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Where are musicians going online?

Posted on 2 November 2013

Facebook and YouTube are huge, Twitter is up, MySpace is down, and is just sort of there.

artist sites

The Coldsnap Music Festival 2014 lineup has just been announced. I’m a big fan of this event, and manage the website as a volunteer.

Part of that job is putting together the little “artist profiles” – a biography, press contact, photo, video, music and links. One aspect I find interesting about this is tracking which social media/electronic music tools are used by different musicians.

At just 14 artists, this is hardly a comprehensive sample size, but it’s still a small window into which social networks are beeing deemed as “useful” by working musicians.

One note: when putting together the lists of social networks where artists are present, the only networks I “sought out” were Facebook, Twitter, CBC Music, Last.FM and YouTube.  Here’s why:

For the rest, I only provided links if the links were present on the artist’s  website. That means everyone could have been on Instagram or iTunes, but I didn’t bother looking. They only got counted if the artist bothered linking to them.

The results:

Everybody is on, no one uses it: is more like a music wiki, I guess– I’m not really sure how artists would use it. It was one of only two sites where every single artist could be found- but not a single artist linked to their profile there.

(Almost) everybody uses Facebook and YouTube:

Facebook was by far the most popular social network, with 11 out of 14 artists having a presence on there. Of those, all except one provided a direct link to the page from their main artist website, and it was always prominent. Anecdotally, it also seemed to be about the most actively-used network (meaning artists were regularly posting there). Not really surprising.

YouTube was the only place where everyone could be found aside from, but unlike it was actively used. It was on nearly every artist website, and only two of the musicians I covered didn’t have their own profile. Of those two, one was still posting other people’s videos on the main artist page, which means YouTube is being actively used by all except one of the artists playing Coldsnap this year. Again, if you pay attention to internet usage, not really surprising. This is where a lot of music listening is done.

Twitter is pretty big:

When I started doing this all of four years ago, I remember maybe 50%, probably less, of the artists were on Twitter. Now 10 out of the 14 were on there, and actively using it. All ten of these provided links directly from their website.

MySpace, not so much:

The other thing I remember about when I started doing this is that pretty much everyone was on MySpace. Now? Only 5 bothered linking there, and none of them seemed to be actively using it. It was all old songs, no updated information. Justin Timberlake has his work cut out for him.

Canadian musicians are on CBC Music:

CBC Music only lets independent Canadian musicians create artist pages, which means the two Americans playing the show aren’t eligible. But of the remaining 12, 11 had CBC Music profiles. What’s more, they were all pretty up-to-date, with new songs and current contact information. Interestingly, though, not a single one of them linked to CBC Music from their websites. So it seems its a place musicians want to have a presence, but not one they are actively encouraging people to seek out?



8 links to iTunes, 7 to Bandcamp, 5 to Soundcloud, 3 to SonicBids, 2 to CDBaby, 1 to Reverbnation, 1 to Amazon. Again, these numbers are probably higher for all of these sites, but I didn’t actively go looking- this is what was easily findable on the musician websites.

Bandcamp and Soundcloud were often incorporated into the site itself, with Soundcloud players subtly tucked into the overall design as a way to sample music, and Bandcamp being used as the store, with links to iTunes or other retailers.

For what it’s worth, the single artist with a link to Reverbnation actually used Reverbnation as his main page, and only had one other social media site- YouTube.


Interestingly, not a single link to Spotify, Rdio, or any of the other streaming music sites. I know musicians are on there, but unlike Soundcloud, Bandcamp, iTunes, and Youtube, they aren’t drawing attention to it.

Photos and miscellany:

Most bands had photos on their page, but only one was using Flickr to do so. Two artists had links to their Instagram, and one had a photogallery of fans who had tagged them on Instagram.

I was a little surprised that only one group had a Tumblr account on display, but I was also surprised that one artist had a Pinterest account on his links alongside Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. However, it only had 19 pins.

Final count (out of 14):

Youtube:  13 (12 with active accounts, 1 with links to other videos. The remaining 1 was on YouTube, but not with an account or links)

CBC Music: 11 (out of 12 eligible)

CBC Music if I only linked when the artists did: 0

Facebook: 11

Twitter: 10

iTunes: 8

Bandcamp: 7

Soundcloud: 5

MySpace: 5 (and mostly old, unused accounts)

SonicBids: 3

CDBaby: 2

Instagram: 2

Amazon: 1

Flickr: 1

Pinterest: 1

Reverbnation: 1

Tumblr: 1

Spotify: 0

Rdio: 0 everyone, but no one used it

Filed under: music, social media

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