The Drum catches up with Katie Melua, one of the UK’s most successful recording artists to hear her thoughts on Instagram, keeping the spontaneity on social media, and how artists can ensure they find brand partnerships that fit.
How do you engage with your fans on social media?
We use Facebook and Twitter for general announcements. I say we because if one of my team is tweeting then it’ll be signed off with ‘Team KM’. If I tweet, then it’s clear who’s doing the tweeting.
Are there any social platforms you enjoy most, either for speaking to fans or for promotional purposes?
My favorite is Instagram, mainly because it’s the only one I consume as a fan myself. I think of it as a bespoke magazine, so I follow individuals and organizations I’d want to read about in a magazine that was designed just for me.
So when I use it as an artist, my approach to it is as if I’m putting together a story made up of photography and words which is relevant to my work at the time.
This approach helps me to narrow down exactly what I want to share on there and also have a creative and playful way of communicating with people who are interested in my work.
What do you think about working with brands? Do they help get your work to a wider audience?
The music industry is constantly changing, so getting as much extra help to get what you’re doing out there is pretty key these days.
I also think that artists and managers have become more refined in judging what are good fits between artists and brands. As an example, I hear that ‘does the artist and brand fit together?’ point a lot.
So how I might go about figuring that out would be this:
I’ve noticed that there is a big trend towards brands changing their way of thinking in that they’re selling ‘experiences’ rather than ‘products’, and I think the music community is coming around to that way of looking at it, too.
For me, the most powerful experience our industry sells is the fan hearing, being consoled by and being ‘taken away’ by great records.
So when it comes to thinking about the fit with the brands, it really has to match the intimacy level between the fan and the music they so cherish.
What channels do you use to engage with other artists that you admire?
Of the artists that I admire, a great deal seem to be very cautious about sharing their thoughts on social media. Maybe it’s because the world of social content is overloaded with opinions and when there are so many loud voices it can seem quite inconsequential to add another voice to that crowd.
However, I’m trying to break out of that way of thinking which makes you halt before you press ‘tweet’. It stops the spontaneity of the whole thing, which is what’s great about it.
The other thing I love about it is that spontaneity makes the older generation of stars seem more human and ‘un-star’ like than they’ve ever looked before.
This feature first appeared in a special music issue of The Drum, published in partnership with Clio Music.