Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword On The Music Industry

Gone are the days when bands such as Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin conquered the world with millions upon millions of album sales. Gone are the days when major record labels such as Capitol Records and Atlantic Records constantly pumped out platinum records as if on an assembly line.  The death of the glory days of Rock and Roll can largely be attributed to the rise of digital music in the early 2000’s.

social media music blogging
The Beatles in their early years.

On top of the advent of digital music, the impact of social media on the music and record industry may prove to be the final nail in the coffin for many record companies if they fail to adapt and incorporate the uses of social media into their business operations.

Social media sites such as MySpace and Facebook have capitalized on the accessibility and effectiveness of digital music by integrating its capabilities into a more tangible and useable form for its users. Myspace, for example, allows its users to listen and sometimes even download music by their favorite artists for free, thus offering an easier and much cheaper way for people to listen to the music they love.

Not only does social media make music more available to the general public, it also makes tracking and following your favorite artists much easier as well.  Twitter has been the most influential in providing this service to music enthusiasts and it has become a very powerful marketing tool for musical artists to spread their music and ideas.

Social Media Album Sales Chart
Note the sharp decline in album sales beginning around 2000 and continuing throughout the decade.

While social media and digital music have played a large role in decreasing album sales, this does not mean that they have had strictly negative effects on the music and record industry.  For all the same reasons that social media has made the idea of buying records an idea of the past, the benefits that social media offers can be harnessed by record companies to increase the size of their pocketbooks (even if the primary source of revenue is not via album sales).

Record companies need to utilize the advantages of social media and harness its power in order to spread the word of their featured artists and get people talking about them.  Social media can also be a great way for record companies to create a community around their brand and artists.  Instead of attacking social media, record labels should focus on embracing it and adapting to the changing environment of the music business because “social media is not a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate“.