Local Music: Callum Beattie talks social media, dedicated fans, and the importance of live music

Callum Beattie in the studio, shot by Gavin Watson Callum Beattie via Gavin Watson

Yasmin Donald sat down with Callum Beattie to discuss how his fan base kept him going through lockdown ahead of the release of his upcoming album, Vandals.

By Yasmin Donald (She/her)

Social Media has brought a new dimension to what it means to be a ‘fan’ of someone’s music. Gone are the days of keeping that embarrassing boyband obsession shut firmly behind your bedroom door. Now, people of all ages publicly, and proudly, assert their love for musicians by joining online fan groups, sharing fan art, and relentlessly posting about their love on social media platforms – often in too much detail, as Buzzfeed’s Thirst Tweets can attest.

However, the oversaturating effects of social media on the music industry mean that while it may be easier for new artists to emerge, staying relevant is now harder than ever.

While social media is often an excellent place for artists and fans alike to show love for one another, it has also been known to leave artists in the firing line. How, then, do you maintain a loyal fanbase in such a culture? I asked Callum Beattie, a singer-songwriter from Edinburgh, to shed some light.

Released during the first lockdown, Beattie’s full-length debut, People Like Us, achieved a great deal of commercial success – reaching number one in the official Scottish Album Chart.

Discussing the success of People Like Us, Beattie was quick to stress just how grateful he was for the positive effects the album had on his relationship with his fans during a difficult period of time, “This changed everything because it pushed me to do Facebook and Instagram lives, and they were very popular, and became a truly unique marketing tool for me and the rest of the team working on my behalf.”

“I feel very fortunate to have been able to speak to so many fans and played a small part in helping through what were very difficult and dark Covid times.”

Callum Beattie

And for Beattie, Instagram lives were not just a lockdown fad, but rather they have become a staple in the singer’s everyday publicity work, “It still plays an important part in all our promotion today as I do lives as often as I can. Other than that, I try as hard as I can to communicate directly with any fans via all the usual social channels.”

Although with the aid of platforms like Facebook and Instagram live, everybody in the music scene suffered from the halt of live performances during the COVID lockdowns, with more than one in three workers in the industry losing their jobs.

Such a sentiment was echoed by Beattie as he reflected on what was a dark time for live music, “When all is said and done, there’s no substitute for meeting people at gigs, and I spend as much time at every show as I possibly can communicating with fans. After all, if it wasn’t for their faith and loyalty, nobody would care what I had to say.”

A rather positive outcome of Beattie’s success has been the subsequent development of various online fan groups, united by their support of the Edinburgh native. According to Beattie, his fan groups are known for their rigid support of one another, a fact that delights the ‘We Are Stars’ singer, who says such groups “help people’s mental health, including my own.”

Beattie continues on his positive trajectory, brushing off a question about dealing with hate online, claiming, “I try to balance it with the fact that the vast majority of people are good-hearted and lovely.” However, he does concede that it is sometimes easier said than done.

Finally, as we wrapped things up with Beattie, he couldn’t help but pay testament to his fanbase once again. When asked how amazing his fans are, he responded: “How long do we have, lol? My fans continuously go way and above for me and will basically do anything to support me. I’m very fortunate to have that, and I’m also very protective of it, as they are absolutely critical to everything.”

Ahead of the release of Vandals, Callum Beattie is embarking on a U.K. tour this November. Check out the full list of dates here.

Pitch given by Danny Munro
Edited by Theerada Moonsiri