Even though marketing theory is still quite modern in its approach, Christensen, Torp & Firat (2005) argue that the market and the way the consumers behave have become too complex to fit in the current perspective of modern marketing. They claim that without a universal point of reference, notions of objectivity, truth and authority are being challenged constantly by alternative interpretations. The rise of social media doesn’t decrease any of the complexity of modern marketing. If anything, it makes it even more complex. Peer communication done through social media has great impacts on consumer decision making and in consequence marketing strategies. Consumer socialization theory foresees that communication between consumers affects factors like cognitive, affective and behavioral attitudes (Vinerean et al., 2013). This essay will be focusing on how music artist management and the music industry deal with the popularity of using social media as a marketing tool.
Companies are gradually investing more and more in social media, there’s usually a worldwide marketing spending of about 4.3 billion dollars on social networking sites (De Vries et al., 2012). This rise of the digital realm has made the management of the music star image more complicated, according to Margiotta (2011) this is caused by a rise in consumer-generated social media, mainly in promotion and publicity. He argues that the switch in business model to become more digital had to be made, in order to stop decreasing sales. In effect, Margiotta (2011) describes that big labels started to sign and look for artists with mass appeal because they knew that artists like that are easy to promote. In this way, labels could create a more risk-free business plan (Margiotta, 2011).
Social media has a huge impact in integrated marketing communication, the tools and strategies for communicating with customers don’t necessarily fit in the guiding principles of IMC (Mangolds & Faulds, 2009). This is in line with the complexity of the marketing market that Christensen, Torp & Firat (2005) describe. Social media is seen as a more trustworthy source of information than traditional advertising, therefore consumers are turning to social media platforms. Because of this, social media is becoming extremely influential in the creation and promotion of music stars and artists (Margiotta, 2011). This, in turn, relates back to the mass appeal that new artists need to have in order to become successful, at least according to big labels.
In increasing speed, marketers see the value of social media networking, brand referrals and information sharing (Hudson et al., 2016). Since an artist can be seen as a brand in itself, the same applies for marketing artists. Hudson et al. (2017) argue that marketers can interact in two-way communications with customers and hereby gain consumer insights faster than ever before. In addition, they argue that social media offers a great potential for generating interest and awareness through viral spreading of opinions and product and service experiences. Artist management does not escape social media, which is why managers and labels see the power of the online environment.
A perfect industry example of how the music industry utilizes a social media environment in a really good way is the 2010 Grammy’s. Hanna et al., (2011) described that, in this year they had a tough time reaching their desired audience. The Grammy’s was even referred to as ‘The Grannies’, but what they subsequently did to reach their audience is a perfect social media marketing example. The Grammy’s designed an integrated marketing communications campaign called ‘We’re All Fans’. By creating this campaign, they combined traditional and online social media. All offline advertising was mainly used to support the social media aspect of the campaign. By marking social media as the flagship of The Grammy’s, conventional advertising turned into something new (Hanna et al., 2011).
Thus far, artists saw digital technology and social media as the cause of the disruption of the music industry (Dewan & Ramaprasad, 2014). But with the new campaign of The Grammy’s, not all artists were as skeptic as the rest. The campaign gave them the chance to get more recognition by featuring them in the campaign (Hanna et al., 2011). Which is, again, an example of the influence of social media in the new marketing environment.
In conclusion, social media has become a heavily integrated part of today’s marketing communication strategies (Hanna et al., 2011). The music industry has proven to be vulnerable and the rise of technological changes, like social media, are changing the industry in a big way (Clemens, Gu & Lang, 2002). Though, with the example of The Grammy’s in mind and the way music artists are promoted right now, the industry has found a way to manage itself within this ‘new’ environment. They are fighting their way back, from decreasing sales to more advertisement. So, even though social media might not have started as a positive change for the music industry and music artist management, it is turning in to one.
Clemons, E. K., Gu, B., & Lang, K. R. (2002). Newly vulnerable markets in an age of pure information products: An analysis of online music and online news. Journal of Management Information Systems, 19(3), 17-41.
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