Social Music: The Open Mic Night Revolutionized

Long gone are the days of starving musicians looking for the right open mic night in the right local bar. Record company mailboxes probably contain alot less demo tapes these days too. Now, artists have the tools to reach music moguls from their homes. Those tools, social media sites. And some artists are skipping the middle man all together and getting their music straight to the fans. And yes, they are making money from it!

Everyone knows the story of how Justin Bieber’s YouTube videos got him discovered and eventually signed by Usher. Kina Grannis, an emerging artist, also gained mainstream buzz through various social media sites. Her indie sound and unique video featuring over 200,000 jelly beans continues to dominate the online music world and has now moved off the computer screen to the television screen. She is now featured as one of VH1’s “Artists You Oughta Know.” Grannis was offered a record deal years ago, but turned it down because they wanted to change her image. She continued making popular viral videos and eventually record companies realized she was a great brand just the way she was.

Social media has revolutionized the way people listen to music, buy it, share it, and most importantly discover it. I have found some of my favorite artists on MySpace (when it was still popular) and YouTube. Surprisingly, MySpace is still a great way to find new talent, not friends though (beware). It takes one YouTube video to get discovered by the right person. In 2009, Ellen Degeneres invited singing duo,RinontheRox onto her show after finding a series of YouTube videos where the two girls sang popular covers in their bathroom. While they girls never gained main stream success, they are still producing videos for a large following garnering millions of views.

Many artists are using social media to go mainstream, while others are using it as a protest. Frank Ocean’s debut album, Nostalgia, was named one of TIME Magazine’s Top Albums of 2011. What’s unique about this album is he let fans download it free from his Tumblr page! He also received little television or radio play, but with millions of people on social networking sites, who needs that. His album continues to gain success and he is now a headliner for 2012 Coachella Music Festival.

Music is meant to bring people together and with social media sites, that goal is easily achieved.  We are in an age of social music and I am excited to see just how social our music can get.

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