Beehive Tips: A moment with Abby Butler (Triple J Unearthed)

Establishing oneself on social media can be daunting, especially when you’re using it as a tool for music promotion. Do you need to be on three different platforms to get seen? How often should you be posting? Does it even matter?

And then when it comes to radio servicing, radio plugging and the general world of radio broadcasting, it can feel even more overwhelming. Which is why, a lot of times, artists will employ music publicists specifically to handle the servicing of their music direct to radio. Once you know the landscape, it’s less terrifying! Radio plugging isn’t just about perfecting your pitch, but knowing your radio stations and programmers to a tee.

To find out more about navigating the weird waters of social media, as well as the world of community radio and broadcasting, we touched base with Triple J Unearthed Community Producer (and local TikTok legend), Abby Butler.

She made the jump from community radio to the national broadcaster and is one of the friendly faces and avid music fans your music is likely to reach as it goes through radio servicing.

From FBi Radio to Triple J Unearthed

Can you tell us about your formative experiences in this field, and what you loved most about it when you first started?

The decision to start volunteering at FBi Radio back in 2018 was genuinely one of the best I’ve ever made. I had recently moved to Sydney from Newcastle for uni, I knew absolutely no one and I hesitated for months about signing up as a volunteer because I was so anxious about not having that Sydney background.

But from the jump, every single person I met was so passionate. There was no ego, just a genuine and beautiful group of driven, creative, hardworking folks who loved their community.

Not only am I so grateful to now consider so many of those people my close friends, but I learnt a whole lot more than my three year Media degree could have taught me. I loved the instant focus on sharing the skills you have with those around you and I want to carry that with me wherever I go career and life-wise.

Unearthed Misconceptions?

Do you think there’s any one big misconception when it comes to new artists trying to get played on radio?

Particularly with triple j Unearthed, I think there’s a misconception sometimes that we’re a big, scary, out-of-reach being. In reality, we’re a group of five music lovers from across Australia working to foster the huge, inclusive, welcoming community that triple j Unearthed is.

Underlying everything is that very real passion and excitement. I think if that weren’t genuine, Unearthed wouldn’t have been able to thrive as it has for almost fifteen years.

Is Social Media Scary?

You’re also a bit of a social media legend these days – followers of yours on the gram and on TikTok will know this well, but you’re also the voice of Triple J Unearthed on Twitter too. Do you find it easy to be constantly creating content for your personal platforms?

Okay, brb adding “social media legend” to the resume. Honestly, the best and worst part of social media is that it really doesn’t matter. At the end of the day (and we saw this recently with Facebook), a few nerds in a board room could one day pull the plug and we’d be without it.

It’s a great source of entertainment and information and activism and escapism, helping the Unearthed community grow online is so wonderful to see every single day, but it’s also been one of the most stressful parts of my life.

My TikTok audience blew up far larger than I could’ve imagined and I would feel a lot of pressure to constantly post successful content. But no one knows how the algorithm works and also whether my dumb profile has 10 followers or 10,000 followers literally does not matter at the end of the day and it shouldn’t impact by mental wellbeing.

Establishing a Presence

How crucial would you say it is for new artists to establish their social platforms early on? Any advice for someone who might  be a bit new to using any of these platforms?

I did an entire special for Unearthed about this recently! It’s a pretty solid resource specifically for Aussie artists and covers all the platforms so I’d recommend sussing that out. I’d say the golden rule is authenticity.

It sounds basic, but honestly there’s no use having the world’s best social media strategy if it’s completely disconnected from who you are as an artist. One of the folks I interviewed for that special summed it up best – at the end of the day, the music has to be good. Keep your focus on being proud of the product and then the socials will naturally follow.

How Much Is Too Much?

It can be a bit daunting to figure out where to best get your reach too. Is it necessary for bands to be across all social media outlets at one time?

Absolutely not. Each artist will have their strengths and weaknesses and I really recommend just doing some research before you start up your pages. Look into artists you resonate with, see what they’re doing and don’t be afraid to use that as a basic framework for your own strategy.

On that same note, feel empowered to be creative and trial things out. There are no rules when it comes to socials which is scary but means you can do it however tf you want. If it is too overwhelming and daunting, take a break and survey where you’re at. Set some boundaries and don’t feel like you have any obligation to post constantly. You don’t.

New Year, New Music!

What’s exciting you most about Australian music moving into 2021?

I can’t wait to see those artists who spent 2021 brewing and stewing burst onto the live scene. So many artists whose year would have been spent booking spots at festivals and gigs had that taken away and instead, I know that plenty have been honing their craft in production and performance.

Naturally, the results of that year will come through in 2021 and I for one am keen to be front row for all of it. I also can’t wait until standing and dancing and swaying in a crowd of people is the norm again! I really took that sense of community and togetherness for granted and only realised that once it had been stripped away.

Abby’s Top Tips

Who are you listening to at the moment whose music is getting you through?

The answer to that question changes from hour to hour! Honestly for an up to date response, you can suss out my Unearthed profile at any time and see what I’m fangirling over in real time. At the moment, I’d highly recommend adding ‘July’ by Supathick and Adrian Dvzuke, ‘Heatsink’ by imbi x Slim Set and ‘WWWWWHY’ by WIGZ to your playlist.

I also recently got to chat to Phoebe Bridgers for an Unearthed project, so I’ve been revisiting her two records and really getting in my feels because of it. I really chose to hurt my own feelings with that decision but tbh sometimes it’s a much needed source of catharsis!

Seeing the amount of music that is coming in at the moment, are you getting any solid indication about the state of Australian music right now as a result?

It can be overwhelming because there is so much good music coming through each and every day. Names we know and love are uploading music they’ve been perfecting over the last twelve months and surprising us with some switch ups every now and again. But even more excitingly (in my opinion) are those artists that truly come out of nowhere.

The best part of Unearthed is that every single song that’s uploaded is listened to at least once in full by a member of the team. So if you upload a good song, you know that someone’s going to hear it and who knows where it’ll go! That’s how I would describe Australian music right now – unexpected. In the absolute best and most exciting way imaginable.