Social Media & Music?!

Hey guys,

It's no secret that I'm a convinced social media user.
Neither is it a secret that I'm a massive music lover.

And those two topics seem to melt together in so many ways, that at some points you might not even know that there are (were) other possibilities before the whole social media thing existed.

A little while ago I had to produce an interview for my journalism studies; the task was it to talk to somebody about something they know a lot about.
Being a music blogger I instantly thought about musicians to interview and special topics to talk about.
For me, usually, the first idea I get is the best and the one I stick with.

The first idea in this case was it to talk about how social media affects the music industry.
And of course it makes sense to interview a musician for that. The wonderful James O'Neill from the Scottish duo Martin and James (aka one of the most talented bands I know) was the one I got to talk with.

Actually the interview was just for my studies but it turned out to be so interesting that I just have to share it with you.

I'm sure you all know online streaming services such as Spotify, Ampya or Dexter. 
There are so many but the concept is quite similar - users can listen to music online.
 Let me explain the concept behind the probably biggest name in that industry, Spotify.
Spotify is a Swedish concern founded in 2006 but celebrated its online release only in 2008.

Spotify makes it possible for people to listen to music online. All music available is licenced by the labels, means the music you won't find is either not licenced or by artists without a label. (There are possibilities for artists to get their music onto Spotify without a label. Let me know if you are interested in reading about that.)
The artists actually get paid but it's not much at all. For further details of Spotify's payment check this article by BBC, I could not explain it better.

To start off with the interview I asked James if streaming affects music in any way: "It's a funny thing because streaming online has pros and cons. I think it's great for new up and coming artists who want to get their music out and build a fan base because music is essentially free when it's streamed, so people will listen. But the bad thing about that is that music becomes free and new generations of people expect it to be free. That's a problem because maybe 20 years down the line all music will be free and if music is free - how do artists make music?"

It seems that a lot of artists think that way, and some, let's say don't think too much of free music. Adele for example; the British singer known for her hits 'Rolling In The Deep' or 'Someone Like You' did not want her music to be available for free so she only allowed premium account users (more below) the access. Too bad Spotify then did not want her album '21' anymore.

During our interview I told James about this and asked if he would consider doing the same thing.
"No, I don't think us as a band would go to that extreme. I think it's very strange, I don't understand why someone like Adele, who has a lot of success and a lot of money, did this. I really don't understand that. Online streaming benefits, it's a strange thing with social media because you seem to get a lot of successful artists. There's no middle or in between anymore. There's just really famous people or people who are always either struggling trying to make it a living. 20 years ago you could be a stable musician with a record deal and you could have a good life but now there's big extremes from Justin Bieber, Rihanna - you know, these kind of artists - and artists like us who are always working for the next concert, the next thing.
But for Adele it's strange because she made so much money on the first record anyway, the '21' record. So it's strange that she would do that."

You might be wondering what said "Premium" user is, here's an overview of the different ways to use Spotify.

- access to about 16 million songs
- only access from your computer
- commercials between songs

Unlimited (4,99€):
- unlimited access to every song in the library
- only access from your computer
- no commercials

Premium (9,99€):
- unlimited access
- access from computer & phone
- no commercials

The next question I asked James if he would pay the money considering that he could then stream music everywhere, or if he rather buys albums to listen to.
"I think there should be a subscription fee for streaming because it makes sense to give something back since it is unlimited access. So it would make sense to give something back to me. But I'm a musician so that's what I want. I grew up with CDs and I grew up in a music society where I was waiting outside the shop to get in and people would queue up just to get the new Oasis album. But it seems no one has this mentality anymore. It's hard to teach people about that when it's free anyways, it's always free. Physical copies seem to fade away, people don't want to look at the book, they're not interested in the information and the lyrics and that's sad."

But let's bring it back to the actual topic - Social Media. Online streaming is just one part of our world wide web. There's Twitter, Facebook and what not. "Our label, they were really strong about marketing online. Like giving away video teasers and things like that. That's very important to build up excitement for the release. The record company always wants the band to promote online and even nowadays the has to do it all on his own when it comes to online promotion. The record company help to pay it but they expect the artists to kind of drive it."

As a blogger, I kind of live online, I write my articles and want to see what people think of them. I check the page views. It really can become an addiction and of course I was wondering if I'm the only one doing that.

"In the beginning we did this, too. And now we try not to do it, I mean we check comments and read emails but it can take over your life. Some people will criticise you and you will take it personally and that's when it starts to affect your life and the way you look at the day when you wake up. Our manager sometimes says "I went online and people were criticising your shoes and your hair. That's just crazy!" and I'm always like "Stop looking at it! I don't want to know.", and honestly, I really don't care. I feel sorry for people like Justin Bieber. I mean, what does he go through every day? He gets death threats but only wants to play his music. I think if you're in the public eye, you will always get criticism and that should be accepted but it's always how you deal with it."

We also talked about getting your music out there as an up and coming artist and I mentioned how Milow was part of a commercial with Spotify and Telekom and he used a song from Martin and James newest album 'Life's A Show' as part of his playlist.
Getting support from other artists is a good way to get people's attention, right? "Yeah, Jonathan (Milow) has always been a big supporter of us, as you know. We've done a countless amount of concerts with him. And it's great. He really liked the 'Life's A Show' record and emailed us personally to congratulate on the release."

Watch the commercial here:

There is so much more to say about this topic and I feel like you could add new facts day by day but I think we covered quite a few aspects with this article.

You can think about the online streaming and the social media whatever you want, but at the end of the day it's not a concern that changes the industry, it's the people who use it.

A massive thank you goes to James for helping me out with my studies in such a great way.
Please make sure to check out the incredible music that Martin and James, start out by watching the exclusive performance only for house in the sand and move on to their social media networks linked below.

Martin and James online: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube

I hope you enjoyed, feel free to leave your thoughts about this topic in a comment or on Facebook/Twitter. I'd love to hear from you!

Thank you for reading!

Credits // Text: Vanessa Jertschewske with quotations by James O'Neill | Photography 1+2: Vanessa Jertschewske | Photography 3: HuffingtonPost US | Videography 2: Vanessa Jertschewske

1 comment:

  1. I've read through this a couple of times now and find the whole topic very interesting. It is one I've given thought to in the past, though not as elaborated as you've done. I think that in addition to the interplay between artist/social media/listener, there is an interplay between music and social media in general. It gives an audience. For those who may have the creativity and talent, it is the push to put their music out there - they have listeners. This leads to a diversification of sound and music. The mainstream will only admit so much, as many flavours of music are only appreciated by (very) small subsets of the population. This is purely based on my observations of music pre-social media and the present. It seems that the pace at which new music flavours, richness, and diversity is emerging is strongly coupled to social media - or at the very least, facilitated in its propagation by it. And this can only be a good thing. Higher creativity, more chances for people to connect to music! Well done on the article!


Let me know what you think! :)