Music without social media?


social media (twitter, insta etc) is obviously quite an unavoidable part of music these days, from artists, to labels, nightlife etc. Recently i’ve been getting quite frustrated with all that lark, seeing it as quite pervasive and damaging, so i really want to remove myself from that space.

Predicament i’m having though is that, as a producer/dj, it’s so heavily enmeshed in promotion that it’s hard to imagine having a musical presence without it. I can only think of a handful of artists off the top of my head, such as joy o, helena hauff, who don’t engage with social media much or who have a very limited profile, who have a musical presence. Thing that unites those two for me is that their output is just so good that the social media stuff doesn’t really matter.

I also see social media as contributing to the numbers game, where artists, labels etc become slaves to stats which, for me, is just not the right motivators. Bottom line, i don’t think you’ll see better music coming from this state of mind and you’ll certainly have people in it for the wrong reasons.

Just thought i’d get other peoples views on this or if people were aware of other artists/labels/promoters/movements which were going against the grain of social media (maybe posing this question here is part of the problem or i need to leave my house more to find this locally haha). Anyway, if they exist, think these movements will be pretty important for artists, labels etc taking more control over their music/output rather than brands/sponsors continuing to shape things.


been struggling with this choice recently on the grounds of wanting to delete facebook for the sake of my mental health but knowing that my personal page is my strongest promotion asset !!

issa tough one


One thing I see lots of labels doing now are mailing lists - more personal, more attention grabbing, and it’s definitely more effective in some ways compared to social media. It helps in that it doesn’t feel like every tweet / post on FB is similar to yelling down a well, hoping some people would listen.


Dang, what a great thread @spudrina! And A-FUCKING-MEN:
“I also see social media as contributing to the numbers game, where artists, labels etc become slaves to stats which, for me, is just not the right motivators. Bottom line, i don’t think you’ll see better music coming from this state of mind and you’ll certainly have people in it for the wrong reasons.”

This is something I rail on about a lot as I worked in digital marketing for ten years–spent my twenties running away from what I want to do but found my way back. Although I didn’t do analytics in the way that some did, I did enough to know that whenever you hear about editors bitching about reviews not getting enough clicks, that means that people are using rather crude KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) for this shit…I mean, I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve worked with where I’ve doubled the amount of time people spend on their site and lower their bounce rate, only to be met with, but where’s all the traffic? I can’t believe I even have to say this, but it’s not always about the size, is it now? It’s about if the people who are visiting the page are actually engaging with it and those pages that get all the clicks don’t necessarily have meaningful engagement.

Sorry, went on a tangent there, but just can’t say enough how much I share your predicament as a writer and DJ (I might be willing to share my productions in a decade…late bloomer life). And it’s not just social media that gets my goat…just as a DJ in Brooklyn, my choice to stay in most nights and practice/write means that I’m not out there networking and getting gigs, like at all.

Question for you: With social media, what is it in particular that bugs you? Like, for me, I just post the shit I’m into and make and that’s it, I don’t really engage and my numbers reflect that…I don’t follow back unless the person seems interesting (ie. it would actually enhance my feed). Do you feel like you need to engage with your fans and other producers and DJ’s, almost just to keep yourself in their minds? This is a conversation I have A LOT as most of my friends aren’t social media people and yet can’t argue with the results they see when they engage…outside of the emotional/psychological toll. I thought I had more of a point when I started this, but now just thinking of how one could actually achieve some success without it. Even in the cases of Joy O and Hauff, those are artists who have been around for a decade at least and Hauff’s years as a Golden Püdel resident undoubtedly gave her access to a network that would make social media unnecessary…which is to say, it’s not like they don’t have to deal with the bullshit but in either case, I can think of reasons beyond just their music as to why they can get away with not playing that game.

People are aware of the problem but don’t have much of a clue of how to fix it is what it seems to me at this point…that said, consdiering that seemingly every conversation I have with artists and industry folks is about how fucked up everything is, I feel now is the time to start exploring alternatives. Yes, posing your question would be perhaps counter-intuitive if this wasn’t a place where I’ve at least found meaningful and spirited discourse…and this forum is a perfect example of someone taking the initiative to offer an alternative to social media (I believe the press release specifically cited social media’s nastiness as one of the chief reasons this place exists). Same reason I run my own site, even if it doesn’t really seem to get me gigs (whereas running a music blog a decade ago did! So strange).

But really, I think the most important thing right now is to have this discussion and to provide a place for those frustrated with things to voice them without fear of retribution. That said, this is a public forum, so just keep that in mind as I have found myself saying shit I shouldn’t when my handle is literally my DJ name lol. (Not trying to be pedantic, more commenting on how I’ve failed to abide by my own advice).


I think for music consumers who don’t have any “stakes” in music (i.e. are not promoters, producers etc.) this is quite simple: follow labels/artists on soundcloud/bandcamp or where ever and don’t use monolithic social media platforms. If small-scale social media is ok then one could also take forums into account or sites like rate your music.

However, I think for persons who do have “stakes” in music it really depends on what those stakes are and what kind of goals one wishes to achieve.
Promoters at some scale will obviously be less able to completely ditch social media without incurring losses; they may not have enough money to put on good shows, they may lose money on bookings, or they may simply fail to create an audience.

Things are similar for labels because labels are, among other things, responsible for the promotion of their artists work. A label which fails to adequately promote their artists is not doing their job correctly. There is a ton of excellent work that will probably be known to a vanishingly small amount of listeners because labels did a poor job promoting their artists. For this reason, I don’t think that anti-social-media is a tenable position for a label to take.

Artists and producers can of course have different goals - some producers may simply be uninterested in reaching a larger audience and may be perfectly happy uploading to soundcloud or whatever without doing the slightest to promote their work via social media. This is a completely acceptable position for someone to take. I’d wager that most people want at least some minimal audience - even if that audience is just a possible audience that may through some accident discover the tracks uploaded in some far corner of the internet.

As far as larger artists go, you are kidding yourself that social media plays no role in their success or sustaining their presence. Helena Hauff, for example, is represented by two booking agencies, as well as the label Ninja Tune. What this tells us is that she personally may not need to engage in social media…because other people make sure to keep up her exposure. It does not tell us that “social media stuff doesn’t really matter.” This doesn’t mean that the quality of her work is irrelevant!

@spudrina “I also see social media as contributing to the numbers game, where artists, labels etc become slaves to stats which, for me, is just not the right motivators. Bottom line, i don’t think you’ll see better music coming from this state of mind and you’ll certainly have people in it for the wrong reasons.”

This is just the same “people are only in it for the money” argument, only it has been transposed for the digital age. There will always be people who are “only in it for the _____” and I don’t think it is an indictment of social media as such, given that there are presumably also people who may be “in it” for the “right reasons” (whatever those may be).

Bottom line is that it is probably more useful to differentiate between people with or without “stakes” in music and then to further specify what the harms and benefits of social media are for the respective groups. I don’t think that the harms of social media will necessarily outweigh the benefits.


This is a great topic indeed. I’ve been in this business for circa 10 years and unfortunately we went from the “music doing the talking” to bullshit instagram posts of the artist’s dog taking a poop and eventually people sharing their upcoming banging techno release on linkedin.

It’s quite sad to see how much time is wasted (from the label’s or producer’s side) on creating online content. Nobody really quantifies those hours. Moreover, the question is how much money was generated per hour (if you are really into it for the money)? Maybe you’d earn more money/hour by flipping burgers at BK.

The funny side of it, i quite enjoy watching DJs being more preoccupied with their 100th instagram story post instead of actually working on music / paying attention at their DJ set… :smiley:


it’s a completely personal thing but nothing puts me off an artist/producer faster than them ranting or oversharing 24/7 on twitter. try to have some mystique

it can feel like the music is secondary to the showboating.


i saw Midland complaining on twitter that when he posts banal nonsense he gets a mountain of interactions but when he posts something about music tumbleweeds
which is what happens when you court the banality and silliness, imo.


My friend is a booker for Sónar Reykjavik and he always “jokes” (I think he is actually semi-serious) that he would never book someone without a Soundcloud. The reality for him is that if he can’t promote someone without being able to push their music out on a free/open platform, he can’t book them in the fear that people won’t get excited to see the person live. [try it before you buy it]

I think that Facebook is manageable. Perhaps best is to have a friend hold onto your page for you, give them management privilege, and then throw away your password or something akin to this. If you are dumping time into a platform you don’t like, get rid of it. My solution was to create a website for myself, at a small cost, and host my photography there while using Facebook to constantly post reminders that my site exists. Linking to my site instead of making a full on post on Facebook every time I want to promote.

Omar S is probably my favorite example of a musician not using SoMed.

I have to also add, this has not blossomed for me yet in terms of having outrageous success, but it has definitely saved my brain from the annoyance of alerts from FB and shit. I still get booked mostly from word of mouth and traditional networking. But I look at my favorite artists and see them doing the same thing, so why not follow their lead?


thanks for the thoughts and responses so far. As i guessed, overwhelmingly it seems people are quite skeptical and frustrated with social media but, as @zurkonic noted, we seem to have little ideas on how to reinvent or re-imagine a different musical existence. Now i’m no fool, social media is here to stay, at least for our lifetimes, but i really do believe in trying to limit or put a greater threshold on how much it dominates and influences our lives.

@zurkonic to your question, loads of things annoy me but a few in particular…firstly it’s the fakeness and, with that, the annoying benefits it seems to open up to those who play that game. I mean i hate networking in the real world anyway, but to see that mimicked in the digital world just means that shits kinda inescapable.
Then, as i touched on before, it’s the reorganisation or restructuring of values. Likes, followers, content, whatever, seems to take precedence over the music. Now i know things haven’t always been purely about the music, it hasn’t always been diluted with styles, trends etc, but the quantification of it all (and the state of mind to increase your stats that comes with it) just seems wrong to me. Having a chat with my new agent who started going on about my followers, getting a press pic of my face (so people could identify me better) etc really hit home to me how much weight is put on this stuff. I kind of blissfully ignored this happened to smaller artists.

and to @b60231, I think the idea of stakes is quite useful here and your position within this web of players (as an artist, promoter or label owner) probably effects how much you have to rely or engage with social media.
i was also probably a bit lazy with that comment on it doesn’t matter. As you touched on, helena doesn’t personally engage but other around her, who want to keep her presence going, do. This did make me question whether she would have a larger notoriety (and get more gigs, whatever) if she used social media now? I’d like to think it wouldn’t make that much difference.

This final point did then get me thinking about why and the idea/concept of ‘capital’ also struck me as quite a useful idea here when thinking about it. It seems to me that if you’ve built up enough musical (ie cultural) capital then their isn’t so much reliance on the social capital side of things. You can probably hope the social capital side of things won’t need too much thinking or planning, and the music will speak for itself.

i suppose going back to my original post and why i brought it up is that the social capital side of things is heavily occupied by social media at the moment. I do worry that peoples social media capital, rather than their musical capital, is taking over our value base in music.

Going back to you @b60231, and i suppose one of the biggest problems for me, is how social media is presented as this neutral vessel/platform for promoting. For me it’s really not. It’s damaging, addicting…i could go on for ages. I haven’t watched all his vids (so can’t vouch for how sound his ideas really are) but i’ve started watching this guy recently, who’s quite anti-social media (to put it lightly) and advocates deleting your online

so yeah i don’t think a take it or leave it approach to social media is best and creating spaces/platforms away from it (which make you think fuck this im putting down my phone and im gunna get my musical enjoyment from this) are deffo the way to go. Anywhere anyones getting some serious musical capital lol? Regular rave? Music space/community?


Great vid, thanks for sharing. Wasn’t familiar with him.

Was just thinking of an idea similar to this for an intro I’m writing…so was just reading that DJ Bone interview in RA (which is quite interesting) as it’s just hilarious to think of all the human CDJ’s out there who would just get swollen whole in 80s Detroit…but it got me thinking about how competition or a competitive energy has long served a certain and important role in music, be it rap battles or books and articles about how jungle was inspired/propelled by a sense of competition and whether social media has helped to eradicate that in a way. Meaning, for as long as Twitter has existed, I’ve heard different musicians say, “I wish I could have a separate Twitter account where I was anonymous but could just rip on all the shitty opening bands and industry assholes” because while social media might have the veneer of neutrality, there’s a whole set of unspoken social rules governing people’s behavior in the most dystopian of ways…what really freaks me out is, considering how everyone’s opinion has a platform these days, whenever I express an opinion about ‘Brooklyn techno’ or how much the party scene has gone downhill here, I can sense some serious IRL blowback, like “oh, zurko’s so bitter/crotchety/negative.” Been reading this fantastic book (that I’ve mentioned on this forum a million times it feels) called Revolutionary Time and the Avant-Garde and it’s been srsly re-familiarizing me with my Hegelian dialectics…I feel social media offers a false sense of opposition because ultimately within any one network of people, things veer towards consensus (only on the level of national politics is there some degree of opposition and even that feels detached from reality in a way that freaks me out).

Anyhoo, am conflating several trains of thought but really was thinking about how critics never really respond to each other as when I write a review on something that’s been reviewed elsewhere, I can’t help but read the other reviews as then I know what’s been said and can focus on saying something novel…but to do that means I often have to cite other reviews to illustrate other opinions on a work of art and then critique those, which I see as a healthy practice because shouldn’t critics critique critics in the interest of self-betterment? What I’ve instead found is fake debates about negative reviews with everyone agreeing their time is best spent as artist advocates cuz ‘anyone’ can write a negative review. Apologies for the confused thoughts…time to go grab a coffee.


music has to be promoted on socials or i wont listen to it :upside_down_face:


I am definitely more pro social media! Especially because of statements like this:

I don’t think there has ever been a time where social standing hasn’t effected the perception of specific artists or works - it is why we have the cliche statement that someone has “style over substance”. Fakeness and “gaming the system” has always been a part of it and wasn’t created by social media.
Edit: I think social media in a sense levels the playing field to a degree - think of geographically or otherwise marginalized groups of persons who may not have access to a relevant “irl” peer group.
I generally agree with Lanier’s points on the addictive nature of social media and many of the harms that it causes but I don’t think that they are a good tool with which to critique music promotion and the attempts by artists to reach an audience. Again, there are countless pre-social media examples of artists achieving some degree of success and, upon reaching that level of success, then making qualitatively “lesser” music. Often the complaint was that such artists were “selling out”. Now perhaps that is a valid criticism, but it is not necessarily wedded to social media.

I don’t think “music without social media” is possible in 2018 except at extremely small scales and even then probably only works because of indirect use of social media.


Social Media within an artist/producer context seems to be the dark side of the DIY ethos, making the artist do endless “engaging” tangentially related “content”. Ideally the label should do the PR (through social media) and let the artists do what they are supposed to.

I guess a lot of the artists around Hard Wax are less social media prone than the norm, HW being the luddite center of the music scene in the most anti-tech of European cities.


What’s hard wax/this city?


young grasshopper: I can’t tell if you’re being serious or not.

Hard Wax is the birthplace of the Chain Reaction label. very influential cultural institution in Berlin (and beyond).


Truly not, there’s a lot of shit I don’t know haha


The thing about Hard Wax is that it is really like a step back 20+ years in time like nothing’s changed (the shop is in fact 30 years old next year). Simon Reynolds did a recent blog post on that under the retromania theme although he weren’t as dismissive as I’ve thought. An old geezer like me adores Hard Wax obviously, which, I guess, stands as the embodiment of “authenticity” within the techno scene in Berlin, for what it’s worth.

I can’t remember when their website launched, but it was waaay overdue. I mean they’re probably still doing mailouts. So I can’t imagine these guys doing the SoMe thing to the max.

Here’s the Reyolds piece if anyone’s interested :


Thanks for sharing that! I had not seen that…and no, it’s not as dismissive as one might think…was almost kind of a “cute” read in that it ready exactly like it was: an older head picking out records after having lost interest over the past _ years and giving pretty fair assessments…this, though, absolutely murdered me as I’ve had this conversation many times about the use of the words “stepping” and “stepper” in Hard Wax descriptions (which at this point I take to mean having an off-beat hi-hat and sharing rhythmic DNA w/ 2-step):

“Stepping” seemed to be a fairly frequently applied adjective on these stickers, although I wasn’t sure what exactly it evoked - presumably roots reggae feel?

In my own research, I’ve never really encountered that term outside of Hard Wax, though I wonder where it emerged…anyone have a thought?


this might be a good time to promote mastodon here :elephant::heavy_heart_exclamation: u would love it

mastodon is a twitter-esque platform that’s totally decentralized and open source. u sign up for whatever server (or “instance”) u want (or host ur own if u rlly want), that can be for both general or special interests (like dance music! for example), and then u get to talk to everyone in the server and all the other servers connected to it. the decentralization means there no algorithmic “optimization”, no paid ad posts shoved on ya, u get a lot of privacy settings (even down to who can see individual posts!), and admins actually are human beings who give a shit about their user community (since they are all volunteers that manage just their own instance)

it reminds me a lot about this forum in a few ways. anti-corporate, values communication longer then short blips (masto’s generous 500 character limit helps!), diverse communities, but within a larger community.

def give it a look at the service and maybe pick an instance and sign up for it! maybe even the 5^7 mods can look into making a mastodon instance with the same emphasis on communal dialogue as this forum! it would certainly work, esp with it both having strong internal connections and ability to reach outward to other communities

btw im not being underpaid by any of the orgs supporting the mastodon product to promote this (nor would they even want to, seeing as they dont want to be come the corporate hacks they tried to escape). im just telling u about this cuz i use this service myself and i rlly rlly love it :revolving_hearts: and think u all would be interested too, seeing as this forum acts as a similar (abet functionally different) refuge from hypercapitalist antisocial media hell. check out my account if ur rlly that interested :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: