Free choice or a prison of time wasting confusion? Depends what day it is.

To gain a competitive edge the ambitious musician can spend hours trawling online, spending money, proudly grafting to create a social momentum, gain fans and listeners with a whole array of social platforms each promising results. Meanwhile not earning any money in the process.

Apparently we need to release an album on Spotify and lobby to ensure it reaches new play lists, create and grow a community around our music brand on Facebook, connect with the demographics of our fanbase on Instagram using images on a business account or design an Electronic Press Kit to showcase what our band is all about for prospective festivals and venues.

But you can’t do it all can you. Not without a bunch of employees and a marketing budget. There is truly is not enough hours in a 24 hour day and the work tasks designed to convince you that – if only you did A, B and C you can do what? What exactly? Make “it” and then define “it” in the gritty reality of physical pain, traffic congestion, mass inequality and forthcoming climate change. I’m not convinced.

So let’s look at the positives in this universe of viral trends and use the psychological tricks of everyday mental survival to outwit it’s created needs and satisfy our real needs – if we can find them within ourselves and define them that is.

yes but why am I still using my phone mic

Think about the facts. There’s you with your guitar or bass or good looks and mic working in the coffee shop serving Americanos like an automaton – well yeah it has this edge over Marks & Spencer when it comes to looking cool and hanging out. You might get to wear black and sell cakes with people who’ve done a bit of prepandemic travelling. The music might help you dream as you wipe tables.

Then there’s the world of internet marketing selling whatever concept product can be sold online and you – because you’ve been telling everyone that serving coffee isn’t what you really do – need to sell yourself as a brand or a product to compete in that world. You, on your own, with a tiny budget to play with, and the world of powerful corporations, medium to small sized established business and kids with rich parents prepared to indulge their music star fantasies.

There are billions of people using social platforms online and over half of them have Facebook accounts which itself has around 3 billion monthly active users. It’s still the most popular platform in 2022 despite reports of a drift away to other sites. The largest demographic group of Facebook users is still regulalry reported as being between 25 and 34 years of age.

Instagram has billions of users, YouTube has billions of viewers, Tik Tok has billions of users. So what use is it knowing that if you’re a musician in a small town serving coffee for a coprorate chain with only a very small budget to play with? Your audience is still narrowed down to people you know and people who live near you – even online. Unless you strike lucky with a viral gimmick or a generic brand as a long shot. Though you may pick up some international fans on the way.

Never forget that these platforms are wonderful for fuelling your vanity, playing on your fears, exploiting jealous competitiveness and they have made no difference to the inequality of income in the UK whasoever. They exist to serve business by providing them with free information on clients and customers while allowing them to avoid the normal tax rates of individual governments raising money for our services. What musicians are interested in is expressing themselves and playing music. Our idea of success is being heard and being appreciated and having an audience. We can do that.

Don’t do free work for them all the time. You won’t become a Californian entrepeneur. Social mobility is not free flowing in our society whatever your work rate and talent. Concentrate on your songs, your sound and your ideas and have fun. In which case they can provide a means by which to further your creative notions in a music format.

Try not to expect too much out of it and you’ll be able to have some real emotional let out while looking for the deeper meaning and feelings beyond everyday practicalities which matters to us human beings. And don’t try and do it all alone – it can be soul destroying. Talk to your mates about it.

As far as I’m concerned most of it is one big fat con, a big money spinning wind up of created needs, but that shouldn’t stop you trying to find a niche for yourself. It is possible to earn money from sidelines like music tutoring, pub gigs, cruise contracts and blog writing. You can play to large audiences with your own music be it a temporary affair or not. I’ve done it myself and so have many musicians that I know in my home area of Lancashire in the north of England.

In fact I want to write my next blog on exactly what I did learn from the last few decades of existing on no budget as a musician and exactly what I personally find useful online, only if it’s useful and interesting to you. Let me know if it’s worth writing in the comments below. Do musicians really need all that social media? Lancashire UK Do musicians really need all that social media? Lancashire UK Do musicians really need all that social media? Lancashire UK