This Musician Shared His Personal Cell Phone Number Online
An experiment in radical openness yielded new ways to connect with fans
Would you share your personal cell phone number online, and commit to speaking with anyone who decides to call or text you?
Most people would probably say “not in a million years” — especially if they’re an artist or influencer with a large following. There are plenty of instances of prominent people releasing their personal information online and later regretting it. The CEO of Lifelock, for example, released his social security number online and challenged hackers to steal his identity. It was ultimately stolen 13 times.
But musician Matt Farley of Motern Media feels differently. In an act of radical openness, and out of a desire to connect personally with his fans and followers, Matt released his phone number online on his Twitter account. Anyone who wants to do so can call him, and he’ll chat with them about whatever is on their mind. Matt even sings the number into his song lyrics and included it in a movie.
Why would Matt do this? He says that he wanted to demystify the process of artistic creation and find new ways to market his business and connect with fans. His move towards radical openness has already resulted in new business for his custom songwriting services.
I spoke with Matt about the impact of releasing his phone number online, the strangest calls he gets, and more.
Thomas Smith: Do you get a lot of calls?
Matt Farley: I average one to two new calls or texts per day. They come in spurts. More on the weekends or school vacations, etc.
I also have several people that I hear from regularly. It started out where they called or texted because they found my number. Now, after years of calls and texts, we are friends! I hear from those people in addition to the one to two new calls/texts per day.
Do you find it’s a good way to connect with your audience?
Yes. I think it’s a great way to connect. From a marketing perspective, I think it leads to lots of word-of-mouth (“I heard a number in a song, and then I dialed it and the actual musician answered! We talked for ten minutes!!”). But I don’t like to look at it from a cynical, marketing point of view. I actually enjoy talking with all of these people. I’m honored that they were listening to my music, and I’m excited to talk about it with them!
What’s the strangest call you’ve gotten?
The calls are pretty tame. I get a lot of hang-up calls where I can hear my song playing in the background before they hang up. Some kids call and try to mess with me, but it doesn’t really go anywhere and they usually end up just having a regular conversation with me!
Have any celebrities called you?
I got a call from movie director Dennis Dugan. He had heard the song I did about him and called to say thanks. (It could have been a prank — but it seemed real to me!) He was very nice, and we had a great conversation.
I think that’s all!
Have you gotten business out of it?
Yes. Some people have ordered custom songs after talking with me. Also, I usually direct them to check out some of my best songs when we talk. So I think the phone calls lead to more streams.
Would you recommend it to others?
It works for me. I enjoy talking with strangers. If you don’t mind getting calls from strangers, then I think it’s a great thing to do.
Part of the reason I do it is to de-mystify the artist. So many artists seem to try to cultivate the image of being unapproachable. They want to make it seem like they’re too busy to talk with their fans. But in my experience, lots of artists spend most of the day doing not much of anything! I’m probably much harder working than most artists, but I still have plenty of time to talk to strangers who heard my number in a song!
If you want to call Matt directly to ask some follow-up questions, his number is (603) 644–0048.
Should you release your own phone number online? For most people, it’s probably not the best strategy. But if you’re willing to do the work of responding to calls and messages, it’s a compelling way to build your brand and establish a truly personal connection with your fans and followers.