Digital Marketing and The Music Industry

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Besides talent and production, marketing is the key component in turning an artist into a star. It amplifies your hard work and talent to millions of potential fans. Before the Internet Age, this would have just included DJs, radio stations, television and industry press. Today, it consists of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and getting onto major digital music platforms like Tidal, iTunes, Soundcloud and Spotify.

According to Raffi Keuhnelian, CEO of MusicPromoToday, “Social media has allowed musical talents from around the world to become global superstars. Just think of Justin Bieber, Adele or The Weekend–they all ‘made it’ online. It also offers music fans the ability to interact and engage with their favourite musicians.”

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Digital services have helped spread African music across the globe to new markets, the most glaring contribution that digital has made has been in the area of awareness. So, in music, you’ve seen an explosion of African music on the global landscape, particularly the Afrobeats. What the digital, and, more specifically, the social media revolution has been able to do has been to empower the audience in a manner which allows them to dictate what they find interesting rather than the big corporations making the determination for the audience.

Given entertainment’s proximity to social virality, it’s tempting to view social media as a major driver in the current growth of entertainment-related marketing. While social undoubtedly plays a large part in the spread of pop culture, marketers should consider the profound role streaming has had on the entertainment industry, and the catalyst that continues to drive streaming to forefront

African music is on the up, as evidenced by the diverse range of exciting and internationally popular artists that come from and are inspired by the continent.

Despite the growing popularity of streaming services, the majority of music accessed in Africa is still distributed by caller ring back tones, where callers can download tracks that are played while waiting for a phone to be answered. However, illegal downloads are still pervasive across the continent, and while this practice has been stifled in the West because of streaming services, on the continent, apps like Spotify are not widely used.

There is room for our own version of Apple in Africa. Before Apple came in most music consumers were downloading whole albums of platforms such as Napster or Limewire, but when Apple came in, it provided a seamless payment integration model in its software which then negated the need to download music illegally.

Even though there’s Apple in some African countries like  Nigeria, there are issues with people being unable to pay for content in the Apple store in local currency.


Digital marketing has undoubtedly changed the terrain of the music industry. The key is to not view it as an unfamiliar threat, but instead a huge opportunity waiting for pioneering artists and their teams. From social media to word of mouth to video market, new talents have never had so many tools –or competition– in front of them. Those who will not only survive, but thrive in this new world of music are the ones who use the Internet to make themselves known to huge new audiences.


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