There was a time, not too long ago, where recording from music TV programmes on tape and finding out what your favourite band was up to through the pages of a magazine was the norm.
However, fifteen years later (and roughly 1.4 million* manufactured pop groups later), this model of how one kept up to date with music is hopelessly outdated.
Social Media has had a massive impact on how we buy, share, and appreciate music. In 2003, MySpace was the social network du jour, and began to attract musicians to their site, which in turn boosted their profile. People were finding out about new artists such as the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen, and sharing their music through their own profiles. Facebook too got in the act, by creating pages for bands, which regular Facebook users could ‘like’ and be kept up to date with information such as gigs, album release dates and remixes.
If MySpace and Facebook gave fans news of their favourite bands, Twitter and Instagram gave fans the VIP backstage pass. Often a PR’s nightmare, both social networking allow us to visually see what artists are up into, and what they actually think. Seventy percent of Twitter’s top ten followed users are musicians, with Katy Perry at number one with over 53.5 million followers, which is just under the total population of England.
How has social media changed the way we view music? YouTube, founded in 2005, is now the first destination for new music. Why premiere your new track to one or two million people in the UK on Top of the Pops, when you can premiere your track to a billion people internationally on YouTube?
But what does this all mean? The Guardian ran a story last year on how the biggest radio station in the UK, BBC’s Radio 1 picks new music for their playlists. “Soundcloud hits, Shazam ratings, Twitter followers and Facebook likes” are read out for each potential new track. Nigel Harding, Radio 1’s music policy executive comments that: “[online presence] is a decent marker of a band's status. If there's very marginal interest in a record online, or none, then it's a little red flag for us”.
Essentially, as a music artist, having a good social media strategy is just as, if not more, important than having a good voice. So sing your song, but ensure that a couple of thousand followers are listening.
*This figure is made up, but probably true.