Between A Rock And A Myspace: How social media is changing music promotion

In the 2006, I made my first Music Myspace page for an artist by the name of Chase Coy. It was designed to promote this artists’ music, letting fans listen to his songs while scrolling through his pictures, biography and upcoming performance dates. That winter we started out with a handful of fans on this page, people who would receive updates on their page about Chase and his music. By the summer of 2007, Chase had hundreds of thousands of fans; people even displayed his music on their personal Myspaces. In that year, Chase had played no shows as an artist or made any real efforts to promote his music live. However, I had helped Chase reach fans through this means of social networking. He became the number one unsigned artist in the United States, and thousands of people were listening to his music every day.

Social media sites like Myspace have become the cornerstone in the promotion of artists in the music industry. Promoters, managers, labels and artists are utilizing these sites to connect with fans on a personal level in a direct medium. The grass roots mentality has been applied to gaining fans more and more, as the Internet creates more globally connected communities. Now, just a few years after I set up Chase’s artist Myspace, new sites are now coming out as alternatives and supplements. Twitter, Facebook blog hosts, and several other sites all have applications for musicians that are heavily trafficked by new listeners, dedicated fans, and everyone in between.

Twitter has become an innovative way to grow a fan base. Justin Bieber is a primary case study for the effectiveness of tweeting. In the new documentary film about Bieber, Never Say Never, the young artist’s manager speaks to how much Twitter helped to push Bieber into mega fame. He would tweet to his fans, letting them know where he was performing, be it a gig or a radio station. These fans, after making this connection with Bieber, would come to hear him perform (Mapes). Other artists like Kanye West, Best Coast and 50 Cent receive additional attention because of their entertaining tweets.

Facebook has also become a profound way to promote artists, reaching millions of people who use their own Facebook sites everyday. The social media giant has even created the options for artists to develop pages specifically for promoting their music. These pages are now equipped with music streaming capabilities as well as way to help promote merchandise and ticket sales (“Music On Facebook”). Artists’ official websites and even other social networking mediums are constantly pointing to their Facebook fan pages. Facebook Ads has also become an easy and cheap way for artists to promote themselves. However, it is widely debated how effective this advertising is at reaching listeners.

Blogging continues to be a way that bands reach their fans on a personal level. Though many band websites have a blog embedded into their official websites, sites like Tumblr and Blogspot are also populated by artists who use these blogs to document their work. These are often used as a primary location for bands to inform fans about their tours or upcoming news about their recordings or press dates. Dan Frommer references Tumblr in an article for Business Insider. He cites the “Myspace collapse” as a huge growth opportunity for the micro-blogging website. This is because “1) better support for static pages like ‘tour dates,’ ‘bio,’ etc., and 2) some sort of digital playlist tool for music samples.” Tumblr and other blogs are proving to be a more intimate way to connect with fans, because of the ability to write extensively about upcoming shows, releases and news.

This trend is constantly and continuously evolving. Everyday there are new ways to reach fans via social networking and new websites. But with the growing number of sites and growing number of users, there will be new ways to filter this information. Fans will be able to more easily customize the information they receive on these sites, and when. They will also be able to access it more easily on their phones and other mobile devices. Some may view the increase of artist activity maybe take away from their performance as artists. Helienne Lindvall writes in an article for The Guardian, that she finds that artists become consumed with social net working and it takes away from their work as songwriters (“Behind the Music”).

Despite an added source of stress, social networking does primarily positive things for a mucian’s career. In a study of local musicians in various cities, Carey Sargent found that an online presence could accelerate an artist’s career. “Extra-local connections were not only formed between geographic places, but also by the creation of a ubiquitous, hyperlinked, on-line presence (478).” By connecting with fans and the music industry online, musicians are creating new ways to promote their music and reach an endlessly-searching public.
Works Cited

Frommer, Dan. “Music On Facebook.” Jan. 12, 2011. (accessed February 20, 2011).

Lindvall, Helienne. “Behind the music: The winners and losers of social networking promotion.” Sept. 23, 2010. (accessed February 20, 2011).

Mapes, Jillian. “Breaking Bieber.” January 28, 2011. (accessed February 20, 2011).

“Music On Facebook.” (accessed February 20, 2011).

Sargent, Carey. 2009. “LOCAL MUSICIANS BUILDING GLOBAL AUDIENCES.” Information, Communication & Society 12, no. 4: 469-487. Communication & Mass Media Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 22, 2011).

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