How Social Media Helps Artists Make Great Art

photo from gratisography.com

It’s easy to assume that social media is bad for you. The usual facts:

a. We check our phones 60+ times per day
b. Social Media negatively affects self esteem
c. Teenagers spend up to <b>nine</b> hours per day on social media

We usually frame these facts thusly: Social media is a new presence in our lives, we are obsessed with it, yet it hurts us.

It wouldn’t be the first time society was obsessed with something harmful (see: commercials, cigarettes, fast food). However, I’d like to point out an alternative view.

I think social media is bringing out a new, more creative side to modern society. Where before we were all consumers, now we are all creators. Most importantly, we’re getting better as artists because social media is an improved canvas.

The Improved Canvas

Social media allows you to do the following:

1. Distribute art and ideas to your peers
2. Get/aggregate feedback on your creations
3. Engage with other creators

Social media enables rapid iteration. “Iterate” is a big Silicon Valley buzzword circa five years ago, I know, but it never caught on in the music world. The only place I see iteration as a common meme is in songwriting: “Writing a song once means writing it three times.”

Musicians want to take their time creating incredible artwork. The cultural myth up until the 2000’s was: The tortured genius creates the brilliant artwork in private. The audience doesn’t get involved until the finished product is ready.

Social media flips this narrative on its head. If you want to be an active content creator, you inherently give up your privacy and your “black box” of artistic process.

The more active your content, the less private you are. There are three tiers to this model (using music as the example):

Old School: Release an album once every 18 months. Tour on it. Done.

Moderate: Release a new song every month or two. Maybe ask for fan feedback on some demos via your blog.

Extreme: Release multiple songs per month. Update your fans with demos, blog posts, behind the scenes, etc on a daily basis.

Which Way Is Best?

There’s no right way to do it. Artists are succeeding with all three models these days. It certainly seems like most new stars are more on the extreme side, releasing songs at least once a month and staying super active on social media.

If you are an artist, I think it’s cool to spend time in all three areas:

#1 Take a few months to go in the woods with no internet and create new art every day.

#2 Spend some time doing monthly releases, collaborating with other people and brewing up ideas.

#3 If you’re really brave, go crazy for a month and update the internet on your every move.

An artist could cycle between those three modes and have an awesome time.

That’s how my day-to-day music career is starting to look. When I’m home, it’s step #2, where I work on records and collaborate, keeping up a reasonable online presence. On the road for tour / promo, it’s #3, since I have SO MUCH to talk about.

Finding time for #1, going away into solitude, is a crazy idea. I’d like to do it with a band — spend a month or two together pumping out the gnarliest album we can possibly make. No internet, no interruptions, nothing more than close friends coming up to the studio to visit. WHAT A DREAM!

How has social media affected your artistic process? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Quixotic Flux

Quixotic Flux

Former radio broadcaster turned gamer and musician.

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