We live in a world that’s got a very short attention span. Dance music producers often aim to make the loudest track, the most engaging track, and that concept gets expanded upon in a DJ set. The idea carries beyond that as well, to the way artists and DJs engage with their fans. In pursuit of audience engagement, artists often feel compelled to scream louder, to make the most noise, whether it be on social media or on the dancefloor.
To be fair, this approach can work when it is part of the style and personality of the artist — really going for it, getting a reaction. But it’s not for everyone. Some producers are actually quite reclusive, shy beings (as I sometimes consider myself). I believe there is another way.
It’s interesting to consider how we define success in dance music these days. For many casual onlookers it tends to be measured through social media platforms—how much reach an artist has, their number of YouTube views, or even their ranking on the DJ Mag poll. To me this is akin to judging a company based on its share price without examining the real fundamentals of the business.
Social media can be an addictive outlet at times for artists, and I admit I’m guilty of this myself. I’ll send out a tweet and watch the numbers of retweets rising like a scoreboard, like playing a computer game. But the truth is that none of these social platforms actually measure whether a music fan is truly engaged and listening to the music, and many of these numbers can be fairly easily manipulated, just like stock prices. Those of us who recently watched the rather public Instagram purge of fake followers can surely relate to this.
What you can’t so easily manipulate, however, is real demand for music sales and real demand for ticket sales. Those traditional elements of the music business are still at the core of what is valuable. I would include statistics such as Spotify streams and merchandise sales, but not how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers an artist has. It’s the music that is the fundamental product after all, not a viral video or a funny Snapchat.
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