Jamaica Magazine

The Importance of Social Media in Reggae

Social Media are internet based applications that are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue, it is a form of communication that is proving to be pivotal for the advancement of careers and the constant relevance of various communication, of which the music industry is not exempt – in essence, based on how this method is used, social media may influence what is deemed as irrelevant, and make it relevant and/or seem relevant.   

This type of media has changed how the world communicates, and has given the average user a platform for exposure; the promotion of one’s self, product and/or services are simply at his or her finger tips. 

Social media can be found in many forms such as social marketing, podcasts, blogs, forums, videos etc. Based on the direction the world is heading, particularly the entertainment sector, it is only practical that reggae artists step outside of the box and embrace social media from not only a social interactive standpoint, but also for the advancement of their business (music).  

This form of communication should be a principal goal for reggae artists and their teams. The music industry has to be approached with a high level of sophistication, strategy and clear understanding of how to maneuver a very competitive market. Outside of the arguably necessary “hype”, there has to be a concerted effort to properly market your product and one such piece of the puzzle is social media. 

Let’s break this down. In assessing various artists from different backgrounds, it may be argued that relevance within the industry heavily hinges on ones ability to reach the masses, in addition to the longevity of lyrical content. Artists such as Sean Paul, Shaggy and Sean Kingston; all with very strong Jamaican connections and strong label backings have been able to dominate various charts through the use of social media and the involvement of well oiled management teams. There are also Independent Reggae Artists/Bands such as Vybz Kartel (Jamaica), Hot Rain (Hawaii), Boomer Chris (Guam), Fortunate Youth (LA) and Tribal Seeds (LA); who are also reaping relative benefits from the use of social media. With a proper team in place, a marketing/PR strategy and data-driven research, independent artists and their teams are also able to make the needed impact with the aid of social media. With a constant and direct link to their fan base, artists and their teams are able to advance merchandising efforts, promote concert dates and literally push album sales via social media. Today’s artist brand (which includes management teams and even the artist themselves) need to learn as much as possible about social media, to further their career and maintain a strong social presence online.  

It is also very important that artists participate in social media and use it as part of their marketing strategy, as it has a great impact on music discovery.  This helps create exposure that in turn increases the spread of music and leads to higher concert ticket sales as well and artists’ merchandise – exposure.  

Sites that reggae artists should maintain a strong presence on are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Website, Personal Blog, Tumblr, MySpace and Reverbnation. There is a general view that maintaining all these blogs may be tedious and time consuming, but (1) that is farthest from the truth and (2) if that’s what is needed to make the relevant impact and remain competitive, it ought to be done. Importantly, based on how these applications have evolved over the years, the optimization of social media allows users to work smarter opposed to working harder. In a recent interview with the Social Media Manager of one of Reggae/Dancehall’s biggest recording artist, she stated that, “social media is a great way to reach fans and keep them updated with current promotions”. She went on to say that “her client really loves the direct connection he has with his fans via social media, especially Twitter. He even has a tab on his facebook page to make it easy for his fans to tweet to him so he can connect with them directly and constantly”.  

The best way for an artist to maintain a strong presence on social media is to build a strategy, by conducting research, they can target their music in the right direction (know your market/niche) and update their sites.  If you are going to blog, an effective way of utilizing it is to make regular submissions/entries, tag it properly and post it online.  If it is not tagged properly people won’t be able to find it.  This will allow you, the artist, to maximize the potential for people and music industry insiders to find you.  

Even though some social media profiles do not sell an artist’s music (Twitter/Facebook) it can increase ones exposure tremendously.  It also allows an artist to generate a lot of attention for free; consideration may be given to Facebook, the biggest social networking site, boasting over 250 million users. This site is very effective in that it is targeted in terms of demographics.  The number of people who tweet has also been increasing.  Twitter tend to have more real people behind the name and they do have similar goals or are interested in what you are doing; it is also quick, to the point and personal.  

Reverbnation targets an international market.  This allows people in other countries to read about you and hear your music.  Artists should also keep in mind to look for international sites that are less popular because when these sites become too popular the content tend to be the same and makes it harder for the artist to get exposure. 

With respect to internet radio, artists should build a data base (list) of radio stations within their genre; interact with the DJ’s and keep a list of the names of the stations that play your music. This may be done for all radio stations; however, internet radio continues to evolve and has taken on its own “underground” identity with human traffic in the millions. It is identifiable, interactive and crosses geographical borders on a very large scale. 

It is the job of the artist to be creative, fifteen to thirty minutes per week is not enough time to allot to social media practices; the investment has to be greater, artists and their teams should consider or practice setting aside at least six to seven hours per week (minimum) in order to engage with fans, respond to messages and update sites.

Importantly, it is pivotal to note that MySpace, Reverbnation, Twitter, Facebook, and your Blog may all be connected; as such, one click may update all applications.

As an artist, your aim should be to create/produce great musical expressions backed by excellent lyrical content, of which many reggae artists are doing. It would therefore be unfortunate if your expressive work becomes drowned because of one’s inability to connect with the targeted market.

About the Author
Michelle E. Arthurton, is the  President and CEO E2 Recordings, Inc. She is also  a Music Business/Entertainment Consultant & Paralegal. You can follow her on twitter:    MEArthurton@twitter or MEA_1@twitter or email her at [email protected]

About the author

Michellee Arthurton