Local and international professionals in social media are advising Jamaican and Caribbean artistes to make good use of the impetus that social media can provide for their careers.
Speaking recently at the Island Music Conference (IMC) in Kingston, Cassandra Campbell, brand marketing strategist at mega technology conglomerate Meta- owners of Facebook, Instagram, as well as WhatsApp- noted that consumption of entertainment has taken on a more virtual nature, especially since the rise of social media, and it is easy, and even necessary for artistes and other creatives to use the platforms to their advantage.
“If you don’t have access, you can’t participate in social media. It’s virtually everything [and] it’s clear, it’s simple and easy to engage in. You just have to take the first step in participating-getting off the bench
and getting involved,” she urged entertainers.
Digital and social media manager at The Jamaica National Group, Kevin Clarke, agreed, pointing out that social media gives artistes and musicians access to the world, and that it is important for them to make use of it by prioritising engagement and being consistent in their use of various platforms.
“It is important for the artiste to focus on the engagement and build on that because the audience will come,” Mr. Clarke said.
“Everybody is now into Afrobeats, partly because of being exposed to it on platforms like TikTok, and I think that is one of the things when we talk about levelling the playing field- that persons are able to get access in a way that they never had before and now they can even get discovered because of what they are doing on social media. Look at Koffee [for example],”he explained. Koffee rose to popularity after sharing a video of her singing and playing her guitar via her Instagram account in 2017.
Brittany Lewis, artist partnerships lead, black music & culturefor YouTube Shorts, said while she agrees that social media levels the playfield for artistes and other creatives, and providespeople with greater access, it also gives consumers and fans more choices, which can affect output.
“So that’s more time to get distracted with other artistes and it causes artistes to always have to be thinking about the next best thing or how they can trend, and maybe not necessarily [about]the art, not the music. Because they may be thinking about:‘How am I going to grab such and such’s attention? How do I get more fans by doing XYZ?’ So, I do think social media is a gift and a curse [at the same time],” she pointed out.
She added that artistes also compromise on originality and try to emulate or copy what they believe have seen working for others on social media.
“Pre-internet, you would make music that was around your environment. If you don’t use social media correctly, it can be a little bit of copy, paste, repeat,” she argued. When asked to expound on the negatives, Miss Lewis revealedthat she has personally dealt with many artistes who have become obsessed with reading comments on their posts, which can be, at times, very negative, and affect mental health. She also said oversharing on social media has ruined the careers of several artistes. Being good at social media, she advised, requires balance.
Bizzle Osikoya, entertainment consultant and owner of The Plug Entertainment Limited agreed with Miss Lewis. Referencing an artiste with whom he works, he noted that the entertainerachieved fame from using social media, but has since become 'depressed’ and often remarks about feeling like a failure,because they have not had a hit as big as their last major record.
“I [told the artiste] that things are happening for you, but you keep focusing on trying to beat your own record. [They] had the highest views for a video on YouTube and someone recently beat the views and [they] got upset. It’s not about beating views. At the end of the day, you’re a musician, you’re an artiste to make great music for people to enjoy,” he said.
The Island Music Conference was held from February 8-12 in observance of Reggae Month and featured artistes, managers, producers, and communication agencies from across the Caribbean and the world. It was founded by multi-platinum artiste and two-time Grammy winner Orville ‘Shaggy’ Burrell; Sharon Burke, co-founder and president of the Solid Agency Company, a booking agency, and Judith-Ann Bodley, media consultant, manager and programmer and also PR affiliate with the Solid Agency.
The Jamaica National Group sponsored the event and also had representatives speak on life insurance and financial literacy at the five-day event.