Social media attracts mixed opinions. Some people say that it is one of the best inventions currently on offer, whilst others would say that it is the downfall of society and prevents us from interacting in person; we choose to socialise virtually instead. However, social media is not just about Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. It can be a useful tool for people’s professions – and in this instance I will explore why it can benefit up-and-coming musicians.
Most of us would have experienced that period of time, 5 or 6 years ago, when you would get 3 or so follows a day on Instagram or Twitter from new up-and-coming bands. They’d expect a follow back – probably sliding into your DMs to make the request – and ask you to check them out on YouTube. Then, after a couple of days they’d unfollow you and repeat the scheme on 900 others. It is a bit nostalgic seeing some small bands doing that even now. But amidst it all, it did kind of work. I had bands like Moose Blood, Sundara Karma and Mallory Knox follow and DM me to ask if I would listen to their music, all of whom have gone on respectively to achieve a lot as bands. It would be fair to suggest that a large amount of the bands’ popularity originated from these social media tactics alone.
On the other end of the spectrum, social media is helpful for artists to promote new music and their tours. 10 years ago artists and bands would promote new music and shows primarily through mediums like newspaper adverts, television ads, flyers and posters. Now, these kinds of promotion are pretty much non-existent and instead musicians favour social media to reach the masses about their upcoming ventures. It is a lot easier and much cheaper to advertise and promote online: one tweet by an average-to-small sized band could be retweeted 350 times on Twitter and the exposure could reach over tens of thousands of people – and it doesn’t cost a single penny to do it.
Artists like Lewis Capaldi have capitalised on social media to boost popularity and promote themselves. Taking advantage of tools like Instagram stories, Capaldi likes to record himself making jokes, being funny and pretty daft and put them online for his followers to see. He is more than just a great singer-songwriter, he is also quite the comedian. These funny videos and humorous posts get shared around by thousands and then thousands more see them. Again, this style of self-promotion is free, but it is remarkably effective. I have found myself to be quite a big Capaldi fan just because I originally found his tweets and Instagram stories funny. I went on to listen to his music on Spotify and figured I really rated him as a musician – and I am more than certain that I am not the only person to have discovered Lewis Capaldi in this way.
Up-and-coming musicians can also rely on social media to help entice fans of other, similar sounding artists. When larger bands go on tour, they’ll bring support acts with them who may not be as well-known. But these bigger bands will use their online presence to post statuses and pictures with links to the support act’s own social media and music. This will bring an influx of potential fans coming to listen to the smaller band’s music and possibly follow them online to help them create a fanbase.
On the other hand though, social media can really be hit-or-miss when it comes to being effective for new artists. Overly promoting a first song can lead to negative effects on artists and not all new bands are lucky enough to get a big break online. Despite the ease of using social media, you really do get out of it what you put into it – as shown by artists like Lewis Capaldi.
Overall, social media can be a ridiculously useful tool to help up-and-coming artists and bands to grow and increase a fanbase. It has proven to be effective at promoting new music, tours and festival slots and is the most used form of media for this kind of advertising. The cost and ease of using it makes it the perfect option for every artist, not just the new ones, to boost their popularity.