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Digital Stage: Social Media’s Role in Music

Social media has undoubtedly transformed the world of music. Marketing, production, and engagement are now dominated by the influence of social media.

Close-up of boutique recording studio control desk with headset, microphone, and computers
Shutterstock/Nejron Photo

Social media is one of the most powerful tools in the world right now. It has revolutionized the way people receive and relay information. Social media has directly impacted the music industry in an abundance of ways, positive and negative. In the era of social media, we are seeing developing trends, forming communities, and global connections. Social media is constantly evolving and will continue to influence music as it develops.

Production, marketing, and the general experience of music have completely changed. If artists are not up to date with the influence of social media, it can be easy for them to fall behind. Either way, the show must go on…

Production

Production is the first stage of music. Thanks to different forms of social media, artists can now record and distribute music independently, often not needing to utilize record labels at all. Record labels often have a specific style or a set of rules for an artist to follow, but independent creation allows the artist to have full reign over their work. Not only this, but it is allowing people to create music in their own homes, potentially saving new artists a lot of money.

Musicians are also becoming increasingly aware of the time length of popular apps. TikTok, for example, is known for its 15-second videos. People will often create dances or videos to the catchiest part of a song, so some musicians are making shorter songs and most are making sure they have that particularly catchy bridge. Becoming the next viral hit is every artists goal in this era of media. Social media has also made collaboration between artists easier than ever. Reaching out to others as well as creating remotely is very accessible now.

A man producing electronic music in a project home recording studio. Silhouette. Black and white image.
Credit: Shutterstock/ Evgeny Drablenkov

Social media provides a lot of insight for artists on what their audience wants. Social media has made upbeat, pop songs very popular as they are fun to create dances to. On the other hand, people on social media are looking for meaningful songs. It is common to find superficial content within media, so people are constantly seeking out meaningful interactions. Listening to what the people want makes producing music intentional, striving to achieve a decided standard.

Taking each form of social media into consideration has become essential for musicians. Knowing your primary audience is important when picking what tactics will work best. Some musicians struggle with the dependency on social media for a song to do well, while others are easily taking advantage of it.

One artist, Music by Blanks, let’s his followers fill in the blanks to his lyrics and choose the instruments he uses to create a song. This interactive production makes his music personal and exciting for his followers. None of this would be possible without social media.

Marketing

Marketing has always been important, especially when a musician is just starting. It is an ever-evolving machine and one of the most essential parts of a career. Social media has provided the most adaptive, influential form of marketing.

Artists are changing the way they market, for example Taylor Swift has adapted to the new standard of spreading information. For her album Midnights, she released a video every night at midnight announcing the titles of her tracks. Each video was a short 15 seconds, but they were filled with easter eggs about the album and the suspense had people around the globe waiting for that midnight video.

Social media also provides artists with new insight into their audiences. Sites provide information on gender, age, and demographics. Creators can use this information to figure out what they’re doing right or wrong as well as who their primary viewers are. These tools provide incredible insight when creating new content.

Other artists have found that social media provides an incredible way to market their music early on in their careers for free. Social media is the easiest way to market at an international level. It allows artists to directly engage with their fanbase and share a lot more with fans. Some artists go on live streams, share behind-the-scenes, or do questionnaires. A tactic new artists are using is posting their song every day until it goes viral. Social media truly allows endless forms of interaction, boosting interest and engagement.

Consumption

Some artists say songs they released years prior became popular on TikTok for a trend and got more revenue than ever before, seemingly at random. Yoke Lore’s song, “Beige” went viral on TikTok, an app he didn’t even have downloaded. He was touring and releasing music during this time, but the trend made his career blow up in a new way and allowed him to promote new music and thank people for listening. Many people share a similar experience, crediting different social medias for their success.

@yokelore

hi i’m yoke lore, stay tuned for more #indiemusic #indiefolk #yokelore

♬ Beige – Yoke Lore

Streaming is the primary way people listen to music today. Artists today receive most revenue through their streams rather than in physical purchases. The world has become digital, so artists are constantly discovered through promoted ads or going viral. Whether an artist purposefully utilizes social media or not, it’s the most likely way they will become discovered.

Many influencers use audio in their new videos, providing a great opportunity for new musicians. If an influencer uses or purposefully promotes someone’s new song, it is likely their followers will listen to it. Collaborative playlists are another way social media has provided us with a way to find and share music. Discovery through playlists, influencers, and the algorithm has transformed the way we consume media.

Downfalls

Others, especially new artists, have found it difficult to get their music to the world. It is becoming true that if your song doesn’t end up being a viral dance or emotional trend, it doesn’t do as well. Social media can be a frightening mountain to climb. Being well-versed in social media has become a requirement, which not everyone is happy with.

Another concern is the rising chance of one-hit-wonders. Many artists will have one song do extremely well but struggle to have the rest of their music compare. This has happened a lot in the past, but it seems to be much more frequent with recent trends. When a song becomes a certain level of popular, it can be hard for an artist to capture that attention again. Some artists claim they get stuck in a cycle of creating the same music repeatedly or having their other songs be unappreciated.

Blonde woman listening to music on social media while sitting on a couch with headphones and laptop
Credit: Shutterstock/Dejan Dundjerski

Becoming dependent on the algorithm is a concern for many artists. Social media has the potential to take out the personal level of discovering music and replace it with an organized feed of your predetermined interests. In a world of artificial intelligence and superficial interactions, it’s important that we keep the experience of music personal and meaningful.

With the sheer amount of music that is being put out constantly, it makes it hard for an artist to stand out. Trying to beat out already famous celebrities for views can sound impossible as well as simply gaining traction in general with the amount of product being released. Gaining consistent visibility and recognition can be hard on social media’s digital stage. Learning how to use social media most effectively becomes essential, and it still doesn’t always work.

Future

The future is always unknown, but it is unlikely social media is going anywhere soon. The digital world is constantly evolving and we will likely see more opportunities constantly developing for the music industry. Some artists will continue to strive for that viral hit, while others will likely find the niche area of the internet where they find the right audience.

Streaming platforms are creating new tools for artists. Personalization and data are becoming more intelligent and targeted to advance algorithms for listeners. A great benefit of social media is the easy discovery of a certain niche. If someone knows what they are looking for, they can look it up very specifically and find what they like.

The more people do this, the less essential it is to become viral and the more essential it is to focus on the target audience. Social media is becoming so influential, that artists are forming their business models around it. Monetizing interaction through social media will likely develop in new ways, resulting in us experiencing music in plenty of new formats.

People at concert recording a video or photo with red lights.
Credit: Shutterstock/luckyraccoon

Finally, virtual reality, lenses, gaming, and the entire digital world are growing. We might experience and discover music through things like Snapchat filters or in video games more often. We could even begin to watch concerts through VR headsets. The possibilities are truly endless when it comes to the future of music through social media and technology.

Conclusion

The impact of social media on the music industry is undeniable. Musicians are using platforms every day to promote and create music. While there are many potential challenges the music industry faces, there are equally as many benefits provided by social media. By using social media to our benefit, we can create and consume music in new and exciting ways every day.

Written By

English Literature, Culture, and Writing student at OU who loves reading, writing, music, animals, and gaming!

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