The evolution of technology in the past decade has paved the way for rapid changes and advancements for Social Media. People used to communicate by face to face, yet the new media becomes the information and communication technologies and human-associated social contexts. Networked computing and digital media technology are now so pervasive in our society as well as culture, economy, and politics. With the rise of Internet Explorer browser, the evolvement of artifact infrastructures, human practices activities and social arrangement institutions has begun since the 1980s (Flew, Terry 2014). The ability to connect with each other through such electronic network has dramatically changed the communication capability of the internet which gives rise to the development of Social Media such as Facebook, Tweeter, and YouTube.
This case study will focus on how social media affect music industry, how social media facilitated change in the nature of the relationship between music industry professionals and users as well as the relationship between privacy and public. It is generally agreed that convergence is a multifaceted concept, not only incorporating
technological changes, but also pointing to wider changes in industry structures, audience or user behaviors, cultural forms and communicative practices. Technological convergence has broken the traditional business models within the commercial music industry (such as broadcast radio), altering the way the public access, marketing and the practice of sharing songs. Besides, it has impacted consumer culture and copyright laws, through advancing technologies enabling online privacy world widely. However, the streaming service (such as Spotify, iTunes) takes advantage of these technological advances adapting a new business model and consequently affecting multiple stakeholders.
Example 1: CD to Digital
Our relationships with music are deeply intimate and unique and the social services are capable of bringing people together to share in an experience whenever and wherever we are. Before the year of 2000, people used to enjoy their music with CD player or update any new songs with the radio and broadcasting which resulted to the CD album sales peaked in 2000 with 2.4 billion copies sold (Peter, 2016). CD was once the biggest and major market for the music industry until 2004 – the outbreak of new music streaming services. Spotify is a direct example of this occurring within this industry. It is a SNSs – Social networking sites. It is a web-based service that allows individuals to construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system and articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection. The application is easy to download in different devices (phone / laptop / games consoles, cars…etc.), along with various platforms (App/ website). Namely, the artefact infrastructures have changed the convergence and wider evolved this facilitates in industry structure and user behaviour effectively.
Moreover, Spotify allows users to play the music for free in basic use, a premium monthly subscription is also available, offering more content and features for consumers who wish to upgrade. The technologies of the streaming program provide affordances to users that they could make choices about the electronic devices and the functions of the app. More importantly, according to the network theory by Manuel Castells, society is well organised by a networking logic. It is more flexible, open end, timeless and not bound by space which help users intimately tied up with technological advancements and engage with the social media.
Furthermore, the invention of peer-to-peer digital communication has led to the convergence of traditional media platforms and social media outlets; evidenced through Spotify’s playlist sharing, follow a friend and social-feed functions. Spotify also has the ability to recommend new songs or playlists to users which help them to explore something new from other countries or singers. The spreadability of the new streaming music tool has linked people together through the diverse motivation as well as driving them to share media which shaped to a new form of social media and add value to cultural, and economic context.
Example 2: From ticket to online subscription
Traditional commercial business models are being redefined by changing consumer practice of enjoying music, leading to the emergence of new models – evidenced by music streaming corporations, YouTube and Spotify.
YouTube’s innovative business model has emerged as a direct result of technological convergence from the digital disruption of traditional broadcasting. It is base on the concept of hybrid economies, combines commercial and sharing economies and leverage value from each other. Artists no longer reply on their CD album and ticket sales of concert when they are learning new ways to generate money. Instead of selling, they know how to promote their songs as well as get revenue by advertising in social media. Because of the rise of technology, human easily get addicted to visual content which they likely to receive anything in video forms. For example, we watch the news on TV, watch films in cinema… Music producers started to make music video to promote their songs and artists with social media which generate could revenue with commercial as well as reach their target audiences effectively and efficiently. Meanwhile, Crossmedia helps them to find and attract their perfect users world widely such as same content pushed across new modes of transmission in specialised forms with audience engagement.
At the same time, the business model of Spotify is to attract new users with free basic use and earn money from the subscription. This business plan intends to attract consumers with the free version, then market the premium account once they are committed to the product. The model is evidently successful with the company maintaining twenty million users, five million of which pay monthly for the subscription package.
Example 3: From offline to online
The development of public Internet access has allowed consumers to engage in peer-to-peer file sharing and online downloads, drastically altering the commercial music landscape. However, it also generates a number of fears regarding privacy and copyright. When users sign up for Spotify, they are encouraged to sign up using their Facebook log in so Spotify can associate their account with their profile. It can also easily access their browser searching history and internet preference in order to recommend their favourite artists or explore new playlists which led to the blurring of public and private. Public and private used to be very distinct spheres where different types of activities occurred until the evolvement of technology, we are increasingly sharing more and more of our lives online, we are increasingly willing to live and share in a connected world. Therefore, it is essential to remind us that new information and communication technologies have significantly redefined our understandings of private and public and the boundaries between them.
This case study reveals a number of phenomenons that remain questioned surrounding the rapidly advancing commercial media industry of music streaming. As a result, social media is becoming completely integrated into our lives. It has altered the way we communicate as human beings and changed the way we do business. The above examples exemplify the vast impact of social media on the commercial music industry and also remind us some of the questions regarding the internet after all. Will stakeholders (social medium/professionals /users…etc.) continue to embrace the service and technological convergence overall? Will it continue to create change, or adapt to change established by consumers, as they did with digital downloads? And finally how the rapid advancement of technologies will alter the future of the music industry?
Flew, Terry (2014). Chapter 1: Introduction to New Media. New Media
Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko (2015). Networks in Manuel Castells’ theory of the network society
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Spotify: merging music with social media
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