fact that they and their ilk are still constantly pimping their dreary old work and flapping their dreary old mouths in the mainstream media. Mainly because the mainstream media and mainstream galleries are too fucking lazy to even follow an artist they don’t know on Twitter, let alone to go outside their own postcode and actively cultivate artists who are doing interesting, original stuff.

“Influencers” sounds too much like influenza (and comes from the same Latin root), by the way. Nobody wants that. It’s an autocorrect mistake in waiting: “Up to 100 million people died during the influencer outbreak.” These people are paid enough and they’re meant to be good with words; they should be able to come up with a better one.

PS: Talking of influenza, this blog has more readers per month than most of the printed art magazines in Britain. Just saying…

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