Firstly, I would like to thank all of the stars who really helped lil old me to write this article by giving quotes. I know I pestered people so much but I would like you to know that it is really appreciated.
This subject has always interested me. So when I was thinking about what I could do a major piece on this was a no brainer. I love Asian music and I’m a social media fanatic. So why not delve into the world of Asian music and social media. There were many areas I could have looked into but I have concentrated on the promotion and engagement/interraction sectors.
As a serial Twitterer it has always intrigued me to know why these artistes use these sites. Why they say what they do on these sites. Is it just for promotion? Is it to engage with fans? Or is it just to cause controversy?
According to Twitaholic.com the top 5 most followed people on Twitter worldwide as it stands in December 2010 were:
1. Lady Gaga
2. Britney Spears
3. Justin Bieber
4. Ashton Kutcher
5. Barack Obama
You can’t help but notice that 3 of the top 5 are music artistes.
The whole social media revolution started when myspace was launched in August 2003 and we saw the likes of Lily Allen and Sean Kingston become famous just by posting their music on myspace.
Facebook is social networking site where people can see and chat to their fans on a one to one level, post videos, invite people to events and run competitions. Facebook is ever changing so there are endless opportunities with this medium.
Next came Twitter where you follow the people you find interesting. Up and coming stars benefit from sites like twitter and Facebook as it is easy for them to promote their music and gain free PR.
DJ and music man extraordinaire Parm Panesar pointed out that in his eyes there are both pros and cons: “Social Media Sites offer great networking opportunities for Artists new and old and it creates a wider audience as well as an easier way
Adil Ray (Broadcaster, BBC 5live and formerly BBC Asian Network) says: “Social networking has changed the world for everyone. It allows many artists who don’t have huge industry support to connect using a direct interface with their audience, the media and potential investors. But this will not make up for a poor music product and artists must be careful not to believe the hype.”
Legendary band Cornershops’ Tjinder told me that “Social media has enabled us to connect with fans and fellow musicians in ways that we just didn’t have before, via Twitter especially we’ve connected with South Asians in the US and Canada. Also generally social media sites are a good way of showcasing our back catalogue but and the downside is that it is hard work, requiring nonstop attention”
Beatboxer Ekko from my hometown Nottingham says: “I think Social Media has helped upcoming Artists in a positive way as they can connect with other Established artists and their fans easily. It is easier to do well now then 6 years ago due to the Internet and Social Networking sites.”
Shizzio the rap, rnb and hip hop artist says: “The old way a celebrity is perceived is dead. Growing up people like Michael Jackson, Madonna etc were never accessible. That’s what gave them their star appeal. These days however it’s a full 180 degree U turn. People want to be so involved in what a celebrity is up to these days that not using social media, can in fact, kill your career. As great as it is, call me old skool but this new ‘celebrity’ term for me takes the edge off stardom. However, when in Rome….”
BBC Asian Networks Waqas Sayeed aka Celebrity Wax told me that “it is a great promotional tool to share music and permits musicians to directly connect and grow their fan base” and Dipps Bhamrah says that “Free media allows an artist to express their talents. There can be no excuses about lack of exposure when the power in your hands”
Rapper, songwriter and someone who performed at Radio 1’s Big Weekend this year Mr Menis said: “Everything is more accessible now so people from the media such as radio DJ’s are easier to reach so it means talented artists can reach a wider audience but that also means the rubbish with no talent can get the same audience.”
Singer Navin Kundra says: “Social networks enable us to bring our fans closer to us and interact with them on a level never known before. Facebook and Twitter are practically like giving your fans your mobile number. Now that artist/fan relationship is closer than ever and this presents us with many new opportunities.”
After getting comments from Asian artistes I threw the question out on Twitter to get their opinions on Asian artistes and social networking and this is what I found.
@Strictlymc – The first thing that comes to mind is of an Asian artist Nitin Sawney doing the electric proms at Camden Roundhouse last year. It was a mindblowingly amazing gig, but not heard anything from him since.
@Brit_asian_girl and @Vinoba had similar views that most Asian artists stick to rnb.. Where are the Michael Buble’s of the Asian world?
@jyojo_b – From a radio point of view it has made artists more accessible and I have managed to make some great contacts. It also made promoting Newcastle’s Spice FM much easier and now artistes based in London and Birmingham know us.
GS Gill says: Mostly, they end up clueless about the potential of social media and use it to announce information about themselves like on a personal profile. This results in most of them being active only when they have an album or single releasing soon or to promote their gigs In turn, they miss out on the whole point of using their celeb status to engage a large number of people and build an active community of their most loyal fans.
So as you can see there is a mixed bag of comments.
From the research I conducted, whether it by speaking to the general public or celebrities, I have found that unless ‘big’ celebrities are going to make an effort and interact with fans it is mostly going to impact emerging artistes who will use it to promote events and music. And why not do that? It is a free medium so it is natural to utilise it, right? But is it being utilised in the most effective way?
Existing stars talking to fans on twitter can really impact their popularity. I asked a fair few people for quotes for my article and some were more than willing to give their input and I really appreciated it. Some didn’t even bother. Are the ‘big’ stars too important to take the time to engage with their fans? Apart from Noreen Khan no females I noticed didn’t take the time to reply. Is this an indication that it is still a male dominated industry? Or that females aren’t likely to engage as much with fans?
Social networking sites are there to interact with the public, the people who buy your music, whose pennies are lining the stars pockets. I do think that some celebrities need to make a conscious effort not just to promote their music but encourage those kids whose parents want them to be a doctor but she or he just wants to be a singer or an actor.
What I would love to see is artistes use it positively. Spelling properly would be a start for those teenagers who cannot go a sentence without using ‘sick’ or ‘blad’. Show those people who think Asian artistes are just ‘ghetto’ that they are not. Artistes will use to promote music and events and that is always going to be successfully as it is a free medium. But it wouldn’t be wonderful to see the artistes be good role models. Promote not drinking or taking drugs. Promote a healthy lifestyle and respect for other people rather than just swearing.
Obviously there will always be artistes (I have been informed by a few people) who use Twitter in the wrong way. This could be by ‘chatting up’ naive young girls, being controversial or just winding up other individuals so there are downfalls to using twitter and I think the nicer you are to ‘your fans’ and engage and interact with them the more people will follow you. There are still a fair few unanswered questions I have. When will female artistes use it more to engage? Are we going to see more ‘Michael Buble’s of the Asian world? And will we have any role models? Social networking is a fairly new phenomenon and we will only see it continue to grow.
Finally, in BBC Asian Networks Noreen Khan’s words:
Social networking is an excellent tool as it helps to stay connected to listeners and fans. If you keep a connection with fans via these sites I think it makes them more loyal to what you do and more inclined then to either tune into your show or for artists to buy their music. On the cons side, you can at times get a few odd fans who expect u to constantly attend to their tweets, facebook messages etc and if u don’t they get upset! But in all honesty I think if utilised correctly these sites can enhance and compliment what you do.
What do you think?