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How Barrett Wissman Predicts Influencers Will Change the Arts Game


Influencers in the arts can drive significant profits, even with small actions. For instance, a single Instagram post by Beyoncé is estimated to be worth $1 million. D’Marie Analytics recognized that Beyoncé’s follower count was only one aspect in assessing her value as an ambassador, with engagement and click-through rates also playing crucial roles. According to D’Marie’s CEO, Frank Spadafora, the singer’s “exclusive, curated content” helps her advertorial posts to be seen as authentic and consistent with the rest of her content. This trend has led record labels to collaborate with influencers to increase music sales, as the rates can result in 3 million impressions of a song for $10,000.  

Not only big names or labels can benefit from this trend. Quartz declared last year that artists with significant Instagram followings “no longer need record labels.” Digital platforms have not only made the arts accessible to everyone but have also democratized the promotion and distribution of it. Barrett Wissman believes that every art form has the potential to benefit from this shift, as money is no longer confined to physical distribution.

More Than Brand Ambassadors

Wissman, the chairman of IMG Artists and the managing director of social media management firm Two Pillar Management, has observed influencers shape the arts scene in recent years. While influencers are commonly seen as brand ambassadors, Wissman emphasizes their role as cultural ambassadors as well. He notes that influencers possess tremendous power, often more influential than music labels. This is evident when an influencer with a large following promotes a new song, leading to millions of plays, a goal that would be expensive for labels to achieve.

Wissman highlights that influencers tend to focus on areas that are accessible to their fan base, such as merchandise and pop music. He also acknowledges the democratization brought about by digital platforms, leading to significant changes in the way music is played and listened to. He points out that this has paved the way for both promising and subpar content to reach audiences, significantly altering the traditional path to music stardom.

How the Fine Arts Stand to Benefit

While pop art is currently reaping the advantages of collaborating with influencers, other art forms have the potential to benefit as well. Wissman suggests that more serious arts, such as dance companies, opera companies, and museums, have not fully utilized social media for outreach. He sees a huge opportunity for growth in this area, believing that the involvement of influencers in promoting the fine arts could spark the development of new business models and potentially change the dynamics of success and profitability within the industry.

Getting Arts Institutions to Take the Plunge

Wissman encourages arts institutions to embrace influencers, even on smaller budgets. He suggests involving local beauty or lifestyle influencers to expand their audiences, recognizing the influence that these individuals hold over their followers. By incorporating influencers in events and involving them in boards, arts institutions can tap into the reach and impact of these individuals. Wissman also recommends leveraging influencers’ involvement in events and festivals to make an immediate impact.

Wissman is currently working on the Beverly Hills International Music Festival, where social media will be integrated in various ways. By having influencers promote the event and actively participate, the festival anticipates welcoming new attendees through the influence of these individuals.

As influencers continue to reshape the arts landscape, arts institutions have the opportunity to capitalize on this trend to expand their fan base, create new opportunities, and develop innovative business models. This marks a significant shift from traditional revenue sources, signaling a positive change in the industry.

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