Record Labels and Buying Social Media Influence from Young Music Fans

One of the main advantages of being signed to a record label is its ability to promote your music. How? By whatever means necessary. Here’s an example of what I mean from the IB Times.

The next time your favorite YouTube or Instagram star squeals with delight about a great new song, it’s worth asking whether he or she was paid to do that squealing.

As record labels increasingly lean on YouTube, Instagram and Vine celebrities to break their records — lavishing them with care packages of free music, or plying them with VIP access at concerts or music festivals — a number of them have begun paying those celebrities to play songs, or lip-sync to them, or endorse them in other ways without disclosing they’ve been paid to do so. It’s a legally ambiguous form of promotion, and it’s gaining traction, with artists as big as Rihanna having explored it as a way to promote songs and albums.

These social media celebrities, many of them fresh-faced teenagers who have built huge followings largely through the force of their own charisma, have become a favorite new marketing channel for record labels. Young social media stars, executives say, are often more authentic than polished celebrities. Labels, meanwhile, want to attract young listeners, and a plug from a teenage Vine personality with 10 million-plus followers is essentially a high-impact endorsement coming from within their own peer group.

Keep reading. You won’t look at tweets or Facebook posts the same way.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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