Music & Social Media

We’re at the last blog of the semester. As with the previous one, it will focus on the topic my classmates put forward in line with their thesis research. This time focused on the role of social media in the music industry.

So, music and social media. The two are indeed an important combination. I remember back in the day when MySpace was the place for bands to come in contact with their fans online. Since that social platform has now gone extinct, its role has been taken over by Facebook. It is now easier than ever to keep in check with your favourite bands. Just hit the like button on their Facebook page and you’ll be able to receive every single one of their updates (provided they are active on Facebook). If anything I think social media and the Internet have made it so people can be more actively engaged with bands. What better way to know when they’ll be playing in your neighbourhood than checking the tour schedule they just posted online? Another major player in the industry is YouTube. Of the 100 most watched videos on YouTube, 95 of them are music videos. It is so apparent that even Wikipedia has made indications in its list to signify what videos are not of the musical genre. This goes to show how important the platform has become in playing music and sharing it with your audience. The most played video has 4,35 billion views, equal to roughly 57% of the world population. Now I know that this doesn’t mean that each one of those clicks is a separate person, but it goes to show how insane playing music has become on the video platform. The most streamed song on Spotify “only” has 1,43 billion clicks. You could say YouTube has become the MTV of today, except here the user gets to choose which videos he/she wants to see.

There is no way around it; music artists have to take social media into account if they want to become successful. And this doesn’t limit itself to just artists. Even organisers have made the jump to the online world. A few days ago Graspop, a metal festival in Belgium, announced its first 46 names (apart from the headliners) through, you guessed it, Facebook. It’s apparent that the (r)evolution runs through almost every aspect of the industry.


Henry Jenkins

Henry Jenkins talks about participation culture, how through emerging technologies the kids who find school more or less boring are now finding a platform in which to channel their passions and beliefs. Jenkins longs for a world in which the people who are obsessed with anime, dungeons and dragons etc. will start to feel the same obsessions over democracy.

It’s an intriguing concept. And it’s something that I think is happening right now at an increasing rate. If you go to /r/all on Reddit right now (23.11.2017) the top posts are all about the FCC trying to dismantle Net Neutrality. Millions of people have come together to try and defend their right to an open and free flowing internet, and not having it become yet another victim of capitalist interests. The internet and its evolving potential stands as a last bastion (and some would say last chance) of the peaceful, harmonic world we’ve envisioned in everything from literature to music. We’re on the precipice of losing that last bastion right now and people are standing up. Not just the people who study how a world without net neutrality would work, but the gamers, the bloggers, the musicians who use social media to make themselves heard and interact–the people that Jenkins refers to, in other words.

It’s heartening to see so many humans set aside their differences and focusing on something we all love and hold dear, and it’s something I think we’ll see more of as the internet continues to evolve. If it’s allowed to, that is…

But even if Net Neutrality is upheld, the dangers of capitalism and profit still stand to ruin the freedom of the net. Jaron Lanier warns of this, and especially Facebook and Google and how they operate by creating mass behavioral modification systems based on pay. We’re in many ways already trapped. Facebook is as good as ubiquitous and works as a sleight of hand magician or a personally tailored spider web to create these spaces in which we believe the illusion that we’re in control of what he see and know, but the reality is very different.

The great thing about the internet, though, is that it can be changed at any time. It’s not set in stone. We’re still figuring this thing out and will be for the foreseeable future, but if Net Neutrality is dismantled we’re completely at the mercy of corporations like Facebook, and we would lose the ability to enact paradigm shifts that could change it for the better–or at least change it to something different when we realize that whatever we’re currently doing is the wrong thing to do.

Facebook is one of those things that I think needs to change–or go away completely.
They claim it’s meant as a social experiment, well the experiment failed from a social point of view. Now it’s just a billion dollar flytrap were we got stuck before we even knew what we were signing up for.