How Internet & Social Media are Changing the Music Industry

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Video dated June 29, 2015

If you’re of a certain age, the golden age of pop music was the 1980s.

When MTV burst onto the scene and a fleet of media savvy new artists—Madonna, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper—had the public hypnotized with their carefully orchestrated album cycles, which usually consisted of a full-length LP, a handful of music videos and singles, gracing the cover of Rolling Stone, and a tour.


Music now couldn’t be more different. Singers and bands are forgoing once-necessary record labels and bringing their music to YouTube, Soundcloud, iTunes, and Spotify on their own. Publicists and magazine interviews are almost completely unnecessary—if Rihanna wants her fans know about something, she puts it out on Twitter or Instagram.


That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The way we consume music had changed, too. In 2014, digital music sales dropped while streaming via online outlets like Spotify and Pandora grew 54 percent. Back in 2016, for every minute of the day, around 38,052 hours of music was listened to on Spotify. Over the course of the year, this totals up to over 20 billion hours of music being listened on Spotify alone.


The video (above) tells more about this trend, and the role it plays in the ever-changing music industry.

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What has enabled this fundamental change? 

Social Media platforms have given musicians more control over the distribution of their music and through the use of services such as Bandcamp, many artists now have the option to bypass the industry conventions completely.


This phenomenon of small-scale indie publishing and the increased bargaining power for music listeners has ultimately led to a saturated and highly competitive environment for music artists.


In today’s digital music environment, the threat of substitution is high. Artists must not only compete with other contemporary musicians but also with the recorded archives of popular bands such as The Beatles, Michael Jackson or Adele, whose complete back catalogues are easily available to stream online for free.


Furthermore, due to the rise in digital music production software such as FL Studio or Ableton music creation is now more accessible than it ever has been before. Because of this, there are now millions of artists, which ultimately leads to more variety and choice listeners.


Not only has the sales of musical equipment risen again to new all-time highs, but retro formats of music storage such as vinyl and even cassettes have begun to make a comeback.


“TRIBES” enable artists to pursue their dreams without millions of follower.

Seth Godin wrote a book and did a TED talk on the idea of tribes, a social unit from the distant past of human society, and how this mentality is being revived.


Seth of course, explains the concept in a much better way than we can, but the general idea is that “ordinary” people can influence a smaller and more niche set of followers.

Social media has played a massive role in rekindling this tribal group mindset. Artists in all industries no longer need to appeal to millions of people to succeed and make their mark. Instead, a group of even a few hundred loyal followers can enable the artist in question to pursue their dreams.

The results of this drastic change are phenomenal. Instead of artists having to adhere to certain genre’s or change themselves to appeal to more people, they can remain true to their essence and create whatever they want (well, within reason!).


What’s more, this fundamental change has been aided by platforms such as Patreon, a website where fans can pledge a monthly amount of money to their favourite artists.


Considering all of that, there has never been a better time to be an independent musician. It means that artists, regardless of genre, can focus on the part that matters most – the music.


It doesn’t just benefit the musicians though. Listeners now have more choice than ever before and the various and previously mentioned mass music streaming platforms have empowered them with the ability to discover content that they otherwise would have missed!

Tips for musicians to succeed across social media platforms:

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FACEBOOK

  • Keep an active, on brand profile showcasing your latest releases
  • Create a list of relevant groups to post your content in – update this list at least once a month
  • Harness the power of Facebook Livestream to transform your local gig to a global event

TWITTER

  • Create a list of relevant hashtags to post your content in for example #140bmp, #UKMusic or #Acoustic. Update this list as frequently as you can for best results
  • Use a social scheduling tool such as Buffer to create a playlist of your music which will be automatically posted to your followers as well as new audiences with the utilisation of targeted and relevant hashtags

INSTAGRAM

  • Create interesting behind-the-scenes content to share with your following – for example, if you are planning to release new music soon, you can tease your audience with short videos taken from the studio
  • popular influencers on Instagram who can promote your brand to new audiences

SNAPCHAT

  • Create a Snapchat Geofilter to support your live shows and encourage social sharing
  • Like Instagram, promote upcoming music by sharing small pieces from the studio with your following

SOUNDCLOUD

  • Upload tracks that listeners can download for free
  • Harness the power of tags to enhance your reach
  • Syndicate your content across the rest of your social network profiles
  • Embed your content on your website page or blog and encourage others in your community to do so too
  • Add the SoundCloud icon, along with the rest of your social icons to the footer of your website
  • Harness the power of ‘Artists Union’ to get free replays and follows when users download your content

Tips to promote your music online:

  • Give your music away for free to capture leads on Bandcamp or your own channels
  • Put your music up for streaming on Youtube, Spotify, and iTunes
  • Provide your music stems online for free and encourage other artists to remix your tracks
  • Consider licensing your music for advertising

Conclusion

The music industry is constantly evolving and social media has proven to be a major influence in that during the last decade. No doubt, the various strategies that musicians can utilise to stay relevant will keep changing again and again.


If you’re an artist, a big piece of advice that we can offer you is to stay on your toes and don’t neglect any of the social media platforms due to your personal opinion of them. If your audience there, then you should be taking advantage of that!


Finally, if you found this article to be helpful, we’d really appreciate you sharing it with your audience! 


Thanks for reading!