Digital burnout. Longing for realness
I’ve always believed, that complaining about how the world is not right is a waste of time. Instead you must understand the world you live in, and then you will see your opportunities. A much more productive worldview, isn’t it? Therefore, learning how to take advantage of the internet and opportunities it presents was always at the top of my priorities. And to me, as an artist, that has been very fruitful for some time, and I was ahead of many of my peers. But the realm of the internet kept evolving, and it shaped into something very strange. It’s not a world in which you can explore and express your self freely any more. Now it’s very constrained by a lot of rules. Things that worked before, don’t any more. It is pretty clear what you need to do. There are no secrets about internet marketing anymore. But I have no idea how, besides doing what is your actual craft, you are supposed to find time and energy to do what you must do, to be heard. We have literally become slaves to the tech companies, that dictate how, when and what we are supposed to produce. While they are going out of their way to please the advertisers. If you’re not willing to dedicate your entire day to pumping out high quality content, you have very little chance of being heard. And wait a second, what about your art? Does anybody care what you’re all about, your art, anymore? I’m afraid I have to say, not as much. It doesn’t matter if you’re a musician or a painter. Now we’re all the same thing. We are content creators. In fact, you don’t even need to be a great musician or a painter. You don’t have to be anything. You just need to find a way, to use the algorithm to your advantage.
Of course what I said above, is slighty exaggerated. But just slightly. If you can produce a video of you performing your art in an impressive way, you will get some views. But not if you’re not going to do it the right way. And that’s the whole point of this rant.
For some time, I’ve been trying to increase my following by doing what everyone’s trying to do. I have posted a lot of pictures of myself, where you can see me performing in various events. In these pictures I look good, I have audio equipment around me, there are stage lights, there are people dancing etc. Generally these pictures do well. They tend to get 50+ likes. Sometimes even around a 100. But if I post about my new album, seems like very few people care. And I understand why. To listen to the new album, you have to click on a link, and then click play, and then give it some time without changing it to something else. That’s a lot more work than clicking ‘like’ on a picture and then scrolling away. Who has time for stuff like listening to your new album. And then I started to think. If the dream of my life, has always been to be making music, and to be recognized for that, why am I trying to get attention from the way I look in the pictures? And why is that getting more attention, than my music? For me as an artist, that’s a very demotivating situation. Out of frustration I made a post on instagram, stating that from now on I will only post about my new music. And since then I haven’t posted a single picture with my face in it. Actually I haven’t been posting that much at all. Since then I’m mostly focused on bandcamp, mailing list, and I use social media to only promote new releases, without putting the image of my self before the product I’m actually trying to sell. I don’t want to be the product. I’m just a guy, simple, introverted fella from a small town. I want my music to be the product.
Have I been successful with this new approach? Not at all. But at least I don’t feel sick inside for engaging in this narcissistic behavior. I’m still doing ok though. My numbers on Spotify are pretty good. But are they good because people are discovering my music on their own, and actively trying to find more of it? No, it’s just the Spotify algorithm putting the same 10 tracks out of hundreds I’ve made, in front of people’s faces again and again. At least I have that going for me.
So the problem is clear. The question is, what shall we do? Unfortunately, I’m still searching for an answer. I just want realness. Real life experiences, witout pretending to be somone I’m not. Perhaps I should just shut down my laptop and go outside now, without any purpose really, but maybe something real will happen.