Navigating the Social Media Jungle: How Artists Can Find the Right Balance

Nicolas Schuele
5 min readApr 3, 2023

Artists are not exempt from the trend that social media has become an indispensable component of our life. These platforms, despite the fact that they give a world of opportunity for networking, sharing, and learning, also present their fair share of difficulties. Because there is such a massive volume of content readily available, it might be difficult for artists to maintain their concentration on their work. I’ll do my best to share my thoughts on the use of “content farms,” as I like to refer to them.

Overwhelmed!

It’s Not All That Bleak

First, let’s look at the bright side. The advent of social media has greatly facilitated communication between creative individuals all over the world. YouTube, Instagram, and other such platforms have made it much easier for creatives to share their work, processes, and ideas with one another, fostering new possibilities for cooperation and inspiration. In addition, creatives have convenient access to numerous resources that can help them improve their abilities and keep up with new developments in their profession. Participating in a virtual community can provide the inspiration and critique that creative minds need to flourish.

At the Expense of Creation

There is, however, another aspect to consider. It might be difficult for creative people to ignore the abundance of content on social media in favor of their own work. It’s easy to let the Fear of Missing Out derail your workday and cause you to lose focus. The urge to publish new content and keep up an online profile might even drown out the creative process. In an effort to maintain their audience and social standing in a world driven by social media is that artists are under a lot of pressure to keep making easy-to-digest content. Often, this kind of content doesn’t fit with the artist’s true passions or creative vision, but it helps them keep their online presence and relevance. The idea is to make content that quickly grabs people’s attention and can be read or watched in seconds or minutes, since people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. As a result, the need for online recognition can cause artists to prioritize quantity over originality.

I’m tired of hearing musicians be told they’re not investing enough energy in social media content. How is a young artist expected to put in enough time to get great at their craft when they need to feed all these content channels? The time they spent generating mind numbing “content” might have been at the expense of the best song they never wrote.

Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park)

For many artists, this pressure to create easy content can be a source of frustration and dissatisfaction. They might find themselves spending more time making content for social media than on their art, which might be more complicated or require the audience to pay more attention. This can make them feel like they have to choose between keeping up with the digital world and staying true to their artistic vision.

The Comparison Trap

The comparison trap is another significant challenge that artists face in the age of social media. It’s nearly impossible for them not to compare their own progress and achievements to those of others as they scroll through endless feeds filled with their peers’ work. Constant exposure to the work of countless artists can lead to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and, in extreme cases, creative paralysis. The comparison trap frequently focuses on other artists’ career highlights, such as awards, exhibitions, or viral successes, while ignoring the countless hours of hard work, practice, and failure that led to those accomplishments. This distorted perception can give the impression that everyone else is achieving success effortlessly, while the artist is struggling to keep up. And no one likes to feel left behind, right?

Furthermore, constant comparison can result in a loss of originality and authenticity. When artists are overly concerned with how their work compares to that of others, they may unconsciously begin to imitate successful styles or trends rather than pushing the boundaries of their own creativity. This can lead to a homogenization of artistic styles as artists become more concerned with fitting into a mold rather than expressing their distinct voice. It somewhat mimics what is known as the Lemmings Effect.

Lemmings (1991)

To break free from the comparison trap, artists must first recognize the negative effects it can have on their creative process and mental health. Artists can learn to appreciate their own journey, focus on their personal growth, and develop their unique artistic style by cultivating a mindset of self-awareness and self-compassion, rather than getting caught up in the never-ending cycle of comparison.

The Artist-to-Artist Paradox

The phenomenon known as the artist-to-artist paradox is an intriguing aspect of the social media landscape in the art world. This paradox occurs when artists, in their pursuit of online recognition, inadvertently target their content primarily at their peers rather than their intended audience. This dynamic is especially noticeable in certain online art communities and content formats, where artists are more likely to be found interacting with one another than with potential fans, collectors, or patrons.

Consider a composer who begins creating tutorials or educational content in order to gain followers and social proof. While fellow composers may value their expertise and knowledge, their content may not be as appealing to the general public or potential fans of their music. This self-referential cycle can inadvertently limit an artist’s exposure to a broader audience, reducing their chances of achieving broader success in their respective market.

In the long run, this artist-to-artist paradox can lead to an echo chamber in which artists are more concerned with impressing their peers and gaining validation within their niche community than with engaging their target audience. As a result, they may pass up opportunities to broaden their reach, connect with potential fans or clients, and, ultimately, build a long-term career in their field.

A Step Back for a Better Focus

Considering all these factors, it might be a good idea for artists to step back from content consumption and creation, and instead, put more emphasis on their own art. By focusing on developing and refining their craft, artists can create work that truly resonates with their intended audience.

Being part of the online community has its benefits, but it’s important to find a balance between being online and growing as an artist. By putting the creative process first and not getting too caught up in the social media whirlwind, artists can connect with their audience in a more genuine way, which will help them be successful in their field while being recognized for their art.

Imagine the amazing works of art that could have been created if the time spent making yet another shocked face YouTube thumbnail had been focused on actual creativity…

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Nicolas Schuele

Film composer creating music for character-driven dramas. My evocative scores are featured on Apple TV, Netflix, National Geographic, NBC, BBC, and more.