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The development of social media on the Internet has considerably transformed the way people communicate with one another. According to a recent Nielsen report on the state of social media, nearly 80% of active Internet users visit social networks and blogs (“State of the Media,” 2011). Social media can be described as “a variety of new sources of online information that are created, initiated, circulated and used by consumers intent on educating each other about products, brands, services, personalities, and issues” (Black-shaw & Nazzaro, 2004).“Social media” is an umbrella term that includes social networking sites, creativity work sharing sites, blogs, and forums. This new media form is becoming increasingly influential on consumer behavior in the marketplace, specifically in awareness, obtaining information, developing opinions, and purchasing behavior.
Consumers are substituting traditional media and means of advertising, such as television, radio, magazines, and newspapers, for new media that give them instant access to information at their own convenience. Due to its consumer-generated nature, social media is perceived as a more trustworthy source of information than traditional advertising and communication. Therefore, consumers are turning to social media platforms to obtain information and make purchasing decisions (Mangold & Faulds, 2009). As both a new promotional tool and a venue for consumer-generated communications, social media is becoming increasingly influential on the creation and realization of a music star’s image. A variety of social media platforms including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, VEVO, and interactive artist websites, are used to manage promotion and monitor publicity of stars. The following discussion of social media’s influence and importance on the creation and realization of the music star image will focus on the first two media texts: promotion and publicity. Promotion. While traditional advertising, public relations, and direct selling still exist and remain essential, social media is becoming an increasingly important tool used in the promotion of a music star image.
According to Nielsen, active adult social networkers are 75% more likely to be heavy spenders on music compared to the average adult Internet user, therefore promotion via social media is crucial to an artist’s and, in turn, their record label’s success. Mangold and Faulds (2009) suggest “a new [communications] paradigm that includes all forms of social media as potential tools in designing and implementing [marketing] strategies.” Promotion via social media is similar to that of traditional elements of the promotion mix in that it enables companies to communicate messages to their customers. In terms of the music industry, it allows artists and record labels to talk to their fans and customers. Messages published in social media are consistent with the artist management promotional strategy and design of the star image. Management also controls the content, frequency, timing, and medium of this communication (Mangold & Faulds, 2009).
Advances in social media have significantly reduced the communication gap in distance and time between an artist and a fan. Various types of social media “enable instantaneous, real-time communication, and utilizes multi-media formats (audio and visual presentations) and numerous delivery platforms (Facebook, YouTube, and blogs, to name a few), with global reach capabilities,” (Mangold & Faulds, 2009). An artist is virtually able to communicate instantly with thousands of people over a number of media platforms. In the digital marketplace of social media, artists must maintain an online persona that is consistent with their manufactured star image (Ferri, 2010).
Social media platforms, such as Facebook and MySpace, offer users a one-stop shop for everything about an artist.“Essentially, it’s an electronic press kit,” said Derek Bachman, program manager at SaskMusic (Foley, 2010). From an artist’s Facebook page, fans are able to find information including the artist’s biography, band members, tour dates, and discography.
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