Social media for artists: inspiration or devastation?

Artists, or anyone who knows one understands the pool of talent is oversaturated. It is a daily struggle to break through and carve a path to infamy and wealth but it is also easier than ever for artists to share and sell their work. A single post can now be broadcast through multiple internet pipelines, allowing artists to reach a wide audience if they cover all their bases.

However, the negative aspect is the vastness of your competition is in full view and the realization that your engagements with social media are often buried no matter how many hashtags you use, no matter how much you pay for post boosts. On top of that, you start to see what you’re up against in terms of the quality of content. The question is whether that is a motivator or a discouragement for artists to pursue their work.

Penelope Stevens, visual artist and bassist of Fredericton band Motherhood, says seeing what other artists post on social media doesn’t really affect how she thinks about her work.

“They do inform my practice in some ways … but most of the time I’m just admiring what they are doing,” said Stevens.

Social media is a tool and in some cases a lifeline for an artist’s career. It is a convenient networking platform that helps them turn their creations into a business. Unfortunately, the up-front cost of paying for advertisements is not something every artist can spare. Therefore, artists often focus on being active in their community and building relationships.

Stevens said she understands the importance of building her following via social media, but it isn’t a fool-proof solution.

“We understand the importance of social media … but I think the best way we promote ourselves is by having other people online who really care about our music,” said Stevens when asked about how her band builds a following.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerburg recently released a statement saying it will be changing its algorithm to limit the amount of posts you see from businesses, brands or media. This is a small detriment to large companies that suffer losses in the millions annually, but an even larger downfall for a lot of artists who value every dollar. This can affect musicians more than anything as it can limit how frequently their events pages, press releases and marketing strategies are viewed. Event pages can also be misleading to the potential success of the event, when the responses from those who see them do not reflect in the success of the event.

Tyson Davidson, vocalist of Fredericton band I, Monolith, said social media is important for updating your audience.

“Lots of people spend most of their time on social media nowadays, including myself. As a band [or] artist, you need to make sure all your social media sites are updated. You don’t want people to lose interest in what you’re doing.”

“It’s very disappointing because putting on shows take a lot of hard work. From the endless amount of hours contacting bands, venues and places for equipment rental to the effort put into posters, making an event and just sharing the page.”

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