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Is Facebook Ready for the Music Industry?

17th July 2015 No comments

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As many may be aware, in recent weeks the scuttlebutt in the music industry has been that Facebook is entering the music video and streaming game. Facebook denies having an interest in pursuing streaming, stating that their intentions don’t go beyond videos. Didn’t the Terra FirmaCitigroup – EMI debacle teach us that not everyone successful in business belongs in the music industry? That aside, Facebook’s efficacy with respect to social media is debatable at this point, what makes them so sure they can successfully tackle the music industry?
Initially serving as a way for students to interact with one another, the site required a university email address to obtain an account. Capitalizing on the shambles that befell MySpace after being acquired by Rupert Murdoch, Facebook loosened up their students-only rule and allowed anyone, anywhere to create an account. Since then Facebook has become a haven for polarization with most things turning into this political view vs that, one social stance vs the other, us vs them (us and them being entirely situational and interchangeable). Facebook has also been a dream come true for advertisers who have integrated users’ online browsing habits into Facebook’s ad results. What it hasn’t been, especially recently, is a friend to musicians and small businesses. Since most indie musicians operate their careers as one would run a small business, the consequences are the same for both groups.

Ideally, when searching for a band or artist page, the search results would show you…any guesses? The band or artist page, right? Not so, with Facebook. When verifying the social media links before running our recent article on The Rembrandts we came across an interesting conundrum; we couldn’t find the band’s Facebook page. Not a fan page, but the official, band sponsored, Facebook page. What we did find was the Wikipedia page, which has ‘Likes’ numbering well into the thousands. The top suggestions after the Wikipedia page didn’t even show the official band page. One was another Wiki page for an album by The Rembrandts, and the others were for things completely unrelated which happened to contain the word ‘Rembrandt’ someplace in their title. This may be understandable if The Rembrandts were a new band. Perhaps it could be explained if this were a band who had never engaged via social media. Neither is the case. If a band like The Rembrandts, who have been nominated for Grammys and sold millions of albums, aren’t easily found, what are new artists supposed to do? If well-known artists who interact on their page regularly can’t be found by Facebook’s search algorithm, how is a band just starting out supposed to use Facebook to build a fan base to interact with? (I’d suggest Twitter, for what it’s worth). Thinking this may be some type of temporary glitch, we did a quick Google search to see if we could find any further information. Imagine our absolute lack of surprise in finding thousands and thousands of complaints by business owners, social media managers, and entertainers who have had this issue.

If Facebook’s entire reason for existing is engagement, something which artists rely on to interact with the fans who are their lifeblood, and they aren’t doing that, how can Zuckerberg and co. possibly think they can give the artist community what it needs via any further integration with music? When finding something as simple as band pages to “like’ and comment on is difficult, how can Facebook possibly think it’s capable of creating anything that would truly help artists? If Facebook is failing at the very thing it was created to do, how (or why) should it be trusted to with more responsibilities?

For as long as music has had a business attached to it everyone has made the exact same mistake in failing to understand that artists are the epicenter of the industry. The label system collapsed because of it, streaming companies have business models which benefit only CEOs and board members because of it, and social media companies now see artists as little more than cartoon music notes with dollar signs because of it. Furthering the financial needs of a company by way of obnoxious advertising is fine if it ultimately allows the social experience users want. When a social media site is no longer effective at social media, why should artists trust it with their livelihood? Stick to what you know, Facebook. Or better yet, relearn what you knew.

Enjoy a few tracks from our ‘The Business of Music‘ playlist



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