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Why Social Media is the Best Thing that Could've Happened for the Music Industry

Words by Niamh Ingram

Photography by Holly Phillips

Social media: it’s a massive thing and impacts every aspect of our lives. As someone who studies digital media, I’m immersed in the online world. For a little while now, I've wondered: how beneficial is social media to the music industry? 

The answer is simple: very. 

You don’t have to go far at all to see this. Take yourself onto a festival’s social media page. I guarantee that you’ll see all sorts of promotional posts: videos, sneak previews, even interactive games being played with followers. Prior to the real boom of social media, all you’d find would be a poster. On this poster, you’d find the festival lineup. Easy, yes? Not anymore. We find our timelines saturated with hashtag rollouts, plugs to download an app to find the acts there - some festivals even get potential goers to snoop around across social medias in order to piece together the lineup for themselves. Maaaajor Sherlock Holmes vibes.  

It makes sense though, a study conducted by MusicWatch found that 90% of social media users take part in some form of music or artist related activity on social platforms – so where else is better for a company to plug their hardly-negotiated lineup? 

We can build on this; two-thirds of social media users agree that they discover new artists on social media, and nearly 60% are visiting online streaming services or platforms to listen to their music after they see an update, tweet or post. I appreciate that there are countless ways to discover new music online (and that’s an entirely separate discussion for another time), yet I know for a fact that a vast number of that 60% will discover new artists through a lineup announcement.  

I’m so sure on this, because, well – I did it for myself. Parklife 2019’s lineup announcement, that emerged after much anticipation, rounded up a very well put together video with the standard lineup poster. The video, might I add, had to be watched so intently that it was viewed 29,000 times on Youtube alone – a platform which the festival didn’t capitalise on as much as they could in order to promote, telling from their mere 1000 subscribers. On this lineup video and poster, DJ Mason Maynard was announced. From seeing this on Facebook, I jumped over to Spotify to listen to some of his work, and now I listen to him on a regular basis. Had I not seen him on this lineup announcement, I probably wouldn’t have discovered him until a much later date - hence my certainty that festival lineup announcements contribute towards the 60% figure mentioned earlier. The ease of social media means that a user can pop from an announcement on one social platform, over to a streaming service, then back to a different social platform and follow the user, all in a couple of seconds. And that ‘couple of seconds’ is what’s key. 

It was completely plausible to go through the process of discovering new artists through seeing a printed poster in a magazine, or on a billboard – and it still is. Yet social media has made that whole process so much quicker and easier. Within our society, the easier and quicker that something is, the more people will do it – that's simply human nature.  

Whilst, yes – the process of discovery through this method of festival lineup has probably always occurred, social media is only accentuating this process and making it much more significant. A larger volume of people being exposed to new artists across a range of social platforms naturally means that artists are going to get so much more traffic towards their music. And more listeners are only ever a beneficial asset. 

Essentially, we’re seeing these festivals providing building blocks for artists on a massive scale now, all through a simple Instagram or Twitter post. 

This one example alone clearly illustrates how important social media is for the music industry, and musicians specifically. We should remember how vast socials are too: it affects this industry in more ways than most could even consider – yet this proves how integral it has become. 

Are companies and artists capitalising on it now because they feel obliged to? Possibly. But it’s working– and it seems that socials aren’t disappearing anytime soon.