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It’s not unusual to wake up and scroll through your Instagram feed and spot Miley smoking a joint, Chris Brown firing back at his ex, or Selena sporting a barely anything. It’s funny to think about how a few years ago, artists were attacked by the public for questionable things the media captured them doing. Drugs and alcohol caught on photo were heavily scrutinized by fans and the younger the artist, the worse the backlash was. However, the rising of social media and its ubiquity has transformed how fans view artists; social media gives artists a platform to connect with the public on a personal level that is free from media intervention. The line musicians have through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat engage fans in a way that traditional news coverage never could in that they provide unfiltered, real content directly from the artist them.

However, the uncensored stream of content has its concerns to many artists’ PR teams. Some artists do not manage their social media accounts as they do not have time for it or just don’t want to while others have complete control over theirs. This is where issues start to arise, as artists post whatever they want whenever they want without any consulting. Miley Cyrus has used social media to help transform her Disney Channel, good girl image into the crazy stoner image she now has, posting pics of herself with blunts on Instagram almost daily. Sky Ferriera broke away from her teen pop-star image by projecting her new badass and IDGAF vibes across Instagram and Facebook as well.

Screenshot taken from @skyferreira Instagram account

Screenshot taken from @skyferreira Instagram account

Despite the fact that artists are posting more controversial things on their accounts, they are none the less reaching mass audiences in a super efficient way. Celebrity subtweeting has become somewhat expected from those in the entertainment industries, and it’s no surprise when Kanye or Nicki Minaj get in senseless fights with other artists. The interesting thing is the amount of traction that these scandalous photos or petty tweets gain. Fans thrive off of every new post made by their favorite artist, so following them across every social media platform becomes key. The more racy or controversial the post, the more people will talk and the more attention these artists will receive, increasing their fanbase with minimal effort.

As Harriet Gibsone discusses in an article published in The Guardian, the reason behind artists posting these attention-grabbing photos is up for debate: do they post them because they feel artistically inclined to, just as a form of self expression? Or do they post them to attract greater media attention, build hype, and perhaps promote their content? Obviously artists use social media to promote their music, brands, clothing lines, and anything else they want. Social media is heavily used as a marketing tool and artists aren’t afraid to express that.

However, the fact that social media is used for promotion is key. The question we should be asking is is social media helping the music industry or damaging it? It’s clear that social media is powerful enough to create hype for an album that won’t be released for months on end, but reckless usage by artists who believe that anything they want to post is fine and dandy might not always be the way to go. Artists amass many fans through social media, however, they also tend to attract many ‘haters’ through the hateful, biased, and sometimes blatant lies they post. Social media is a double edged sword and artists must be sure to use it carefully, as it can either boost their success and profitability, or taint their image and discourage people from buying their music.

Harriet Gibsone’s article: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/feb/19/social-media-damaging-music-industry-pr-twitter-kanye-west

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3 thoughts on “Does posting racy pics and mean tweets increase artists’ success?

  1. This is an interesting topic, and definitely an important one as we look at how social media affects our social interactions and expectations of each other. One of the questions you pose here is whether artists use social media for creative expression or self-marketing. I think the answer is the same as it would be if you were talking about non-celebrities as well. In our class discussions, many people have stated creative sharing and exploration as a key motivation for using social media, whereas many people also use it to share their work and present a specific image of themselves to the public. The difference between your average millennial and your celebrity icon, however, is the huge mass following and the expectations that come with it. If I posted something somewhat racy, or artistically daring, or made a bold statement on my social media, it may get a hundred likes or tens of comments, and perhaps someone would mention it to me in person. If I had celebrity status and did the same thing, there would be reporters and think pieces on every website either checking or analyzing the post. I think, too, that a big part of the drama behind celebrities on social media is that there is a cycle of people being obsessed with celebrities online, fueling a ton of content not only by celebrities but about them and their social media presence, which just hypes them up to fans even more. The coverage and following of celebrities on social media is just as impactful in their reception as the posts themselves.

  2. Great post on the effects of social media on the music industry, and I like how you presented several contrasting examples. One of them being Rihanna promoting her Stance sock line, but also Kanye West and his Twitter rampage. Here, Kanye is utilizing social media to gain publicity. Kanye’s recent Tweets have been stigmatized for their obnoxiousness, but he shook the entire internet. Miley Cyrus getting caught with drugs through social media evokes attention to her and helps maintain her presence in the media. This goes to show that bad publicity is still publicity. Whether if it is benign publicity like that of Rihanna’s Stance sock promotion or one of Kanye’s Twitter splurges, social media has made publicity so much easier to gain, and since all publicity is good publicity I’d say that social media is a contributor to artists’ global success.

    Celebrities have different approaches to social media. In class and in the readings we learned about roles on social media. You have the “oversharer”, which is what Kanye could be perceived as, as he indulges in Tweeting about his personal life, relationship with Kim, and his financial situation. There’s Jaden Smith, who Tweets absurd things, and he can be perceived as an “attention seeker”. Then there are the older, more mature celebrities who present themselves as “packed selves”, such as Will Smith, who refrain from posting obnoxious things on social media and instead post things that make them come off as proper, polished individuals. Hence, all publicity is good publicity, and social media enables celebrities to portray themselves in whatever role they want at the touch of their fingertips.

  3. I definitely think that the whole “sex sells” idea is true and in my opinion this extends to any image that is shocking or features someone doing something illegal or unusual. I don’t necessarily think that is because consumers are looking for that in particular but because sexy or racy pictures are controversial people start talking. So long as people are talking, the celebrity remains relevant which is what I think their objective is. I don’t know so much about the “realness” of these kinds of images because I think a lot of what we see on social networking sites is staged but like I said, it’s just to get people talking. For example, everything Kim Kardashian seems to do appears to be for the sole purpose of garnering more media attention. I think this is especially visible in her #breaktheinternet campaign where she was featured nude on the front cover of a magazine that was controversial in many different ways. Now that celebrities can make money off of social media sites, I think all they care about is gaining more followers and an easy way to do that is to keep posting things that are racy or unexpected to keep people hooked on following them. So in response to one of your questions, I think that yes, racy images make artists more successful. I think there are more people willing to track and put up with their crazy antics than there are people who are seriously offended. And even those people who are offended help the celebrity when they criticize them because the online commentary makes the celebrity start trending on social media sites.

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