My work in the music industry often serves as my inspiration for this blog, and yesterday something came up that I felt sort of forced me to write this piece. If constructing the narrative of your band or project is crucial in the music industry then you need to make sure that your team is contributing to this too. Moreover though, you need to make sure that they aren’t actively detracting from it with their publicly available personal politics. You need to be very careful in this industry, not to not offend people, but to realize what kind of implications your social media posts and the posts of your team members can have. If you have a team member who is posting overtly political or social stuff that doesn’t necessarily jive with your message then maybe it’s time to confront them.
Now – this might come off as a little bit weird since obviously in the music industry things tend to be left leaning. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m certainly not trying to quash conservative views. Rather I am trying to suggest that whatever content you associate yourself with (Not just that which you create) be stuff that won’t make you look bad if someone digs in and does their research on your work. If you’re trying to support progressive politics or social views for example, it’s probably less than ideal to have someone in your network posting about how police shootings are justified, or how Ted Cruz is an American hero. That’s not my own judgment call on those things but merely an example – you need o be aware that your team members are helping contribute to the narrative. Social media is important because it provides a snapshot into the lives of individuals, and if those snapshots don’t reflect favorably on whatever goal you are trying to achieve, then you might find yourself up a river of excrement with no means of locomotion.
I’m not necessarily saying that you need to police the Facebook pages of people you work with, but you do need to be aware of the kind of people they are before bringing them on in any official capacity. Facebook and Twitter have some weird, still undefined ramifications for careers. Sometimes it’s not even a question of moral character as much as it is making sure that these people get how to express themselves in a non-inflammatory way. It’s a hard thing to get a hold of initially, but there comes a point where understanding it is crucial if you want to make sure that your team doesn’t get hurt in the end. Sure, the internet makes life a lot less private and things you once were able to share with only friends can now be seen by the whole world and that can be a hard thing to cope with – but guess what, in the modern music industry you need to be able to deal with it, you can’t just go sharing fiery comments that will impact your art or the art of you friends negatively.
I’m not saying that there is no recovery from this type of thing either by the way. I’ve seen artists post some really screwed up stuff and for better or for worse carry on just fine. Yet, in many cases even just a few inflammatory posts can dramatically impact your career. This is one of those things in music that’s unfortunately biased against conservatives, and there’s nothing I can about that. While there are definitely people who post conservative statuses and still have success, they are few and far between and tend to be fairly careful. Again – this is not an indictment of conservative views as much as it is a gentle warning that overtly-sensitive types might freak out. I know this plays exactly into stereotypes and honestly I find that to be kind of funny. In a screwed up world what else can you do but to laugh at the beautiful absurdity of it all?
I almost feel like there needs to be a sort of social media boot camp to make sure that you don’t accidentally ruin your life with this kind of thing. Every single post that you make on social media has massive potential import. So if, for example, it comes out that someone who is a key member of the team behind your highly political grindcore band not so secretly loves Donald Trump there is going to be a reckoning. Instead you need to try and encourage your team to post easily relatable and friendly stuff that won’t raise too many questions. Your band is a business, and you need to make sure that, like with any business, that the personal politics of those involved isn’t going to accidentally destroy the image and narrative that you have worked so hard to cultivate.
What does this mean for you then? I recommend to most people who are heavy social media users to simply avoid posting about politics outside of the vaguest terms. It’s self censorship to be sure but it also helps to keep everything running smoothly. Given the divisive nature of this election cycle I feel like we are in a similar situation as we were several years ago when people slowly had to learn not to post about religion on social media I think we gradually need to do this with politics, especially as our social lives and work lives continue to intersect. Social media is a beautiful thing but also a scary one and if you’re not ready to keep it under wraps and make sure that it brings your team to the next level it could very well destroy you.