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social media promotion

Musicians, Mental Health and The Propagandist Mind Trap of Social Media

Social Media

Social media may have reinvented the wheel for music promotion. Yet, the spokes can easily become nails in the mental health coffin for independent artists as they attempt to negate the most nefarious parts of the necessary evil.

Post-the-pandemic, which many people (myself naively included) thought would bring the best out in people, social media has become even more of a toxic landscape where users are emboldened by their lack of accountability.

Hate speech has only become more prolific, especially towards marginalised groups, including members of the LGBTQI+ community and ethnic minorities. Vindicated in echo chambers, social media contrarians are disinhibited, impulsive, and downright schadenfreudistically obnoxious.

Trolls aside, the comparison trap, spring-loaded with low self-esteem, envy, and the compulsive desire to compete, creates a culture of hostility and negativity as idealised lives are projected for validation. And this is the arena artists are expected to pour their exposed souls, daily lives, and vulnerability into? Gladiators in Rome probably had an easier cognitive time in the Colosseums.

Artists in the brightest spotlights often get the most brutal brunt of social media toxicity after their privacy barriers are torn down by their large audiences. The strain of parasocial relationships can all too easily push them away from their music careers after they see the lack of restraint exhibited by social media commentators who feel free to ridicule public figures as they please as they perceive their success and financial security as a lack of necessity for empathy and common decency. You would be forgiven for assuming that pedestals are only constructed so people can be pelted down from them.

In 2022, Dua Lipa called out the toxic currency of social media following her viral dance video that debuted in 2017. Following a blow to her self-esteem and her decision to remove herself from Twitter, she gained some perspective. Yet, independent artists who need to be constantly on the social media ball to promote new music and tours can’t share the same luxury.

The pop artist Chelsea Cutler also exposed how exhausting it can be to turn daily lives into content, especially when she knows that the time spent away from her phone is when she feels the best mentally. It has been a part of the mainstream consensus that social media can quickly deconstruct mental fortitude for the past decade. Yet, there hasn’t been much talk on how hard it is for musicians and other creatives can protect their serotonin and sanctity while putting themselves out there and finding ways to transform their daily realities into like, comment and share content fodder.

At this stage in the social media game, it is unlikely that any overhauls will happen to moderate online behaviour or that the masses will feel the proclivity to gain a conscience, which puts the onus on artists to be more mindful of how they negate social media promotion.

I won’t attempt to pinpoint the entirety of the musician’s mental health crisis on how social media exposes artists to soul-destroying commentaries on their appearance and other deeply personal facets of their lives. But social media stressors aren’t helping to remedy the fact that in 2019, 80% of independent musicians aged 18 – 25 stated that their careers have contributed to stress, anxiety, and depression.

How Artists Can Protect Themselves from Social Media Burnout

Challenge Your Core Beliefs

All too often, online popularity and engagement are inaccurately conflated against success away from social media. Despite how well our real lives are going, that dread of making a post and tumbleweed rolling across it can deflate the achievements that are celebrated on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter when they don’t garner the same attention as when a popular influencer posts a new vanity shot and leaves followers clamouring over the superficial content.

One of the best ways for artists to stick around on social media without letting it take its toll is to remove the core belief that everyone else is doing better. Even if you are at the very top of your game, there will always be someone with an inane feed that garners more engagement and attention than your music posts. We are in the age of the influencer, not the era of the artist. You can’t play by those fame-trap rules by remaining authentic. Recognise social media as the propaganda of success, not the reality of it.

Learn How Social Media Can Sap Creativity

Creativity requires an incredible amount of emotional, mental, and sometimes physical energy due to the focus required and cognitive function spent on developing new ideas, generating new possibilities, and solving problems. The mind creating new connections can take up major mental bandwidth; that is without the mentally draining toll of taking risks and being outside your comfort zone in vulnerable and unfamiliar ways. As the cherry on the exhaustion cake, the creative process is not linear, which leads to even more frustration.

For independent artists, the work is far from over there. In the words of an independent artist

“Independent artists are compared, often to signed artists, but in order to compete on a fast-moving global stage, the artist has to become media manager, publicist, graphic designer/art director, administrator/accountant, booker/plugger/promoter, marketing director, playlist co-ordinator, Spotify manager, etc. etc. etc. I estimate if I spent a week just doing ‘band stuff’ and cut out family/friends, and all my other work commitments, less than 5% of that week would go on actual creative art, songwriting, practice etc. The rest is on promo, gig bookings, management, and all the other extraneous shit that 20 years ago, we’d have a legion of label people to do for us. Now, indie artists have to do all that stuff because it is expected – if you don’t, you fall behind the curve of signed artists and the other artists who either DO do it, or have the money or people behind them to help them do it.”

Now, contemplate how social media, by its toxic competitive you-should-be-doing-better nature, can amplify the feeling of exhaustion, overwhelm, anxiety, stress, and depression. Multiple studies have shown that heavy social media use can lead to self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

Without being mindful of how you are spending your online time, how much time you spend glued to apps, how it hinders your productivity and how you feel when you’re using them, you’re going to smell the smoke from being burnt the fuck out.

Set Digital Boundaries

When you are feeling particularly mentally fragile, know that taking a social media break will never be the end of the world. Especially when the benefits are outweighed by mental health ramifications.

The need to be constantly on top of your notifications is also an unnecessary condition you are putting on yourself. Silencing notifications can help you to take control of your social media habits, which can easily lead to dopamine addictions. Every time we get a new follower, like, comment or share, we get a mini shot of dopamine, but the effects are only fleeting, and the comedown will eventually hit.

Research has also proven that having an unhealthy relationship with your phone leads to mental laziness; our smartphones are rewiring our brains to crave instant gratification. I probably don’t have to outline why that is so detrimental to the mind of a musician. But it goes a long way in proving why viral fame has become so much more alluring than a sustainable music career which allows you to express yourself freely.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Is TikTok the New Myspace for (Not Just Gen Z) Unsigned Artists?

If you experienced Myspace, no matter what TikTok does (we are talking about the platform here, not the creators, before you start bemoaning the dance moves and the lip-syncing proclivities), it will probably never scratch the nostalgic itch.

For younger independent artists oblivious to the culture of Myspace, there is little hesitation to jump on what became the most visited website in 2021. You can see it as a sad sign of the times that users spend more than 850 minutes every month on the app, or you can also see it as one of the best opportunities the internet has extended to artists looking to cast their digital net wider.

Just about anything can go viral on TikTok, proven by the sea shanty trend in 2021. And for anyone that thinks TikTok is for ingrates who blasphemously appropriate music culture, think again. 40% of active users of TikTok have a monthly music subscription, compared to 25% of the general population. Even more remarkably, only 9% of the general population frequently buy merch; for TikTok users, it is 17%. That is before you consider how many users get inspired by music before putting it into their posts.

TikTok has become so vital to the music industry that publishers change track names to how they are referred to on TikTok. And don’t forget about the deal signed between UnitedMasters and TikTok in 2021. 

What We Can Learn from the Legacy of Myspace

Myspace used to be one of the best platforms for music discovery. Facebook may have left it dead and buried but social media is still the number 1 method of discovering music for Gen Z and Millennial music fans, followed by YouTube videos, recommendations from friends, radio, TV shows, and soundtracks.

In 2022, TikTok is as renowned for its viral video humour as it is famous for launching new artists’ careers. Lil Nas X, Tai Verdes, Loren Gray, and Baby Ariel have TikTok to thank for their stratospheric fame and revered positions in the music industry.

The other remarkable feat of Myspace was its networking capabilities; it became a place for artists to create genuine connections with fans, other bands, venues, and other figureheads in the music industry.

Newsflash, it is still easy to create connections online. The real issue with music promotion in 2022 isn’t the inability to make those connections; it is the undeniable oversaturation in the music industry; there are more artists on Spotify than people living in Hong Kong. The fault does not lie with the technology of today. The fault lies within the cramped confines of the industry, filled with fame-hungry chancers looking for adoration and easy money. The good news is that these narcissistic hacks are easily separable from talented artists. The difference lies within the art and the effort to ensure it is heard. Now, there are more platforms than ever to expand your reach and collect royalties.

How the SoundOn Feature Became a Game Changer for Unsigned Artists

In 2022, TikTok launched its new SoundOn initiative across the US and the UK to support unsigned artists. The feature allows artists to licence their tracks for use on the platform via the partner streaming service, Resso. 

The SoundOn feature enables artists to upload music and earn royalties. In the first year, artists will receive 100% of their royalties; after that, it drops to a still very reasonable 90%. As the cherry on the self-promo cake, the feature also offers a range of promotional tools and support.

Anyone Can Go Viral on TikTok

TikTok has become one of the ultimate equalisers of our technology-driven times. Forget Twitter, which leaves sycophants in a frenzy every time the object of their infatuation Tweets about their breakfast and bowel movements and ignores the voices that deserve to be heard.

Forget Facebook, which will all too happily effectively leave you screaming into the void while you are attempting to promote your new single, album, merch or tour. To go viral on TikTok, you don’t need thousands or millions of followers at your disposal or a massive social media marketing budget; all you need is a little creativity; which should be something that artists have in abundance.

How to Create Viral Worthy Posts to Promote Your Music on TikTok

Keep it short and sweet. TikTok may be a great platform, but it can’t lengthen the tragically short attention span of social media users. 8 – 15 seconds seems to be the sweet spot. So, share the hookiest segment of your new track or the most eye-grabbing fragment of your new music video.

Stay in trend. Even if you don’t bow to the mainstream trends with your music, if you want TikTok success, you might have to make an exception to that rule. Head to the discover page to find out what is trending in your niche and make the algorithms take your content to new heights.

Don’t use generic hashtags. When finalising your TikTok posts, don’t be tempted to use the most obvious tags. Do a deep dive on the trending tags for your niche on the platform itself, and utilise sites such as

– Collaborate with popular creators. Influencers, including TikTok influencers, are becoming increasingly valuable for independent artists looking for effective music promotion. As the adage goes, if you can’t beat them, join them! Offer your music for other popular creators in your niche to use in their videos.


I don’t want to get all Dr Pepper on you, but what is the worst that can happen if you choose to invest some of your time in promoting your music on the platform? In 2020, 70 unsigned artists snagged major record label deals, which may not sound too impressive, given the number of independent artists releasing music. But getting signed to a label isn’t the be-all and end-all for artists anymore. With a loyal enough following, there is no stopping independent artists from being able to fund their music careers and running things on their terms.

Amelia Vandergast