Provo musicians get their big breaks via social media stars

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Provo is home to quite a few social media stars who have used digital tools to make their living doing what they love: producing music and entertainment.

One musically talented couple became Vine-famous literally overnight.

Kenzie Nimmo and Harris Heller, two former BYU students, quit their jobs for a year to pursue their musical careers through social media. “We made a goal to make up in one year the wages we were making at our job by doing what we love — creating music,” Nimmo said. “It seemed crazy and risky at the time, but we were determined, and somehow we made it work out.”

With the rise of social media over the past decade came the rise of social media superstars. It seems that, with the right content to catch attention and maybe a little luck, average people can watch their posts go viral as they rake up hundreds and thousands of followers.

Along with the increase of social media stars, monetizing social media to sustain an income has become increasingly attainable as social media evolves.

The first six months of that year weren’t easy for Nimmo and Heller. They posted musical cover videos on Vine five times every week with little success.

Nimmo had the idea to cover the song “Cool Kids” by Echosmith, while impersonating nerds and cool kids for the storyline. Heller made impressive edits to the six-second clip, and they posted it just as they had with every other video before.

The next morning they woke up to 300,000 interactions on the video and followers raking up by the thousands as the day went on. Since then, the couple has experienced tremendous success. Nimmo now has 1.2 million followers on Vine, 199,000 followers on Instagram and 15,700 followers on Twitter.

“There are a lot of doors and opportunities opened to us now as a result of our rise on Vine,” Nimmo said. “And through microcontent advertising we have been able to make up what we were making at our previous day jobs, plus some.”

Microcontent advertising has risen to be a major player in brand marketing. Social media stars, such as Nimmo and Heller, are paid by brands and companies to implement their products in their social posts. The posts simply act as marketing tools.

According to an article written about microcontent marketing in the New York Times, “Advertisers are tapping popular personalities and characters on Vine, owned by Twitter, to make microcommercials in the same spirit and style that made the social media account popular in the first place.”

Nimmo and Heller recently worked with Nordstrom, which put out a six-second Vine video on their channel for brand awareness and promotion, and the couple got paid for the partnership.

John Allred, a prominent figure in the Utah music scene over the past decade, explained how social media is changing the music industry. “It’s not essential for artists to even tour anymore,” Allred said. “It’s strange, artists can literally make a living by producing music in their homes and hope it catches fire.”

Allred discussed how the generations and demographics to target as an audience is key for rising on social media. Because the heavy users of social media are generally younger kids in school, artists have to take that into consideration when creating content.

“Many people think it doesn’t take a lot of effort to do this for a living,” Allred said. “When in reality a lot of people kill themselves perfecting this art. It takes passion and determination to create viral videos. I see people every day looking like they’re on their deathbeds trying to master the content.”

As an artist who has already toured internationally and has seen how the industry is evolving, Allred himself is now beginning to integrate himself into social media platforms. He believes social media can now be the gateway to bigger success than he has already seen from touring and will help propel his musical career.

“These days in music, you need to be the jack of all trades,” Allred said. “You need to be able to write and record your own videos; you need to do everything. Social media is now a skill to master on top of all of that.”

Former BYU students, Brenden Bytheway and Scott Wimm also know about being well rounded in the music industry. The two friends have been creating music and social content together for a few years and got their big break by producing music for Devin Supertramp’s epic adventure videos on YouTube.

With songwriting skills, musical skills, and filmmaking skills, Bytheway and Wimm have gained a major following on their YouTube channel. “Gaining a strong social following comes down to distribution of content,” Bytheway said. “We gained initial exposure through Devin because he already had a good following, which led to a gateway of producing successful stuff on our own channel.”

One video Bytheway and Wimm produced, for the song “Kitten Air,” features kittens with capes flying through the air. Finding creative ways to use social media to promote their music has allowed Bytheway and Wimm to continue to pursue their passion.

The two explained how passion and determination drive their success and attract collaborative companies to work with them. “If we aren’t being driven by our passion, then we aren’t succeeding,” Wimm said. “As soon as we started making truly quality content and making a name for ourselves, that’s when brands started reaching out to us.”

Bytheway added, “Our dreams and goals are constantly changing as the social media world is constantly changing. We can’t wait to see what’s ahead.”

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