Image is everything: How musicians promote their brand on social media.


Music is never just “about the music” anymore. The internet changed that once music fans were able to see any form of media about the artists 24/7. Instead of reading album reviews in Rolling Stone or listening to new songs on the radio, listeners go straight to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to find out everything about a band or singer. The way they dress, how good looking they are, their thoughts and views, their lifestyle, their actions, and so much more are all analyzed by music fans, and often, these traits play a bigger role in the artists fan base then their own music. Predominate social media musicians such as Beyonce, Kanye West, and Miley Cyrus promote their image to the world, and it makes them very popular.

For example, during the 2013 Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus’s twerking during a performance with Robin Thicke sent Twitter into a fury. During the East Coast viewing of the awards alone, Cyrus’s dirty dancing was mentioned in over 300,000 tweets per minute. That is a lot of people talking about once dance move, and millions more reading about it. Whether or not one might approve of Miley’s performance, it created a buzz for the artist that she benefited from. Her album Bangerz debuted a few months later at the number 1 spot and went platinum, which is impressive considering no one buys albums anymore. People still talk about that performance today, only for the fact that social media made sure everyone knew about it.

Sometimes image leads to success in other ventures besides music for artists. This is the case for rapper Tyler, the Creator, who is the genius behind the West Coast hip-hop collection Odd Future. In his own right, Tyler is a talented musician who produces and creates his music with a lot of artistic integrity. However, his image made him even more popular and successful than his music did. His first music video for the song “Yonkers” went viral on YouTube and racked up 375,000 views in just 72 hours. The music video, which he directed himself, depicts the rapper eating a cockroach (which he actually did) and hanging himself at the end. This wild image the video portrayed has echoed since its debut in 2011. Fans became enthralled with his outlandish style and wanted to be like him. Ever since the Odd Future brand started selling merchandise, Tyler and his friends started making absurd amounts of money off of clothes. He alludes to his success in “Whoa” by Earl Sweatshirt, where he describes himself as “looking bummy, posted on the block, looking like I ain’t make a quarter million off of socks.” Thanks to his ever present social media presence, where he promotes his brand, his fans still show up to shows where they can buy an Odd Future tie-dye shirts for a cool 160 dollars. If I am ever to buy a t-shirt that expensive, I better think that musician is pretty damn cool.

One thought on “Image is everything: How musicians promote their brand on social media.

  1. Your analysis on the effect of social media on the promotion of music is quite interesting. It is interesting how social media has created a new forum for people to talk about their favorite music, and have success beyond their music alone. These 2 artists mentioned, along with many others, obtain levels of success that cannot be directly attributed to their music, as both of these instances involved people having increased album sales and recognition not as a result of their musical talent, but as a result of their presence on social media. A very interesting post on a very interesting topic.


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