Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Loreena McKennitt Is Leaving Facebook, but Other Musicians Say It's Not So Easy

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Loreena McKennitt Is Leaving Facebook, but Other Musicians Say It's Not So Easy

Article excerpt

Is ditching Facebook realistic for most musicians?

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TORONTO - Folk singer Claire Coupland doesn't love Facebook, but when it comes to promoting her music career she's almost married to the social media goliath.

Her relationship with the platform is fraught with her questions about its true effectiveness, but like most musicians the Toronto-based performer sticks around. She shows up nearly every week to post something that she hopes will attract new listeners and keep the loyal fans entertained, like a new song or recent photo.

And despite concerns over Facebook data breaches, she hasn't seriously considered joining the chorus of users who severed ties with the platform and deleted their profiles. It seems like most musicians haven't.

"Everything's there. It's all connected already, so I don't know if it's wise to get rid of a Facebook fan page," she said. "I would never get rid of mine."

Coupland, like many independent musicians early in their careers, is always looking for ways to promote her music without spending a lot of money. Facebook is cheap to use and can potentially reach millions of listeners.

But it's also problematic for people concerned about privacy and the wider-reaching impact of data exchange between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook that went undetected for some time.

Facebook told investors last week that known data breaches might only be the tip of the iceberg. The company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosed expectations that "additional incidents of misuse of user data or other undesirable activity by third parties" could emerge in the coming months.

That puts artists in a tough spot where most believe they can't afford to leave the platform, but they don't necessarily like it either.

The Darcys' Wes Marskell holds those mixed feelings for Facebook, calling it an "overarching menace," but a necessary tool for musicians. He balances his dislike for the platform, and its privacy concerns, against his belief that "everyone else is collecting that sort of data" on its users too.

But as a career musician, he said it offers valuable fan insight that can help determine which cities to play and what resonates with listeners.

"It is helpful to understand who your audience is, who's participating and what they like," he said.

But Facebook's attractive features make it impossible to follow the lead of singer Loreena McKennitt, who recently announced plans to delete her Facebook profile over concerns for the privacy of her fans. The Manitoba-born performer, known for her 1997 hit "The Mummers' Dance," has more than 546,000 followers on the platform.

McKennitt said after details of the data exchange between Cambridge Analytica and Facebook were recently made public, she had to make a decision.

"As a business owner and a citizen I became very concerned that Facebook was offside," she said in a recent interview. …

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