“At some point we determine exactly what the melody is, note for note. Then when we do our lyrics we don’t detract from that melody. We don’t change the melody to go with certain words that we may like. We religiously make the words fit into the melody that we’ve pre-established.” Barry Gibb.
This is from an excellent multi-part documentary about the Bee Gees that I recently discovered on YouTube. Released in 1997, it has footage and interviews from just about every phase of the band’s storied career, one that spanned several decades and garnered record sales of over 220 million. The band, comprised of three brothers, had great success as a pop act in the late 1960s and early 1970s and massive success in the late 1970s as writers and performers in the disco era. They continued to perform and write hit songs, often for other high profile artists, up until the death of Maurice and later, Robin. Surviving member Barry still records and tours.
Watching the video, I was struck at the way the three members could sit and, in a workmanlike fashion, create a song. They were crafting within fairly rigid guidelines a message or story that potentially millions of people would hear. Also, within this strict set of parameters they are acting as a team – an incredibly creative team – to solve the musical puzzle and make the parts sound right, both lyrically and melodically, and make sense to the listener.
I believe that a comparison can be made between great songwriters creating a song and content gatherers (a horrible term I think I just made up) putting together posts. Just like a song, social media is fairly structured, especially platforms like Twitter. Think of the social platform as the melody and your message as the lyrics. Sure you can fudge it with longer posts that the reader must click on to read the entire thing, older readers will recall eight track cassettes used to do that too with a annoying audible “CLUNK,” but to do it right, you are locked into some rules.
As an artist relation’s person, and one who is tasked with gathering meaningful content for my clients, this video hits home. It helps that music is the recurring theme in the video and that my clients are in that business, but the thought process here can be applied to any industry that is trying to use social media in their strategies. I suspect, too, that in any corporate social media group there are a few guitar players who can relate to the songwriting analogy.
So embrace your inner songwriter. Remember, it could be worse. Imagine if social media postings had to be in the form of a Haiku.