Hey… Are You Following Me?

Words by Olivia Carpenter By | September 21, 2015 at 2:00 PM

The idea of artists being completely out of reach and so different from us, is quickly becoming as antiquated as a tape deck. Anyone with an internet connection can see what a celebrity ate for breakfast and maybe that they have the same Ikea nightstand as you. What used to be a dreamy pondering of what musicians did in the time they weren’t in the studio or singing right to your face in a local venue is no longer shrouded in mystery, thanks to a growing plethora of social media platforms.

Your favorite musician at your fingertips is a concept that has driven us to expect more than just albums. While having a window into the life of the drummer whose backbeat gets you ready for your calculus exam can be innocent, for some the obsession doesn’t end there. Countless Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter pages created by dedicated fans geared toward particular artists or popular fandoms are emerging everyday. Fans use the power of numbers to tag the subject so many times they frankly have no choice but to see it. Looking through some of these pages, the owners will often keep tabs on how many times people of note have “liked” or replied to their posts and tweets, wearing these like a badge of honor. With these badges of honor comes the passion to get responses to their questions and concerns.

I have increasingly seen slews of angry tweets or comments when a musician doesn’t reply to these reaching branches of digital communication. Even specific posts regarding where an artist went—speculating to the ends of the world because they haven’t done an artsy ‘gram of their morning coffee yet. Yes, the artists realize what they are signing up for when they make a public Snapchat, Vine, or Twitter. Agreeing to no longer be anonymous, and to have their opinion on all things possible out in the universe. Something not many of us seem to remember is that people may change, but what you post has the potential to be on the internet forever. Artists can find something they thought was meaningless, come back years later with a feisty vengeance. Alex Babinski of PVRIS chose to formally apologize recently over an offensive tweet that had been dug up from before his band was well-known.

In the past we relied on written publication to hear the latest news in the music industry, but a band can do their own promotion now. Branding themselves to a level we have never seen before. Posting a photo of their new album cover and when it’s set to release, or tweeting out their tour dates to those they know are waiting on the edge of their keyboards for information. In a world of instant gratification we no longer have to wait for our news in any facet, particularly music. We can find out more than we ever could, or wanted to know for that matter.

Many of these artists live normal Taco Bell eating, whiskey drinking, sailor-mouthed lives.

Many artists can thank fans for getting them visibility. Social media has become a platform for bands who would have previously not gained enough traction in the biz. From the early beginnings of MySpace, bands like Never Shout Never found a place to get their music heard outside of their small towns like Joplin, Missouri where Christofer Drew called home. Followers help to make a band not just a hobby.

Increasingly though, not only are musicians garnering a grand amount of followers, but anyone tagged with them is subject to becoming a means of finding out more about a band. Fans often feel a sense of entitlement to this connection that has been forged. These followers are the ones that keep the lights on for musicians, that can’t be denied. They are the kids buying their albums and getting their music heard, but where does the line get drawn?

If Dave Grohl wanted to pack up tomorrow to become a burrito artist at Chipotle, he has every right to disappear without your consent and ask if you’re okay with the upcharge for gauc.

Many of these artists live normal Taco Bell eating, whiskey drinking, sailor-mouthed lives. Fans are so often emulating everything they do and it’s inspiring to see many artists take this into account, like spreading positive messages and getting kids involved in charities or movements that they hold dear to their hearts. But there is not a darn thing wrong with an artist being transparent in their real life, or being completely unplugged for a period of time. Musicians live fast-paced lives that are full of interviews, tours, and recording. The addition of being a social media personality is something that not all of them are required to take on. There is beauty in remaining a tad bit mysterious in a world that knows where we are at every moment. Relishing in the fact that we have 24-hour coverage of our artist is great and all, but letting them take a vacation or go to the movies for a couple of hours and not tweet is pretty awesome too. If Dave Grohl wanted to pack up tomorrow to become a burrito artist at Chipotle, he has every right to disappear without your consent and ask if you’re okay with the upcharge for gauc.

It’s rad to get your fashion inspiration from the jeans you saw on a lead singer’s Tumblr page or to keep track of the next tour moshing its way into your beloved town, but keep in mind that artists are people too. Social media engagement is a splendid thing, but just like the chocolate cake in Matilda, no one really wants an obscene amount shoved in their face at once. Music consumers have a massive social network to thank for the personal connections to the artists our fan-forefathers didn’t have the chance to enjoy. Ultimately musicians can be expected to produce no more than a song or album every once in awhile, if they truly “owe us” anything at all.  As our superhero creator friend Stan Lee once penned, “with great power comes great responsibility”. So internet responsibly kids. Log out of your Twitter box for an hour or two and listen to the album that took way more creative juice than typing 140 characters and pressing send.

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