Whether we like it or not in my view social media is here to stay, but its definitely a two edged sword, some thoughts here…
Social media has many positives. It allows a global connection and opportunity for interactions that were never previously possible. Niche interests can benefit massively from this medium. I can think of a number of FB groups that are terrific for useful advice and exchanges, which genuine enthusiasts can share advice and experience in a way that was never previously possible.
For musicians platforms like YouTube are a great free way to connect to the wider world. Similarly FB and Instagram have become standard for most artists and recently when I hired a promotional company, one of the stipulations was to open an Instagram account and in a few weeks that account already has a substantial number of “followers” .
Social media can be great for getting recommendations where again the ability to share information is extremely useful. Such platforms are also useful in selling some products, especially where there is niche interest. The main positive in my view is providing a connectivity to a much wider audience, which can be time consuming, but in some instances can really pay off.
There are increasing new niche music platforms appearing and it will be interesting to see who stands the test of time and I don’t envy anyone building a platform! Of course building a platform that will have longevity is a tough call.
Like any communication medium, there are pros and cons. Some of the negatives for social media platforms include individuals flooding a platform with their own well intentioned ideas and/or material. This can create a noise level can then be so great that its a massive turn off for anyone else. Another negative is that many questions are (and I’m being polite here) supremely daft and ill thought through as they are so generalized that its impossible to give any useful answer BUT there can be endless threads of people posting in these situations.
Here are some typical examples
“What’s the best DAW for me to use?”
“What’s the best way to make it in the music industry?”
“What’s the best plugin for producing rock music”
These types of questions appear everyday online and are impossible to answer as they are way too vague. What does the person require of the DAW as a tool? When somebody says “make it in the music industry, what exactly do they mean by that?” Many artists imagine signing with a record company means “making it” without realising that the “music business” like any other business is a two way trade. The investor will understandably want a return on their investment. Regarding plugins its again context specific, so unless a person gives an indication of the context, then its another impossible question to answer.
Another negative is that some folks can be down right abusive online and these in my experience are often obsessed with status and “being right” This makes the social media space pretty uninviting and people usually vote with their feet.
The Bat Shit Crazy…
There’s a whole level of bat shit crazy that can happen online. Some of the posting is so delusional and emotionally fueled, I literally have not words, but I’ll do my best here to find some.
Often social media platforms can grow at such a rate that it becomes like the wild west in terms of interactions and some characters can spend all waking hours online so that becomes their world. Everything gets exaggerated and this can result in some very polarized and extreme comments, that would probably never be made in real life. The other problem with accelerated growth (especially without any moderation) is that platforms can technically technically become unstable and that leads to a massive downturn in interactions.
There was a good observation in The Guardian on artist use of social media with the following comment
“I think social media has to be looked at by artists in two different ways: first, as a way they can reach their fans directly, and second – just as important – as a means that a lot of the media use to write stories,” says one PR, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Ultimately, if an artist still does have an outburst, no strategy can really be applied without their involvement.”
As a longstanding successful artist friend of mine once commented – “If you want to see true crazy, just log onto social media for a few minutes where everyone has an opinion about how folks SHOULD BEHAVE”
Social media platforms can polarize opinion often in a very odd way. On one extreme there can be endless adoration with comments like “I LOVE PLATFORM X!” and on the other extreme you get “FACEBOOK SUCKS!” usually posted by people who spend their whole waking life posting there. If you want to see “bat shit crazy” human behaviour, just spend some time on social media…
Social media for music platforms are a blessing and a curse. Personally I’m increasingly limiting my time and evaluating the benefits of any involvement. The social media “customers: are those financially supporting the platform. The “Users” are those who use the services although they often mean about how the platform “should work!”
I’m a fan of respectful discussion and debate and the best social media platforms are places where that happens. I have met some terrific people via social media but have also seen some crazy behavior. I guess that’s planet earth for you.
Hats off to anyone who decides to create a social media platform, it can be a thankless task where people will either love or hate what you are doing. The platforms that last will IMO have good financial support, good moderation (FB and some others have a massive problem with this that is creating a loss of customers) good business strategy (its all very well to proclaim being against standard business sense, but some owners are a bit naive and that will IMO cost them financially and in terms of customer retention) and an ability to attract customers and maintain a high quality of interactions. I predict more niche social media in future times and whether we like it or not social media in music and other areas of life is here to stay.