Social media is tricky business, and as the practice becomes more essential to promoting a band or art, the more we’re seeing people fail miserably. Clay Fernald, however, has been kicking ass at it for years, ever since he landed on the cover of the Boston Phoenix in 2005 for having nearly 3,500 MySpace friends. Now as general manager of the Middle East in Cambridge and curator of DigBoston’s comic-mad League Podcast, the former frontman of punk band Wild Zero has social media promotion on lockdown, both personally and professionally.


Tomorrow night (Friday, March 21) Fernald teams up with the MMMMaven Agency for a social media workshop in Central Square, Cambridge. Designed to educate bands, DJs, artists, and anyone else interested in promotion through social media, the session provides expert advice in an innovative forum.

Since one of the tenants of Fernald’s social media approach is communication through conversation, we asked him why he feels social media in 2014 is so vital to an independent artist’s success.

“This has to be the greatest time in human existence to be a musician and an artist,” Fernald tells Vanyaland. “Damn — if you say the right thing on twitter orpost the right video on YouTube, you can be an overnight sensation. Besides that, you gotta talk to your fans and the venues you are playing at via social. Your access to your heroes is unprecedented. Holler at your influences, get a star favorite, ride on cloud nine all day!

So what makes a band successful at social media: Friend counts? Followers? Interaction?

“Of course likes and followers are great, but the real important part is the interaction, the listening, the talkback,” he adds. “The conversation. Pretend everyone is sitting next to you at the bar. It might be three people, it might be 30. Be cool and people will want to know what you have to say!”

Since Fernald will be busy educating those at tomorrow night’s workshop on how to have a successful social media campaign, we decided to flip the script and ask him to break down what not to do. Here are his five suggestions:



5.Don’t Be a dick

Do you think Thom Yorke cares that you think “name your own price” is a lame idea? Fine, get over it. He’s not gonna respond anyway. Try some PMA! “Don’t deride when you can go along for the ride!”


4.Don’t troll

C’mon, man. Setting up a fake twitter account to keep an eye on the bassist that quit your band? He ain’t comin’ back, baby!


3.Don’t tag band members of other bands in your Facebook check-ins at the big concert

At the Big Concert, a Big Band Member told me he/she HATES this. Sure it is cool you are friends IRL, but Big Band Member knows where he/she is and you are totally humble bragging to your Friends List right now.


2.Don’t announce a big show with big band via Twitter on a Saturday morning.

Timing is everything — don’t scream at an empty room. Be a normal band mate, wake up hungover on Saturday, eat Rice Chex and watch the new Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Practice when you get out of bed at 4pm.


1.Don’t use the Javascript INVITE ALL to Facebook events.

5,349 people invited. Three Attending. Five Maybes. And one “Block All Requests From This User” is coming your way from me.

SOCIAL MEDIA WORKSHOP WITH @CLAYNFERNO :: Friday, March 21 @ MMMMaven, 614 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 203, Cambridge, MA :: 6 to 8 p.m., all-ages, $30, 617.849.9321 :: Eventbrite Page :: Facebook Event Page


Clay MMMaven