Artists are being encouraged to offer Twitter followers details of their personal lives as a way of gaining media exposure

Mike Skinner of the Streets crowdsurfing

The Streets’ Mike Skinner is carried by his newly acquired army of Twitter followers. Photograph: Matt Crossick/PA

A few weeks ago, I went to a digital music convention called Music Connected. One of the sessions was called “Utilising Twitter and iPhone Apps“, in which Dave Haynes from SoundCloud told artists to Tweet, engage and interact with the audience regularly. We were told how Canadian hip-hop artist K’naan invited fans on Twitter to help him write lyrics and how singer-songwriter Imogen Heap asked fans to help write her biography, in 140 characters or less.

Twitter has opened up possibilities for innovative ideas like these, but I can’t help thinking that where there are gains there are also losses. Do we really need to know the mundane details of our imusical heroes’ everyday lives? Personally, I don’t want to know that David Bowie prefers branflakes in the morning to kickstart his bowel movements (by the way, that’s not a Twittered fact). I prefer to live in ignorant bliss, thinking that my idols are larger-than-life and don’t go to the bathroom at all.

The advent of Pop Idol gave birth to a slew of reality shows in which we get a peek at the “wizard behind the curtain”, often giving the public the impression that anyone can have a recording career – as long as they have enough media exposure. People like Simon Cowell can see how valuable a sob-story can be in catapulting contestants into stardom, whether it’s a 47-year-old singleton or a newly widowed pool cleaner.

I have to confess that I’ve been following this year’s American Idol. Cowell has repeatedly told 16-year-old Alison that, “yes, she’s got an incredible voice, but she needs to let the audience see the bubbly teenager she is in everyday life”. Now other artists are being encouraged to offer details about their personal lives as a way of connecting with the audience.

Kate Bush, Bowie (in his numerous 70s incarnations) and Jimi Hendrix – all they needed to do was focus on making brilliant music and putting on great shows to have successful careers. The fans sometimes got to hear them talk about how their music came about, but that was as far as their candidness would stretch. And thank God it wasn’t in the shape of 140-character Twitter soundbites.

Posted by: Amy Sikkes