Goodbye, 2020! While 2021 may not look a lot different just yet, at least we’re more prepared to handle what might come our way, right? Fingers crossed. But let’s not rely on luck to get us moving forward this year. There are lots of new tools and ideas, and new ways of approaching our work and creative lives. In this blog, I’ll focus on three popular groups of creators: Musicians, Visual Artists (painters, designers, sculptors, multi-media artists, etc.), and Influencers (content creators). I’ll review which digital self-marketing trends will be carried over from last year, and which ones each creator group should lean towards during the first part of 2021.
Nearly everyone in the music industry was hit hard last year during the covid crisis. Musicians especially felt the blow due to the cancellation of shows and tours. Like the troopers they are, however, they quickly found ways to perform online, and became quite savvy at livestreaming from homes and studios alike. In the coming months, I imagine we’ll see more of the following:
- Musicians upping their game when it comes to livestreaming. Making small investments in audio and video gear, like proper mics and lighting, and developing a knack for set design as they try to turn their homes into film studios.
- Combining livestreaming with pre-recorded performances which allows them to control the performance and still interact with their audience in real time. This also enables them to create more polished online shows for which they can potentially charge higher ticket prices.
- Becoming even better at marketing themselves on social media, and really honing in on their online presence over various platforms. See this Canadian artist, Bahamas, as an example.
- Using the extra time “off the road” to build their personal brands, musically and visually, and to find opportunities to license their music to be used in films, shows, commercials and video games.
Similarly to musicians, Visual Artists of all types struggled last year to stay above water. As music venues closed their doors, so did art galleries and art fairs leaving artists to adopt alternative ways of presenting and selling their work. While artists tend to lead their creative lives more statically than musicians, there was still an impact on sales due to travel restrictions. This led to more artists than ever before taking to social media and online shops to sell their wares. In turn, fans, followers and collectors took notice of this surge of visual artists and their work, and many artists explored new territories, both artistically and digitally. During 2021, I bet things will continue a bit like this:
- Visual Artists realizing that having a strong social media presence can also mean selling more work! Also, developing an online presence that coincides with the messages and values that they want to express in their art is entirely possible.
- Taking a self-driven approach to showing and selling their work online as galleries and cultural spaces remain limited. While it’s not about replacing the valuable function of these spaces, it’s an alternative way to keep people interested in their work, and to stay motivated to create.
- Showing more of their creative process and their personality on social media. Whereas some may argue that the work that artists create is more important than their persona, I think visual artists can gain a strong foothold in today’s art world by presenting their personalities along with their art. This, of course, isn’t for everyone, but it could go a long way when it comes to gaining followers who want to engage with those creators who make the work they enjoy. Take Thrush Holmes or Galina Munroe for example.
Social media influencers whose accounts were based on travel, dining out, or being social with their friends were also seriously affected during 2020. But those who had already amassed a great number of followers could most likely keep people interested by simply posting about their mundane quarantine antics. Either way, the power that influencers can have over social media marketing just keeps growing and growing. Many larger brands and companies are now investing more in influencer marketing campaigns than in traditional advertising, and this bodes well for anyone who puts themselves out there and builds their following. As much as the number of followers matter, so does an influencer’s broader message, and we’ll see more emphasis put on that as we climb into 2021:
- Influencers conveying particular messages about ecological and social awareness, social justice and equality, and human rights. Being just a pretty face won’t cut it for long, so influencers must bring substance to the table if they want to sustain themselves in an often fickle digital world.
- Partnering with brands and companies that share a similar message so that the marketing comes off as organic and honest. The more “real” someone is about what they’re selling, the better chances are that they will connect with people and be able to push a product or message. Take Mike Bucaram, for example.
- Becoming savvy on various social media platforms rather than just one. As influencers become more and more valuable to brands, those brands may want to see the influencer reaching broader audiences by embracing more than one platform.
- Selling products directly from social media platforms like Instagram rather than directing followers to external sites for their purchases. Instagram Shopping has become very popular among influencers and followers during 2020, and will continue to do so, inspiring other platforms to implement similar integrated digital storefronts.
Support for Creators
A creator-based digital platform that has seen a lot of growth during the last year, and which will continue to grow over 2021 is Patreon. Patreon is a platform that enables fans of artists and creators to support them via a monthly membership. Patrons usually offer a small amount of money each month in return for exclusive content, giveaways and special offers from a creator that they wish to support and whose work they want to see thrive. Because people are generally not spending as much money these days on socializing and entertainment, perhaps they have some extra cash to help support artists who bring value to their lives. This is a great way to sustain creators, and to enforce artist-audience relationships.
From our point of view at Onescreener, we envision 2021 as a period when a lot of younger movers and shakers will come into the creative scenes. Where many established businesses, venues, galleries and spaces may not have been able to sustain themselves during covid lockdowns, we think a younger generation of leaders will establish their own spaces post-covid. There may be an emergence of new ideas and approaches to nightlife, viewing art and to entertainment in general, perhaps with a more inclusive and collaborative bent.
Also, maybe most importantly, if there has been anything we’ve all learned over the past year, it is to stay flexible in business, in creativity and in our goals. The world has had to adapt in so many new ways, and this effect will most likely continue for at least a little while. Staying flexible as creators allows you to react smartly to the world around you, and to take advantage of new opportunities. Creators hold up a mirror to humanity, and in weird times, that reflection is all the more important.