The Impact of Technology and Social Media on Music and Radio

With the growth and development of various new MP3 devices, speakers, and car converters, people are listening to the radio less and less. While this has hurt the radio industry, the music industry is still doing well. Artists and producers are selling fewer physical CDs, but they’re still making a profit; their primary product has shifted from CDs to MP3 files or digital music.

As for buying the MP3 files, many people don’t buy the whole CDs worth of music, so they’re only downloading the songs they already like. If people aren’t listening to the radio, and they’re only downloading the songs they already know, then this begs the question of how we hear about new songs or artists.

A lot of how we learn about new music is word of mouth from friends, and the use of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have made this even more prominent. One of my best friends often posts song lyrics that relate to what’s going on in his at the moment as his Facebook status. He also posts a lot of links to YouTube videos of both new and old songs that he likes. I think he has really great taste in music, so I usually end up downloading the songs he posts.

These changes have caused many people in the music industry to change their marketing strategies. Many artists have a fan page on Facebook, and they post updates about upcoming concerts, new videos, new CDs or new singles that they have being released. I’m a “Facebook fan” of most of my favorite artists, and I usually see posts from them on my newsfeed whenever they have a new album coming out soon. That way I know ahead of time what the release date is, and I can go buy the CD or download the album as soon as it comes out. Many people also sign up for email updates from certain websites, either for a particular artist, or maybe a website that focuses on a particular genre of music.

These strategies may work well for established artists, but how are new artists supposed to get their music out without the radio? iTunes offers “free songs of the week” which offers a variety of free downloads each week. People magazine publishes a country edition a few times a year, and in that edition, they include a page of free downloads of new or upcoming country artists. Sometimes the songs are by new artists I’ve never heard of, while other times it’s a new song by an upcoming artist who has a couple singles out, but is not very well known yet. Free downloads are a great way for new artists to get their name out so that people will buy more of their music in the future.

I still listen to the radio on occasion, and I think I listen to the radio more often than the average person, but I still use all of these ways to find new and interesting music. I love logging onto Facebook and seeing song lyrics I’ve never heard before and being introduced to a new song or even a new artist. Sometimes I even see a link to a video of a song that isn’t even in a genre I would usually listen to, and I really like it, so my musical taste is stretched even further. I still think the best way to listen to music and find new songs or artists is to listen to the radio, but I think the internet and social media are really great additions to that.

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1 comment about "The Impact of Technology and Social Media on Music and Radio".
  1. Lisa Gray from WDAV 89.9 , October 11, 2010 at 6:32 p.m.
    Marissa, I work for WDAV, a classical music public radio in NC, and we debate these big questions all the time. Maybe classical music is different from pop, rock, etc. - but we hear from listeners all the time that they still want a "curated" experience - they want someone to point them in a particular direction? We have invested - and will continue to invest - in online streams, iTunes streams, HD streams, smartphone apps and more (maybe even Google TV??). We do believe we have to be where the listeners are. We'll continue to spec peer-to-peer music recommendation tools as well as "standard radio" streaming tools -- and look for ways to find the best of both worlds!