If you’re a country music fan and you have a Twitter account, well done. You are embracing new technologies. True, Twitter isn’t new in the grand scheme of things. I first remember it making its small-time appearance in 2007 (launched in 2006), and Taylor Swift was one of the first to use the medium, taking all her fans from MySpace and transplanting them into a new way to connect across social media. In 2013, as a user of the internet, it would be hard to imagine country music without Twitter. All the country blogs and websites are heavily active through Twitter, and every artist/musician from the big stars such as Blake Shelton to a struggling songwriter playing open mic nights in their home town, is on Twitter. It’s now the way to communicate, to share music, and though according to UK newspaper The Times, 54% of the US population is on Facebook (53% in the UK), and Twitter only has about a third of the US population signed up, Twitter is fast becoming the new appealing social network to use (certainly from what I’ve heard many people say). According to research, Twitter is particularly popular with older people, who may not have used social networking before.
In addition, Facebook appears to have reached its peak, with 1.6% of UK users not logging on in December 2012. I don’t have figures for the US, but I imagine it may well be similar. Meanwhile Twitter is continuously growing at huge rates, and it’s simple and hassle-free method of micro-blogging (in 140 characters or less) is perfect for the increasingly quick and snappy nature of how we now use the internet, and also how we run our lives, in some respects. We want news quick, fast, and easily, and I know I am not the only one who takes to Twitter to find out the morning news on my way to college, instead of paying for a national newspaper app.
So this is where country music comes in. The blogs love it because they are able to give a quick snippet or a tantalising title of an article followed by a link to their main site, this also helps country music fans, who can pick out the news they want to read from the blogs they want to. No more trawling through each individual blog, looking for articles that might interest them. Now it’s just a case of following favorites on Twitter, and being increasingly picky with what we like, and what we want.
But the main reason why Twitter will help country music, both in 2013 and the ‘tens’ by getting it cold, hard cash, is the artists themselves. The artists tweet. If, like Blake Shelton, they’re amusing, entertaining, thought-provoking, generally a good account to follow, casual consumers are so much more likely to buy their music, because they have connected with their personality and like what they read. Part of the fundamentals of music marketing is getting consumers’ attention and establishing an emotional connection with them – Twitter does that to a tee. Retweeting is vital – if you retweet something your favorite
country star said that was of note for whatever reason – chances are someone on your followers list has never listened to that artist, or not much, and may well become interested if they like the tweet. They may well go out and buy the album just to chance it – even if they haven’t researched them first. Usually, of course, YouTube and Google searches are done before buying – but in the end having a personality makes you all the more attractive as an artist, and Twitter is a huge medium in helping you reach more fans, and letting them into your world without them even having to spend a dime. I recently read an article (after I’d written this one, just to clarify!) echoing my exact thoughts on this matter, so I urge you to check it out here.
If that wasn’t enough, older country music listeners, who as I said before are far more prevalent on Twitter than some of the other social networking sites, are being introduced to younger artists. By the same token through Twitter, artists are able to tweet about their favorite artists and influences, thus reviving the careers and sales of the more mature country stars, who perhaps don’t have hits anymore. In addition, if a country star replies to your tweet or ‘mentions’ you, as a fan, this is as close to meeting them as you might ever get. They have recognised that you exist. For about 30 seconds in time, they were talking directly to you. This increases fans’ affinity with artists, and also the artists who interact the most with the fans seem the most ordinary, the most normal. This is so important for country music because it’s all about realism, and authenticity. There is no better way to show you’re a normal person by saying normal things (yet quite entertaining) and chatting in a normal way with your normal fans. There’s something very endearing about it and just reinforces country’s core ethos even further.
A lot of people complain that technology is de-personalizing music – I disagree in this case. Twitter is personalizing music like never before, and it’s unlikely that was ever founder Jack Dorsey’s intent. But it’s happened and it’s wonderful. There are so many more uses and advantages for country music on Twitter that I haven’t even discussed, but they are endless: promoting radio stations (particularly small internet ones), helping unsigned independent acts rise through the ranks purely on their own, etc. In addition, country music is able to reach global markets like never before, although the test will be whether the industry can respond to that by letting artists tour globally to meet their new fans. I think Stage-it shows and others like them will skyrocket for big artists, because meeting all these new faraway fans is not always easy or financially viable. Having said that, it’s still a bit of a crazy new world at the moment and anything could happen, and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Now country music is part of this fast-moving process, it can reap the financial
rewards it desires, yet the internet allows it to fragment into even more niche subsectors than ever before, putting a massive Gandalf-style staff in the way of standardization. It’s a brilliant time for all genres, despite what you hear about CD sales, and downloads. So be excited about this era for country music. No-one
knows what’s going to have happened by 2020 or even 2014, but I have a feeling Twitter will have something to do with it, for the time being. For these reasons I think Twitter is the most exciting and most important thing in country music for 2013.
And if you don’t have a Twitter account, well, what are you waiting for?
Blog Rodeo Roundup: See What Everyone Else Is Saying About Country Music in 2013!
- CountryMusicTattleTale.com: 2013 Will Bring A New Sound to Country Music!
- FocusOnThe615.com: Artist to Watch in 2013!
- TwangNation.com: Americana’s Influence On Country Music!
- UrbanCountryNews.com: Roots On The Rise – The Most Exciting Music Trend of 2013!
- UkCOUNTRYmusic.net: Country2Country Festival-A Potential Turning Point for US Country Music In The Uk!
- KeepinItCountryBlog.com: 2013 The Year of Country Crossover!
- CountryMusicPride.com: Country Music In 2013!
- CountryMusicNewsBlog.com (HaleighT): Word of Mouth in 2013!
- CountryMusicNewsBlog.com (WhiskeyChick): 2013 – The Year of Social Media In Country Music!
- CountryMusicNewsBlog.com (MissMolly): 2013 North of Nashville – The Ozarks Go Country!
- CMchatLive.com: 2013 – Insights From Country Music Industry Experts!
- CountryMusicIsLove.com: Country Artists Passing The Torch In 2013!