Is Social Media Killing The Rock Star?
Is Social Media Killing The Rock Star?
Submitted by Peter Åstedt
Many of the older A&Rs (read grumpy old men) are blaming social media for killing the rock star. That social media is taking off the magic away from the artist. At the same time many of the old rock stars were assholes, but in the media they were nice.
I heard so many times that John Lennon was an asshole. Maybe he was, or maybe he wasn’t. I don't know since I never met him and can only tell from the interviews and stories that people in the industry tell me who had met him. The interviews I have seen are, of course, controlled so it can’t give the true picture. It was under control so he was playing the role of the perfect nice guy. Someone that you would have to like.
During the past decade most stars were undergoing media training to look and act perfect when the cameras were rolling. They were different when the cameras were shut off. And this is why the people now say that social media is killing the star. Social media is like having a camera on all the time. If you are a creep it will shine through. Another aspect is that you come closer all the time. Many times, when you get starstruck and then spend some time with the star and you realize they are just a normal person, very talented, but still just a person, the icon and the status is falling.
Is this right? I don't know but what I can see is that interviews are rarer today with artists, especially around their work. What has replaced this in the media is more writings what they say on social media. Not unusual that a whole article is about a tweet of a famous artist. Today the media get the most information from Donald Trump in form of tweets!
Most careers are in very short forms.
Still the stars are closer now. I can join Taylor Swift’s social media accounts and follow her 24/7. Yes, a star like Taylor will post what she wants you to see. Many of the pictures are taken by professional photographers. One of my friends makes her livelihood by just going around and shooting photos for the stars. She is a photographer for Vogue and other big magazines. A major part of her income comes now from stars who want perfect pictures for their social media. But the pictures should not be so perfect in the sense of a photo shoot. But still better than your regular cell phone picture. And you can take off the ugly ones. You always look good. You then fill them up with some personalized shots.
You need to keep the facade up all the time. And in the end, you will be demystified.
I spent time with an influencer last year on a video shoot. She posted a picture of herself on the street and in 5 minutes she had over 5000 comments, not likes, comments. At the same time, she is not famous but she has over a million followers on different social media though. During dinner, we were talking about one of my bands and she was really impressed and told me that this band was really big. I told her that they not even had 20,000 followers on all their social media. Yes, she said but they do big things and they write interviews with them. She explained how the followers were not anything that really goes into media until you are a name. And to get the name you need to do extra good things. You need the normal interviews. You need the stardom and cool things still to become a household name that gets the chances to sit in front of the same cameras as a John Lennon.
Yes, the social media is bringing us closer to the fans. At the same time, you can still fake it to a certain point and right now we see a lot of reports of influencers that just have faked it. The question is if you can build up a star with a kind of mystic aura around them in the new environment?
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems and publishing companies. He also runs several showcase festivals. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl.