With concerts halls closed and live music on hold, it's more important than ever to be exploring new ways to connect to your audience.
Over the past few years, classical musicians have been using social media as a way to engage with audiences at home and worldwide.
Arguably one of the most exciting stars excelling through social media is French violinist, Esther Abrami. With over 300,000 followers, Esther's extensive and ever-growing following via social media has proved invaluable to her career, enabling her to expand audiences and engaging thousands of children and teenagers world-wide with little or no access to classical music.
She's joined me this week to discuss how classical musicians can make an impact through social media.
You’ve been described as one of the “rising stars” in classical music, able to successfully build and maintain a following through social media. Do you think there is a particular social media platform that showcases classical music best?
I think in terms of classical music, it’s best to have a platform that can showcase full length videos so you can see a full performance. For this reason, I would say YouTube is best because it’s not 1-minute videos or less, but full performances that allow you to have well recorded and produced videos. I think it’s the best way to show off your musical talent.
As your social media presence has grown, have you seen that translate into other areas such as your audience size?
Right now, it’s a bit hard to tell but yes, before lockdown, I saw it everywhere around the world. I remember when I performed in Mexico, a lot of people came to the concert and said that we know you from social media and it’s that feeling of performing in a country you’ve never been before and people already know you. It’s really nice.
Do you think it’s possible for a classical musician, especially those wanting to pursue a solo career, to not have a social media presence?
I think we can each have our own thing. I think that it’s not so much about social media in itself, it’s more that people need to know your name and know you. I think that if you manage to do that without social media and by other means than that’s totally fine. It’s just that to be employed and to be offered opportunities, people do need to know about you somehow - unless you’re already famous. That’s why I think, as long as you find away to get your name out there, it can definitely be with or without social media if you find something else.
Do you think social media has changed the way that the outside world view classical music especially with regards to attracting a younger audience and becoming a more popular genre?
I do think so. I do think it’s becoming more popular, obviously we still have a long way to go but it’s definitely improving. It’s lovely to see on Instagram now, there’s many famous musicians such as Hilary Hahn, Nicola Benedetti and Ray Chen who now do a lot on social media. For young people, this means they really have a chance to put a face to the music and I think that was what was lacking in classical music.
What’s been the most exciting opportunity that’s been made available to you thanks to your large social media following?
Many things actually. Firstly travel, having concerts in many different countries and then more recently to start working with Sony.
To be employed and to be offered opportunities, people do need to know about you.
What advice would you offer to players that are hoping to increase their social media presence?
Think outside the box. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing because then it’s hard to be spotted when you’re in a mass of people. It can be scary to do something new or that someone else hasn’t done before because you can be easily criticised but it’s also by taking risks that you have a chance to increase your social media. Instagram for example is now very crowded. The majority of musicians are on instagram, so it’s time to find something new, something that really represents you and something original that you can offer. I think that would help.
Thank you so much Esther! For those of you looking to make that leap online, I hope this has given you some inspiration and confidence to put yourself out there!