With accounts such as Pickup beats and jazz to artist live streaming shows and studio sessions instagram is changing how consumers are being able to access their favorite artist as well as how the image of new artist are being shaped.
On February 9th, 1964, a small band comprised of four no-name British musicians performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. They appeared in the living rooms of Americans across the country through grainy black and white boxes and stole their hearts with what would later be dubbed as rock and roll. Needless to say, the way we fall in love with our new favorite artists has changed dramatically since the days of The Beatles. When understanding at how we develop these connections to different musicians it’s important to acknowledge where they come from and the role that social media has played in that.
Every Sunday night John Mayer hosts a makeshift show from the comfort of his living room through an Instagram live stream. Each week he invites all different genres of artist on. Some of the names include Maggie Rogers, Dave Chappelle and Daniel Caesar. John Mayer is not the only musician to use live streams — bands like Vulfpeck to Mac Miller (RIP) have used this medium to connect with fans more directly. Also contributing to the online music culture, accounts such as PickUpJazz (@Pickupjazz) and PickUpBeats (@pickupbeats) have created their own music communities of musicians all across the world sharing videos and hosting competitions for artists to show off their abilities. This has prompted up-and-coming artists to share more music of themselves on Instagram in hopes to get “picked up” or seen by their favorite artists. This has drastically sped up the process of new artists being discovered and further, signed. Videos of shows on social media have also sprouted up all over social media feeds. Now as a fan you can watch clips of your favorite artist’s live shows before you buy tickets. It has allowed more people to be drawn in to noname artists just based on a few seconds of video interaction. All of these facets have bridged the gap between performer and consumer and have made it easier to fall in love with your favorite artist.
While it is important to acknowledge all the good social media has done for discovering artists and popularizing them, it is equally important to acknowledge the pitfalls of social media presence in creating the artist. In a Hot 97 interview rapper Vince Staples says, “Perception is based on how hot you are or how much money you got. If the general consensus was that we want you to have great music, I promise you, [they] would chill a little bit. But it's not about that. We want to know how much money you got. We got bossip, we got mediatakeout, we got baller alert — we got all of these things. That’s getting more followers and retweets then Def Jam Records, Interscope Records, and the Grammy College. Let's be real, people want to see the lifestyle and that's what makes these rappers and people clamor for the attention.”
The point Staples is bringing up has a lot of weight. With the rise of social media, the focus has shifted away from the music and more to the lifestyle of the artist, especially in hip hop. People are constantly wondering about relationship statuses, clothing decisions and overall brand and image. This has made the artist more attractive to that market more than ever before and it’s hard to blame them. Up and coming artists are going to try to make waves any way they can and if the public is more consumed with what they are doing outside of the studio, artists will appeal to that.
Staples further explains how it has been a long time since we have had a hip hop artist who could keep their personal life private and just let the music speak for itself. He describes these people as the J. Coles, Kendrick Lamars, and Frank Oceans.
Overall it is important to just observe these shifts in the music industry and understand how they occur. More importantly we need to delve into ourselves and observe what we want from of our favorite artist because we, in the end, are what they are marketing their brand to. Do we live in a society where we can let a song speak for itself and not need to deep dive on someone’s Instagram to understand their persona? Or have we become so transparent as a society that it has become a necessity to understand our favorite artists in all mediums, whether in the studio or at home?
By Jackson Siporin