Let’s think about the impact and the role social media are playing in the game of online music consumption, marketing and distribution nowadays.
I got inspired by a good read by Kyle Bylin on hypebot to drill a little deeper into this.
She asks an intriguing question, are file-sharers killing the careers of artists that the record and music industries create, or is it rather an effect of social media users spamming music consumers (themselves) with masses of new artists, that get hyped and burn out before they had the chance to develop their full potentials or – on the consumer side – got noticed to a degree that would connect them to a lasting fan base.
The authors conclusion is that both, industry professionals and fans need to resist the temptation of demanding new acts to appear in the frequency of new Twitter posts and learn how to savor music as a precious good that lasts a long time.
I receive loads of Facebook posts everyday directing me to tracks on youtube. The majority – nearly all – are old tracks from artists I and my FB network adore for a long time. It’s pretty much a ‘do you remember’ system not a ‘this is hot and new’ one, like the ‘best of’ radio stations.
Same with soundcloud. Via my dropboxes / account I’d say 95% of all music I get connected to is new material from artists I already know, that I follow proactively or labels I work together with. So I doubt that social networks do actually speed up the rise of new artists in an unnatural and unhealthy way. New tracks by artists I follow get my immediate attention, yes. But the few new artists I receive via these channels are not relevant to this matter.
Another thing I want to draw your attention to is the very limited quality digital promotion has today. As a journalist you prefer to listen to the music rather than snippets, voice overs or other spoilers labels use to avoid instant file-sharing. What I want to say is that most music being shared / posted is music that is already out there, released without voiceovers or limitations. And being shared – concerning what I said before – implies that this artists already have a fan base or at least a decent couple of people being interested.
So it’s a matter of how long an artist is in the focus of it’s potential audience.
Question: Was is any different in the pre-social network days?
I assume that social networks bring all this artists to the surface of our attention for a very short period of time, that no one ever heard of, when music promotion was in the hands of MTV. Did more artists manage to break back then?
I don’t see social networks as a reason for a diminished lifetime of artists, they just highlight the ones temporarily, that wouldn’t have made it in the traditional media channels either. In the 80/90ies this phenomenon was called the one hit wonder, today it’s the latest twitter post.
I’d be curious to get information on the percentage of new (potential victims of Bylins assumption) artists vs. established ones on online radio and streaming channels. As well as insight in how the respective editors do get knowledge of the artists they put on rotation.