Music without social media?



OF COURSE, these are phenomenally successful companies, and since we are the product, their market valuation rises in direct proportion to how much value they can extract from us, which leads to a compulsive and competitive social environment, but not necessarily a healthy one.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how much our ideas of the pros vs cons of social media are formed by how the massive tech oligopolies render social media, as oppose to social media fundamentally.

How much when we say we hate social media do we mean we hate the addictive effect of the notifications? What if you had a network that removed all the numbers? What if you could have a social network designed for chance discovery, and limiting addictive behaviour? What if a network operated for the good of its users, rather than the profits of its stakeholders?

There’s this site for example, which is based on these ideas, and I heard about another few that feel a lot healthier all round like Mastodon. They’re mainly either community tools, or visual ones, though. So what would a healthy music network look like?


There is a “steppers”-rhythm in Dub and Reggae which is nearly the same as the 4/4-beat. Maybe combined with some offbeat snares. I think it’s a pretty common word there.
I haven’t heard the examples Reynolds mentioned but think the Hardwax-description could fit good when the rhythm is comparable.

for example


Yeah, ok…that’s a good point about the steppers rhythm…I basically had inverted what you’re suggesting as I’ve found the hi-hats (which obviously are the jelly in the techno pb&j special) to be the most consistent element amongst the “tech steppers.” I mean, I’m very much taking some liberties here away from the reggae concept and thinking about it in a more ‘techno’ context…this release to me is very emblematic of that ‘tech steppy’ sound:


yeah i mean i did try to acknowledge before (maybe i didn’t make it explicit enough) that there’s always been a game to play, things were never perfect, fakeness etc. Really was trying to communicate that these aspects will be emphasised with social media platforms imo.

When you can quantify things such as your social standing then for me it’s most definitely going to effect the nature of the game. Yes change happens, it’s inevitable, but if the platforms in which change is occuring are there to - make you spend more time in those spaces (ultimately trying to get you addicted), collect your data, interest advertisers into those spaces…there’s probably more - then i think it’s important to question social media’s role in music. I do agree with you that it has offered lots of positives but i certainly think there’s a big dark side and it’s playing far too big a role in artist popularity. Again, im not really knocking the artists that much, everyones trying to do their thing, but as @chava touched on, it’s quite a difficult position to be in as an artist where if you don’t join the social media ship, you’re probably going to get left behind. So for me it feels like a case of beat them or join them but i don’t want to join them…or beat them by getting more likes for my new tune playing on my new mac in my new studio or the beef pho i just ate in hoxton (soz that ones for the london heads).

I suppose writing about this did get me thinking about why social media may be so important or why i’d feel this way. I think the closure of club spaces/rising costs in raving/partying does play a role. Like to me, im based in london atm, but we’re just crying out for a regular club night/space. Something to build a music community. Obviously FWD comes to mind as the last thing in london but definitely been nothing since that i’m aware of (if you’re hiding it from me and the rest of the internet then well done, i take my hat off). If anyone’s going to some regular parties (monthly at least) which is getting their juices flowing then please chip in. Not just in london btw

and nice one for the thoughts @zurkonic. Will give that interview a read. Your mention of competitive or creative energy deffo gets me thinking about apple records and dubstep scene. Remember skream and benga going on about this. Producers bringing in their new tunes into the shop, playing it then and there, you’d either to get back to the studio because nobodies feeling it haha or others are inspired to hit the studio to try and top what you’ve done. I think having those personal relationships is pretty key here.
I deffo hear you with the neutrality and consensus points as well. Why i’ve come to this forum really as you get more dialogue and complexity, rather than clickbait stuff.

thanks for the link as well @weirdoslam, will deffo check this out as well.


also (i know it’s twitter) but this thread does relate to some of the things coming up here

arguments for both sides so deffo worth a read

barkers point that - ‘The people groaning are generally producers I feel. There’s a real crisis of revenue streams for less social folks who just want to sit in a studio and make music. And we need this type of person. I know a few of my favourite artists are about to throw in the towel and it’s sad…’ - resonated with me quite a bit


If you are moaning about having to network and the ‘fakeness’ of it, I think you are in the wrong business.


OK, I gotta say, that strikes me as a tad harsh. I certainly did not get the slightest sense that @spudrina was really “moaning” about the realities of being an artist but more just very understandably was venting about the way the industry has undeniably changed since social media. As someone who decided to get serious about DJ’ing at the age of 32 (I’m 34 now) and is at least old enough to have gone to events like SXSW in 2004 when social media wasn’t a thing and see the industry instantiated and I knew then it wasn’t for me (I don’t get social anxiety like that often, but jesus!) As @b60231 said,
“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”.”

Of course not. But we also can’t pretend like social media hasn’t brought its own concomitant issues that merit discussion. And clearly, it wouldn’t be brought up here and responded to if the need to discuss this issue in a constructive fashion didn’t exist for others as well. Furthermore, just from a mental health angle, the whole “pain is weakness leaving the body” macho attitude does not help…as far as I can tell, this forum exists to provide “dialogue and complexity” as @spudrina so aptly said. And I also feel it should provide support as well as not every artist excels at the networking aspect (I’m fucking terrible at it) but that should also not preclude anyone from trying to realize their passion. Social media is something that affects (virtually) everyone in the industry. Also, as someone who’s been given the “stop moaning” line about legit stuff too many times, that really touches a nerve off with me.

I have a terrible fucking toothache rn so I’ll reply to @spudrina’s post shortly, but had to at least say that much.


Well there has probably always been a bias towards extroverts in the entertainment business which make it hard for the introverted nerds (Yup this is the real ‘privilege’ aside from obvious talent you social justice types, heh). Although this was exactly what the 90s scene rebelled against: finally a way to get yourself heard as a faceless bedroom producer. And that’s perhaps changed in face of performing not selling records has become the main source of income. Now you need to have a face/ profile/ personality to make it. Then again I don’t even follow the newer producers on social media (the older ones are thankfully absent). Why should I? Most musicians are uninteresting outside their realm of expertise anyways.

Tbh I think artists should get a day job. Then all this BS and gaming the system will go away.


“Tbh I think artists should get a day job. Then all this BS and gaming the system will go away.”

OK, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that’s probably a bit of an over-simplification but also if I said I haven’t said the same thing. Personally, having worked in marketing 9-5’s for 10 years and realizing that office environments genuinely affect my mental health in a way freelancing doesn’t–though jesus christ, the stress of just eating, oy vey–having that sense of control in that my economic livelihood is in NO WAY TIED to my music interests/passions has been liberating. But I also think that it is a privilege and not everyone is built for office environments or freelancing…but as an artist, I do think these things help to cultivate certain skills and abilities–getting better at negotiating, networking, and all that other joyless bullshit.

The whole reason I got serious about using my site for music writing is that I’ve grown up around ‘professional’ music journos as well as label people and booking agents during my 11 years in Brooklyn and I knew from the jump, I can’t be that person to tell someone “great job” after a shit performance. And look, that’s a skill in itself…I have respect for those music journos who can do that while not getting sucked up in hype.

“Most musicians are uninteresting outside their realm of expertise anyways.”

Yeahhhhhh, they largely are…and I say this as someone whose friends are largely musicians/artists or work in that world. And I guess that’s where this thread might be fostering the different trains of thought that it is because actually being interesting on social media is genuinely a totally different thing from being “good” at it. This is something I was trying to articulate in my first response, that I often see people recoiling when you actually say an ‘opinion’ that is based largely in truth.

And as I think we’ve seen here and on social media as well, it really kind of encourages this “no-fucks” affectation with people offering ‘hot putdowns’ (that usually boil down to that tautological inanity “it is what it is”). But fuck, if we’ve even been in a moment that’s been better suited to at least possibly challenge the status quo in a constructive way (yes, I’m referring to #MeToo). Part of the reason I’ve never worked in the industry in an official capacity was that it was obvious that I would be expected to keep my mouth shut over shit I don’t keep my shut over. So many artists are just sheeple at the end of the day as well and social media fosters a herd mentality that really terrifies me. Realize I’ve tangented off a bit here but the pain meds are finally fucking working, christ.__


I think we are now (for the most part) in agreement that social media probably amplifies certain tendencies that have always played a role in art’s dissemination and that social media attempts to get users “addicted” in a way that is detrimental to their health broadly speaking.

However, I get the feeling that this discussion is slightly tainted by a rosy nostalgia for the “good old days” where talent (supposedly) was largely the deciding factor in which artists became big.

Just substitute “social media ship” for “party scene” or “concert scene” and you can easily imagine some kid in the 90s playing at home with a drum machine and not wanting to engage in a scene that they perceive as toxic. Or some musician in the 80s playing with their guitar.

I think bedroom producers have it much easier now in fact. They can upload their tracks to Soundcloud, Bandcamp or whatever and choose to promote their music with social media or not. And they have a good chance at developing an audience with or without social media - which is not something that you could say about some bedroom producer in pre-internet days.


You are right but in ancient times (90s) bedroom producers never dreamt of performing. They dreamt of making a living by producing -something that is harder these days. There were no live acts in the 90a and I honestly think this was better as most electronic music (still) translate very bad into live performance.


Artists dont produce better art by being better at networking. Quite the contrary. I know I was a bit harsh with my comments and obviously there are lots of counterexamples but working within a system where rules dictate certain ways of how to produce, present and contextualize you will compromise. Some of these compromises will be productive (like technical restraints or a need for ‘functionality’ within dance music) but some would (could) be restrictive such as profile maintenance, doing live performances, remixes, novelty tracks etc. That’s subjective what is compromising and what is not but it is hard to escape. I also do not think working within an arts grants system or being public funded is necessarily any better than working in a pure market based music/arts economy.


"Artists don’t produce better art by being better at networking. "

I 100% agree and didn’t even mean to imply that. I do, however, think that just, personally speaking, doing things I really don’t want to tend to help grow as a human and that very much does have an effect, however indirect, on my artistry…I also think setting limitations and rules can be wildly liberating. I was just trying to not write off networking all together as I can instantly think of many ways I’ve grown as a person doing that shit…and plenty of times I wanted to cease existing. It’s one big give and take.

And yeah, if I could reasonably apply to a goddamn grant, I probably would be somewhere different…not that there aren’t any here, but the writing ones are cut throat as hell. Right now I’m working within a system of limits called poverty…can’t say it’s been the best for my artistic output;)


Of course it is a good thing to practice what you’re not good at, although not if you really dislike it and cannot see yourself networking. Then it would possibly backfire. If I had the money I would spend unlimited amounts on select artists, but the public grants often - implicitly - expect certain artistic and aesthetic choices that would interfer too much. I am not a fan of UBI but some artists would do better with it I think.


a lot of people grind and stress for likes and followers, but to what end? 15 minutes on the breakneck news cycle? it’s grim. take your mind off the short term, make music for the ages, and you’ll find your peace.


Isn’t that a non-sequitur though? The problems with making a living from music have been around long before social media. The fact that is is more difficult to make a living as a musician may correlate with the rise of social media… but probably has its roots in the music industry upheaval in general, which started to occur in the late 90s and early 2000s well in advance of social media. Social media did not cause the problem of “bedroom producers” being unable to make a living off of music.

Edit: to restate a point I made above, it is also much easier to make money as a bedroom producer now than it was in the 90s due to the wealth of tools at your disposal - bandcamp being an easy example. Bedroom producers in the 90s could maybe send demos to Warp or whatever but besides that I don’t see them having so many options.


I hate to burst everyone’s bubble here but the vast majority of the people we’re discussing here are independently wealthy and neither require a day job nor the so-called money they’re making off their music.


the myth of the starving artist died out in my mind many years ago


Oh yeah it is not the fault of social media but it has its downsides. Globalization (tech accessibility is a subset of this) has just made it harder to be a big fish in a small pond. Now everyone got the whole world as potential fans but also potential competitors.

I’d like to know how many makes a living from producing only compared to predigital distribution.


Well…as someone who actually is a starving artist, I can’t entirely agree…but i don’t really see anyone really making any kind of sacrifices for their art. I mean, whenever I hear of a new label or party here, it takes about 5 minutes for one of my friends to point out that those people are trustfunders most of the time (not always tho, but quite a bit!)

Matt Werth owner of RVNG/FTS/BIS is a wonderfully nice and passionate man…but he’s also a trustfunder (or that’s what I’ve been told) and his store Commend has this odd neo-hippie vibe that just makes me think, if these people didn’t have money, they prolly wouldn’t be so “chill.” And that’s really not a dig, just an observation (cuz he really is a truly nice man). But it’s always telling if someone comes from money and owns a store/label/etc that seems to exist in its own world. I mean, Mexican summer anyone? I can think of far more local labels run by rich kids than I can those who come from Lower income backgrounds. As one music critic friend put it to me: “When you have four or five rich white guys fighting over releasing the new hot person-of-color reissue platter du jour, has anything really changed?”