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In recent years, the practice of using social media to gain popularity or generate notoriety has become one of the most successful paths I’ve observed people use to build a career. This holds true for the music industry and aspiring musicians, DJs, producers, rappers, singers, and bands too. If a relatively unknown artist can somehow find a way to develop a large, enthusiastic following on social media, depending on how large that following is, it could very likely land them a lucrative career, or at the very least some kind of recording contract.

None of this is breaking news, and it certainly seems rational for an artist to use all resources at their disposal to sell or market themselves. But for a record label, the product is the music. And with record labels relying on artists’ touring income more than ever, as music sales and revenue decline, the product has become the artist more than ever before.

We are now in an age where the artist — their image, personality, online presence, and overall profile — is just as much of a product being sold as the music that artist makes. The music fans of today want to know who made the music they listen to, and because so many artists have been highly interactive with fans through social media, that connection has become almost expected.

The problem is, behind the anonymous veil of the internet, things aren’t always as they appear. Artists are sometimes represented by social media managers who “use their voice” and essentially assume their online identity. Artists are often contractually obligated to say specific things on their social networks as part of agreements or contracts; artists are often encouraged by their publicists or managers to be active on social media even if they don’t want to, because it helps sell records and tickets to shows; artists who are constantly on social media interacting with fans thrive, and are effectively helping sell their product.

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Drew Pierce

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