Twitter has hit a stride. Million upon millions of users take to the service to send quick 140 character messages to their subscribers through what has been termed “tweets.” Users also manage to retweet which is essentially copy another’s “tweet” onto their own subscriber base, and users can personally reply to other individuals “tweets” to, also, be posted as their own “tweet” to anyone who has subscribed.
There is entirely too much “tweeting” going on here. With so much tweeting, and so many ways to network, a message spreads like wildfire throughout the tweetosphere (I totally made this up, please let it catch on!).
With that said, Twitter finds many users getting in trouble for things they wouldn’t have gotten in trouble if they just kept their mouth shut. Even further, musicians and famous celebrities alike find Twitter to be an excellent outlet to reach fans. Yet with so many followers and the fact that sarcasm and specific vocal tones aren’t always picked up well, Twitter is a breeding ground for social interaction and quick widespread message. It’s almost the representative force of modern technology and spreading messages. We joke about how technology has advanced our ability to communicate and spread news quickly. Yet Twitter is, quite literally, the exact replication of this ideology in a literal and potentially troubling sense.
Musicians in particular find a lot to say for a few reasons. Firstly, they are creative artists and are creating art, so they feel a reason to tell the fans who follow them on an artisitic level. They also have a lot to say. This can be applied to many public “genres” (politicians, actors etc) but for fans of musicians it establishes a very personal way to connect with the art- by connecting with the artists.
Yet Twitter gets them in trouble. Kanye West has formulated a massive following on Twitter, just over 7 million, and is one of the grandest scales of followings. This essentially means that Kanye West can personally send a message to 7 million people, immediately, and they can all react to that news- immediately. He has said some shady polarizing things in the past that have been newsworthy, and people are intrigued by his persona through the use of Twitter.
Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails used Twitter for two years extensively, offering links to free downloads and news for fans. Yet he used it as a speaking outlet to trash on the music industry, Republicans, and other topics which inevitably culminated in him denouncing and “retiring” from Twitter. The fact that he has come to return to Twitter recently, albeit in a less inflammatory way, is a testament to the addictive nature and even potential draw to Twitter as a marketing and social force.
The fact is, Twitter makes artists very accessible- as people. Flawed, confused, and often mouthy, artists have lowered the mysterious barriers that made artists in the past so enthralling. This is both positive and negative. Artists have gotten in feuds over Twitter, and with such a well-connected network, a stupid comment can absolutely derail a blossoming or substantiated career.
Twitter is an inevitable byproduct of our culture, and as we move into the future with the technology and accessibility of famous artists and musicians, we slowly learn to find cracks in personas and learn that being entirely visible isn’t entirely productive for an artist who talks too much and alienates through condescension and personal opinion. If artists respect the medium, and remain focused on the music as a core topic, we can see the balance of Twitter’s potential be explored with more assurance.
Image Source, Twitter Promo Graphic, Twitter 2010
Ryan Merkel is a cool writer guy and contributor all over the internet, from blogs on music to magazines about music to sites about playing music. He is currently founder of SunState Investing and is head editor of the music entertainment magazine, CultureTease. He has written two novels, and is currently working on a third full-length novel, surprisingly, not about music. His novel “Splatter the Noise” earned accolades for independent publishing. Be sure to check out: www.sunstateinvesting.com
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