It can be difficult for the average consumer to sift through the musical talent that Utah has to offer residents. Some may feel the music scene is bursting at the seams. It is important for artists in the digital age to develop a brand and market themselves if they want recognition at even a local level.
More and more artists are beginning to harness social media and promote their posts, curating their content to grow an online audience with hopes to translate that audience into a physical one.
“Social media is everything,” Bri Ray, a local artist and social media influencer with almost 10,000 Instagram followers, said. “A lot of times, labels aren’t looking for talent anymore. They’re looking for audiences. Building up your social media is the best way to gain exposure and to build your audience. If you’re doing music and you’re not on social media, then good luck.”
Other local artists turned influencers include noted hip-hop artist James Curran, or JTM, formerly known as James the Mormon. With a verified Instagram platform and over 63,000 followers, Curran turned his online presence into a devoted audience, grabbing brand deals with cookie company Chip and the Jazz Playoff halftime show.
“I feel like social media is for music here the same way it is used in (every other music scene),” Curran said. “I got my start off with (Latter-day Saints) sharing my early music on Facebook when they were using it to do missionary work.”
With digital media rising in relevance and becoming a major marketing tool, it’s no wonder that Utah musicians are harnessing that power to drive fans to their shows and online streaming platforms.
“Social media is part of the scene in every way. Personally, I just use it to let people know what I’m doing and try and be as transparent as possible about who I am as an artist,” said Tal Haslam, a local solo artist and frontman for the band Idiot Kid. Haslam said he mainly uses his platform to promote new shows, songs and post clips of complicated guitar riffs and covers.
Growing artists, like local R&B singer and performer Batchlor Johnson IV, use their platforms and followers to promote their talents without having to pay huge marketing dollars. This method of mass marketing has gotten many smaller artists in the sights of music executives, as well as other celebrities.
Johnson IV’s Instagram grassroots marketing has gotten his Soundcloud remixes to 10,000 streams, and his freestyle videos at least 2,000-3,000 views.
Social media doesn’t only increase local interaction with artists, it also gets their foot in the door at a national level. With online streaming platforms dominating physical album sales, artists know it’s all the more important to translate their Instagram audience into online streams.