The Social Artist

Learn how to go beyond the numbers and use social media as another powerful tool of communication in your artistic toolkit.

 

Developing a Good Idea into a Brand

In 2016, I moved to NYC after finishing my M.M. in Opera. Growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this was a major dream come true. And finally completing school was also a dream come true! One night, while attending a concert at Carnegie Hall, I had a full-circle moment. Out of all my experiences as an opera student, as an opera enthusiast, and in my work/study in production positions, the idea for 360° of Opera® came to me: a blog dedicated to shining the light on all aspects of the opera world, especially those that I felt were getting lost in the background. I saw an opportunity for growth and education, where many only saw mundane activities. At the time, the opera world had not fully grasped the potential of social media and had yet to open its doors behind the scenes to the public. I wanted to share my excitement and fascination for all the layers of magic that make opera a reality. 

This ended up resonating in a big way with social media users worldwide. Through fun, pop culture-inspired content, interviews, giveaways, scholarships, and community engagement opportunities, I was able to build what today is a defined brand that actively contributes to our opera culture and catches new audiences’ attention. The spirit of community that has been generated by the concept of 360° of Opera fills me with pride, joy, and hope for the future of an industry where passion, friendship, and collaboration are at the center of the creative process.

Eugenia Forteza

Chris and Stephanie from The Musical Athlete (@the.musical.athlete) have used Instagram to develop their brand and programs in a similar way since day one. I think they are a great example of genuine community building in the singing industry, which should be supported and celebrated. I have personally grown so much as a singer, athlete, and overall human since I connected with them. I have also enjoyed meeting other like-minded singers through their mentorship program, which has exponentially helped my confidence, growth, and development as a performing artist.

They explain: “We started the pandemic last year as an opera singer and a movement coach with an idea. Through Instagram and social media, we have been able to work with hundreds of singers and musicians to develop a system that we feel will change the vocal world. Moreover, we have built friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime and would never have happened if we had not reached out through our work on social media. The Musical Athlete is the culmination of a dream we had since we met, and it could never have happened without our first post.”

The Musical Athlete for The Dallas Opera TV

There is not one canned formula to achieve a successful social media presence. However, good ideas, honest intentions, an open mind, and a few tricks can help get your message across to more people.

 

Lessons Learned

 

These past five years running @360ofOpera have given me a lot of practical experience and opportunities to run other types of accounts; work with clients in PR, consulting, and social media management; and lead masterclasses internationally. The most interesting work to me is exploring the art behind communicating and curating your own voice through social media platforms and your global online presence. 

Individuality aside, there are certain recurring concepts which I think can benefit everyone, whether you are building a business, an artist profile, a blog, or your next great idea.

 

  • Be Social: It might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people expect their accounts and influence to grow without interacting and caring about other people, their interests, and their work. Be curious, have fun, make friends, and learn from what other people have to offer.
  • Be Genuine: If there is something we learn to master as musicians, it’s patience. So be patient. Don’t buy followers and likes. Most people can easily tell when you do, and it doesn’t shine a great light on you or your work. It is also against Instagram guidelines, so you are at risk of getting your account shut down. Is that really part of the story you want to tell? It is basically like paying for fake clappers in the audience of a theater! Your numbers should not only reflect the effort you put into your pages, but also who you are and what your career outside of social media is. So, if you are just starting out, focus on developing your pages—but don’t forget that they will also grow in proportion with the work and influence you develop outside of social media.
  • Be Efficient: Scrolling all day long is not the key. Use your time on social media wisely and make sure you are there for a reason, whether it be posting, engaging, sharing, looking for opportunities, or learning. Then, go do something else that will feed your soul and artistry and from which you can later draw inspiration for your social media presence. The best content comes from your own life, so go out there and make sure you are living it!
  • Be Objective: Learn how to look at your work and other’s work objectively. Critical thinking is needed for you to make choices and build a presence that is in alignment with who you are, your interests, and your contributions to the world. That does not mean comparing yourself to others, copying what others are doing, or criticizing other people. It means observing, drawing inspiration from, nurturing relationships with, and collaborating with your colleagues.
  • Be Detail Oriented: Keeping it real is good, being sloppy is not. Every social media platform has its own language and style, but copywriting, visuals, links, formatting, covers, and dates are always important. Triple check everything before and after you share it. Is the message clear? Are there any typos? Are all links and handles working? Is your image correctly formatted? Did you select a cover for your video that looks good on your feed? All these details make a big difference when someone new comes to check out your profiles and must decide whether they want to follow you or not.

 

The Key to Long-Term, Sustainable Growth

 

Engagement is a word that is constantly used in social media strategy. This concept refers to the emotional commitment that we have toward others and that others have toward our work, our story, and the content we are sharing. As artists, we are all familiar with what it is like to keep an audience interested and engaged with what we are offering. Social media is not that different. 

With this in mind, I joined my friends Elyse Kakacek and Nicholle Bittlingmeyer in creating a Facebook group called Operatic Engagements in which members agree to engage with each other’s content, support each other, and help each other grow. We regularly share tips and create opportunities for members to expand their reach in a nurturing environment. This group is open to everyone with an interest in the arts, and many fruitful collaborations have already come out of it! 

Many who have met in our group have already collaborated in concerts, recordings, and unique projects during a complicated 2020 for the arts. It fills me with joy to hear how our members have significantly improved their relationship with social media since being in the group.

Kinneret Ely

Kinneret Ely, soprano (@kinneretely) says, “Social media is an invaluable resource. With it, I’ve been able to build my personal brand as a singer and show my work with autonomy. It’s a free resource. Through my social media accounts, I’ve been able to get dream live auditions and castings. I just hit 35,000 YouTube views on my YouTube channel—that kind of reach surely wouldn’t have been possible without social media. Operatic Engagements is a wonderful group, because it is made up of like-minded people, and I love that we help each other reach our goals. My goals included getting over 1,000 Instagram followers, and I’m happy to help you all do the same!”

This type of growth is not only genuine but sustainable. Finding a way to enjoy the process of building your online presence requires you to know yourself first, and that search will inevitably shine through in all the content and interactions you make.

Felix Jarrar, composer and pianist (@the_original_fefe) remarks, “Social media has been an essential tool for me in my work as a composer and pianist. I am very much a self-made man with how I work on my craft as an artist. In the same way I’ve built my skills as a composer and my technique as a pianist, I’ve built a following on social media through posts about the different projects I’ve been hired to do, honest (and maybe even sometimes too honest but relatable) opinions about what I am feeling, my musical passion projects, and shoutouts to fellow colleagues, collaborators, and musician friends who do awesome work that more people should know about. 

Felix Jarrar

“This past week, I posted about my prolific output in quarantine (which stands at 4 completed operas, 2 in piano score, 124 songs), and an arts organization I am working with reached out to me about completing a new commission with a quick turnaround when the composer could not make the deadline. Operatic Engagements is a Facebook group that has been a wonderful tool in networking with operatic colleagues. I’ve met so many new people and have gained followers on my social media platforms through their engagement challenges. Elly [Elyse], Eugenia, and Nicholle are dear friends, and they bring such refreshing, relaxed energy to their roles as group moderators.” 

Social media can often be misused, but as an artist, it is a tool with tremendous potential to help you raise your voice and reach a broader audience. If you learn how to keep it real and balanced and have fun with it, it can help you connect with other artists and art lovers beyond your time on the stage!

Eugenia Forteza

Eugenia Forteza is a French-Argentinean Mezzo-Soprano, Actor, Influencer, Writer and Producer based in NYC. In 2016, Eugenia founded the popular social media platform dedicated to the behind the scenes of the opera world, @360ofOpera. Eugenia enjoys a versatile international career in opera, concert, theatre and film, which has taken her worldwide from NYC’s Carnegie Hall to Singapore’s Wild Rice Theatre and beyond. Follow Eugenia on Social Media at @fortezaeugenia & @360ofOpera. For more information, please visit www.eugeniaforteza.com.