Selfies are the new currency of the information age. I know that’s a hard fact to deal with – I personally am awful at them and wish I didn’t have to learn. As the maxim ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ becomes ever more popular though, we are seeing that ideal turn into a common reality that we all have to embrace. In an industry where everything is based off of what you do and who you know it’s hard to ratify a lot of these things without photos. As I’ve increasingly learned in the past few years, much to my chagrin, it’s those who constantly post pictures of themselves and document their adventures who are going to start to take over the world.
In many ways this makes sense. While it’s rare that you will actually be called out for lying about knowing someone, being able to routinely show up in someones news feed with pictures of yourself with famous musicians is going to help you out. What I don’t think enough people have been able to compartmentalize about social media is that it ushered us into the age of hyper-personal branding and realizing the significance of that fact in the context of the modern music industry is going to make or break careers in the next few years. Having pictures with famous musicians isn’t just an ego boost – it’s a way for people to see that you’re out doing stuff, and if you’re not out doing stuff then people are going to wonder if you are worth working with in the first place.
Note that these selfies are about constructing a personal brand, not some sort of masturbatory celebration of self – although that can certainly be a part of it. What I’m trying to say is that posting ten thousand pictures of yourself in your bedroom probably isn’t going to help you a lot. However – posting ten thousand pictures of yourself with every musician you meet at a music festival you have VIP access to is going to seriously increase your chances of being able to use that later on for your own advantage. It shows that you are in with the artists and have a friendly relationship with people who could change your world. It helps to solidify the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory (Though in music it’s probably more like two) and reminds people of your existence.
Keep in mind that a good selfie should clearly be in a friendly context. If you’re just getting a photo with somebody at a paid for photo op then of course no one is going to respect you. I mean – that’s cool and all, but it’s certainly not helping your career. Don’t go around meeting rock stars at meet and greets and thinking that that will eventually launch you into the music industry. I’ve seen people who have tried to do that and it never works out unless you do it literally dozens of times and the artist literally can’t ignore you. The democracy of the selfie is also its undoing. People know how easy it can be to get one, that’s why you need to be very careful that the ones you post don’t make you come off as a cheap facsimile of the music mogul that you want to be.
Being in the music industry is a weird thing. It’s the strange struggle that we all find ourselves diving into that drives me absolutely crazy. When I was a younger man and first getting into this industry I never thought I’d be writing an article about personal branding. In fact this was the kind of thing that I hated when I was coming up as a punk kid. Now I’ve learned to embrace it as a necessary evil that can also be pretty fun to get involved in every now and then. If you want to expand you are periodically going to have to conform to the patterns of this world and sometimes that means dealing with the day to day crap of things like selfies. So why not just have fun with it and realize the simple beauty of taking a picture with your friend?
That’s what it boils down to by the way. No matter how stressed or upset you are by the thought of taking a selfie to promote your brand realize that you are just preserving a memory. I’ll often not see my friends in the industry for years at a time so taking a few moments to get a shot with them is a personal pleasure. It’s something I realize that I eventually would have started to do anyway. If all that matter is the beautiful life then why not embrace it and realize that none of us are getting out of this thing alive and take the frikkin selfie.