Over the years, I have become quite an expert in social media. I’ve had to.
Before I continue with my thesis on social media and the detrimental possibilities for artists, let me explain exactly what this trend is.
Social media are various tools that allow people to share, trade, interact using technology typically rooted in the internet. Basically, you communicate with people using something other than traditional forms such as personal letters or telephones. These social interactions are typically very open for others to see and even allow others to join in the conversation. One friend maintains that social media is a “communication mindset,” apart from the equipment used.
While, I have yet to be christened with any sort of degree in social media, I have been on the cutting edge of just about every emerging social event. Twitter? Twitter.com/chuckcreekmur! Myspace? Myspace.com/jigsawtheone! Facebook? Yes! What else? Yes, that one too! Furthermore, I have talked oh-so-eloquently on several panels regarding the topic and seen AllHipHop.com’s own Ill Community act as a de facto social media destination since its inception many, many moons ago.
Allow me to finally arrive to my point.
New Flash: if you are an artist – new or old – you are probably about to ruin your career if you are investing too much time and energy into social networks like Facebook, Twitter and others.
Let me clarify.
(Story continued after the jump)
Most of you have no idea how to make social media outlets work for you.
Let me clarify further.
Most artists, rappers in particularly, get on something like Twitter at the urging of somebody that heard from somebody else that Twitter was something that everybody should be on. Twitter is “hot.”
But, these handlers never explained why it was worthy of the artist or rapper’s time. They only said that this particular outlet was a good way to get the word out about an upcoming project, album or you can speak directly to the fans.
What if the artist is unable to effectively communicate with his/her fans? This notion many seem absurd to those that feel that ONLY connecting with fans is important. Not true. Like anything else, fans seek to have a positive experience with their favorite star.
I will never forget when a certain rapper dissed me in public for no reason other than he was an idiot. Never did have any sort of affinity for that person ever again (aka I no longer supported their efforts). Then there was a gangsta rapper that I did have respect for and he turned out to be one corny Son of a Gun. Another R&B artist that I thought was deep was just…dumb, even though she was immensely talented. These are just my one-on-one experiences, but imagine presenting this to thousands every time an artist opts to “speak.”
With social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and even Myspace, artists are continually showing who they really are. Often this is bad news for an industry where an artist’s image is meticulously crafted. One tweet and its over. A lot of people don’t want to know that they are actually corny/insecure/mean/wack/human just like the rest of us.
Aside from changing perception, here are some other mistakes artists make on social networks.
Arguing with every hater: Social media is a two way street so, if the artist can talk to the people, the people can talk back. And the people TALK! So-called haters permeate the internet in every facet and some of them are meaner than a shark with an empty stomach. A lot of artists want to tee off on everybody that says something slick. This is a bad move and it only degrades the artist’s image.
Tell fans everything: Entertainers have the ability to tell everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to do so. Honestly, there is this thing called T.M.I. (too much information) and also, it detracts dramatically from the super-power called mystique that most artists have. You don’t have to tell us that you are on the toilet. That’s been done and it’s always nasty. A number of artists have cashed in through social media for a quick publicity, but probably missed bigger press opportunities later down the line. Keep the people wanting more by giving less.
Diss other artists: Well, we all know artists hate on each other more than the fans. Wait. No, we all didn’t. But the artist with diarrhea of the keyboard lets it be known. And, nobody likes a hater, not even a hater. Recommendation: put a lid on it.
With all of this said, what can an artist do to save himself?
First, consider what you are really on these social outlets and ask, “How is this really helping my career?”
Think on this and answer it honestly. (If the answer to the question is “because everybody is on these social networks,” please stop here and log off. Or simply get your handlers to promote your interests without a tinge of personality.)
After answering the question, look around a bit and see who is successful in the social media space and why. What works for Diddy isn’t likely to work for most people – sorry. Diddy’s followers follow him and his Twitter persona gels with what we know his real persona to be. Yung Berg is reestablishing his career and did a mixtape via Twitter using beats from his followers. Not a bad idea. Rhymefest asks his followers their opinions on everything. 50 Cent has a great team that advances his agenda. Recognize what you want to project and what will reinforce your ultimate goals and brand.
When talking to fans/haters, don’t be a jerk, or a stronger epithet. Being a jerk can cause you to lose a fan and being gracious can cause you to convert that non-believer.
Here is a note to the new/unsigned or emerging artists. It is even more important for you to be mindful of how you make your way through these social media networks. You don’t have the luxury of years in the game or million of fans. Established artists can probably take the loss of a follower or 500 – you can’t. There are a number of younger rappers that impulsively blogged something stupid, revealing how (fill in the blank) they are. Also, don’t go constantly doing press stunts to get the attraction of the media, because eventually the media and the fans will tire of your Wolf cries.
Fans want to know the real you, the artist, but they also what to buy into the person that is presented to them on that CD cover or Mp3. The real you farts and has a nagging spouse and other decidedly human activities. They want to know that you appreciate them as their fans.
So, the real title of this piece should have been “Twitter Will End Your Music Career If Not Used Properly,” but you get the idea. Right?
Comments from peers who either agreed or disagreed with this editorial.
“If we look at old school media, the channel of communication was limited to letter to the editor. So if you hated something your voice was lost in a void of paper mail which no read. Things are different now. Social Media opens up the lines of communication between consumer and creator. If used correctly you can dramatically change your business by having instant feedback, an instant group to test new products or music on, and an instant mean to increase sales.”
– Social media expert
“I have to say. I don’t follow [music mogul] because he annoys me as a person. I love [soul singer’s] music but since I’ve been following her I’m like wow. She’s not so interesting. I follow [hardcore NY rapper] because he is raw or seems raw. [Alternative neo-soul singer] isn’t that interesting either and [conscious rapper] is on way too much. As was [Hip-Hop musician] so I had to cut him off my follow list.”
– A television producer.
“Really the mutterings of random celebrities already over-convinced of their own importance is boring. Make some damn music so I think you’re really deep. You might be f**king your brand up if I realize your music is truly a gift from God that you didn’t deserve and was somehow channeled through your dumb a**.”