Printer-friendly version
Laurie Niles

Sarah Chang's Facebook Fail

October 12, 2010 at 6:12 PM

After all of the hullabaloo over Sarah Chang and Detroit, many people were intrigued when Sarah Chang posted on her Twitter feed the following two things late Sunday:

"I am not on Facebook.I don't have an account,I am not a member,I dont maintain a Facebook page."


"I have heard many of u have written2 me via Facebook.thank u for that,but pls know I have not received any of ur messages since I don't FB."

Indeed, more than 200 posts were made on the Sarah Chang Facebook fan page regarding the Detroit situation before it was taken down late Monday. The fan page, under her name, with her picture, was her biggest presence on FB. It had more than 6,000 fans.

If you have a fan page with more than 6,000 members on the largest social media network on the Internet, you need to be aware of it and take steps to take ownership of it. We can all see the perils of failing to do so.

What can we learn from all this?

A lot of people say that they want to stay away from the Internet, stay away from Facebook. But know this: if you don't take possession of your own identity on the Internet, something or someone else will. Your name will end up on the Internet in some way, whether you like it or not, whether you put it there or not. And if you don't respond to people, that doesn't mean the controversy won't exist.

The best cure is to take responsibility. You won't have complete control, but there is much you can do so that your online personality reflects the public person you want to be.

How do you take possession of your own identity?

I will say this first, for violinists. If you are a violinist we've made it very possible for you to have a page right here on, and here's an entire page about promoting yourself in a positive and community-building way on this website.

The more places where you have your identity under your own control on the Internet, the better. Facebook scares a lot of people, but frankly, you can control quite a lot there. You can have a personal profile page, and if you are an artist or a member of a performing arts group, you can have a fan page. If you are the administrator of your own fan page, you can keep it clean of spam and abusive comments. And you can monitor the comments and see when situations come up that require your response.

Yes, be careful. Don't say anything on Facebook – or on the Internet – that you would not say to the entire world. It's not just your "friends" watching. But Facebook gives you options to post, or not post, information about yourself or your group, and to change it when you would like. You can also carve out an identity on Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace (for musicians), YouTube. You can have own personal webpage as well, but in order to drive traffic to that site, you will likely need to link to it from social media sites.

If you only post a couple of things on the Internet, you may find those things to be what comes up when people search for you. So make sure you post in enough places where you have provided the general information about yourself that you would want people to see. And do remember that social media is a two-way street. It's not just a vehicle for getting the word out to your fans. It's interactive, and it requires some engagement. If you can't monitor it, at least your management should, and you should never be in the dark when a huge group of people is trying to send you a message. There's really no excuse.

From bill platt
Posted on October 12, 2010 at 9:48 PM

True about identity.  But there's more than one Sarah Chang, more than one Bill Platt.

I'm not sure whether you can take control of "unauthorized" fan pages either. I think there are, for a number of music groups, unofficial fan pages, as well as the band's own page. I'll have to look and see if I can find them specifically.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 12, 2010 at 9:53 PM

 On Facebook you can definitely take over unauthorized fan pages. Probably not so easy to do with unauthorized webpages and such (that probably requires a lawyer), but it's definitely the policy on FB.

From Patrick Hu
Posted on October 12, 2010 at 10:27 PM

Honestly, it is her perogative whether to have an official facebook page or not.

In terms of taking over unofficial facebook pages, that's probably under the jurisdiction of her management (which you mentioned)...but if they don't, so what?  On facebook, there is an official page for Itzhak Perlman and another that is not.  There are also two pages for Hilary Hahn (both of which, i would like to point out, do not explicitly state that this is Hilary's "official" facebook page...which makes it unclear if it is indeed Hilary's official facebook page).  In any case, I don't think it's such a huge issue that you make it out to be.  And in the cases of classical musicians, I don't see the extreme perils of long as the page is not misrepresenting the artist.  In my opinion, these unofficial fan pages are actually good things.  It gives the fans a means of coming together and discussing/sharing links videos of their favorite classical musicians.  And more specifically, the Sarah Chang unofficial facebook page had nothing that misrepresented her.  It had only the basic wikipedia information of her, some youtube links, and fan uploaded perils here.

"You should never be in the dark when a huge group of people is trying to send you a message."  I don't think I ever saw a statement from her that alluded to this...she was never in the dark about the DSO situation, and she never claimed to be, either.  Just because she didn't see the facebook comments doesn't mean she didn't know about it.  I'm pretty certain that she received emails and messages through her official twitter account, website, publicist, and management regarding this matter.

"There's really no excuse."  Giving an excuse for what?  She did not tweet about her unofficial facebook pages because she was trying to give an "excuse."  What exactly are you getting at here?

At the end of the day, this is about the dispute between the DSO management and its musicians, and the focus should be on how to best resolve this issue.  Period.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 1:11 AM

 Sure, it's everybody's prerogative. Ignoring things has consequences, though. In my view, this did not have good results for her.

From Samuel Thompson
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 1:37 AM

"Ignoring things has consequences"....that's all that needs to be said.    Thanks for your candor and your observations, Laurie.

From Chang Lee
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 2:10 AM

I'm so sorry for Sarah that too many things happened around her within 2 days.

1st stage - tons of pressure (in modest expression) to cancel the concert

2nd stage - endure faked praises (most people praised for her courage to cancel the concert, while the main reason was intimidation - she was scared!)

3rd stage - now she has to listen to lectures on how to deal with internet or FB issues which is not an area of her expertise. 

What's next? As Patrick mentioned, it's a matter between DSO and management. I wish we let Sarah concentrate on her music.


From Patrick Hu
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 2:33 AM

Yes, I agree that ignoring things can and will lead to consequences.  That being said, ignoring her facebook page, which is what I'm assuming the basis of your argument is, had nothing to do with the "consequences."  Sarah/her management not taking over her unofficial page did not lead to this mess.  So what consequences are you speaking of?

I'm still having a hard time understanding the gist of your original post...especially the "there's no excuse" part.  She wasn't trying to use the 'it's not an official/my facebook page' tweet as an excuse for being in the dark about anything, which I think is pretty obvious.  What did you mean by that?

But I do agree that ignoring things can lead to disastrous outcomes.  In terms of the DSO dilemma, Sarah ignoring her facebook page/not taking ownership of it had nothing to do with it.

Hopefully, the DSO and its musicians can sort this out ASAP.  And a blog post highlighting that situation, which is the issue we should be focusing on rather than the issue of whether or not Sarah Chang should have taken over that unofficial fan page, would have been much more helpful in trying to work towards a resolution for the DSO (especially with your/vcom's wide reach in the classical music world).  Maybe a blog post/article is still on its way?

I honestly do wish the best for the DSO and the musicians.  I know how terrible it is to have your local symphony go through hardships and end up, well, canceling their season, etc.  I'm hoping that the Detroit community will never have to endure something like that.

From Andrew Sords
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 3:19 AM

 Patrick:  "I'm still having a hard time understanding the gist of your original post"...

With all due respect, that may be because Laurie is a mother, a professional, and has been running a website for nearly a decade.  Her insight with social media is a good wake-up call in light of Sarah's fake facebook page.  Your adoration for Sarah is very clear...completing defending her social media avenues (genuine or otherwise) only gives your age away.

Thanks, Laurie, for this post!

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 5:55 AM

I feel professional jealousy is creeping in here. 

From Samuel Thompson
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 5:57 AM

Like someone did say here, the biggest issue here is of course the debacle called the Detroit Symphony Orchestra strike.     However, it would be of great benefit for all of us to have suspicions into motives ("professional jealousy", etc.) DROPPED.    As Andrew said, Laurie Niles is very well-versed (to say the least) in the dynamics involved in maintaining an internet presence. 

The snarking, finger-pointing, and less-than-deferential (if I may) comments being posted here regarding this subject and those that surfaced over the weekend across the internet are simply making this situation worse for everyone both directly and indirectly affected.   While we are all "entitled to our opinions" let's try - let's ALL try - to keep them objective.   We're dealing with issues, not personalities, and to continue "fighting" does us all - AND our colleagues across the world who are experiencing what amount to draconian changes to their working lives (has anyone paid attention to what's happening in both Germany and the Netherlands?) - a great disservice in addition to besmirching the art of violin playing and musicmaking, which is why we're all here, right?



From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 7:13 AM


From Rosalind Porter
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 10:33 AM

I think Laurie makes some absolutely spot-on comments and observations here.   Even if Sarah Chang was not aware of "her" Facebook presence, then her management certainly should have been, and I would be incredibly surprised if they were not.   The whole ensuing situation seems like "emergency damage control" to me...

There are lots of issues in question here.  Whilst I would never condone threatening communications of ANY kind, I have to say that Sarah Chang and her management were rather naive to say the least to think that they could walk right into a tense and difficult industrial dispute/strike situation and not feel any consequences. 

Personally I'd have to say she was incredibly ill-advised.   If she'd withdrawn from the whole situation when the concert was cancelled and had her management issue a neutral statement about "looking forward to returning to play with the DSO at a later date" then none of this would ever have happened.  

Anyway, I hope things get resolved soon with the DSO, but there are certainly lots of lessons to be learned from this particular episode about PR, internet presence and even common sense.

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 11:32 AM

Hindsight is sometimes not even perfect vision.  Fancy footwork will now be practiced on the Internet giving Sarah lessons on handling bogus facebook and Industrial dispute. I accept that Sarah Chang acted in good faith and that the moral high ground will be with her. She can only go from strength to strength, and the DSO will have to climb out of the quicksand. 

From Barry Nelson
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 11:45 AM

If Sarah dosent want a facebook page then thats her right, if she wants to play in Detroit, thats her choice also.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 1:55 PM

 I think everyone can learn from the situation, regardless of whatever path Sarah Chang chooses to take. No, I'm not jealous of Sarah's writing or web presence. ;) She plays beautifully of course I support that. In fact, that's what I'm most concerned with, and I think that's what most musicians who begged her not to play were concerned with. She said that someone told her to hang herself. I'm guessing it was more like , "Don't do this, you are just hanging yourself." People like her and they like her playing. They were trying to keep her out of these nasty waters, but she didn't hear the message and her management didn't hear the message. Does it help to examine what happened here? I think it does. 

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 3:06 PM

This is an example of fancy footwork. 

From Emily Liz
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM

"Your adoration for Sarah is very clear...completing defending her social media avenues (genuine or otherwise) only gives your age away."

I don't know if you meant this but that came across as a bit rude, I think. Patrick has been an important voice at and to be condescending toward what he's saying is not cool at all. I'm sure a lot of people are thinking the same thing he is, just not commenting. Nobody gains anything when you so publicly dismiss a person as young or naive. And actually, amusingly, judging from your profile and Patrick's blog, you two are probably only a few years apart, so...

Don't mean to start a war, just wanted to point that out. Best to everybody in this tough situation.

From Chang Lee
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 4:12 PM

I just wanted to thank Emily for speaking up for many people who felt the same way she did, just not commenting. Age means not much in many occasion and to me Patrick raised the valid point in a logical and polite way. 


From Corwin Slack
Posted on October 13, 2010 at 7:58 PM

So is Sarah Chang's interview on real? We can't be so sure anymore. Was it face to face with a body double or over the phone with a press agent? :)

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 12:14 AM


everyone is perfectly entitled to their own perspective on the relationship between art,  music as a job,  the relative values attached to strikign and so forth.  As long as it is done with mutual respect and accuracy it can be quite healthy.

However, What seems to be a occuring here are staements that do not meet these criteria.  I amn especially cocnerned about the references to Ms. Chang being threatened.  These seem to quickly become fact and yet such a charge is so serious it deserves far more thoughtful and objective analysis.  

Start with the quantity?  How many letters did Ms. Chang get that were physically threatening in any way?   Are letters that simply plead with Ms. Chang counted as `intimidating` or threatening?  (I respectfully submit thta a strongly worded request not to play is neither)If someone is not in possession of such data they should not make dramatic and passionate claims either on Ms. Changs behalf or that of the orchestra.

If a memebe rof the Detroit symphiny sent a threatening message it should be made public by Ms. Chang and the member drummed out of the profession. period.    It might also be passed along to the police.

If the claimed `threatening` messages are genuine but not from the DSO then that is a serious matter and also one to be dealt with by the police.

This issue is actually rather simple and has very little to do with the musical/ethical issues the dispute is about.  The people on this site who do not recognize this difference for whatever reason are perhaps in danger of forgetting that MS Chang is not actually a more worthy or sighnificant person than any member of the DSO.   The fact that she plays the violin better is only indirectly related to the issue.  Throwing around indiscriminate charges of `threats and intimidation` is lilely to caste a slur on the DSO which it@s memeber no more deserve than Ms. Chang does.



From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 1:12 AM

 I would have to argue that ignoring the Facebook page did have real consequences, and really, those consequences may be separate from the incident at hand. Did you read the page while it was still up? People who were writing to her included the concertmaster of the DSO, the president of the American Federation of Musicians and also musicians from just about every other major orchestra in the U.S., including the New York Phil, etc. Some 150 posts, most of them extremely carefully worded and respectful. She ignored them, didn't read them. Her choice, yes. Her choice to ignore a fan page in which all those notes could be publicly accessed and widely read. If other people want to make the same choice, it is certainly their prerogative. I just am saying in this blog that I would not recommend it. That's all. 

From Andrew Sords
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 1:15 AM

 Many valid points here...however, the blog is centered on social media and public statement surrounding controversial decisions.  Laurie is right...the responsibility of knowing what is out there and who is responsible for various fan pages and other Internet identities is akin to identity theft awareness.  

Emily - no rudeness intended.  Patrick's unequivocal support of the DSO situation and his admittance of not knowing certain angles of the industry clued me in to his age.  Doesn't everyone carry some inexperience and naivety until they learn better?  By the way, Eau Claire has produced some wonderful musicians and friends of's a very friendly community.

Dion - I am unsure who your "jealousy" comment was aimed at, but the only aspect of this situation I was envious of would have been picketing alongside colleagues and friends outside of Orchestra Hall in Detroit.

Samuel - Wise words.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 2:08 AM

 btw Yes I sat and had lunch with Sarah when we did our interview. 

From Nicole Stacy
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 5:15 AM

Laurie, you mention a number of influential professionals, and honestly if they were trying to get a message to Sarah, as opposed to merely trying to add some light to the debate online, their choice of media strikes me as odd, especially given the questionable ownership/readership of the myriad unofficial fan pages that spring up (I wanted to express support for a favorite celebrity recently, but I'm quite sure "the lights are on but nobody's home" on Facebook.  I can't blame the guy: there are thousands of posts, some bordering on obsessive-stalker). 

Ever since I was old enough to understand consumer advocacy and things like that, I have been under the impression that, useful as the web can be, when one really wants to be taken seriously one gets out the letterhead, writes a letter, seals an envelope, grudgingly applies a first-class stamp, and hauls one's tired bones out to the mailbox -- meaning that for the sake of principle, the weightier import (shock value, even) is worth the extra effort.  I would think that would go doubly in the electronic age; I suppose it isn't so lightning-fast or so "green," but it definitely requires the next level of motivation.  Even bloggers with a following apparently still write old-fashioned letters when they're really steamed (

Or am I already an old fogey at 25?

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 8:32 AM

@Andrew :

I see the cap fits and against who would you have been picketing?

From E. Smith
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 1:55 PM

  Laurie's larger point is interesting, beyond the particulars of the Sarah Chang debate. For the 99% of users who are not and will probably never be under major management, it falls upon you to take responsibility for internet persona, and to use the internet in a way that will advance your career (rather than confuse or waylay it.) It is surprising, the number of artists, performing and otherwise, who have almost no internet presence, or for whom a simple Google search will reveal only unflattering reviews from the late-90's-- or worse, cranky message board posts aimed at powerful figures in the music world.

Even if you don't enjoy being online (probably not an issue with readers of this forum), you should take it upon yourself to create an internet presence that shows you and your work in a favorable light and provides reliable contact information so that prospective presenters/employers/students/ etc., can get in touch with you. If you don't believe you are being Googled, you are wrong. You should put some effort into controlling what shows up in a simple Google search of your name + violin (or whatever it is you do). Sure, it can be expensive, time-consuming, and/or difficult to build a website that will show up on search engines. If you don't know how to do that or don't want to put effort into a confounding process, then you would be wise to take advantage of the free services. One thing about it shows up reliably in the search engines. If you are present on, then you do have an internet presence.

Of course there are other ways to create a neutral to flattering web presence. Start a Tumblr, and InstantEncore page, or use one of the many, many free blog services. The point is to take command of how you and your work shows up online. The further away you are from megastardom, the more control you have. As for Facebook, you or your representative can create a fan page, and you can also have a private account. For the latter, you can control your privacy settings (if you are vigilant because privacy is a fluid concept on Facebook). But even a minimalist Facebook account is useful because potential contacts can message you from their own accounts, even if they cannot see your page (as long as you allow yourself to be searchable, in your FB privacy settings.) 

From E. Smith
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 2:04 PM

 Sorry about the font above. I tried to fix it but can't get the page to re-load. 

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 2:54 PM

 Dion, it's pretty obvious, Andrew is saying he'd be showing solidarity with the musicians. No personal slights, I don't like "the cap fits" that sounds like bigotry.

From Samuel Thompson
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Emily - Thank you for being a voice of reason.

Andrew - Thank you.

From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 3:26 PM

Laurie I would like Andrew to spell it out for himself. It would be interesting to know when one soloist was willing to picket against another soloist. Has it ever happened?  

From Corwin Slack
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 4:23 PM

 Andrew, I applaud your bravery in taking a firm position on this while you are on the threshold of a career.

It is a bold thing to do in this age of the internet.

A few years ago there was a regular here who was clearly a virtuoso and a laureate of important contests who likewise was trying to launch a career. He very boldly and forcefully condemned one of his former teachers for a variety of personal and professional faults as he alleged them.

It seems to have caused him some grief. The owners of this site were approached by  lawyers for the former teacher (documented on the internet) and (though I wouldn't say it was responsive to the lawyers approaches) in due time young virtuoso left this site  altogether. In fact he seems to have only a minor web presence at all. 

I think that it was gracious of Laurie to remove the evidence of his youthful "enthusiasms". Frankly I thought he performed a valuable service for young students considering his alma mater in offering an opinion of the capabilities and character of his teacher. Perhaps he should have done it on where it would likely have been seen in a different light.


From Andrew Sords
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 6:45 PM

 Thank you, Laurie, for elucidating my stance on the strike.  :)

Corwin - I'm not thinking of being "brave" on my end - I just want to stick up for what I believe is right.  It is important for the DSO musicians to have support from their colleagues nationwide.  Soloists aren't picketing against soloists, as was mentioned above - but rather, picketing the management.  Anyone who has worked from the age of 5 honing their craft for hours a day and winning a rigorous auditions would be upset at a 33% pay cut - and that is only scratching the surface of what the management was proposing.  Also, Corwin, regarding your comments on careers and violinists stating opinions - as long as they are done respectfully and with good intentions, we can have a reasonable discussion forum, no?  I hope more of my colleagues would chime in on issues in the music workforce.  Personally, I think it's brave of Laurie to run a website dedicated to discussing violin news.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Bravery all around. Sarah Chang has a big name and probably can tell her management company a thing or two when it is appropriate but management companies call a lot of shots and sometimes one has got to respect that relationship. Who of us know what went on between her and them?




From Dion Ackermann
Posted on October 14, 2010 at 8:07 PM

A  33% cut is still better than a 100% cut in my book, and that is what is facing the DSO now. 

From Laurie Niles
Posted on October 15, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Corwin, discussions on the early database are gone because we have changed our publishing system several times. People can erase their own postings at this point. I don't do that for anyone. And by the way your earlier posts as An Amateur were pretty over-the-top.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on October 16, 2010 at 12:06 AM

 Reputation is one’s property. Some would say it is the most important property a public figure or a celebrity owns. So if you are famous but don’t have time to check the internet, your manager should look into this to make sure things don’t get out of control. Isn’t this commonsense?

I remember when I was a new immigrant starting my undergraduate study, one of the very first things I learned was that strikes in university are not uncommon and whether or not you are party to the disputes, you are still making a strong statement if you decide to cross a picket line.  You may have the strongest reason to cross the line, there will be consequences and you’d be foolish not to think it through beforehand. You don't have to be in a group to suppot or undermine a group's cause.  I find it’s hard to believe anyone grew up in North America doesn’t know this. 

This entry has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

JR Judd Violins
JR Judd Violins

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases Shopping Guide Shopping Guide

Metzler Violin Shop

Southwest Strings

Bobelock Cases

Johnson String Instrument/Carriage House Violins

Jargar Strings

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop


Los Angeles Violin Shop


String Masters

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews. Interviews Volume 1 Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn Interviews Volume 2 Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine