Need To Create Promotional Content Competes With Need To Create Creative Content

A few years ago I wrote a post about how actors were discovering that how many followers you had on social media was being taken into account during casting decisions. Vox recently had an article talking about how the same dynamic exists for authors and musicians.  Your book or music might be great, but the publisher may not be willing to take you on if your social media engagement is low.

It used to be that record labels wanted to control all aspects of promotion and prohibited the artist from taking their own initiative. Now it is the other way around where the publishers and record labels put the entire burden of marketing on the artist. The Vox article contains a couple Tiktok videos of musicians talking about this issue. They feel their artistic practice is suffering because they constantly have to be worried about whether they are posting too late in the day to get good reaction. Another said she had to use a spreadsheet to keep track of when and what she should be posting.

One of the big challenges about social media is that you have to balance looking interesting and polished, without looking too polished lest you appear to be engaged in inauthentic self-promotion. The musician Ricky Montgomery alludes to his video where he mentions that you can’t go into the woods to record for three months because you need to be posting “candid” video and photos from your sessions–his air quotes around candid.

To compound the issue as the article points out, consolidation of media and publishing has eliminated competition so writers are being paid less. Similarly, the prevalence of platforms like Spotify for listening to music means musicians are paid less as well. So the rewards for all this effort are less than before even as more people are able to participate as creators.

It wasn’t long ago that many people, myself included, were talking about the need for artists to become more business minded. This is still true in terms of things like better understanding the market in which you wish to sell your work, knowing how to speak to those without insider knowledge about your work, not getting cheated in contracts and payments, etc. But in some respects, the pendulum has perhaps swung in the other direction to far and too quickly where the burden of knowing all these things and more is required on day one without the space to transition into the knowledge and expertise gradually as your career grows.


About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “Need To Create Promotional Content Competes With Need To Create Creative Content”

  1. On r/acting, the consensus is that social media is *not* necessary for professional actors, and that it only makes a difference with small independent films, who are trying to piggyback on influencer fame to increase sales. For mainstream TV, film, and theater, there is not enough of a crossover market for social media to affect casting decisions.


Leave a Comment