Social Media in the Music Industry

The music industry is a prevailing and relevant industry that will always be an important part of our society. However, the advancing roles that social media plays in today’s society are changing the way professionals in the industry are creating and producing content. The advancing technologies, practices and the associated contexts are similarly shaping the way people consume and listen to the content artist release. The two major concepts that will be discussed in this study will be the way social media musical sites has changed the way consumers are finding and sharing music.

Followed by the way the artists are adapting to the ever-changing industry by connecting with fans through the convergence of other industries and through social media.


To understand the immense impact social media and media platforms in general are having on the musical industry one must first understand the way the introduction of the ‘Web 2.0’ has permanently changed the way users view, create and share content on the internet. Web 2.0 refers to the emergence of dynamic interaction and participation where users generate content themselves, compared to the previous idea of static information pushed from producers to users (Cassidy, 2017). This ideology has removed the barriers of entry between content producers and consumers on the internet, allowing anybody to upload and share content. The popular online audio distribution platform SoundCloud has adapted this concept specifically to the music industry, creating a social networking service platform based entirely on users uploading, recording, promoting and sharing music. SoundCloud has over 175 million monthly users and 10 million music creators with 12 hours of music reportedly uploaded every minute  (Smith, 2017). These social media apps and sites designed to lower the barriers of entry to the music industry have created an abundance of music and competition; encouraging spreadability allowing for new, interesting and original content to be uploaded freely by ordinary hobbyists, starting musicians or serious producers.


Much like SoundCloud, Spotify is a music, podcast and video streaming service designed to allow for scalability, replicability and shareability amongst social media. These online streaming services linked to user’s social media pages creates a large scale networked public in which consumers become a collective that emerges as a result of the intersection between people, technology and practise.  (Cassidy, 2017). Over 55% of Spotify users have their accounts linked with their Facebook accounts. On top of this, even though Spotify is a free streaming platform, over half of Spotify users have a premium (paid) account, with this amount expecting to reach over 100 million paying subscribers by 2020  (Smith, DMR Stats, 2017). This cross over of social media accounts and music accounts in which consumers can view, share and promote what they have been listening to has created an entirely new type of social media profiles that the music industry has responded to. Most artist and labels have allowed their music to be streamed on these online websites such as Spotify and SoundCloud, with Spotify paying royalties from their advertising and subscription profits to artist in return. At the end of 2016 Spotify had reportedly paid of $5 billion to labels, publishers and collecting societies for music rights (Smith, DMR Stats, 2017).


Musical media outlets like Spotify and SoundCloud have changed the nature of the musical industry itself and have blurred the lines between amateur and professional musicians. It is not uncommon nowadays for famous musicians to have started with small followings uploading their music to SoundCloud or other streaming sites. The most famous musician that comes to mind when discussing this topic is ‘Chance The Rapper’ (born Chancellor Johnathan Bennett), a rapper, singer, song writer and producer from Chicago. Chance the Rapper is famous for being an independent artist with no record label signing behind him. His most recent record ‘Colouring Book’ is the first streaming only album to chart on the billboard in America and is the only streaming only album to be nominated for a Grammy. The album won best Rap Album at the 2017 Grammy awards, beating major label artists like Kanye West and Drake among others. During Chance’s speech at the Grammys he thanked SoundCloud for their support in new artists and music (Weinstein, 2017). Although this is an extreme example of a career that started on a free to stream site it demonstrates the fact that the barriers of entry to the music industry have been lowered drastically due the shifting technological and social advances, allowing amateurs to become hugely successful without major record companies involvement. Previously this would never have been possible.


Another way in which artists in the music industry are reaching fans is through the convergence of industries or platforms. Chance The Rapper stated during an interview when asked why he doesn’t ‘sell’ his music, as it is all uploaded for free, “As our music grows there are new ways of releasing; there are visual albums, full concerts, Broadway musicals and so many ways that music moves around that I feel like to fit it into a ‘for sale’ album is obsolete now. It gives me more space to create and put out [content for fans],”  (Chance The Rapper, 2016). The quote illustrates the fact that artists are now converging industries and technologies in order to reach larger fan bases and strengthen their content with their original fan bases. Donald Glover, a multitalented rapper who performs under the pseudonym ‘Childish Gambino’, is another example of an artist that has crossed industries in order to reach his fans. Upon releasing the 2013 album ‘Because the Internet’, which charted in the top 50 albums in America in the 2014 Billboard, Donald Glover produced and uploaded a short film as well as a 72-page long screenplay to go with the album. This again depicts the idea that artists are now producing non – profit concepts to go with their music in order to connect to the fan base on a far greater level.


Following the idea of connecting to fans, it cannot be understated the importance social media has played for musicians to connect with fans through the artists personal social media account, whether it be their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. The idea that fans can get in touch with artists personal lives or apparent ‘behind the scenes’ information about the musician creates the concept of a participatory culture within the music industry. Artists can connect with fans directly as fans can comment on or share the artists photos (Fuchs, 2014). Many bands and artists update their fans directly through their social media pages about upcoming tour dates, or song releases. This is obviously one of the most important ways to stay in contact with fans as over 50% of all Americans using social media sites and over 75% of teenagers using sites such as Facebook (Marwick, 2013).


In conclusion it is evident that the music industry has been drastically affected by the way social media has shaped our society and how we view sharing and streaming content. In turn this culture of streaming readily available music for free has led to an abundance of musical content and an ever changing musical industry that is adapting by streaming and sharing content on social media sites and musical platforms.


Cassidy, E. (2017). KCB206 Social Media Self and Society. Retrieved from Lecotrial Notes Week 1 and Week 2:

Fuchs, C. (2014). Social Media: A Critical Introduction. SAGE Books, 2. Retreived from Queensland University of Technology QUT

Marwick, A. (2013). Retreived from Queensland University of Technology QUT Readings. Marwick, A 2013, 2.

Rapper, C. T. (2016, October 4). Jimmy Fallon Interviews Chance The Rapper. (J. Fallon, Interviewer)

Smith, C. (2017). DMR Stats. Retrieved from Digital Stat Articles SoundCloud:

Smith, C. (2017). DMR Stats. Retrieved from Digital Company Statistics Spotify:

Weinstein, M. (2017, February 12). Chance The Rapper’s ‘Coloring Book’ Wins Best Rap Album at 2017 Grammy Awards. Retrieved from XXL: