Music Industry & Social Media


The music recording industry according to this week’s reading is evolving, and many of the roles artists and music industry representatives have played in the last decade are no longer the same.

For example, record labels and broadcast radio’s roles as cultural intermediaries have diminished somewhat in the past few years according to the author of “Rethinking Media.” According to the author, “Consumer tastes are changing, and record labels and radio are no longer the cultural arbitrators they once were. Music listeners are moving away from the mass-produced music consumption habits of the broadcast media to the more tailored and personalized experiences of the social media age.”

The Harvey reading suggests that the “internet-supported distributed network model” help indie artists and labels to “exponentially expand(ed) into a patchwork global network of collaborators, consumers, fans…” In the Internet Age, social media provides artists more venues to connect with fans as well as forge new relationships with other artists and even industry representatives. However, as noted in the Zwaan and Bogt study, new artists have more luck when employing soft skills such as networking with the right people at the right time in order to get their big breaks.

This article from Billboard[1] highlights how social media can enable the mass audience to serve as a cultural intermediary for new music and how it can help new artists garner attention from the public, which can eventually lead to a contract with a label. Specifically, 16-year old Austin Mahone is following in the footsteps of Justin Bieber and Greyson Chance who both scored recording contracts after appearances on YouTube. In fact, Billboard now has a Social 50 chart that tracks the most popular artists on social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Mahone re-entered the chart with his latest video, joining other more established artists such as Alicia Keys and Pink. His latest offering has over 1.5 million views on YouTube (a 231% increase), and he has added 195,000 new fans on his Facebook page as well as 25,000 followers on Twitter. Mahone now has a 360 deal with Chase/Universal Republic.

The article then goes on to detail how more established mainstream artists frequent the charts because of their activities on social media, connecting with fans and promoting their latest releases. This reflects the shift towards more personalized experiences for fans and a push to make artists more than just their craft, but rather a brand in themselves.

– Tunga Lodato

[1] “Austin Mahone’s ‘Say Somethin’ Video Sparks Return to Social 50 Chart” by William Gruger (9/21/12). <>

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