Most of us spend lots of time doing it: social media. Anyone who has something to promote (and knows where the action is) is on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr and everywhere else; sharing and experiencing and pushing their latest project. And everybody is saying it’s where you need to be.
But how many of us -- save for a few at the top -- are really benefiting from this social media sharing? Is there real payoff here or is it just another "conventional wisdom" that wasn't true, but everybody believed it was, just because everybody heard it everywhere and repeated the message?
The biggest complaint heard from musicians is how they don’t feel that they’re “getting paid” for their time spent working their social media cause. It’s not like it’s wage-based thing: you don’t work out some kind of metric in which you earn money proportional to time spent.
And the rewards are disproportionate to the 1%: the people with huge amounts of followers reap huge influence and engagement; while the 99% gain little traction but will never admit it publicly.
Social media is quickly becoming another one of the “future perfect” technology scenarios. A new idea gets hyped all over, repeated so often that it becomes conventional wisdom. But the *big idea* eventually gets abandoned or displaced by the next big thing, the next bright shiny object.
Remember how every music website had to have its own social network in which users would register for a website community? Future perfect until people realized that everyone only had the bandwidth to join a few social networks, and beyond that people just didn’t have the time or inclination to participate in 20 social media communities. Most people will be active in four to five at the most, for a lot of people it’s one or two.
Social media is starting to feel like deja vu all over again.
The more semantic point of view is that you do this to “create awareness,” you’re actually marketing yourself, and without it you couldn’t generate album or song sales, you couldn’t sell tickets to shows or merch. But how many people feel like they’re just pushing more noise out onto the overcrowded social media landscape? Does all of this tweeting REALLY matter when it gets lost in the feed? If a tweet falls in the forest and there’s nobody there to see it (because it’s invisible when the rush of 50 new Tweets scrolls down) did it really happen? Then what's the point?
We’re reaching the social media apocalypse: there’s too much saturation for it to be effective for most artists. There’s the big playas who get attention and favorited and retweeted -- deadmau5, Arcade Fire and Nine Inch Nails all seem to be social media darlings who can do no wrong, but the average indie artist is basically fighting a losing game.
So where do we go from here? Where’s the next big idea? If social media is now too big to work, how does everyone get the word out?