Guitar ClickBait

In the ''good old days,'' there were filters to the information we received. Guitar players around the world would rely on guitar books, magazines, DVDs to give us advice we could trust – to keep a good reputation, publishers had to filter their content to provide good stuff that would be enjoyable, fun, accurate and useful. But no more. 

With the opening of the 'world's biggest library (the internet), all kinds of amazing things became available to everyone – 'it's an incredible resource for us all. Great for researching transcriptions and seeing (as well as hearing) the masters play and awesome for us detectives to figure out how they did it.

But with it came the marketeers (marketing bred with racketeering), the corporations and quick buck seekers, and right now 'I'm noticing a very worrying trend on YouTube and around the web at the moment for Guitar Click Bait that I feel is my duty to help y' ' all avoid.

So what is ClickBait, and why is it so bad? Well in marketing speak it is "content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link". Marketeers have been studying us for many years now, and the amount of information that people can get on you while you surf is staggering. Tracking Pixels are invisible but monitor where you go and allow marketing people to target ads specifically to you – and they research the best ways to deliver them to you as well (targeting).

Right now in guitar land, there is real growth in YouTube videos with enticing titles and very little useful content. Some of my favourites are: ""The 5 mistakes every beginner guitarist makes", "This guitar secret will unlock the fretboard", "7 Tricks to make people think you are amazing at guitar", "4 sneaky guitar tricks that Hendrix used to blow minds, #3 is incredible"" and many more. 'They're mostly aimed at beginners, but 'it's starting to infect more and more content. 

It seems to have started with news items on the kind of websites that people would browse to kill time, and so marketeers tested what headlines and images were most effective and kept distilling until they had a very potent formula for titles of videos, news titles, video thumbnails and even email subject lines.

And so these initial videos may seem harmless enough, you waste a bit of time (when you could be practising something useful), but very often there is a link with some kind of special offer for you to click on or a question to answer so they can ''help you better''. Give them your email at your own peril – the marketeers have specially formulated automated emails series that will be filling your inbox with more click bait for you - and they are clever - real clever.

'I've always found this kind of marketing a bit vulgar, but I thought in my business it might be worth exploring so 'I've been researching it on and off for the last few years. I've found that 'it's quite fascinating how malleable we are and how much our consent can be manipulated for many things beyond guitar as well – and the cure is simply awareness. If you want to explore the subject a bit further (and possibly scare yourself!), I suggest reading Manufacturing Consent (Chomsky), The Product Launch Formula (Jeff Walker) and Influence: Science and Practice (Cialdini).

Music teaching is now a well-researched niche, and business knows there is money to be made exploiting peoples desires and vulnerabilities. The time-limited offer is one classic you see a lot - the countdown times makes us feel that we need to act now - on our impulses - and often if we took a bit more time to research the product or person selling stuff, we might not head through with it.

Marketeers will often play on your insecurities and common ''mistakes'' that people worry about and say they have the answer. 'They'll somehow know what it is you always wanted to be (cold reading) and say they can help you get there. They promote exclusivity and invite you into the special club and make you doubt things and techniques you believe in.

There are whole books and web sites dedicated to how to sell effectively, and for sure there are many legitimate great teachers who are selling their wares using some of these tools - but because there is so little filtering online - 'it's getting harder and harder to separate the quality from the chaff. There are more than a few YouTube channels that seem to specialize in this kind of thing now and some web sites that do a lot of adverts using these tricks, and I might even have to start using some of the techniques myself because they really are that effective!

The solution is easy! Take your time and do a little research about who you buy from. There are some really great teachers out there that use some of these marketing tools, but not usually the negative or pressure techniques.

You need to come to your own conclusions about the benefit of the average click bait video and the providers of them and hopefully 'you'll find your guitar experience online more rewarding - and find more time for the thing that makes the biggest difference… Practice!

Food For Thought