Music Business

Halsey, Ed Sheeran, Charlie XCX and more have had it with social media

Halsey, Ed Sheeran, Charlie Puth, and more have all become tired of the constant publicity stunts and hold that social media has on their careers. Will their concerns make a difference?

by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0.

Halsey’s latest dust-up with her label about not posting enough on TikTok is just one of many from artists that are getting tired always having to post on social media. Other artists like Charlie Puth, Charlie XCX, and even Ed Sheeran have all commented about the constant pressure to create content for various social platforms. And let’s face it – for anyone who’s done that on a regular basis, it is a grind.

There Are 2 Reasons

Why are these artists rebelling against the desires of their record labels to become content machines? There are basically two reasons.

The first one can be traced back to the old MTV days when labels began signing artists for their looks, then demanded they produce videos for the then-new media platform. For an artist that only cared about creating music, making a video could viewed as a necessary evil, or it might be as dreaded as getting a day job.

Having to act out the lyrics to your sometimes personal or autobiographical song is the antithesis of playing music, but artists realized that they needed the marketing tool in order to be successful, so most decided to bite the bullet and act it out whatever way the director asked them to.

It’s the same thing today with the TikTok culture, where many artists are guided by their label or social media manager to do things on camera that feel totally unnatural solely for the sake of more views. The pushback is that they’re musical artists and not “content creators,” and that their lack of authenticity can be felt by the audience. Sometimes that happens, sometimes not so much.

It’s All About Time

Perhaps the bigger reason that social media is falling out of favor with artists is the time it takes to create the content. It doesn’t matter which platform you choose, creating something to post is time consuming, especially when it’s made to label marketing specifications. And video-based content destined for TikTok and YouTube is even more time intensive than social posts for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Make no mistake about it, social media is a demanding beast that’s always hungry for more. That demand never stops, and the pressure to continue creating eventually becomes so consuming that it can seriously eat into the time needed to create new music.

And that’s where artists want to draw the line.

It’s About Compromise

I think in the end this new reticence for social posting can be overcome via strategic planning from the label, social manager, management, or a combination of all three. Making a posting schedule that the artist doesn’t find overwhelming is the first step. 

Next comes defining just what kind of posts are needed and finding the comfort level of the artist around their creation and topics. If the artist is uncomfortable in one area (a TikTok dance or a too-revealing post, for example), then it’s up to the social manager to come up with something that the artist can live with and still fit with the marketing plan.

If you really look back at history, getting an artist to actively promote their music has never been easy, even way back to the 1950s. Good marketing benefits everyone though, especially the artist, so the best plan is the one that makes the artist the most comfortable.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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