Joe Bonamassa on social media guitar playing: “The inspiration is the dopamine you get from the comment sections. For me, personally, that’s not the lifestyle I want to live”

The blues maestro uses social media as much as the rest of us, but is acutely aware of its implications.

Joe Bonamassa

Credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

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Joe Bonamassa took the traditional route to success in the guitar world. Since opening for BB King aged just 12, the blues maestro has released 15 solo albums – 11 of which have reached Number 1 Billboard Blues chart – and has played more shows than we bother to count over the course of his decades-spanning career. But that doesn’t mean he’s not clued up on the methods modern guitarists are using to get their name out there.

In a new appearance on drummer Kenny Aronoff’s Sessions podcast, Bonamassa weighs in on the pros and cons of utilising social media as a means of achieving success.

“I find now, looking at the guitar world in general in 2023, I find it in a state of crossroads,” he says. “People have learned how to make real money by sitting in from of a camera and putting it on Instagram on YouTube and becoming an influencer. Which is great. I encourage anyone with a business model to do it like that.”

But on the flip side, he continues: “How long you can stay inspired doing one-minute videos is up to the individual. And I find that if I feel the need to stay relevant because I haven’t posted something in a minute and I just go, ‘I haven’t played guitar today but let me tune this Les Paul up and do a one-minute video.’

“I’ve been guilty of this in the past where that one minute where it took me to film something in one take and just throw on Instagram was the only minute of music I had made that entire day. And that’s not for me. That’s crossing a line where your inspiration is the dopamine you’re going to get from the comment sections of your social media. So for me personally, that’s not the lifestyle I want to live.”

Elsewhere in the conversation, JoBo says his primary inspiration as a guitarist and songwriter has never been to be relevant, in the eyes of the media, at least.

“I will say this about relevancy in terms of my career; I never have been and never will be,” he says. “I do a very specific thing. I know exactly what the fans want to hear and the question is, would you rather please the critics at Rolling Stone or please the fans that put you there? My answer unequivocally is; please the fans that put you there.

“So if that means there’s a big sludgy blues rock song with an overblown solo at the end, I’m doing it. Because that’s what people seem to enjoy. I’m not the one who’s going to come out and drastically change the show; ‘I’m not feeling playing guitar so I’m just going to stand up here and sing for you.’ What, are you crazy? This is what these people paid for. This is the experience that you’re selling.”

Joe Bonamassa is set to drop a new album with Black Country Communion some time in the near future. While we’re yet to see an official title and release date, you can head to Bonamassa’s Instagram page to see some behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the album.

For a full list of Joe Bonamassa’s upcoming tour dates, head to his official website.

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