- by Variance Staff
- May 10, 2012
For the last few years, so-called "social media" has been inescapable. The music industry has been arguably one of social media's biggest proponents, with musicians like Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and Rihanna frequenting the top spots on most social channels. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and the like are indisputable forces for engagement and visibility, but what about beyond that?
The market research firm NPD Group recently released additional data showing that social media's role in music discovery is actually minor compared to other formats. Elder platforms like AM/FM radio, TV, and of course person-to-person recommendations still rank superior to Facebook campaigns.
According to NPD's findings at the end of 2011, 60 percent of active consumers still discover their music selections via traditional radio; 49 percent cite television (awards shows, singing competitions, serial shows, etc.) as highly influential. Online radio (such as Spotify, Pandora) hovered near 10 percent, while around two percent of consumers said a post on social media influenced them to listen to--much less buy--a specific song or album.
Data released just last month now shows why Facebook's recent partnership with music streaming service Spotify was a wise choice. According to NPD, online radio and streaming is at staggering heights among consumers aged 18-25, but showing the most growth among the 36- to 50-year-old age group. Overall, online radio is the fastest growing music listening option.
While streaming is driving down file sharing, it's not exactly driving up music purchases. Only 12 percent of Facebook users actually opt to listen to music directly through the social platform or indirectly via hyperlink, and they are most likely to listen to music they already know.
While the numbers may be new, the facts are steady. Social media remains a powerful way for entertainers and brands to interact with fans directly--something most musicians can't afford to ignore, but most research shows the social network's effect in driving sales is still minimal at best.
“There’s no doubt that Facebook has helped drive music listening and discovery,” says Russ Crupnick of NPD. “But what is not yet clear is the platform’s importance, in terms of ongoing music usage and purchasing."