There’s no doubt about it: the rise of social media created a new paradigm within the dance music industry. The internet provides unlimited opportunities for fans to connect with artists, and for artists to leverage the power of social media to gain new fans. Aside from the typical one-way communication techniques of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, artists and fans are discovering new ways to connect virtually as technology evolves. As DJs try to grow their fanbase, social media can be a powerful tool in reaching new ears and connecting with current fans. So, why do you follow your favorite DJs on social media? Here are five reasons why people follow DJs on social media, do any of them speak to you?
In the early days, before the advent of television or social media, a crowd would sit in a theater and see the curtains lifted, to a perfectly staged set and (hopefully) dazzling performances by the artists. The connection between artist and audience often began and ended with the rise and fall of that curtain. What audience members didn’t get a glimpse into was all the organized chaos backstage with everyone working behind-the-scenes. A certain air of mystery shrouded some of the biggest artists of the past few decades, with their lives all seemingly full of glitz and glamour.
Then in the mid-2000s, mass social media hit the scene and lifted that metaphorical curtain. Now artists could connect directly with their fans, and even fans could connect together. Social media even helped catapult certain DJs into superstardom. Criticisms of the impact of social media on the scene arise when a DJ’s Instagram feed resembles more of an influencer’s than an artist’s. Where is the line drawn? A genre born from the underground is now center stage. Adoring fans around the world idolize their musical heroes who are trying to sell them something.
On the other hand, when leveraged correctly, social media has the power to be a great tool to promote your artistic career and connect with the community. You get out what you put in. Some of the world’s top house and techno DJs have amassed millions of followers on Instagram and Facebook, most notably. So, how did they get there?
We asked several dance music fans the reasons what entices them to follow certain artists over others. If you’re an aspiring producer and DJ, here are the top ways to craft a meaningful social media presence that people actually want to follow.
Social media is hands down the best way for an artist to connect with their fans directly. Giving followers a direct peek inside their personal lives, both the good and bad. There is no greater currency in the digital age than authenticity. Engaging with fans by replying back to their comments gives fans a sense of their importance to you. Sometimes when an artist’s popularity rises, their management teams take over their accounts, but other artists know the one-on-one connections are invaluable to building a strong and loyal fanbase. Frankly, many house and techno fans can sniff out the b*llshit. Techno thrives on raw, unfiltered energy. Bring that same energy to your social media presence. Fans will appreciate it.
Before social media, concerts were often the only avenue by which fans could see their artists’ creative process. With electronic music the paradigm is shifted, since DJing on stage is much different than actually producing music. Some artists, such as Stephan Bodzin, actually do produce music live on stage with synthesizer set-ups, but live set-ups are the exception and not the norm. Social media and streaming websites, such as Instagram, Youtube, and Twitch provide producers with an opportunity to actually showcase their creative process. Fans, particularly those who are starting out as producers, enjoy seeing how their favorite artists craft their work.
“Generally I follow artists to try and learn more about their creative process and the tools/techniques they use while creating music. Also love it when they share the stuff that inspires them to create.”
Dance music fan
Berlin-based analog techno producer ASEC often shows their followers glimpses into their modular-synth set-up, and how they create their music on Instagram and other avenues.
Let’s face it: social media also led to the rise and visibility of activism. With nearly all artists having some sort of presence on various social media channels, the internet knows who is speaking up and who is not. Like it or not, social media provided a new outlet for anyone and everyone to speak up about political and social issues. Art is a way to send a message, and so is speaking out to your followers. The debate about whether artists should speak up about their activism seems to cause major fission in dance music, not as fervently found in other genres. Musicians such as Bob Dylan rose to fame thanks to his politically charged folk songs. Bruce Springsteen metaphorically criticized several aspects of the United States in many of his tracks. However, those artists, along with many others, rose to fame because of their political commentary, not despite of it. So why are dance music artists expected to not be political?
“I like to know their views on politics. I like artists who are outspoken.”
Dance music fan
The genie is out of the bottle. Followers, especially those from marginalized communities, want to know their favorite artists stand in solidarity and support them. Proving we have an inclusive community means being an activist for everyone in the community.
During the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in 2020, many members of the dance music industry were noticeably quiet despite the origins of dance music being rooted in the black community. Certain DJs like DSV1 did speak up in support of the movement, but others, like David Guetta’s infamous blunder, still lives on to this day.
House DJ VNSSA and countless other women in the industry are outspoken about booking more women DJs on lineups. Some have even begun curating events with solely femme-leading lineups alongside names like Heidi Lawden and Speaker Honey. Amelie Lens, Coyu, and Joseph Capriati are all outspoken against animal cruelty and encourage their followers who are not vegan to give the lifestyle a try.
So dear artists, don’t feel afraid to speak up, but as the prior point stated, do it from a place of authenticity.
The more tactical reason why fans follow their favorite artists is to learn where they can catch their sets. Since most social media users check their various channels several times a day regardless, the likelihood we’ll see tour and festival announcements is quite high. Crafting well-thought-out and aesthetically pleasing tour announcements is one sure-fire way to entice new fans to check out a set.
Play a good set? Your fans will talk about it on social media for years to come. It might even convince others to go out and see you. Posting clips of your very best moments, performances, and more will only keep people engaged.
Last, but not least, showcasing a sense of humor and a bit of personality on social media is a way to pique anyone’s interest enough for a follow. Who doesn’t follow meme pages at this point? One of Chicago’s top DJs, Hiroko Yamamura, is well known for her Instagram meme page presence, and even dubs herself the “meme queen techno machine.” The dichotomy might seem striking at first: should artists be posting memes for better engagement and more followers or focus on their craft to grow their fanbase? What is the right balance?
In Hiroko’s case, she can back up her “sillier” Instagram presence because she has the skills to not have to rely on social media. It’s just a fun outlet for her. If you are trying to build your brand completely on social media without putting your grit and determination behind your actual music…that’s when it veers into smoke and mirrors territory.
Did we cover all the reasons why you follow your favorite DJs?
At 6AM, we think we cover most of these points with our online presence. Our goal is to create a community, full of heart, grit, and, sure, sometimes funny memes to get us all laughing and talking. Fans just want to know there’s a real person on the other side of the screen, however, you choose to present it to them.
Are you a DJ/producer who needs help with your social media game? Say no more, and check out ArtistMap by 6AM Phase-2: Social Media & Self-Promotion for Electronic Music Artists.