“Call Me Maybe:” A case study

24Sep12

As a window into how the mainstream music industry is affected by social media trends, the New York Times decided to investigate the success of Carly Rae Jepsen’s summer hit “Call Me Maybe.” 

Only a year ago, the charts were dominated by stars who had come out of the old machine of radio and major-label promotion. … This year’s biggest hits… started in left field and were helped along by YouTube and Twitter before coming to the mainstream media.

A major contribution to Jepsen’s success is the influence of YouTube. With remixes by Justin Beiber, Katy Perry, and the Olympic swim team among others, it was hard not to see at least some version of “Call Me Maybe” being bounced via popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

With a lot of hype generated by social media, Epic Record’s senior vice president for marketing, Scott Seviour says,

In this day and age, artist development is about how do you turn 10 Facebook likes into 100, into 1,000.

Based on the article, I find a few things unsettling. Firstly, it seems as though if you play your social-media cards right, you can get a megahit. But how does a musician prevent herself from becoming a one-hit wonder? Does it become easier or more difficult to produce a second megahit? Secondly, with YouTube’s important role in making music available to the masses, much more time may be spent on making video than focusing on the artist’s musical integrity. Which brings me to my third point: when a record label considers artist development to be the accumulation of likes on Facebook, who will develop the artist as an artist? Mainstream music may not be the “highest caliber” of musicianship, but it seems that with the influence of social media, musicians may feel as if they need to churn out that next smash video so they can get their next paycheck rather than focus on their musical integrity. In this case, is YouTube killing l’art pour l’art?

~Senia

Article: The New Rise of a Summer Hit: Tweet it Maybe

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