How Much Can Social Tell Us About Musical Success?

Posted January 18

Welcome to the O Music Awards guest writer series, a place where we hand the proverbial reins over to qualified writers/musicians/etc and let them share their thoughts about music and technology. Today’s guest blogger is Alex White, co-founder and CEO of Next Big Sound.

2011 was a banner year for social music, and at Next Big Sound we’ve had a front row seat (we just released the 2011 state of the online music industry report). Music has been firmly entrenched at all the major social networks and in many cases represents the most active accounts.

Eight of the top 10 most-followed Twitter accounts are musicians (Kim Kardashian and Barack Obama are the exceptions). Six of the top 10 most liked pages on Facebook are recording artists (Facebook, Youtube, Texas Hold ‘em, and Family Guy are the exceptions). The most watched videos on Youtube are all music videos.

In most cases, the top artists on these networks closely follow the artists with the highest sales, most radio play and most public exposure, but I’d like to take a second to highlight Skrillex and Mac Miller, who burst on to the scene in 2011 without major radio support.

Mac Miller was helped by his friend and labelmate Wiz Khalifa, and Skrillex rode the dubstep wave. While the music industry may not have been familiar with these artists at the very beginning, their numbers online have grown tremendously and consistently and both showed up on the social radar well in advance of traditional success.

We know for sure that the number of sites, number of artists and amount of data will continue to explode this year, but the question remains the same as it’s always been: Through all the noise, who will will be the breakout artists in 2012?

By Alex White

Image courtesy of Flickr, demcanulty