Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Importance of Social Media for Musicians

In the late 1990’s, “web 1.0” saw the mp3 and file sharing programs revolutionize music marketing, primarily the product and price, and the industry as a whole. Over the past few years, “web 2.0” has dramatically changed the place and promotion of music with the help of social media websites. Social media sites, such as facebook, myspace and twitter, are ushering in a new low cost, efficient and effective way for musicians to create buzz, promote their art, interact with fans and ultimately increase their popularity and sales. According to Tom Williams of the Hit Singularity blog, the six goals of a social media campaign for a band are to:

1. Reach more people.

2. Keep their fans informed.

3. Allow people to sample their music.

4. Sell their music and merchandise.

5. Have content that people pass along to friends.

6. Engage their fans to encourage continued interest.

One social media site that is a great tool for musicians and recently has become immensely popular is twitter. Although twitter lacks media content, it is a great way to keep fans informed and interested in an artist and their music. One artist that comes to mind that has mastered the use of twitter (and the media for that matter) is John Mayer. Like him or not, Mr. Mayer currently ranks sixth in terms of followers (second with musicians) with over 3 million people following his tweets. Another well-known John in the music industry, Jon Bon Jovi, isn’t too well-known on twitter.

If you google “Bon Jovi Twitter” the first result that comes up is First of all, the page doesn’t exist. Second of all, twitter is for connecting with fans, not selling merchandise! The second and third results of the search are fan created twitter accounts that do not even break 500 followers combined. The fourth result is a site with a twitter widget that has about 64,000 Bon Jovi followers.

Although twitter is only one social media resource for artists in a sea of many, how does the use (or lack there of) of social media sites affect record sales? According to Billboard, Mayer sold 286,000 copies of his new album “Battle Studies” his first week while Bon Jovi sold 163,000 of his new album “The Circle.” If younger music fans traditionally download illegally and older music fans still buy CDs, why did Mayer’s sell almost twice as much? Albeit there are many factors to consider here, nobody can deny that the effective use of social media sites are an important factor of a successful marketing strategy and can help today’s musicians by keeping fans interested and engaged, acquiring a larger fan base and ultimately selling more records.

- Steve Jordan


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