Social media for singers. A healthy perspective.

(From blog for singers)

January 11, 2017

Ahhhh the evils of Facebook……so very necessary for networking, sharing information, communication and of course showing off! (Let’s not beat around the bush here……..)

I was lunching with a fellow singer last week and we were talking about how painful that scroll through online platforms such as Facebook or Instagram can be. When work is quiet, being a voyeur of other’s successes and fun is detrimental to ones mindset. I’ve had this conversation recently with many musicians — great and successful musicians! The kind of people you don’t expect to fret at the sight of their peers posing in front of ‘last nights stadium audience’ or checking in at ‘Maida Vale’ for a BBC live lounge session.

The up’s and down’s of a working musicians life are inevitable. There will be times when you’re working with world renowned artists in prestigious international settings. There will be times when you’re singing “wake me up before you go go” (R.I.P George!) at a wedding in Norwich. There will be times when you are sitting on your backside chain eating chocolate digestives and fuming at the success of everyone else whilst simultaneously questioning “whats wrong with me????”!

I stand accused and guilty of being on both sides of this virtual documentation of life. Facebook in particular as a networking tool has been invaluable to me! I have gained great work from it, promoted an album through it, and I communicate with fellow musicians, singers and potential clients for singing lessons on a day to day basis. I can actually trace a lot of work I have done over the last 6 years back to a friendly exchange on the now outdated online platform ‘Myspace’ with UK based soul producer “Soulpersona” in the late noughties. Mutually enjoying each others work we took our online friendship into a real life working relationship and from that many opportunities arose for me (huge thanks to him and to the PRO’s of social media!)

I’ve avidly uploaded photos of my adventures around the world, checked in at venues of importance and exclaimed pride in my career highlights in an unashamedly boastful fashion. Haven’t we all!!!!???

On the flip side, during the quieter times of my career, I have surveyed the online successes of my peers with a dark and brooding cloud of negativity hanging over me, whilst curled up on the sofa in a onesie after a jaffa cake binge . For many reasons , at times I have been out of work — a slipped disc in 2012, a subsequent depression after being cut from a famous pop stars backing vocal team, illness, lack of opportunities, or just not being the right singer for the job. There you go- some online honesty right there! In the valleys of our careers it’s hard to take stock and make our way back up the mountain without constantly comparing ourselves to others. The beautiful and glamorous faces of our Facebook ‘friends’ that stare out at us from our smartphones, updating you on their latest touring highlights begin to really GRATE. Of course, you love your friends! You wish them success. You are happy for them. But this is all so much easier to feel when you yourself are checking in at your tropical location with a hashtag ‘blessed’. ;-)

Want to know the truth behind the photos??

When I look back at some of the most colourful, exciting, glamorous and high profile moments of my career — splashed out for all to see on Instagram and the like, I can pinpoint exactly what was going on behind the rose tinted images. “Sound checking in Japan, pink haired and posing”……..I was jet lagged, exhausted, I missed home. “Photograph’s of a beautiful Balinese beach at the end of a tour of Asia” ……..I hadn’t seen my husband in 6 weeks, I was lonely and missed being with people who truly cared for me. “Hey it’s my album launch this week, I’m so excited!”…….I’d actually worked myself to such a state of anxiety that I lay awake at night questioning if I even had any ounce of actual talent and feared no one would turn up or buy a copy of the bloody thing!!

That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed these moments too and am hugely grateful for them. I’m happy to have a place to document them and share them. (It’s nice for my mum to see where I am in the world!) But I think we’re all guilty of sugar coating our experiences. This is not a bad thing — no one wants to scroll through Facebook and see a whinge fest or share the in’s and outs of people’s urinary tract infections or bad hangover shits! But we have to learn to be aware that what we are seeing is one selective side of the story. It’s not all blue sky locations, business class upgrades, selfie’s with A listers and f***ing hashtag blessed’s!!! We are all human. We all return to bills, quiet diaries and ensuing self reflection. I have spoken with other singers who have said the story behind their photo’s is not always a one hundred percent happy one too.

I would be AMAZED if anyone reading this honestly feels this doesn’t resonate in some way!? Come on….admit it… sugar coat your life online too!! Photo’s of your latest retail therapy haul help you forget the fact that you got passed over again at an audition for someone with a lesser voice but the right image! Sharing your friends new music video with an exclamation of proud association actually relinquishes you of your guilt at envious tendencies! A selfie at a recording session is a relief to upload after a fortnight of zero work in the diary! Sound familiar????

We edit out the bad and upload the good. We live our lives online. This is a 21st century phenomenon. I’m old enough to recall a time where this just didn’t exist!! That was a time when if you wanted a gig you had to get off your arse and tube it up to a venue to put your demo in the hand of a promoter. The internet has made getting gigs, promoting ourselves and sharing our music so easy which is a wonderful thing! But I remember a time when- if I happened to have a Saturday night off with no work, I didn’t find myself reluctantly glued to the ongoings of my fellow musicians through a tiny screen in my palm. Other people’s excessively optimistic diarising of their fabulous lives was not a contributing factor in how I valued myself. I feel for a younger generation who have grown up with this culture affecting their psyche. Gosh……as I write that I truly do feel sad.

Hang on…this is all getting a bit depressing……..nowadays I actually do enjoy social media. I like sharing and I like celebrating in others successes, be it work or personal. We all have to go through a bit of a journey of grappling with our insecurities before we understand how to play the Facebook game and enjoy it for what it is. But I think it’s healthy to put things in perspective and remember that we are only seeing the plus side’s, not the minuses. Bare that in mind next time work is quiet and you’re in a place of introspection then you see that “todays office” status that makes you feel less than fabulous. Have a bit of a rest from it all now and again. Look out the bloody window on the bus instead of at your phone! Talk about these things with your REAL friends, don’t just communicate virtually. Adopting a healthy mindset so that you can enjoy engaging with your online friends is necessary in general and even more so, I feel, for those in the entertainment business.

It’s of paramount importance you find mental clarity and a balanced outlook for a healthy networking relationship with a online musical community.

I’ve written this in as honest a way I can, as I think it’s a valid topic to discuss. Now I’m going to share it on social media and fret about how many ‘likes’ it receives. I’ve got the biscuit tin ready.

Highly experienced singer (Incognito, Chaka Khan, Emeli Sande, Lou Reed, Anastasia) offering guidance and tips in technique, health and mindset for vocalists.