Internet killed the the radio star


Amber Stoutenborough

Danny Bauer, a local Chicago musician performing his newest single “Dream Girl.”

Danny Bauer, a local Chicago musician, sets up his camera next to his microphone and piano and opens up Omegle. “Give me a word and I’ll write you a song,” a phrase soon coined to be repetitive as the new strangers who pop up on the screen, each one intrigued by the game and picking a crazy and sometimes inappropriate word for Bauer to serenade them with. 

Omegle is an online video and chat website to talk to randomly selected people, and one of the many ways Bauer promotes his music by singing to strangers. This, along with TikTok, are different ways musicians and artists have started to promote their work. 

“Generally speaking, social media has made it easier for people to find a variety of music. At the same time, it’s also hugely changed the way people get music,” Paul Booth, DePaulprofessor of Media and Cinema studies said. “Spotify and other social media sites have made it much easier to access any type of music listeners might want, but it has severely restructured how musicians get paid and market their work. Social sites like TikTok help musicians form fandoms because they can reach their audience more directly.”

For Bauer, using social media has become a full-time job within being a musician to advance his career.

“I want to make art that entertains people and also shows people that they can step outside the box, they can try something where they might look dumb, and it’s gonna be okay,” Bauer said. “My number one goal is just to entertain people and then the hope is that I’m making stuff that’s entertaining enough that it’ll build me an audience and then as I release songs, people are like, oh, this is the Omegle guy.”

Bauer has been a musician for most of his life, but only recently started writing his own music during the pandemic after playing music for his neighbors.

“Six months later, I did a concert on my front porch every night and invited other musicians to come because nobody had any gigs. So I was able to call a bunch of musicians who are out of work to come play and build a community around making music,” Bauer said. 

Starting in 2021, Bauer started making content on TikTok creating original songs every day, 90 days in a row. During this time, Bauer started writing and recording his own songs including his most recent song available on Spotify, “Dream Girl,” as well as performing as a freelance artist with other musicians. 

Danny Bauer has been playing jazz piano since he was sixteen. After majoring in Jazz pianist at blah blah university, Bauer continues his career as Freelancing Musician while also creating his own songs. (Amber Stoutenborough)

But unlike Bauer, some of his fellow freelance musicians try to stay away from social media as much as possible.

“I don’t like paying attention to it,” Evan Levine, a local musician and friend of Bauers explains. “There’s like this weird dichotomy from having to promote yourself all the time and having it’s seeming authentic when you’re doing it, especially when you have to put stuff up all the time, like these little snippets that don’t reflect fully on what your life is.” 

Booth has noticed how the internet has affected musicians and their ability to get noticed becomes a full job on its own.

I think it’s easier to get your music online and make a presence for your music, but there’s also a wealth of material online so being found is harder. Musicians today have to be found in a variety of places — in social media spaces, in formal spaces, in live spaces. Promotion is a full time job today,” Booth said. 

Even for Bauer, using social media comes with its limits and struggled with using it as a musician before. 

“I quit social media for six months back in 2019, that was really eye opening. And I was grateful I did that because when I came back to it, I think I had a healthier relationship with it,” Bauer said. “Before, I was losing my mind just on my phone all the time, paying money for Facebook ads. And I was never happy with how many people were seeing my music and what I was doing.”

While social media has been proven by studies to negatively affect mental health, the music industry continues to use media platforms to reach fans. 

“There will always be music and there will always be musicians. How we get music will change, and has always changed. The history of technology is a history of change,” Booth said. “The music industry has shifted from a monolithic model of control in the past to one where musicians are able to control their own music, but at the expense that it takes a lot more work (and money) to do that promotion. I suspect we’ll see more and more people going into individual, private music promotion rather than working for major corporations.”

For now Bauer hopes to continue to grow his platform as more of his singles come out in the next month. 

“It’s been a slow but steady growth. At the beginning of the year, I had 400 TikTok followers and through my 100 days, I went up to almost 1200. Including this Omegle thing I’ve done like two or three weeks of posting homemade videos, and I’m up another 250 followers,” Bauer said. “And so it’s fun to know that I’m making stuff that makes people happy.” 

Connect with Amber Stoutenborough: @amberstouten | [email protected]