Social media has completely changed the way people interact with each other. We are all connected in ways that were never possible before. This doesn’t just affect our personal lives, but also how businesses engage with customers and market their goods and services. Though not inherently businesses, bands and musicians have also greatly changed the way they market themselves and interact with fans through social media. This change has also ushered in a massive change in the way music is sold through the integration of mobile technology. However, these changes have not all been positive.
Working closely with bands, and being a musician myself, I have seen this change firsthand, and have conflicted feelings about the results. To get some other perspectives, I also talked to a few musicians about their experience with social media and mobile technology, and asked them about their experiences with social media and mobile technology’s influence on the music industry, sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse.
Possibly the biggest shift in music that has come through social media has been through an increased level of interaction between musicians and their fans. While I have had some experience with this, I wanted to talk with someone who deals with this on a larger scale. I talked to Michael Franzino of alone. and A Lot Like Birds about some of his experiences with fan interaction through social media.
Michael Franzino: “Bands like mine are in no small way cripplingly dependent on social media. The dawn of the Myspace age really bridged an egregious gap between being a major label artist and a local no name act. Where the internet brought on the death of album sales, it took the power of making a band accessible and put it into the fan’s and band’s hands, cutting out a great deal of the need for corporate middle men.”
Giving the power back to musicians and their fans is a massive paradigm shift within the music industry. Before musicians began embracing social media, music labels carried a huge majority of the power when it came to what music made it into the hands of consumers.
Now, the ability to present your music to a wide range of fans is attainable through Facebook and other social platforms, especially considering that, according to an infographic by Case Western Reserve University, Americans spend more than an hour on social media daily, and 83% of social media users worldwide have a Facebook account. Social media puts musicians in power when it comes to getting the word out about their live shows, album releases, or merchandise for sale.
Recently, bands have taken this interaction to a new level and embraced crowdfunding. This has proven to be a successful way for some musicians to fund projects without using traditional means. When going this route, it is especially important for musicians to utilize social media and be mindful of their tactics. I talked to Michael about this as well, since he used crowdfunding for his newest project, alone., and asked him what kind of impact social media had on a crowdfunded project like this.
At shows, the ability for bands to get their products to their fans has grown in huge ways recently. Since I started going to shows as a teenager, it was just an accepted fact that if you wanted to buy merchandise, you needed cash. Everyone knew where the closest ATMs were to our favorite venues, and how long it took to walk there and back so you didn’t miss anything.
This no longer has to be the case, however. With the introduction of mobile payment technology like The Square Reader, (or other alternatives, if you have concerns about some of the issues Square has), bands have now been able to accept card payments for merchandise. Considering mobile app revenue is expected to grow to $24.5 billion in 2016, it only makes sense that this technology would be a natural fit in the music world.