What is the impact of social media on music marketing?


Social media refers to web-based and mobile-based technologies which are known to make communication an interactive dialogue. Social media has been defined by Kaplan and Haenlein as a variety of applications based on the internet which builds on the technological and ideological foundations of the World Wide Web to enable the creation and exchange of content that is user generated. Social media is used for social interaction and goes well beyond social communication. Social media has introduced revolutionary changes to the way communities, organizations and organizations communicate by enabling the use of scalable and ubiquitously accessible techniques of communication (Kietzmann et al. 2011).

The social media and the internet have been used immensely to market music all over the world. According to Nevue (2011) independent musicians can use the internet to market their music since it is an incredible tool for doing music promotions. A musician can do a lot of marketing activities online such as developing a fun base, creating a channel for distributing the music, getting radio plays, have the music downloaded and make and sell music discs. The musician could use own website to sell the music or sell it as downloads through dozens of online retailers like iTunes, Rhapsody and Amazon mp3.

According to PR newswire (2011), J&R adventures, a company that sells music, have over time struggled to be at the top of the music business by focusing efforts on the use of new platforms to reach the customers. J&R adventures have used cutting edge and grassroots marketing strategy through social media networking and have achieved great success by being able to break into the international music market. In another case email, mobile and social media marketing were used by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra to boost their sales. In less than a year, they had more than one thousand five hundred followers on tweeter and about five thousand fans on facebook. They connect with the fans that go to concerts through social media sites such as facebook, blog, tweeter, flickr and youtube and have an email marketing strategy in which fans subscribe and buy concert tickets online. They also had success in using customized android and iphone applications. The orchestra is reported as understanding the power of social media and was using it to respond to the fans and to add new audiences for their music (PR newswire, 2011).

According to Krueger, Lu and Swatman (2011) musicians and music producers are increasingly using facebook to promote their brands and build long-term interaction with their fans. Social media and online marketing are very important in marketing music currently. Having an online portal as a musician or a marketing agent for a music company can be used to interact with the fun base and reward music fans through competitions and giveaways. Social media is also an important tool which can be used to follow up tours by directing links in social media sites like facebook, tweeter and myspace to the website where the music is marketed and sold online. During concerts and other performances, photographs and videos can be taken and uploaded to social media sites from where fans can view and download. Musicians and bands can also connect to their fans through live chat streaming through the social media an aspect which has been found to play a very important marketing role for music.

Through direct chats between the musicians and their fans, the musicians get access to important market information and are able to know what the fans like and what they don’t like. The musicians therefore have a chance to pay close attention to real market issues in which they can respond to arising issues and even apologize for anything that did not please the customer and even enquire from the customer on how to do it better next time. The musician may also make referrals to the customer to other music which may be of interest but which the customer is not aware of (Krueger, Lu and Swatman, 2011).

According to Smith (2011) there are important tips that musicians and marketing agencies can use with social media in order to achieve great sales. Creating an active and engaging fun page on facebook can open access to more than five hundred million users. The fun page can get indexed by Google and by creating viral visibility of pages to enable unlimited number of fans to visit a page and create trust by a good referral to a particular area of expertise.  By concentrating on the facebook or any other social media fun page a musician is able to make an effective presence on the marketing of music. The concentration should be in form of good design, nice and relevant content, doing extensive promotion of the music, engaging the fans as much as possible and being flexible enough to expand and adjust to meet new customer needs.

The marketer or the music seller for that matter can also create nice looking advertisements which are then displayed on the social media sites to enable most of those who visit the social media pages to see the advertisement. By encouraging fans to interact with the musician on the social media sites, the musician can make good amounts of sales. The musician can become even more visible when fans invite their friends to become fans as well. Adding social media plug-ins to their websites and blog pages, musicians will increase referral to their pages from the social media pages (Smith, 2011).

By proactively building a tweeter following that is targeted, the musician is able to find and follow specific people of great interest and through them they are able to reach more customers and market music to a wider internet community. A musician may also use a seamless branding strategy in which a customer background that associates with his or her social media page or website is developed and used elsewhere in other social media to enable fans and others people who had previously viewed the page to identify it at first sight. They can also purpose their content by writing about the events that they are participating in or any other activities they are accomplishing in which the fans might have interest and therefore spark interest in their music as they keep interacting with the fans. Musicians are also using simplified social media publishing tools such as ‘hootlet’ which is used with the browser to enable a person to do a posting to multiple social media sites at the same time. It is also important to trace the number of visits and activities performed by the visitors on the social media pages in order to determine what to improve on in the social media marketing. The musicians are also posting their videos on their social media pages and therefore directly marketing the music products to those visiting the page as they talk directly to viewing fans (Smith 2011).

Social media is an accessible platform to anyone with internet and therefore music marketers are relying on social media greatly to reach out to their customers and funs. Musicians sell their music online by allowing people to download it and pay via credit cards and are also using the social media sites to inform their fans of live concerts and anticipated new music releases as well as selling of tickets to concerts. Through the social media consumers of music are also increasingly reaching out to their friends to inform them of new music releases and events and therefore the referrals are expanding the market for the musicians as well enabling them to reach many customers worldwide within a short period of time and at very low marketing costs. By  creating content that encourages users of the social media to view, use and share with others, musicians have been able to reach out to larger market segments and sell market their music in markets they did not have initial presence (Marketing Sherpa, 2010).

Research done in Australia indicates that digital sales are still low in those parts and customers are indicating on social media that they prefer physical compact discs. However, many artists are achieving reliable amounts of sales exclusively on iTunes. Musicians no longer need an extensive distribution network to sell their music since most of the marketing and sales are done online. In Australia, an aggregator called cadmium has helped artists upload their music and sell it online at a cost as low as $US40. What is very important in achieving success with online music sales is for the people to know that the music is available and therefore get it. The marketing is therefore done on social media networks and through radio. To get into the market in the United Kingdom for example, you will need to get good airplay on NME and radio one in order to familiarize your music with the market. You can then use the online marketing to market further and to distribute your music to the customers (Marketing Sherpa, 2010).

Even with the social media influencing the marketing of music so positively, it is still the big names that have had previous successes that are greatly benefitting fro it because they have an already established fun base and the funs can therefore make an effort to get to know the latest releases by the artist. For the newcomers in the music industry, that is, the musicians without sufficient prior experience they have to draw attention to the users of the social media or collaborate with the already known artists in the music industry in order to bring their music to the attention of the fans. However, musicians who release great hits that are generally known allover the world or in a given region benefit a lot from social media as they get fans who refer the music to other fans and are eager to get the next release from the artist (Media marketers, 2010).

In a recent case, a young musician from Australia uploaded his music on youtube, a social media, and was discovered through the music by Atlantic Records from the United States who offered him a deal to work with them in music production and marketing. Other musicians and music bands have been able to acquire a huge following using the online social media such as youtube, facebook and myspace. Musicians and music producers are increasingly relying on online feedback from social media to determine their market popularity and gauge their performance and therefore know what to improve on in order to retain their markets and acquire new markets both online and using other marketing strategies. The best marketing in music is done by word of mouth, that is, through live shows. Electronically recorded music gives a musician a chance to review and improve on the music until it comes out in the best form and therefore can distribute it online. Using the social media, the musician can get feedback from fans who have listened to it which is a very invaluable marketing strategy, given the need for the musician to know the expected response from the market (Media marketers, 2010).

Generally in marketing four things are of ultimate importance, the product being sold, the price at which the product is sold, the place from where the product is being sold and the promotion that is done to sell the product. In online marketing as in the case of the use of social media, the major focus is on the product being sold and promotion or communication done in a bid to sell the product. The product is tailored for the customer needs and therefore what really matters is the customer who buys the product, the cost at which the product is sold, the convenience with which it is sold and the communication with the customer buying the product. Even though there is great success brought about by social media marketing of music, delivery of the music through the online stores make it complicated for the customer especially due to the lengthy and complicated procedures of making payments which fail to give the customer the desired convenience. It is therefore difficult for the online stores selling the music to successfully compete with the free download sites available online for the same music track (Krueger, Lu and Swatman, 2011).





Marketing Sherpa, (2010). Social Media Marketing.  Benchmark Report.


Nevue, D. (2011). How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet. CreateSpace.

Kaplan, A. M. and Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business Horizons 53 (1): 59–68.

Kietzmann, J. H., Kris, H., Ian, P., McCarthy and Bruno S. S. (2011). Social media? Get serious:  Understanding the functional building blocks of social media. Business Horizons 54 (3): 241–251

Krueger, C. C., Lu, N. and Swatman, P. M. C. (2011). Success Factors for Online Music


Marketing – eTransformation: From the four P’s to the four C’s, Deakin University, Melbourne,





Media marketers, (2010). The Case for Social Media Marketing. Media marketers Inc.

PR newswire (2011). Joe Bonamassa Gives Away Free Download of His New Single; Utilizes Social Media to Keep On Top of the Billboard Charts, New York: PR Newswire Association LLC

Smith, M. (2011). Fifteen power tips for marketing music on social media. Mari Smith International Inc.


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