[18 year old rapper Lane-Harry aka Lane Muir from the Gold Coast.]
Posters and vinyl records of famous hip-hop musicians adorn the room of 18 year old Gold Coast rapper Lane-Harry. An Apple Mac desktop computer sits as centrepiece to the young musician’s room and acts as the head-quarters for all promotional activity linked with his music.
‘I promote my music through social media and live shows;” he says “Word of mouth is probably the biggest help with so much competition.”
Lane-Harry is one of the few musicians on the Gold Coast that can boast 3 big studio releases in the past 11 months, two having earned positions in the top 40 hip hop charts on iTunes.
Lane’s careful use of his 1,368 friends on Facebook, 453 followers on Instagram and a newly established 83 followers on Twitter have helped to secure his status as an influential figure in the local music scene.
With social media now able to help achieve such results for an artist willing to self promote, just how important is this tool in the music industry today?
“Social media promotion is advertising to people you already know in hope that they get on board and spread the word,” Lane says. “It’s pretty important.”
Lane’s grasp of social media promotion has indeed succeeded in attracting attention, even leading to a fresh new contract signing him and music partner Ike Campbell to Australian record label ‘Human Records’ earlier this month.
“We haven’t released our first product through Human Records yet,” he says. “I imagine things will be very different and much more professional.”
With the duo’s latest venture into the professional world of the music industry, will their music reach new heights with audiences? Or has the use of social media by artists today made record deals a thing of the past?
“When it comes to social media and that sort of thing….if anything I think it’s just created more confusion,” says local professional music teacher, producer and musician Daniel Hitzke. “It hasn’t really put small labels out of business; I think the small labels know what to do better than the individual artists.”
As well as being an educator Daniel also works in the online marketing and promotions sector of the same record label that has just signed Lane and Ike.
“Most musicians that I know don’t realise that they’re a business,” Daniel explains. “And they don’t approach it that way and they need to. Whereas if you are signed to small label on the coast they understand that and they can market who you are as a musician like a business, and that is way, way, way more successful in my opinion.”
Success is an all too familiar topic for aspiring musicians, with only 7,900 people reporting their main occupation as a professional musician in the 2011 census conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This figure is quite alarming when considering a total of 60,000 professional musicians are registered with The Australasian Performing Rights Association and The Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society.
Understandably, local artists strive to stand out from others in order to attract an audience. Daniel argues that with all the self promoting artists on social media, the benefits of being signed by a record label are still prevalent.
“…if you have got someone else [a record label] representing you, it shows that you’re serious enough and professional enough that someone takes an interest in what you are doing at a professional level.”
18 year old Tommy Sheehan, an indie-folk musician from the Gold Coast, has found that record labels do demand a certain level of prestige even in the small local music industry.
“As soon as you do get yourself on a label its like people instantly think and see you as more professional. You could reach out to all those places [festivals and gigs] yourself, but I think you would have a much better chance of getting gigs and some good exposure on things like that if you had a label behind you.”
Tommy has acquired quite a reasonable sized fan base, even though the musician is yet to release a single piece of original work.
Tommy plans to release his first original EP in the coming months and a positive response can be expected judging by the level of attention social media has already generated for his covers.
“The best thing is probably sharing on Facebook because umm… If someone likes a song they can share it to all their friends as well. So yeah I have had like a lot of people sharing my music and stuff on Facebook, reaching out to more people which is really cool.” Tommy says.
19 year old music lover Dale Cooke, actively searches for new and interesting music from a wide variety of artists.
“I would say I get a new artist put in front of me probably three times a week.” Dale says.
Dale scours sites like Hypetrak in search of the latest tunes, but admits that this is perhaps not the usual path taken by most young adults in finding new music.
“If they are not constantly looking for it, which they wouldn’t be if they didn’t care that much about it… they would mostly find it through stuff like social media and their friends and stuff like that…I think.”
Although Dale believes social media does in fact influence the discovery and growth of local unsigned artists, he still acknowledges the role of all record labels as vital cogs that keep the music industry ticking.
“I think that at some stage every artist has to join a label,” he says. “I don’t think that you could come from nothing to being completely successful and do everything on your own. There is just way too much that has to be handled in the whole process of becoming successful.”
Social media has taken the promotion and distribution of music to a new arena, but record labels are still able to hold influence in this bustling platform of connectivity.
By Locke Fitzpatrick