Facing The Music

By: McKeni Franklin

The music industry definitely isn’t the same as what it used to be, especially concerning record sales. According to Billboard, 2016 has been the worst year for music sales since 1991, when SoundScan (now known as Nielsen Music) was introduced. In the first half of the year, album sales are down 16.9 percent, album units have fallen 13.6 percent, CD sales have fallen 11.6 percent, digital album sales have fallen 18.4 percent, and new album releases have fallen 20.2 percent, all according to Billboard. However, the method of streaming music has taken new heights. As of the first half of the year, 208.9 billion songs were streamed, increasing 58.7 percent (Billboard). This shows that streaming has become an unstoppable force. Has social played a part in streaming’s popularity?

Social media has become a great platform for artists to interact with their fans. With social media, artists have a bigger reach when selling their merchandise. “With albums, bands no longer need to get a physical copy into the hands of their fans. Instead, people can buy a digital download and have access to the music they want instantly,” (Evans, 2015). Social media actually paved the way for streaming services like Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music.

Image courtesy of Billboard

Even though album sales are going down, lack of album sales has hardly impacted an artist’s celebrity. In fact, social media has proven to be great for PR. In this article from The Guardian, one PR who wished to remain anonymous was quoted saying, “I think social media has to be looked at by artists in two different ways: first, as a way they can reach their fans directly, and second – just as important – as a means that a lot of the media use to write stories.”

One could most definitely argue that the rise of streaming and easy access to music could be hurting the music industry. But at the same time, thanks to social media artists have never been more connected to their fans, or the press. So once again, the question is, social media: helping or hurting?




  1. Christman, E. (2016, July 06). U.S. Record Industry Sees Album Sales Sink to Historic Lows (Again) — But People Are Listening More Than Ever. Retrieved from http://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7430863/2016-soundscan-nielsen-music-mid-year-album-sales-sink-streaming-growth
  2. Evans, Z. (2015, August 24). How Social Media and Mobile Technology Has Changed Music Forever – Social Media Week. Retrieved from https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/08/social-mobile-changed-music/
  3. Gibsone, H. (2016, February 19). No such thing as bad PR: Is social media saving or damaging the music industry? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/feb/19/social-media-damaging-music-industry-pr-twitter-kanye-west
  4. Header image provided by Brandwatch

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UNT Eagle Strategies

Class members of the social media class in the Mayborn School of Journalism