Social Influence: Potential Corruption In The Music Industry
We live in a world in which the sharing of new content permeates our ENTIRE culture. This couldn’t be more true in the realm of music.
Just like in any industry, there are certain people who have more influence over who sees what and how much exposure is sufficient. These kingpins of the modern music industry are the ones who control what the masses see on music-streaming platforms.
These major platforms that people use today to find more music include Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a bit different because it is more open-source and thus people in the company itself do not have as much influence over the content people see compared to the users. With SoundCloud, users curate playlists for other users, and we believe it is in SoundCloud’s best interest to keep it that way.
Want to know why? Read on.
Employees at the other music-streaming services are the ones who create the “Top” or “Popular” types of playlists for categories or overall. Indeed, the companies do have algorithms that provide data as to what people are listening to, but this information only holds so much weight. These individuals ultimately have the final decision in what they put on these playlists.
Users of these services have a lot of faith in these playlists in that they reflect what is actually popular. Although these playlists may not accurately reflect what the current trends are, their creation creates a chain reaction of self-fulfilling prophecies.
When these playlists are released, people believe that the songs on the list are popular and are thus worth their time to listen to. Although this is a textbook example of argumentum ad populum, it still works.
As many people see value in the songs chosen because of its perceived popularity, these songs become more popular as a result. Whether or not people would have liked these songs if they were not on this playlist cannot be determined, but their position on this playlist is absolutely a factor in the value placed on these tracks. Since people see initial value in a song because they heard it on one of these playlists, they are more likely to share it, thus increasing its popularity further.
Into the Hands of the Few
The scale of the consolidation of music tastemakers is massive. Before the era of streaming music, music popularity was controlled by thousands of radio DJs, promotional events, and other non-digital methods. Now, the control over what’s perceived as popular and by connection, what is worth listening to, is now controlled by just a handful of people. These few and far between playlist curators have taken the influence away from thousands of old sources and now control what people are hearing and sharing.
As a result of this new concentration of power there is a fear that it can become abused and manipulated. What’s stopping large music labels like Universal, Sony, and Warner from paying their way to influence what these playlists show?
Corruption is Afoot
Though this practice, called “payola” is technically illegal, there are ways around it with complex deals between artists, labels, and these streaming services. If this is indeed the case, and record labels can influence these playlists, then it can be concluded that our taste in music really would not be our own. It would be created for us. In other words, we will have all been musically manipulated.
But, there is hope for our music independence. All it will take is one publicized legal case that this treachery has occurred and people will begin to lose trust in these curated playlists. If they do, they will begin to look elsewhere to find new music in a space that is uncorrupted.
There is Hope
The best streaming platform that is currently unable to fall prey to “payola” is SoundCloud, since everything is still user-generated. It would indeed be a wise idea to gain a large following on SoundCloud if this is the case. That way, when people begin turning their tails to these corrupted services, you will be ready to receive them.
The issue is that building a following is a lot of work because one has to acquire a large amount of plays, get people to follow their page, and convince listeners to share their music organically. This sounds like a huge hassle because an artist or influencer would have to do all of this themselves, manually.
Or do they?
Somiibo’s SoundCloud module allows users to get plays and more followers for free while they get to focus on creating their music or audio tracks. How awesome is that? Check it out and see how it works here. How would use you Somiibo’s SoundCloud Bot?