Volume 9, Issue 1
Special Issue: Writing the Social Network
The Music Industry & Social Media
by Jerrod Roberts
Surviging in today's music world is more difficult today than it has been in years past. The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) might not look very good in the eyes of a broke college student whenever they sue someone for an exorbitant amount of money for illegal downloading, but nobody should fault them for trying to protect their business, especially in wake of the numbers that follow. Reports from CNN state that music sales have been declining steadily over the past decade. Album sales in particular drop an average of 8%. For the years spanning 1999-2009, income generated from licensing and sales have dropped from approximately $15 billion to a little above $6 billion. Becoming a multi-millionaire through music is becoming more and more of a challenge...or is it?
|To be successful in business, one has to promote
themselves and/or their product effectively. The music
industry is a big business machine. The guidelines of
running and promoting a band, song or album have changed
since the days of newspaper ads and the like. A well written
album or live show review in magazines and other printed
media have become obsolete with the improvements technology
has made in recent years. Because of this technological
jump, Joyce Persico of NJ.com reports that the compact
will be upon us sooner than we think. Nielsen
SoundScan ratings, the tracking system for the music
industry, state that CD sales in the United States have
dropped over 10% from 2007-2009. There are numerous reasons
for this decline, the most notable one being the Internet.
It almost doesn't need to be mentioned, but piracy has
become laughably easy thanks to the web. The YouTube
phenomenon makes it possible to listen to just about any
song that has ever been made, for FREE. Amazon and iTunes
offer album downloads by the track, an alternative to buying
the entire album. Online radio stations such as Last.fm and
Pandora impact the compact disc as well. Like the song? Buy
it for 99¢ by clicking on the link. Digital downloads
are becoming the main medium for music sales for the
foreseeable future. In 2009, Amazon, iTunes, Pandora and
other radio stations pushed digital licensing income to $84
billion. Over that same time period from 2007-2009, digital
downloads have risen from 10-20% of music sales in the
country. In 2011, digital stores accounted for more than
half of the music sales.
|The integral part of the new model for success
in the music industry is marketability through the Internet.
With music being so easily accessible and numerous mediums
becoming more personalized by the day, people have to come
up with different ways to push what they're trying to sell.
Businesses like the music industry have found the value in
promoting through Facebook and Twitter. Facebook
claims that it has over 800 million users and more than 50%
of that number login daily. The
Post reports that Twitter cracked 100 million users
back in 2010. Using social media such as this makes it
incredibly easy to facilitate information.
|Artists and labels create pages for an easier
way to connect with fans. Lady Gaga's Twitter is followed
by over 16 million people, and Justin Beiber's music video
for his song "Baby"
has over 670 million views on YouTube today. Ask anybody
with advertising experience and 100% of them like the
possibility of half of Facebook coming across their page.
Having a song played on Jersey Shore for 30 seconds and a
bump from MTV could drive thousands of people at any given
moment to the web to search for the track they just heard.
Digging through the crates has effectively become wading
through the Google links. Methods for keeping the momentum
building include having contests for fans, updates,
experiences etc. Using social media to keep in contact with
the fans has become an invaluable tool to those who know how
to use it.
|With regards to the RIAA who might see the music
industry as a "dying" field, using social media to gain
exposure can be an extremely useful tool to the independent
artists who don't have the muscle of a music mogul like Def
Jam and the like. Recently, an artist name Sam
Adams from Boston used social media to rocket his
debut album to #1 in the Hip-Hop charts and even made it
onto the Billboard 100. He did this through establishing a
following in his hometown and promoted himself effectively
through websites with heavy traffic. Another example is
Rebecca Black. Where would she be without YouTube? Not on
the radio and maybe in a vocal coach's work room. Instead,
she used social media effectively and has become a household
name, no matter which way people might want to slice it.
|While the music industry
might not be going to the bank as much as it has in the
past, music is NOT going out of style. As the world evolves,
the way everyone conducts business must evolve.
Opportunities present themselves in many more ways than they
did with the past. With a little bit of dedication, hard
work, creativity and a lot of luck, someone could be playing
a song in a garage today and be a sensation tomorrow.
Visibility and promotion is still the premier way to get
Works CitedFrance, L. "Is the death of the CD looming?" CNN. 20 July 2010. <http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/07/19/cd.digital.sales/index.html>
Persico, J. "CD or not CD? That is the question as industry types predict the demise of the compact disc by the end of 2012." NJ.com. 5 December 2011. <http://www.nj.com/mercer/index.ssf/2011/12/cd_or_not_cd_that_is_the_quest.html>
Facebook.com "Statistics." 2011. <https://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics>
The Huffington Post. "Twitter User Statistics REVEALED." 14 June 2010. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/14/twitter-user-statistics-r_n_537992.html>
Nielsen Wire. "Cue the Music: Driven by Digital, Music Sales up in 2011." Nielsen.com 11 May 2011. <http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/consumer/cue-the-music-driven-by-digital-music-sales-up-in-2011/>
Cross Coast Promotions. "How Social Media Can Drive Sales for Indie Artists." 28 May 2010. <http://crosscoastpromotions.com/platforms/how-social-media-can-drive-sales-for-indie-artists>
Goldman, David. "Music's lost decade: Sales cut in half in 2000s." CNN Money. 3 February 2010. <http://money.cnn.com/2010/02/02/news/companies/napster_music_industry/>
Bieber, Justin. "Baby." YouTube. 19 February 2010. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kffacxfA7G4&ob=av3n>
Lady Gaga. Twitter. <http://twitter.com/ladygaga>