For many years the concept of “Selling Out” was something any musician frowned upon, especially if you considered yourself a true artist and not a mainstream corporate puppet. Those days are long gone. As the music industry has crumbled amidst declining record sales and online piracy running rampant, musicians and record labels have been scrambling to generate revenue from other sources. Nowadays, strategic partnerships with major brands can be extremely beneficial promotional and financial tools.
Social media has become a major part of the branding process. Over 17 billion “likes” have been accumulated for artists among the most popular platforms, with some platforms still on the rise (Instagram) and some already hitting their peak (Twitter). At the moment, Twitter remains the most popular in the social music world, but how long will it take before Instagram takes over? Each genre of music seems to be popular on different networks – Reggae on Instagram and Indie Rock on Twitter. It’s still unclear why certain types of music are more suited towards one network as opposed to another. Does Reggae music contain a certain visual component that others lack?
Smallpools is a perfect example of a new band that has broken the mold for social media strategy. They successfully launched a marketing campaign with Snapchat entitled “Stories”, which offered short snippets showcasing the band’s daily life behind the scenes. This partnership was a win-win for both parties and elevated the band to the new levels they wouldn’t have been able to achieve through the traditional music business model. Through social media we now have more access to our favorite singers and bands than ever before, but how do we feel about bands having to partner with major brands and social media services in order to get their music heard? Regardless of our own bias towards corporate labels it is important to support the arts any way we can. The larger question remains: Is there such a thing as “selling out” anymore?