“I believe that music has always been about performance, and that the future of media will be conversational interactions over passive consumption.”
- Tim Exile
For years, discourse around social media being an enabler of connectivity has been ubiquitous. The ease at which musicians can collaborate with one another, regardless of geographic location, is integral to creation. Social platforms like Instagram and TikTok can allow artists to create content together and share it with their followers, while online collaboration tools like Endlesss, Splice and BandLab create spaces for musicians to collaborate on songs and recordings in-person or remotely.
There's no mistaking that social media platforms are a must-have for musicians and creators – without them, many of those just starting out could pervade local spaces for a very, very long time before branching out further. But it’s difficult to talk about social media in the broad sense, when each platform has its own benefits and drawbacks, particularly for artists – we’re no longer restricted to live performances and studio recordings.
The world of being a musician has extended beyond that and touches almost every corner of media production: you’re an artist, but are you also a podcast host, content creator, new music journalist, and so on? Or – are you an artist who has no desire to adhere to the demands of new social platforms like TikTok?
And what does all of this mean for collaboration?
Balancing Exposure with Potential Pitfalls
“We are all connected in so many ways that we can’t even imagine yet. And the only way that we discover those connections is through communication.”
With so many platforms to choose from and so much content being shared every day, it can be hard for musicians to put their to-do lists in order of priorities. The pressure to create viral content and accumulate followers can sometimes take priority over the desire to create meaningful content and collaborations. We’re surrounded by it constantly – you must be on TikTok, you must engage with others on Twitter, you must post daily on Instagram, and so on – but what if one or more platforms just simply doesn’t feel right? The short answer is, don’t force it.
You don’t have to be on every single platform to promote yourself effectively. Choose one or two platforms to focus on, and ask yourself: what you love about making music, what you want your audience to experience, how you want them to engage with you, and what kind of content you want to share.
There are many artists who have gained significant popularity on one platform but have less of a presence on others. Stick to the basics, find your own groove, and don't force yourself to use a platform that doesn't feel right for you. If you need help creating content for a specific platform, do your research and ask for opinions. And remember, you don't have to nail it right away. Test things out, fail, succeed, and keep going.
Musical collaboration in the digital era
Interactivity and collaboration are what’s needed for the industry to thrive, and whether social media helps or hinders that depends on how it is used. The conversations around using different platforms are loud – so loud that it can be easy to forget different approaches.
Attempting to bolster your presence on a handful of different platforms can leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. Especially if you’re after collaborative music-making – many platforms like TikTok, whilst great for the potential of achieving something viral, aren’t always the best places for connecting with communities. It’s possible, sure, but not always a guarantee, and there are much easier routes to take.
Having a community and a space for active collaboration can foster a foundation for all of the rest to fall into place. We get inspiration from working together and having connections opens doors for further activities down the line.