September 12, 2011. Seated behind a computer screen, a young Tom Gaynor activates an artist page on Facebook under the pseudonym ‘Allday’. The Adelaide local has recently moved to Melbourne and is setting his sights on a career in the burgeoning Australian Hip-Hop scene.
Fast-forward to May 2015 and Gaynor is preparing to embark a run of sold out shows in each of Australia’s three largest cities, his debut album Startup Cult has recently debuted at No. 3 on the Aria charts (Bacon, 2014) and the once humble Allday Facebook page now has a staggering 173,000 ‘likes’ (2015).
Allday has forged a successful career as a musician and the Allday Facebook page now reads as an ongoing journal of his rise to fame; a self-styled online persona that Gaynor utilises to promote his music, document his achievements and interact with fans. This online persona also serves as a fascinating example of storytelling in the age of ambient journalism.
Traditional journalism defines fact as information and quotes from ‘official’ sources. This definition has customarily been identified as forming the vast majority of news and information content. With the emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, this news model is entering a period of transition due to the ability of social media to instantly distribute digital fragments of news and information form both official and unofficial sources across a variety of platforms. (Hermida, 2010)
It is suggested by media scholar Alfred Hermida (2010, p. 297-307) that the value of these fragments of information being displayed on social media “does not lie in each individual fragment, but rather in the mental portrait created by a number of messages over a period of time.”
The mental portrait described by Hermida is defined as ambient journalism.
“His ideas appear to have two related aspects. He conceives ambient journalism as an “awareness system” between individuals that functions as a collective intelligence or kind of ‘distributed cognition’ at a group level. Facebook, Twitter and other online social networks are examples.” Hermida also suggests that such networks enable non-professionals to engage in ‘communication’ and ‘conversation’ about news and media events.” (Burns, 2010)
When viewed in its totality, Tom Gaynor’s use of social media platforms such as Facebook to distribute news and information about his artistic endeavours as Allday can be considered a form of ambient journalism. Gaynor has consistently utilised Facebook to publish information including news, artistic achievements and information about upcoming new music on an almost daily basis since initially launching the page in 2011. When consumed as a form of ambient journalism the Facebook wall forms an ongoing narrative about the progression of Gaynor’s career as Allday.
Examples of this career progression include a post on October 12, 2011 followed by another post on December 6 of the same year. In the initial post Allday documents that his music is being played on youth radio for the first time, stating, “Tune your radios to triple j 105.5 tonight after 9. They should be playing a little something something of mine on home & hosed.” The following post on December 6 Allday encourages fans to “Tune into Fresh FM in Adelaide they are going to play Girls In Jeans in the next hour or two.” These two posts provide viewers with a detailed timeline of how long it took before his music was played on mainstream commercial radio after initially being aired on youth radio network Triple J.
Further evidence of Allday’s emergence as an artist appears in a post on the 27th of September 2013. The post reads, “I’ve got some good news to announce today! I’ve been independent for a long time and it’s definitely a good way to release music. But I’m really psyched to be signing with a label that understands me and can help me get way bigger. This is just the beginning. I’m happy to announce that I’ve just signed to Illy’s new label OneTwo Records.” Viewing this post as part of the entire Facebook narrative the gives readers an effective understanding of what steps Allday was required to undertake before the artist was recognised enough to sign a record deal. The mental portrait created in the consumers mind when viewing Facebook updates including the previous example is the reason the Allday Facebook page is considered an example ambient journalism.
The Allday Facebook page is an effective example of ambient journalism story telling largely due to the performance of Allday in an online setting.
Gaynor utilizes a large number of social media platforms to form his online persona including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and YouTube. It is however the use of Facebook that is portrays the most comprehensive narrative of his career as Allday.
Academic Marshal argues that with the emergence of the Internet as a media platform we are witnessing the staging of the self as both character and performance in on-line settings. “The props and accouterments of the stage can now be translated to the various profiles, images and messages that are part of a Facebook site.” Marshal also claims that the construction of character via Facebook is a kind of ritual of the performance of the self. It is highly conscious of a potential audience as much as it is a careful preening and production of the self. (Marshall) At present, the self styled nature of the Facebook page is utilised by many artists to varying degrees of success. This calculated expression of self via the Facebook medium has enabled Allday to engage with a potential audience and portray his artistic self in a way that is appealing to consumers. Barbour (2013, p.2) explains the use by artists of virtual social networking sites such as Facebook as being almost ubiquitous in the developed world. Artists now find themselves released from the style constraints and word requirements of the printed platforms. Barbour also explains that the mediated, digital nature of social networking sites such as Facebook enables the artist to maintain significant control over the information presented to their audience through choices of text, videos, links and imagery.
Allday can bypass distracting elements of his personality such as geographical location or personal details. The unrestricted nature of publication allows the Allday Facebook page to be a customized and self-styled online persona.
Marshal (2010, 35–48) states that Performance is a critical component in any public figure’s identity and that Celebrities perform in their primary art form – as actors, musicians, singers, athlete – as well as the extra-textual dimensions of interviews, advertisements/commercial endorsements, award nights and premieres. He argues that these elements of performance are the professional elements that are closest to their status as, or at least as conveyors of, cultural commodities. (Marshall)
Whilst researching this article I contacted Gaynor and he confirmed that rather than leaving the job to a manager or social marketing team he maintains responsibility for producing and posting all the content available on the Allday Facebook page. Maintaining control over his social media accounts is a major contributing factor as to why Allday’s Facebook page being an example of effective story telling. Gaynor believes that managing his own Facebook affairs contributes to people taking an interesting in his work.
During an interview with speaker TV in 2014 Gaynor explained how he manages his Facebook and this was they way that he initially promoted his art to the world, claiming, “Social media has been like everything I think like there was a time, like my music was available just online and I started putting it out for free. I just had to try and find a way to make people care about it.” The artist also explains that his use of social media as a way of marketing himself as Allday after initially moving to Melbourne from Adelaide. “I didn’t have a social group in Melbourne to stem from. Or like shows to stem from so it was just like, well ill use the Internet. It’s still a big focus for me and yeah I’m just like marketing myself.”
The second key reason that the online performance of Allday is effective story telling is due to Gaynor’s continued commitment to engaging with fans via the Facebook medium.
Barbour (2014, p. 87) states, “The development of an online profile is not limited to adding content to a site. It must also involve the development of connections within the network, both to other people’s profiles and to products, interests and groups.” Gaynor’s commitment to developing connections with his fans via Facebook is key reason Allday has become an effective and successful online persona.
After launching the Allday Facebook page Gaynor set about ensuring that he connects with fans on a regular basis; often spending hours a day responding to fans that have sent him messages. Viewing the Allday Facebook page enables readers to see that Allday consistently responds to comments and engages in conversations with fans in a sincere and respectful manner.
For Gaynor, connecting with fans is an exercise not only limited to the public domain of the Facebook wall. On 27th of February 2014 the increased popularity of Allday disabled the artists ability to respond individually to each message he received on Facebook. “For so long I have tried SO hard to reply to everyone who took the time to send me a message. Often I spend hours every day just answering people’s questions or talking shit with them. Recently though, too many people have been messaging me for me to reply to everyone. I REALLY hate not being able to reply to everyone and I want you to know I’m sorry. I’ll always reply to as many people as I can.”
Offering a sincere apology for no longer being able to respond to each individual message shows not only that the artist is committed to maintaining connections with fans but also that he places a high value on establishing and maintaining those connections.
Another example of Gaynor’s dedication to engaging with his fans came before the release of his debut album startup cult. The artist posted a status on Facebook encouraging fans that cannot afford to download his album to acquire it via torrent sites. The status from June 17, 2014 reads, “Not sure what my label is going to say about this but if you are broke you have my permission to torrent my album when it comes out.” By permitting fans to download his album the artist immediately forfeits potential profits incurred from fans purchasing the album, however, Allday appears more concerned that his fans are able to Access his music than he is about the potential to fully capitalize on his debut album.
Upon examination of the entirety of the Allday Facebook page in it becomes clear that Gaynor’s use of his Facebook artist profile reads as an effective example of storytelling in the context of ambient journalism. The reason this Facebook page is so effective is due to Gaynor’s successful development of the Allday online persona. The Allday online persona is arguably so effective due to Gaynor’s unwavering commitment to connecting with fans and also due to his self-styled and self managed approach to his online identity.
As the Allday celebrity continues to escalate it may become challenging for Gaynor to continue to engage so intimately with fans and manage all areas of his online persona. It is however important for the artist to continue to make these commitments as they underpin his success as an artist.
In order to get a holistic understanding of Tom Gaynor’s emergence and progression as an artist the best thing to do would be to grab a cup of tea and sit on Facebook all day.
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Gaynor, T 2011, ‘Tune in to fresh FM’, Allday, Facebook, December 6, viewed 7 June 2015, < https://www.facebook.com/alldaytunes/posts/251271508271000>
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Speaker TV 2014, ‘Allday- Speaker TV Interview’, YouTube video, 2 November, Speaker TV, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1IuIktMgr4&ab_channel=SpeakerTV>