Social media is a powerful tool for us as musicians to stay connected to our fans and catch people up on our daily musical musings and happenings. But sometimes it feels like the social medium and aesthetic become more important than the art form that you’re trying to create.
I’ve found myself on more than one occasion taken out of the moment to post something or killing a creative vibe to capture a story, driven by some irrational fear that if I don’t post something I’ll lose my fan base or become irrelevant somehow. That’s why I think it’s good to step back sometimes and look at WHY we use social media as artists.
Here are some reasons I’ve come up with:
Real talk, most of us musicians and songwriters aren’t raking in the dough. Paying for promotion is not always an option that feels worth the investment, so having a place where we can essentially market ourselves for free is nice. The flip side of this is that since this is not just a space for musicians or artists (aside from maybe a fb group etc), it can come off as annoying or desperate if we are only using our social media accounts to promote ourselves and our music all the time.
Social media is nice because you can basically talk to as many friends/followers as you have all at one time. I can’t even imagine having the time or energy to connect with all 483 of my instagram followers on a regular basis in real life without the help of technology. It’s such a powerful thing to be able to do.
But also, I feel like having this easy access can make us forget how important it is to be able to connect on a human level with people. To shake someone’s hand, to see them smile when we get a word wrong at a show, to feel the energy and support in a room of listening people. There’s nothing like it, and no replacement for it. Not even a facebook live session (although those do in a pinch).
But it’s also just that- a tool. I believe that putting all eggs in one basket (in this case social media) is not a great way to really grow as a business. And like it or not, that’s what we are are artists (at least those of us doing this for a living).
It’d be like if Target depended entirely on its youtube ads and facebook posts to advertise and get business. I guarantee that would cause their sales to drop significantly (Ok so maybe we aren’t all a large retail store chain, but you get the point). However, To me this idea of a multi-tiered approach applies to ANY business.
There are many ways to skin a cat (pardon the expression I just happen to be a dog person) and in the creative world it’s no different. Or at least it’s not a whole lot different. Besides using social media as a promotion/sharing tool, there’s also websites, irl interaction, and even sites like patreon and kickstarter that give fans a chance to give what and when they want in exchange for what you’re work (shameless plug I’m actually leaning towards starting up with Patreon so stay tuned…). Word of mouth will always be a mainstay, especially if you’re putting out great stuff (which it can also be hard to do if you’re on social media all day…yep, been guilty there).
The bottom line is that while social media is a nice tool, it can also be unproductive and distracting if that’s all you’re using to grow your creative business.