MUSIC: Strumming the way through social media
The music world has experienced a major shift in the past few years. It had previously been a world where an artist needed big producers to be broadcast, and that led to limited exposure.
Nowadays, it is a world where anyone can broadcast themselves, to the extent that a video of a girl “Sittin On Tha Toilet” and belting out a first-person narrative about her actions, receives almost 64 million views and further justifies Andy Warhol’s prediction that, indeed, “in the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes”.
It was social network Youtube which opened the door, allowing artists such as Justin Bieber and Esmee Denters to grace (or disgrace) the world with their music. Such simple recognition encourages artists all over the globe to use the medium as a chance of shining through the “72 hours of video per minute” traffic found on YouTube.
The “you won’t make it in Malta” attitude raised its white flag when social media came along. Wondering what it is like to try and make it big in the global world of YouTube, Facebook, and information overload, di-ve.com spoke to three Maltese artists who are using social media as an incentive to gain long-lasting acknowledgement across Maltese borders.
The three artists interviewed were Chess, Matthew James Borg of Red Electrick and Peter Pullicino representing TwoTimeShooter.
Social media websites are used by all the artists, specifically Youtube and Facebook, which have approximately 300 million and 901 million active monthly users, respectively. “I try to use every prominent social media platform present,” said Chess, “such as Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud and Pinterest. Occasional blogs on Tumblr are also written”.
Keeping in mind that artists who made it big pre-social media, such as Alanis Morrissette, are nowadays also resorting to social media, all three Maltese artists asserted the significance which this kind of communication has had in making a name for themselves. The three admitted that “it definitely helps”, while Peter added that “such tools easily allow us to share our music to the world, they are basically the main form of exposure for the band”.
Social media has attracted international audiences for all three musicians, some of whom even got the chance to perform abroad. However, money currently seems like the barrier between opportunity and action.
“Once, I was invited to Italy,” said Chess, “but did not have funds for the flights!”
Similarly, Peter recalls how TwoTimeShooter received opportunities over social media to travel to London, Russia and Denmark, “however,” he explains, “travelling with the band can be rather expensive and as we have not yet been offered any trips paid for by our overseas contacts, we have not actually flown to perform on request”.
The free music culture that the internet offers has caused “the main source of income, even for international bands, to no longer be through selling albums but rather by performing live”, explains Matthew, but “musicians should adapt to this internet revolution”. With the tangible product still in demand by many, Peter agrees that “if you really like a band, you should go and buy their original album”.
It’s all about “try[ing] before they buy,” Chess explains, seeing free music as a way of interacting with and inviting fans.
Virtually alongside millions of aspiring artists on social media, di-ve.com asked the Maltese musicians whether they believe the internet culture has increased the chance of recognition as it gives users the resources to reach a global audience, or decreased it due to the traffic caused by the large number of artists out there.
“It works both ways,” replied Matt, “the quality of music might suffer since everyone has the opportunity to share their art”.
Meanwhile, both Peter and Chess look at this virtual culture as nothing but a “gift to music artists”. Pete thinks the deserved acknowledgement will arrive when the quality is recognised.
Chess adds to this that the music industry is a do-it-yourself culture where “originality and shock element” are a necessity. Both Pete and Chess explained that, because of Youtube, “it does not seem about the music anymore, but more about the videos”.