Many social media critics (and skeptics) are warning people to not rely too heavily on social media or expect it to deliver your hopes and dreams on a silver platter with a nice pink bow. Jon Ostrow of CyperPR notes: “Social media is a conversation tool – that’s it,” and as Wes Davenport claims on Hypebot, social media won’t write your press releases, plot your tours, make your live performances better, or help manage your finances.
All these claims are true. Social media helps spread the word and isn’t the “answer” to saving the music industry from low record sales and pirating. However, there’s a flip-side to all of this. Think about all the businesses and companies that help artists from creative to financial matters that wouldn’t be possible in their current state without social media.
Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects. While it is a social network in its own right, it’s first and foremost a tool to help you raise money from an extended audience of people interested in your work. Artists like Amanda Palmer are known in the music industry for raising tons of money to help fund touring and album production, much of it done with the help of Kickstarter’s platform. She leveraged her existing social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks to bring fans to Kickstarter. If social media didn’t exist, it would be a lot harder for sites like Kickstarter to thrive because the users of the site are evangelists of the platform itself, bringing droves of people from other social networks onto the funding platform. It’s all a virtuous cycle, and the same is true for many other sites.
Other online services that can do things like manage your finances (think Mint or Betterment) or help you book gigs online (think Sonicbids or GigMaven) are all part of a growing number of services that leverage social media to grow. Without social media, many of these sites wouldn’t exist because people simply wouldn’t know about them. So, sure, as Wes Davenport argues you can’t have your career handed to you by merely having social media skills. However, social media is often the glue that helps the whole ecosystem grow. Of course at the end of the day all these tools that help us get things done also need to keep a sustainable career going, but that’s another discussion altogether.