It is rare to hear someone say they don’t care for music. Music is a universally appreciated art that helps people make sense of the world around them. Artists are storytellers who dedicate their careers to sharing personal anecdotes and sparking conversations about current events and issues that affect people. Twenty years ago, a musician’s impact was heard through radio and records, but today, social media gives musicians a platform to increase their reach and extend conversations beyond songs on the radio.
Justin Bieber famously gained a following through YouTube and is now a globally known artist, traveling throughout multiple continents for his world tour. YouTube allows hundreds of musicians to gain a following and be accessible to listeners outside of their local community, and even continent. Artists can communicate with fans through social media and develop a more personal brand for themselves that better connects them to people and enables relationships with listeners. Through these relationships on social media, musicians give listeners a voice by reading and seeing what people want and and gaining feedback for their creative works.
Taylor Swift sets a superb example for building relationships with fans on her social media accounts. She uses social media to show what her everyday life looks like and she personalizes her posts. Her fans are excited to see cute photos of Meredith and Olivia, her cats, as they are to see any other photo on their news feed. Swift is human on social media, and does more than daunt her glamorous life.
Her strategic and authentic posts lead fans feeling more invested in her music because they have genuine insight into the meanings of her lyrics. Social media creates a sense of transparency for artists interacting among their fans. Additionally, Swift directly responds to fans on social media. On Tumblr, Swift gave a fan, Kasey, advice on a break up and made her a post-break-up playlist. When listeners hear Taylor Swift’s songs, they empathize and resonate with her, because of those relationships built on social media.
In the music industry, the quality of a fan base is arguably more important than the quantity. An artist can have millions of followers on a social media platform, but if those followers are not purchasing albums, downloading songs, or resonating with the music, the artists is probably not reaching his goal for creating music. Social media enables artists to turn a large amount of connections to personalized relationships through engagement.
Tracey Russo, a senior Advertising major from Jupiter, Florida, felt more engaged with her favorite artist, Drake, after he reposted one of her Instagram photos.
“When Drake reposted my photo, it made me feel amazing. It was really exciting because I just saw him perform live and I got a really good picture, and then I posted it and random people commented on it saying “He reposted!” Then I was like ‘What’s happening, oh my gosh!’ It’s always my fun fact in ice breaker games now and it made me feel really cool because he’s one of my favorite artists,” Russo said. “I think it momentarily made me feel like I had a more personal relationship with Drake.”
Social media does much good for the music industry, but there are drawbacks to the digital interactions musicians have with their audience. Musicians are some of the most followed people in the social media world, and every post has the potential to be seen by millions of followers who are ready to criticize and twist words into controversy. Musicians must be self-aware of how their social media image can impact their career and mission behind making music. This type of caution needs to be practiced by everyone in the social media sphere.