Y’know, as much as people act like internet trolls are inherently shitty people, and they frequently are, sometimes there is a benefit to trolling and sometimes that can actually raise your capital in social media. When it comes down to it a lot of people enjoy a good troll and if you know what you are doing then you can find yourself being endearing to fans and even winning over die hards for the people who defend you against those who don’t understand your sense of humor. Obviously this is a very tricky game to play and one that you shouldn’t take on lightly if you’re not already out there being a little bit silly on social media. However if you look at groups like Old Man Gloom or Devil To Pay it’s clear that you can win over die hard fans by being so over the top and troll-riffic on social media that they can’t help but to love you. One could even argue that knowing a lot about how to troll people got us our president.

When it comes down to it everybody likes to watch beef. Look at all these EDM stars who have gone so far with using that as a key part of their strategy. Deadmau5 attracts tons of people to his Twitter just because they are curious to see what sorts of hijinks he is getting into today. Of course, you need to be careful with beef that it is clearly playful and not just another band going out there and acting silly. Also if your genre doesn’t have a history of beef as ‘a thing’ it won’t necessarily play well. Still, you can definitely get somewhere by taking potshots at deserving targets. Is a certain group affiliated with extreme right movements? Bam, there ya go. No one can rag on a Nazi hater. Finding those sorts of groups who everyone dislikes and then piling on is a great way to hint at effective beef. I mean – look at how many bands hopped onto the Donald Trump hate train, and look at how many people have made a living doing the exact opposite!

Simultaneously there’s no reason that some of your releases in and of themselves can’t be silly trolls. Most people have a sense of humor and are going to dig into this. We all know stories about artists who make an extended final track to hint at a hidden track and then don’t put one there, or one that is so laughably bad that it garners attention in and of itself. Or alternatively you have things where the album itself is a troll to garner more attention for your work in general. Van Morrison is perhaps the one who perfected this with his record Paying Dues which was literally created as a ‘fuck you’ to his label. Old Man Gloom did a similar thing by releasing a confusing triple album, which was brilliant, but also took a week for anyone to figure out. Melodic death metal band Children Of Bodom recorded a cover of a Britney Spears song as a joke and it became one of their most popular songs to perform live! A well placed joke is going to go a lot further than almost anything else you can do.

Of course this is the internet and one of the key things is knowing how to deal with trolls. Now, while a lot of people straight up delete them, which is certainly what I do, there are options that I don’t think are sufficiently discussed. One move in particular that seems effective is responding in kind. Sunny Singh, the man behind hardcore archive site, Hate5Six is a master of this, asking irrationally angry commenters “Are you okay?” The key though is to be very cautious. You don’t want to try to engage trolls in rational argument because that’s only going to stir them up. You need to shut them down fully and totally, giving no capacity for rational response and instead being silly and having them be forced to see how ridiculous their position is. When it comes right down to it – if someone is angry about an obscure band on the internet, then the odds are they were a few fries short of a happy meal in the first place.

With all trolling I think that you need to make sure that you aren’t being overtly mean. It’s much more valuable to be silly than it is to be truly hurtful. This is a huge part of why Donald Trump is so unpopular and something like the “Boaty McBoatface” debacle is a part of internet history. Balancing these things out is tricky and you’re not going to get anywhere if everyone thinks that yo uare a dick. However if you show that you have a smart sense of humor and have the balls to push the boundaries every now and again then folks are going to see that too. Remember that a lot of the fans of obscure bands spend all day on their news feeds looking for new bands, and information about their scene. If you’re not feeding into that then you are just going to wind up being another meaningless voice in a sea of ruin.

Trolling is a delicate game and if you’re not confident going in then I would recommend against it. For it to work effectively you need to be fairly active in your scene and people need to know who you are. You can’t just take a potshot t a random person and hope it works in your favor, that’s not how any of this works. That being said, if you’re smart and careful a lot of people are going to deeply enjoy getting a chance to see someone eviscerate a perceived enemy. News sites cover this shit all the time and fans love to get involved and voice their own opinions. Join in the fray, just don’t be afraid if you get your nose bloodied.

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