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Social Media A Growing Concern For Aussie Artists

14 December 2022 | 2:33 pm | Mary Varvaris

A new report reveals the biggest challenges Australian artists are facing right now.

The second-ever GYROstream survey has tracked the most significant roadblocks Australian artists are currently facing. 

Doubling the survey size from the inaugural intake last year, the GYROstream team have collated responses from over 300 artists from Australia and New Zealand. Participants were asked how they distribute and promote their music in the digital and social media-led era, the biggest challenges, and how viable a music career is for up-and-coming independent artists.

The ubiquitous presence of social media, marketing and promotional potential, and its dominance in how people discover new content is causing concern among the people surveyed. In 2022, the results found that the most important aspects of promoting new releases are getting on playlists and gaining social media engagement. 

Instagram is the most widely-used social media platform, with the exceptional success TikTok has on streaming numbers appearing in people's answers. Viral videos on TikTok are predominantly generated through consistent use of the app with organic content, while paid, promotional, or influencer-driven content rarely breaks through, as one study by Cinq Music Group reported. 

Meanwhile, artists cited exposure as the main hurdle to finding success in the music industry. More worrying; however, 30% of respondents said income was a barrier to pursuing a career in music. 

View GYROstream infographics from the survey below.

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In a The Music article written by Tyler Jenke earlier this year on the rise of digital burnout, US musician Halsey took to TikTok to explain that the release of their latest song had been halted by their record label, who claim that “a viral moment on TikTok” is needed to accompany (and thereby promote) its arrival.

“Basically, I have a song that I love that I wanna release ASAP,” Halsey explained to fans. “But my record label won’t let me.” 

“My record company is saying that I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on tiktok,” the You Asked For This singer added. “Everything is marketing. I just want to release music, man. And I deserve better tbh.”

Of course, Australian artists aren’t immune to this sort of pressure either. Recently, Melbourne alt-rock stalwarts Motor Ace returned to the fold, sharing their first new single since 2005 after their reformation four years prior. Having come up in the age where the traditional press circuit was the standard method of marketing, the group have found a need to ensure a frequent presence on platforms such as Facebook.

“We unfortunately or fortunately didn't stay in touch with audiences as we finished up in 2005, and then releasing music nearly 20 years later, it's not an easy task,” explains drummer Damo Costin. “We simply just jumped back in recently and needed to remind fans of the journey we were once on all together as artists and fans.”

Fellow Victorian rockers Kingswood have also experienced the need to shift their marketing over to various social media platforms, though in their early days, it almost felt as though the writing was on the wall that the digital age would be the one they found their career rooted in.

“I remember we burnt CDs of our demos to hand out at our very first shows,” recalls vocalist Fergus Linacre. “And the way we got people to shows in Melbourne was through word of mouth. Without radio play, there wasn’t really a way to reach a bigger audience. Myspace had long died, and Facebook was starting to make an impact. 

“The good thing was if you posted on Facebook, it actually went out to all your followers. Now you have to pay to reach your own people.”