Andy Hunter is a difficult guy to label. On one hand he’s an internationally renowned DJ, on the other he’s an award-winning recording artist and producer.
Even if you haven’t heard of Andy Hunter, you probably have heard his music because it’s featured in some of the biggest films, TV series and video games, including The Matrix Reloaded and The Italian Job.
Andy is also a devoted user of social media and an early adopter of new social technologies such as live streaming. With just days to go before the release of his “Presence” app, SocialB’s Simon Badman caught up with Andy.
Digital content has seemed to have gone hand in hand with what your career. What’s been your experience of digital and social channels?
It was very limited when I first signed with EMI back in 2000, we were on dial-up then. Anything website-wise was very limited especially for putting music up. My first website was huge, lots of information, lot of pages, because that’s where your fan-base would connect with you. There was no Facebook back then and MySpace was only beginning, so really your website was the domain where people connected with you.
Over the years, I ended up on MySpace, which at the time was probably the biggest format for artists, because you could load your tracks up, connect with your fans and they could put things on your wall. Suddenly your website felt a bit clunky. You had to go to a web developer just to upload your latest news and there was no lovely interface where I could just tap in my latest thoughts or updates. MySpace was just amazing for instant connection with my fans.
The trouble started with MySpace when it got filled with junk and spam. I started looking at other formats and had set up a Facebook fan page. It didn’t look as artsy or music friendly as MySpace, but it was starting to be a lot more social, in terms of real connection.
You’re an early adopter, right from the start you were recording video blogs in the studio. How did that come about?
Again it was just looking at ways of connecting. I’m not signed any more to a label because things like Facebook and blogging really cut out the middleman in connecting to a fan-base. You don’t really need a label anymore in terms of connecting and getting your music out there.
“I’m trying to have a conversation with people around the globe.”
Video blogging is a great way of being personal, showing people who you are and how you create your music. Being an electro-musician and composer there’s lots of interesting things in the studio you can show people such as different synths and the gear you’re using. You can also talk about how you write songs and your inspirations. It’s a great way of keeping people updated on what you’re up to.
One of the downsides of social media is how instant everything is. As an artist who takes a couple of years to make an album, it’s difficult because people want things now. My quality would suffer if I just threw things out, so video and social keeps me connected to people. I’m trying to have a conversation with people around the globe in a personal way to keep people interested.
You provide different content on different platforms. Was that a conscious decision or something that’s just developed?
It’s hard to be on everything, you could spend so much time on these platforms that you don’t get any work done. I have SoundCloud and YouTube accounts, but I don’t see them as my main platforms.
On Instagram, it’s more of a personal thing as I’m out and about with my family. It’s work but it’s also more of my personal life. I don’t share too much about my family on my Facebook fan page, that’s more for my personal page, but Instagram does blur the lines.
“social media does make it personal and I feel a responsibility not to treat people as an area of marketing”
I feel guilty sometimes though as you need to use these platforms to market your work, especially with an app launch coming up. I’ve been putting up videos about the Presence App encouraging people to sign up and even though I’m giving it away for free, I feel guilty of bombarding my connections. It’s like talking to your friends and all you say is “I’m releasing this app, I’m releasing this app”. I don’t want to use and abuse my connections as social media does make it personal and I feel a responsibility not to treat people as an area of marketing.
For the Presence App’s launch you’ve been experimenting with live streaming, how’s that gone?
My experience has been good. Periscope is brilliant when I’m touring or away, because I can just jump on and say “Look I’m in soundcheck” and people tune-in all around the world.
With Presence project what I’m trying to achieve alongside the app are monthly live streams, where if people have got the app they can engage in these streams. I’ll do a Presence session i.e. play a few songs and introduce the poetry from the app. Every month people with the app will receive a new chapter and the Presence stream will introduce this.
What I’m trying to achieve is to build a Presence community of people who are into the artsy side of things including music, film, poetry and photography. The community will tune-into the live streams every month and hopefully talk to each other as well as on Facebook and Twitter/Periscope. I’m also trying to push people to Stage-it as its better quality than the other channels.
I’ve found live streaming difficult with performing, as there’s no feedback – all you’re seeing is typing on a screen. In a normal live show, your adrenaline and nerves would add to the energy of your performance. There’s also the energy of the crowd and a live PA. Live streaming is completely different, there’s a lack of atmosphere. It also feels very one-sided because if I’m playing music, I can’t type and respond.
I want to build a monthly live streaming community, where people aren’t just joining in for 2-3 minutes, but are engaged for the full 20 mins. People seem to stay for the full 20 mins on Stage-it, but on Periscope and Facebook Live they only hang around for about 5 mins.
I always use Stage-it, but alternate sessions between Facebook Live and Periscope as I’m doing two a night. For me Facebook Live gets more hits than Periscope at the moment.
There’s also the trouble of bandwidth and your internet connection into this building. If you’re in a venue, the connection is often flaky. For the live launch of Presence I can’t use Stage-it, but I’m nicking my wife’s phone to do Periscope and Facebook Live.
Andy Hunter’s Presence App launches on April 22nd find out more at – https://www.presenceproject.com/