In addition to making music social, Myspace achieved another crucial feat – bringing the essential relationship between fans and artists. While the emergence of music on the internet was seen as an imminent death to the music industry, it was rather a revelation that completely changed how fans could connect with their favorite artists while also discovering new and local ones. Unlike Myspace, that trait has not really gone away – places like SoundCloud and the late Grooveshark became crucial to music lovers across the internet, as musicians have seen the endless landscape as a necessary tool to reach their fans and grow their fan base. However, now is arguably the greatest time for this relationship.
On March 31st, a telethon was held in support of the ACLU, in its recent fight with the new presidency, which hosted numerous celebrities and musicians to raise money for the organization. What was interesting about this “telethon” was that it premiered on Facebook live, showcasing the event to hundreds of thousands of viewers. The point here for consideration is how social media is emerging as this realm where fans can immediately connect with their artists, especially with the capabilities of Facebook live as shown by the telethon.
One active user who occasionally looks through their timeline can very likely find a Facebook live video hosted by or showcasing some of their favorite artist. Some personal examples of live videos on Facebook would include a radio’s live video of a local band performing, or a more interesting video from a band known for its digital productions filming on a drone at a concert. How this capability will serve as a bridge between artists and fans is something that will certainly make a difference.
In retrospect, videos of musicians performing is nothing new, which may make the emergence of these live sessions be overlooked. However something that cannot be overlooked is the role of crowdfunding among artists. Of course the notion is not recent in any way, but in reference to artists and their prominence of social media, it is a very essential practice to artists. For example, in late March, a South African band who looked to crowdfunding to fund their new album managed to acquire over a third of their goal within two days of launching the effort. The band, which has not released an album in over a decade, received 180,000 rand ($14,000) from fans eager to hear a new record.
Crowdfunding, which has emerged within the last few years, has become an occasional occurrence among some artists. What it resembles is the idea of how significant social media is to artists who wish to connect with their fans, and fans who wish to have some relation or event commitment to their favorite artists. What makes crowdfunding so interesting in this relationship is the fact that fans invest in their artists (in addition to the money) which thus intensifies the connection as they feel they serve as an essential factor to the artists’ development. While crowdfunding among musicians has its dark side (an interesting topic for another time) it undoubtedly serves as an occurrence heavily influenced by social media.
In an article from August 2015 published on Social Media Week, the writer Zachary Evans says, “Musicians have the ability to reach out directly to their fans, which creates a closer community between the two sides […] fans also have vastly increased opportunities to consume music in the ways the wish.” In the end, it ultimately depends on where the fans reside, an idea that reverberates throughout the music industry. Social media has not only become the place where fans choose to find their music, but where artists choose to find their fans. This relationship between these two sides is essential today, especially when considering how places like MySpace had emerged during their peak.