We've recently taken notice of Lucas Meachem’s engaging social media presence and his entertaining and informative blog, The Baritone Blog, so we decided to ask him a few questions about why he started it all!
When did you start to realize that social media was more than just a gimmick?
I realized a shift was happening a few years ago when people began to receive their news and information differently. We’ve seen the effect of how social media literally “feeds” us information (whether it’s true or not) and we resort to its convenience and immediacy. Even me! I click over to Instagram to get the latest news on what’s happening in the classical music world. I see album releases, tour schedules, concert announcements, and all the behind-the-scenes action or pictures that never make it to publication, making it more personalized than an official article. Every one of my favorite artists is on there, even the older generation like Placido Domingo and Daniel Barenboim. If artists aren’t on social media, they’re just left out of the cut.
What’s the most compelling part about social media for you?
Obviously to reach so many people with the click of a button is amazing. Honestly, I really love helping people. I receive so many questions from young singers and find that connecting with them helps me stay fresh and in the know as a singer myself.
How do you decide what kind of content to post or not post?
I have lots of ideas but if an idea isn’t relevant to my brand of being a baritone, I don’t post it. Your brand is integral to your social media accounts, so each post is carefully crafted with that in mind. I imagine what my followers want to see from an opera singer and I try to inform them about music, entertain them, or inspire them. If a post does none of that, TRASH.
I have a few people who help me out, my "committee," and they give me their opinions on the matter, too. It's like its own little business and I need a team to help sometimes.
How much time per week do you spend thinking about and/or executing your social media posts?
It's literally my part-time job. I put in at least an hour every day of thinking, strategizing, producing content, responding to messages, etc. It doesn't seem like a chore though because the reward of connecting with people is so gratifying.
What made you start writing The Baritone Blog?
I have a lot of thoughts about opera as an art form and as an industry, and I didn't want to wait around for the opportunity to tell them, so I made my own opportunity by creating a blog.
Relaying my thoughts was my goal at first, but over time I realized that there weren't many singers discussing real-world opera topics, and I began hearing from young singers asking questions about my experiences. When I get a question, I see if I can turn it into a blog post because I'm assuming their question isn't unique and lots of other people may want to hear the answer too.
My most-read article yet, Man to Man: Stage Romance Etiquette, isn't about singing. It's an issue that lots of people have trouble with and need some guidance. I keep the conversation real even if it's difficult because that's what I have to offer.
Have you noticed a difference when fans come up to you and engage with you now from say ten years ago?
Absolutely. My blog has changed a lot for me and the way I interact with my fans. I find it a great way to interact with younger singers whom I haven’t met yet in the opera world. Also, this one video of me singing Barber of Seville with San Diego Opera where I get dressed in front of the whole audience comes up most often when talking with fans, and I'm so pleased because I think it's hilarious, too. That video creates a connection between them and me. It was actually recorded by someone in the audience I never met and she just posted it!
What is your #1 piece of advice to artists who are starting their careers and trying to get their social media platforms up and running?
As I said before, find your brand and stick to it. If it's music, relate each post to your journey as a musician. Often times we want to post things that seem interesting to ourselves but it isn't interesting to someone who has never met you before.
Also, I know it’s obvious but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do this: post videos of you performing your music. If I want to get to know a performer as quickly as possible by looking at their page, the easiest way is through a video of them singing, whether it's a performance or practice session. So, be bold and post your music!
In addition to your strong social media presence and engaging blog posts, you also have a compelling vlog series. What do you find you can do with the vlogs that you can’t do on the blog or on social media?
I make vlogs in order to do what a written story can not—let the audience cultivate their own reactions and come to their own conclusions. Vlogs are very spontaneous and my wife, Irina, follows me with a camera all day, so there's less calculation to capturing the footage, as compared to a blog post which I sometimes rewrite a sentence 3 or 4 times.
My vlogs are a good example of serving your audience. I've put the brakes on them because from looking at the numbers, I reach many more people through my blog posts. I try to pay close attention to those numbers to best serve both my and my viewers’ time.
What’s the craziest thing you ever did for a social media post?
My Christmas video last year. I sang Carol of the Bells in 4-part harmony and made this crazy video where I appear as each voice type all decked out with Christmas festivity. I used props which I bought at a craft store that morning. It was so fun!
Are there any classical musicians who are total social media rockstars from which you gain inspiration? We’d love to know who they are!
Ray Chen, he bridges the gap between comedic presence and classy performer like nothing I've ever seen!
Where do you see social media going in five or ten years?
That's just impossible to tell. Five or ten years ago I don't think we could have predicted social media to become so instrumental in the daily lives of people and the careers of musicians. I hope to see a trend towards influencers getting more opportunities in the classical music world, just like they do in other industries.