NARCISSISM IN MUSIC
by Abby Skye
Well, I was just about to get hooked into another know-it-all rant about the music industry (as I do), when I saw a post from a Facebook friend that was making a very obvious and frustrated point about artists posting more photos and updates them selves than they do about their art (we’ve never actually met, but you know how it goes). Hit me like a tonne of bricks that did, as only moments prior I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself over the amount of likes my latest profile and banner photos had gotten. I realized 1) he’s absolutely right and 2) I had just done the very thing he was talking about. I wondered if the post was actually directed to me, but then realized I was just being narcissistic.
You see, in my schedule of work stuff, I list those updates as ‘social media rejusjhing’ and it comes under the ‘marketing’ category, recurring roughly every month. Or maybe that’s how I justify the repetition of this narcissistic activity. You got to admit, it does give you the warm and fuzzies when people pay attention to and compliment you, especially with the broad strokes we’re able to garner on our social media platforms. As a personal rule, I try to stay away from activities that fuel my ego and to take any compliments I’m given with genuine humility and appreciation though, at the same time, I think it’s okay to feel pretty and/or appreciated. Plus, as I’m constantly reminded by my management team, I AM our ‘product’ (thanks for the love, guys), which we are marketing in a commercial world. So now I’m kind of finding myself on the fence – does narcissism have a place in music, or is it a conflicting interest? Here’s a brain dump (one of those terms that’s so gross, you just have to use it!) of the view from up here:
If you consider selling millions of records, touring the globe and living (very) comfortably a sign of a successful musician, it’s safe to assume that the majority (if not all) of them have been ‘processed’ by a ‘commercial machine’ for presentation. It’s rarely the pure talent of an artist alone that gets them to number on e, it’s also very much the ticking brains of a marketing department. It’s also a fact that these days people without a talent can become famous to a similar degree from narcissism alone (“When did reality become TV?…”)! People are enjoying being more closely engaged with their stars and finding out more about them personally, which grows their fondness, intrigue and support for them which in turn, boosts business.
They say that sex sells but as an emerging female performer, I find it quite weird just how much booty is associated with what we do. Almost like our musicianship will be directly compared to how our butt rates. While I like my derriere and all, I don’t see what it has to do with my music and I can’t help think how great it’d be if we could just encourage people to be great musicians and artists instead. We’re also now seeing how the ‘selfie’ rage is impacting us socially and mentally, so perhaps our narcissism is something we should be keeping a very wary eye on.
Maybe it’s about finding a balance and what works for you. On the whole though, I do agree with my fb friend. We artists need to become more proactive about keeping our art flowing and getting it seen and heard. We’re moving from an industry that once allowed only a privileged few to be recorded and promoted and monopolized every step to one where individuals can and need to steer their own ship. But wait, we’re not trained for this sort of stuff and besides – that wasn’t part of the deal! Don’t we get to just do the fun stuff?? Not these days. If you want it, you got to work for it.
Every tool we could need to market ourselves is available to us now. EVERY one. If you’re able to ‘brand’ and promote yourself without turning into a monster, good form – keep it up! We can all edit cool photos, record videos and maintain 10 promotion platforms, if we want to.
I personally think the key is to keep your self-promotion worthy and just as creative as your art and to keep careful watch that it doesn’t become shallow or self-indulgent. Every one of us has a black and white dog inside 😉