With one in four people using social media in 2013, and online communities becoming the common way to interact with fans now; how can artists use Social Media to their advantage and connect with fans. In today’s post, we will have a look at what Social Media is and how artists are using it to create online communities along with being successful through crowdfunding websites. I will also be looking at how an Artist has built an online community and cultivated her brand to be successful in this online world. This will then be concluded with my own experiences as an artist and what my relationship with Social Media is.
What is Social Media?
First of all, let’s do a quick revise of what Social Media is. Jeremiah Osbourne-Gowey defines it at the most basic level a “collection of websites and applications designed to build and enhance online communities for networking and sharing information.” He then goes on to explain the only difference between talking about “the game” or having friends over to hang out, is that “in social media… these interactions occur online”. Social media includes a range of different websites including “collaborative projects (e.g. Wikipedia); blogs and microblogs (e.g. Twitter); social news networking sites (SNS) (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn); content communities (e.g. YouTube); and virtual social worlds (e.g. Second Life) (Powers, 2014).” These social interactions through Social Media are incredibly important aspects for an artist and provide a way to directly connect with their fans even when they are physically on the other side of the world.
So what are the benefits of an artist using Social Media?
There are many benefits for utilizing Social Media as an Artist such as the ability to connect to fans and build a community, a way to build a brand and name for themselves, to tell their story and network with other artists. But this doesn’t explain if an Artist can be successful through social media websites and crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter/Patreon or create this sort of community on Social Media. To answer this question, a real life artist and her online community will be discussed.
Who is Amanda Palmer? And why is she important?
Amanda Palmer is an example of how to create and use Social Media as a community to benefit her Artistic practice. She has over 319,000 likes on Facebook and her Twitter account has 78,600 followers. In June 2012, she finished her Kickstarter funded campaign and became the first and only musician to earn over $1,000,000 on Kickstarter. She then finished off with a grand total of $1,192,793.
When asked about why she chose to crowd-source her money, she responded with “I really could see the power of my direct connection with the fans, I just started selling music to them directly…But then when Kickstarter came along, it was a logical next step, because artists were doing this all over the place. And Kickstarter just gave us this legitimized marketplace to do what we were already doing, but with a name and a system everybody can understand.” Amanda also made the comment when speaking about her unusual close relationship with her fans due to her large use of Social media and networks, “In a way, if you look at the whole thing like a real relationship—i.e. the kind of relationship you would have with a lover or husband, or between two people, the parallels are all there. If you’re going to have a real relationship with someone, you need to spend real quality time with them.”
So why is this important?
Amanda Palmer is an Artist who uses Social Media. Her community and fan base are entirely online and follows the idea that “we shouldn’t fight the fact that digital content is freely shareable — and suggests that artists can and should be directly supported by fans.” Her website also follows the idea of “pay what you want,” where in her own words she states that “I firmly believe in music being as free as possible. Unlocked. Shared and spread. I believe that in order for artists to survive and create, their audiences need to step up and directly support them.” While the pay what you want system is unusual and unworkable for some artist, its Amanda Palmer connection to her fans through social media which has allowed her to use it. She utilized blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube and Patrean. She makes daily posts and often responds to fans directly. This idea is what she calls the “Future of Music.”
What other people think of Social Media and its impact on Artists
This idea of being connected straight to fans and utilizing social media follows an unusual approach within the Artistic community. As Carlota Zimmerman states that “if you’re not taking advantage of the myriad of opportunities available to you on social media to discover and promote your brand or voice, and in so doing, generate more resources, you’re only sabotaging your own goals. “ He was amazed in his article at how many people didn’t utilize Social Media to its full potential.
Social Media can also be used to stimulate creativity. In a statement by Kylie Budge (2014), she discusses how “Creativity is stimulated differently for different people, but for some, it is the social aspects of creativity that assist them in feeling inspired and creating new work.” This idea of creativity being stimulated by social media can be applied when discussing artistic practice with either fans or even other artists. That being said, this statement is not applicable for all artists as seen below.
Case against Social Media being used by Artists
While there is much support for using social media, there is also a case against it in how much of a distraction it can be. This is highlighted by J.T Ellison who states in her article, ‘How Social Networking Kills the Creative Spirit, discusses how you may be “forsaking your Muse, taking the easy way out” by using Social Media. She also states that, “I am “friends” with people who are online every single time I open my computer and go to the sites. And I can’t help but wonder – when are they working? When are they feeding the Muse?”
My own experience as an artist
In my experience as an artist, Social Media can be a great hindrance and also a great help. I utilize Tumblr in the promotion of my artistic practice, but use Facebook to be inspired by other Artists and Creatives in my community. I agree with the statement Kylie Budge for this is applicable for my own creativity when I am gathering ideas. Once I have passed this stage, I find I prefer to work in isolation to truly commit myself to the piece I am creating. I also take time out in my week where I disconnect myself from Social Media to focus on my creative side. I have found that while social media can be helpful in the initial creativity stages; I am able to become distracted by it when actually creating the work.
In conclusion, an Artist should be using Social Media to promote their art and create a deeper connection to their fans. I feel that without this, Social Media can be used as a distraction rather then contributing towards creativity. If an Artist wants to use Social Media successfully, they need to create a community around their craft and product through fan interaction and communication with other artists. Without this, an Artist’s use of social media and therefor their community will not be as successful as it could have been. But with the amount of positives benefits to using Social Media outweighing the negatives; this is tool which should be used by all artists.
If you are also looking for another source of inspiration or further information about Amanda, check out Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on The Art of Asking.