These days, most people are hip to all the major social media platforms: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. If you own a small business or you’re involved in promotion of any kind, you probably understand that these tools can be extremely helpful in terms of getting the word out and generating interest in whatever it is that you’re selling.
At the same time, there are stalwarts out there who stubbornly resist the call of social media. While there are, of course, many reasons that one would abstain from social media– a recent breakup, general neurosis, trouble sleeping – it is very difficult to justify cutting out Twitter and Instagram if you are trying to promote something in 2018: these are, after all, free tools for the budding entrepreneur.
This post, in particular, is about social media and musicians. It is a curious truth that artists and musicians often feel that they are above social media; that Instagram is simply a hypnotic exercise in vanity. Musicians often believe that if they work hard on the music, they will be able to sell it to a label, and then it will be someone else’s problem to promote and sell it. Nirvana never used social media, and they were wildly successful! The argument might go. Of course, in the 90’s, there was no social media – only traditional media – so it’s a bit of a moot point.
If younger musicians want to achieve success, there are a few things they’ll need to internalize and understand about the importance of social media. While there will surely be a few exceptions to these rules, most folks will need to work hard and engage with the public through social media platforms to gain momentum and achieve the necessary following to fill clubs, sell records and embark on a career in a very difficult industry.
In 2018, with the advent of streaming services, free music on YouTube and the decline of record sales and revenue in the traditional music industry, it is up to young artists to launch their own careers. Embattled record labels will still take on new acts, but if you’ve already built up your own public voice, fan base and aesthetic, then they’re much more likely to take you on. Think of it as a symbiotic relationship: you’ve put in the work to build a brand and a product; a label has the infrastructure, budget and contacts to help turn your fledgling vocation into a viable career.
While some musicians starting out will snub social media because they genuinely feel that it distracts them from focusing on their music, there are some luddites out there who simply do not understand how to use Instagram. Typically, these eccentric types are visible by their love of VHS tapes and that vintage Nokia phone straight from 1998.
In 2018, if you want to learn to become a musician with a successful career, it may involve getting over your techno phobia and buying a proper smartphone to engage with your fans. If you find this discouraging, look on the bright side: much of the promotion these days can be handled personally by you, without anyone distorting it. So don’t be afraid, embrace the future and start reaping the benefits!