When one considers that the first major social network was the music website MySpace, one can appreciate how music and social networking have always been intrinsically linked. From YouTube to SoundCloud, social networking has not only allowed artists to build their overall brand and interact with fans, but also simply put their music out there in a new format. Some industry analysts have been disdainful of the effects of social media on the music industry, but in reality social networking has been a profit builder for music at a time when sales forecasts were anything but cheery. Social networking and the digital era of music were born together, and hopefully will grow together at the same pace in years to come.
The day the MySpace music died: the new era of musical social networking
MySpace was revolutionary in its time for bringing musicians and their fans closer together, and allowing artists of any size or stature to post their music, videos and tour dates online. The silent decline of MySpace was not a warning shot for the music industry; rather it signalled a new internet era with specialised websites for each of a musicians’ needs. They could post their tour dates as Facebook events while uploading new music to Youtube while also chatting with fans on Twitter. The diversification of the tools available to musicians is important, because it has allowed musicians at different stages of their career to place their efforts in different places. For a young band starting out, being able to post videos to YouTube and enable people to hear their music is the most important thing. For an established star like Taylor Swift, being able to tweet personal messages to fans or make them aware of tour dates, TV appearances and fan-voted awards is much more useful.
YouTube and the Justin Bieber effect
Many people forget that not too long ago, global superstar Justin Bieber was one of thousands of musical hopefuls posting videos of himself on YouTube to build a fan-base and hopefully get spotted. Nowadays it is a different kind of social media that he rules: on Twitter, his ‘belibers’ are so powerful and numerous that they make Justin a trending topic every other day. Justin Bieber’s transition from one type of social networking to another demonstrates well why social networking has adapted (especially in the past two years) to fit whatever mould is needed for an artist. Moving away from established stars, this multi-platform ability of social media is particularly notable in the independent music scene, as it allows independent musicians either trying to sell their music themselves or find a label to develop a multi-pronged strategy. By using different social media and networking sites, they can build momentum and achieve their goals in a way that just was not possible before social networking.
Why social media helps, not hinders, sales
Why, many ask, would a person buy a single or an album when they can listen to it on social media sites like YouTube or SoundCloud for free? The answer is practicality: YouTube works best as a gateway and not as a permanent music player. Best of all social networking is actually helping to cut down on one of the most serious problems for the music industry in the past decade: music piracy. By providing a simple link to iTunes within a video or in a tweet, musicians can direct fans to legal downloading platforms which drive up digital sales. It is no coincidence that the rise of social media and the rise in legal downloading have ran parallel to each other: they each create a positive feedback loop which enables to other to grow—benefiting artists and their labels alike.
This is a post by Jefferson Vergo. Jefferson is a freelance writer and an occasional guest-blogger and a huge tech enthusiast. He is currently working for CLEAR wireless provider company. When he is has free time he likes to travel and read.