It’s true that the world has slowly been building itself up to a digital world, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic put everything on the fast track. As if being a solo artist in a highly competitive field wasn’t hard enough, we all had to switch gears and rethink our personal promotions. Gone are the days of passing out flyers and playing as many gigs as possible. Being a musician on your own today now involves a prerequisite knowledge of social media and internet marketing.
I think about what it was like to be a musician before everything went completely online, way back when MySpace music was one of the few online resources available to aspiring artists. Promoting myself and my music was a boots on the ground and personal exercise, but now all of that has changed. Self-promotion today is all about vanity metrics, likes, followers, subscriptions. It’s such an impersonal thing and I have to say I miss the face-to-face interactions.
Where do I fit into this digital mix up? I try to stay relevant. I have accounts with the major social media platforms. I post regularly and try to engage as often as I can. I have a YouTube show and post new episodes weekly offering little pieces of my life, music, and knowledge. But is it enough to simply exist online? At what point does a musician lose his personal identity to become merely an online avatar for the person behind the screen, and how can I as an artist prevent this?
With the promise of readily available vaccinations, it would seem that an end is in site for this pandemic that literally stopped nations, but I have to wonder if the reopening of the world will change the course that music promotion is on. It would seem to me that audiences are now trained to search for music through their phones and computers, just as movie goers have happily made the move from costly movie theaters to affordable and more accessible streaming entertainment options from the comfort of their own homes. Does the music industry share the same fate? Will live concerts be muscled out and considered a thing of the past for the sake of affordability and ease of access or will devoted fans be glad to pay premium fees to see their favorite musicians up close and personal once again? What do you think?
The truth of the matter is that the answer lies solely on us, the musicians. Sometimes we need to step back and remember that it’s about the music rather than how many likes or comments we get on our posts or videos. It’s our responsibility to the music community to keep true to our standards fighting the urge to focus solely on metrics and obscure marketing jargon.
So here is what I have to say to all aspiring artists and musicians out there. Keep playing. Strum that tune, and belt that melody, because its people like you, who live for the music, that keep the music industry going whatever paths, digital or organic, it may take.
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