Social Networking's Impact On the Music Industry


FacebookMySpaceTwitter, and YouTube are popular social networks that have revolutionized the music industry. Major recording labels have lost CD sales and marketing revenue because of the free downloads offered on the internet. In the past, artists and fans were at the mercy of the record labels. An artist’s success depended on getting signed to a major record label. Major record labels had the money and sole power to influence mainstream audiences. These record labels could sell music, create music videos, and distribute artist information to all media outlets. However, the recent emergence of social networks makes all this possible to everyone. Fans and artists alike can now share music, tour dates, videos, information, and pictures on the internet that reaches a diverse audience. According to Neilson SoundScan, CD sales have dropped 18% in 2007. The rapid evolution of the internet cannot be stopped but it can be controlled. Many record labels have teamed up with social networking websites to take advantage of this mass marketing.


  • In the early beginning, social networks were geared towards teenagers and young adults in their early twenties. However, in the last year, social networks have been able to attract the older generation, according suite 101.

  • Social networks allow fans to share music with their friends or find out what other people with similar interests are recommending according to Spinner.

  • According to Wired, on social media sites, users categorize themselves into useful demographics based on media consumption, so music-oriented sites can offer advertisers more value than the ones where all people do is talk.

  • The music industry realizes that social networks allow marketers to learn about specific interests. According to Catherine Halohan , social networks allow anybody to create an account for free to gain access to the same number of people as large corporate businesses.

  • Facebook’s iLike application gives marketers insights to specific fans’ interests.  iLike notifies fans when their favorite artist is in town, which sends them links to Ticketmaster or to iTunes to buy music.

  • 139 million users access MySpace, 175 million uses Facebook, and 344 million uses YouTube.


In 2006, Warner Music demanded all of its copyrighted videos be removed from YouTube. Warner Music hoped that users would seek out the Warner Music official website to access these videos. YouTube appeals to the most internet users regardless of age or gender. Users can obtain videos of their choice without payment. The official website required users to pay for these videos. The label hoped to regain some of its lost video revenue.  Despite the label’s efforts, audiences were still finding ways to beat system.

  • Warner Music copyrighted videos were still being shared across the internet to other networking websites such as MySpace. Fans refused to pay for something that they could easily obtain for free.

  • Once someone obtains a video through file sharing it becomes viral. There is no exact way to trace a source or to stop the video from re-appearing. Using these free services is a great way to cater to fans’ needs.


In 2008, MySpace created a specialized division for artists to sell and market their music. Top record labels
 such as Sony BMGWarner Music, and Universal Music unveiled MySpace Music, which allows fans to listen to online music for free and buy songs for download, along with concert tickets and merchandise.

  • MySpace Music offers fans exclusive secret shows of their favorite artists. The secret shows are offered for MySpace users only. The record labels and the social network work together to generate the most users.
  • Black Eyed Peas, Bruce Springsteen, and Good Charlotte, and many other famous musicians have premiered music on MySpace, allowing fans to preview upcoming CDs.


Another popular aspect of social networks is they allow fans more personal time with the musicians.

  • Twitter has become a great way for artists to interact indirectly with their fans (Topping, 2010). Artists such as Kanye West have taken advantage of their “tweets” to promote a new album or make an instant personal statement, according to

  • Fans can obtain the “tweet” and then re-tweet it for others to see or pass on.

  • Fans can follow their favorite band to learn about upcoming concerts, watch videos, or read online interviews.


In the social media panel video, social network executives talk about their plans to continue to promote the music industry.

  •  Jason Kirk, executive of Ustream says 15% of its broadcast is dedicated to live music.  "Fans are interested in obtaining on demand web streams. "


In conclusion, social media is constantly evolving. The music industry has also faced many phases of evolution.

  • Similar to vinyl and cassettes, CDs may fade out of style for a while. However, music has always remained a major impact on our society. I think that social networks will continue to work together to promote the music industry.
  • In the earlier years, we were used to reading about a band in a magazine or watching a music video on MTV. Now, we are in a high technological state where we can obtain all this and more with the click of a button.
  • We are increasing our demand for instant online notifications. Someone reading an artist’s “tweets” might also be watching their video on YouTube at the same time. We will continue to move forward with technological advancements and evolution.