“Hi, my name is Sarah and I live on Twitter lane. It’s literally the singular road that leads to every opportunity,” said one Twitter user when asked how she believes Twitter to have affected the music industry.
As of July 2011, there are over 300 million Twitter users. According to research, Twitter users are more engaged with music than their non-tweeting counterparts. They are also more likely to spend money on music – according to research from the NPD Group. Tweeters, in fact, were found to purchase 77% more digital downloads than those who didn’t use the social networking site.
Marketing Charts reports suggest that this may be as Twitter has the potential to spread the word about new music and stimulate purchases of songs, albums and concert tickets.
The majority of artists – as well as those on the more business side of things – have been quick to come to the same conclusion. DJ Misty, an up and coming music producer said: “Twitter keeps people up to date with releases and allows the artists to interact with the fans and gauge what is and isn’t popular.”
Cynikal, a recording artist said: “Twitter is a great tool to directly communicate with my listeners and let them know what’s happening. It also lets them into my day to day life – projecting my personality and beliefs.”
In this day and age where it is so easy to illegally get a-hold of music, films, and other sources of entertainment, it is suggested that feeling like you have a personal relationship with an artist will make you more likely to purchase their music as opposed to obtaining it through other measures.
This is partly because Twitter allows users to get an insight into the lives of artists, seeing how hard they work and what their passions and beliefs are. “It’s broken the barriers of communication,” suggests Clement Marfo, an up and coming recording artist. “Fans can now contact their favourite music artists, and the artist can now reveal the character behind the mysterious polished brand.” This in turn may make Tweeters more willing to reward artists with the respect and monetary capital that purchasing their music, as opposed to downloading it illegally, affords. Justin Tinsley, a contributor to one of the biggest hip hop websites agreed, saying: “It goes back to consumer confidence, you’re going to buy something from someone you feel like you know.”
It also helps songs and artists to become ‘viral’ much quicker, argues Alex, an avid Tweeter. This is often in conjunction with the use of other social networking sites such as YouTube and Tumblr. Lily Allen was one of the first artists to capitalize on social networking sites, having posted several demo songs on MySpace near the end of 2005. As the views on the site rose to the tens of thousands, Regal Recordings approached her, and a contract was born. Since then, many artists have climbed the ranks by utilizing social networking to increase their profile.
“Twitter is like a party,” said Cynikal. “The more your name gets used, the more you get seen.” This is also suggested to be linked to the number of followers an individual has. “It’s the number of followers one has that determines the scale of their profile” suggested Mr. L, a West London DJ.
In addition to the fact that Twitter helps to build a relationship between artist and fan, many suggest that it also helps build networks within the industry. “It helps me build my network foundation, making it easy to get in touch with the people you want to know and have common interests with” said Sarah, an up and coming singer. North London singer Jareth, also agrees with this statement, suggesting that Twitter is where she sources a lot of her contacts, in terms of video guys, stylists and other such individuals.
But it is suggested that not all genres benefit equally from having a social media presence. In 2010, Rolling Stone’s ‘Year in Review’ reported that hip-hop sales increased 3%, while most other genres experienced double-digit losses. This is suggested to be partly due to hip-hop artists increased presence in social media.
Tinsley said: “Hip-hop is an ‘in your face’ type of music and now social media is just another way to accomplish that. Hip-Hop artists use it as a means to connect with their fans more effectively than I think other artists from other genres.” He went on to say: “Hip-Hop artists release so much music for free [and] I think if you build a strong enough fan base, when it is time to actually put out a retail project most of them will support you.”
Snoop Dogg, a Hip-Hop legend agrees whole heartedly that Twitter has changed the music industry, even going so far as to urge all aspiring musicians to embrace it if they wish to succeed. “I feel it’s the number one key in music right now,” he said, crediting it for keeping him relevant.
Photo by _DaniloRamos
As written for: WNOL