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Music Over Numbers: Artists Showing Social Media Numbers Aren't Everything

We look at how some artists are conquering the world without the gaudiest of social media following. Real life fans are bigger than the digital world.

In a world dominated by data and numbers, it can be easy to lose sight of what is most important in the music business – the music. Social media stars are being signed as a way for labels to get a quick buck and monetize their followings with easily digestible songs. That is no recipe for long-term success. In the end, numbers can come and go, but a true legacy is left with music. In the current market, promoters, fans and even media pay too much attention to the numbers. 

We want to show that not everything is about the numbers with artists who are vastly outperforming what some might expect of them. That is messy to come up with, but some artists have huge social media followings and can only do soft ticket club shows. 

A lot of artists would do just about anything for some the numbers below, but many here sell out venues with cap up to 5,000 people or even arenas and are regulars on the festival circuit, often as a headliner. Gone are the days of rewarding fans with some sort of free download at 100k likes on Facebook. It is about engagement and getting those fans to stream and buy tickets.

1. Honey Dijon FB – 93k, TW – 17.3k, IG - 131.1k:

Honey Dijon is someone who draws crowds everywhere. She can pack a 20,000-person stage at a music festival and then sell out a club in an instant. She is someone whose reach goes well beyond music into fashion, while also putting out a steady stream of music. Also an activist, her presence is immense within music, but also just as much out of it.

2. Yves Tumor FB –18.3k, TW- 8k, IG – 37.3k:

Turin-based multi-instrumentalist and musician, Yves Tumor is someone who occupies a very unique niche in electronic music. Combining an industrial and organic sound with a strong sense of social activism, Tumor has developed a very strong following of real people. Tumor’s album last year was beloved by music media and fans, which has led to sold out tours. The festival gigs have started to come, but his presence is much larger than that of social media.

3. Camelphat FB - 76k, TW - 47.4k, IG – 189.8k:

The Camelphat boys went from local DJs to house household names with the release of their Grammy nominated track with Elderbrook “Coca Cola.” Since then it has been strength to strength with tunes like “Breathe,” “Dopamine Machine” and remixes for Calvin Harris and Dirty Vegas. They are firmly among the big dance headline acts for festivals in the UK and around Europe, with a growing presence in the US. They interact a lot with fans on Twitter and show their love for Everton, but unlike Everton, they are winning all over the world.

4. Jai Wolf FB - 91k, TW – 53.7k, IG – 76.2k:

Jai Wolf is another on this list that can sell out big 2-3,000 cap venues in most markets without much trouble. He has multiple tracks with over 10 million plays on Spotify after putting out his debut album The Cure To Loneliness this year. Following in the footsteps of Odesza (a contender for this list), he is now someone others look towards for touring and support. Jai Wolf is on his way up and there is nothing stopping it.

5. Moodymann FB - 174k, TW – 4.8k, IG - 33.8k:

There are few dance acts that can do what Moodymann does and still make it in the business. He had an album coming in the past two years, only to sell it at a BBQ in Detroit without a wider release. The mask-wearing vinyl selector is one of the best at his DJing craft and can tour based on that without needing big marketing and social media pushes to help. He rarely posts on socials, but everyone knows his name in the business.

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6. Mitski FB – 72k, TW – ? IG – 152.k:

Earlier this year, Mitski decided to delete her social media presence. Some thought it was a farewell, but it was just to get a break from it all. However, she is still has a tour with big sold out shows at The Hollywood Palladium and two in Central Park in NYC that she can afford not to promo. Her last album Be The Cowboy was widely considered one of the best in 2018 and she toured the world with sold out shows just about everywhere.

7. Four Tet: FB - 348k, TW – 258k, 160.3k:

Whatever Four Tet does, it is news. He sold out two nights at 10k cap Alexandra Palace earlier this year with his new lighting and show concept. He is headlining Lovebox this weekend before Chance The Rapper -- an artist with broad worldwide appeal. He can sell out clubs and large venues even out of an album cycle and is not a social media personality, which would draw in more casual fans.

8. Rufus Du Sol FB – 235k, TW- 37.1k, IG – 202.2k:

RUFUS Du Sol have been top billing at festivals for the past two or three years, playing just about every big festival from Glastonbury to Coachella. They can sell out two or three nights in major markets around the world at large concert halls. Their music and live show doesn’t get stale and they have helped bring a new type of mellow, melodic organic sound to the world. When you lead, people will follow and they have a massive real life following.

9. REZZ FB – 230k, TW - 204.3k, IG – 490.1k:

The cult of REZZ is strong and growing fast, but REZZ has a real following that is much larger than what she has online. Yes her numbers are starting to get large with 230k fans on FB, but she has been a festival headliner for the past two summers. There are huge cult of REZZ meetups at just about every festival she goes to and can sell out large venues across the US. Beyond the live arena, her mid-tempo bass sound has become copied by countless other producers, marking her affable, trendsetting ways. She is a powerful trendsetter, even getting people to drink water and shows no signs of slowing down.

10. Amelie Lens FB – 639k TW – 47.3k IG, 836.9k:

Yes she has some gaudy numbers, but there are few Djs in the world as busy as Amelie Lens. She was among the top three DJs on the European festival circuit in 2018 and continues that momentum into 2019. She hasn’t stopped putting out big records that regularly find themselves in the top 10 of digital download sites. When it comes to the brightest stars in techno Amelie Lens is one of them, setting the tone for a year with what she is playing. She went from someone who you talked about her co-signs to now whom she co-signs. With her own label LENSKE, that will be even easier.

11. Autechre FB - 49k, TW, IG – N/A:

There are few artists in dance music with the cult following of Autechre. By today’s standards, those with such a following are pop artists with thousands of stan accounts. They benefit from developing that following in the 1990’s, before the non-sense of social media. They don’t even have Twitter or Instagram accounts. They tour every few years and any hint of new music sells really well. 

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