[Essay] How New Media reshapes the music industry
I imagine myself at 14 years old winding the tapes back and forward with a pen and listening to Metallica for the hundredth time. Well, nothing else mattered at that time. Most Romanian around their 30thies grew up with rock music and songs for revolted people. They liked the music their parents were forbidden to listen to, during the communist period. So, I am one of those people who like rock music and this is why I was almost shocked when a friend from abroad asked me about Alexandra Stan and her “Mr Saxobeat”. I was wondering myself who she was and I felt like I didn’t know who the president of Romania was, when he told me she was already a famous pop singer all over the world. Few days later, my editor in chief at that time, asked me to write an article about her. He was just back from his holiday abroad, where he had listened to Alexandra’s Stan songs for hundreds of times. She was the woman of the moment, so it was time to interview her and to discover “a new world”, that of stars who live for endless hours in front of the cameras. Therefore, it was time to find out how she became famous abroad, while in Romania she was still struggling on the market.
It is all about marketing
I got into contact with her managers and the answer came soon. “It is all about marketing”, they answered. A new type of marketing, made with the help of New Media tools. “We have been exploring social media and we created a brand”, they continued. I convinced myself about that when visiting her website and Twitter and Facebook pages. She had 425.000 fans on Facebook (now she has 1, 4 millions), numerous followers on Twitter (now she has over 113..000) and everybody listened to her songs on You Tube (her songs were more notorious than those of Beatles and Queen on You Tube and were listened to by over 81.000.000 millions people). Moreover, she had a professional website, where all social platforms were fully integrated and well connected. Traditional channels, such as radio or TV and, of course, concerts had also been taken into consideration and her staff also used thee means to create her brand.
This is the original article and for its English version, go to the end of this post.
There is no doubt that social platforms play now an important role in marketing and branding, but traditional channels shouldn’t also be underestimated, especially from a psychological point of view. People still like to gather to concerts and to connect to each other.
But it is almost obvious that new media play now an important role in branding and marketing of an artist and as people say nowadays: “If you are not on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter you don’t exist”.
So, few questions came to my mind, after writing that article.
1. How a brand can be better created by the new media?
2. How social media has changed the music industry?
3. Which is the impact of social media on artist’s career?
4. Is the new media reshaping the relation of an artist with his fans?
Let’s have a short look at each of them.
1. How a brand can be better created by social media?
To use social media is not enough. A mixture of methods and a good selection of the most popular social platforms may be necessary. Design is also important. For instance, Facebook has to be strong form visual point of view, as Alexandra’s Facebook is. The artist should interact with his/her fans as Alexandra also does. (“I have just changed my haircut”, “I have just launched my new album”). Her presence on Tweeter is visible as well. She has plenty of Tweets ( “I have concert in a few days”, “Coming soon to France” , “What are you doing tonight? I am in the mood of going to the cinema and watch a great movie! Kissss”) and a friendly interface (friendly yellow and red colors). So, it is important to be in the social media, but also to handle them properly.
2. How social media has changed the music industry?
Social media platforms are fantastic marketing tools and because of them music became universal. It is almost obvious that national barriers are crossed much easier. And that audiences raise on You Tube, which makes music more accessible. If one doesn’t have money for a concert, he can listen to his favorite songs on You Tube. Online media is for free and that has definitely changed the music industry. And this was also the case for Romanian Alexandra Stan.
“Sometimes, when you push for a play and promote it aggressively, people don’t react. With Alexandra, we didn’t experience this kind of problem. Her songs promoted by themselves through social platforms and on You Tube”, says Andrei Nemirschi, manager in the music industry.
3. Which is the impact of social media on an artist’s career?
Every artist may become a star in less than one year if people like his/ her music. It doesn’t take years to be promoted and to become famous. What Elton John realized in ten years it is nowadays possible possible in less than one year. Maybe superficial music is invading us, but excellent artists are also invited to use these techniques of new media since they are for free. Even when the Facebook page is not professional, a personal one can make the difference also (there are artists who have their personal FB pages and also an additional, professional page). Social media allow interactions and sometimes interaction is even more important than a good layout on Facebook. Almost every artist should learn to take advantages form the new media technology.
4. Is new media changing the relation of the artist with his fans?
It certainly does. By regular posts and answering questions, the number of fans may increase. Sometimes a specialist in New Media is needed since all of these actions require time.
“It’s not enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account, you must participate in the conversation by making regular posts and replying to direct messages from your customers”, (article The New Rules of Branding Your Business Online)
We can extent this to artists. People want to hear directly from the artist about their preferences, activities or about their dreams and anyway the interaction with fans may be funny.
To conclude, social platforms and new media have certainly reshaped the music industry and the way an artist is branded. More or less talented artists can boost their popularity by the help of New Media and Alexandra Stan has been a good example to give. She got visibility mostly by concerts, but New Media also played an important role in her debut. By New Media, the staff around her created strong networking and good interactions. Maybe she is not the most talented singer and her lyrics are facile, but at least she is a good media product. New media proved really effective in launching her and her songs. She got popularity in Romania and abroad thanks to new media and she is a good example that artists should learn to embrace technology. If few years ago artists could could hardly find a record studio to promote them, nowadays Facebook and Twitter are for free. This is how new brands of artists see the light.
Alexandra Stan, a 22 years old Romanian singer, got Western crowds crazy with her easy songs that everyone can remember
How to make a star of one million Euro with the help of New Media
Romanian music industry has recently produced more than second hand artists, who can hardly manage a decent playback. This year, the masters of the music industry created authentic and international stars, who performed for millions of fans in European arenas and sold numerous records worldwide. Alexandra Stan is among them.
Until recently, the motley, vulgar and noisy world of Romanian showbiz, was exclusively populated by “third hand artists”. People got used to pseudo-stars, constantly chased by the paparazzi, obsessively promoted in TV talk-shows, but who could hardly perform a decent playback. But finally a new wave of Romanian singers, who are able to perform more than a playback, appeared almost out of nowhere on the market. They spectacularly jumped into the international and pragmatic world of showbiz, while they still struggled in the local industry. However, there are still some questions regarding their success. For instance, how come that artists such as Inna or Alexandra Stan are present in the front positions of American and European tops, as for example Billboard or Top 40 , before conquering the local market ? How come they are followed on You Tube by millions of people and their business already makes millions of Euro?
Professionals who branded Alexandra Stan and her famous song “Mr Saxobeat”, obsessively played this summer in the discos from all over the world, accepted to answer to some of these questions. They honestly said that kitsch is now global and that rhythms of her songs are simple and pleasant. In their opinion, it was also good that Alexandra hasn’t been a Conservatory student. Great chances also counted. If it hadn’t been marketing and a professional team of producers, composers and new media specialists, Alexandra would have still played for school parties and karaoke shows performing in front of her fellows.
When Alexandra released her first song, she posed as sexy school girl who licked lollipops. Then she appeared in a swimming suit when performing at – 10 degrees at a concert in Moscow. In Milan, she had short and loose bluejeans and no underwear, which made her sex visible. However, Alexandra has a good voice, she performs live and she is appreciated in the music industry. Then how comes that she plays songs with no message and poor content, if she has a great voice? People say she could easily be manipulated since she hasn’t been educated in a Conservatory school, where she could have sharpened her style. Anyway, for a year she got private lessons of canto.
“She is talented and it is all that matters. We are glad she didn’t go to Conservatory. People who graduated from that school were contaminated by an obsolete style and now it’s difficult for them to forget what they have learned at school”, says Andrei Nemirschi, the manager of the artist and the patron of Maan Studio from Constanta. He noticed she is talented two years ago, at Mamaia festival, and he decided together with his business partner, Marcel Prodan, to launch and promote her. She accepted and, therefore, they started to brand her, since the industry cannot survive anymore without marketing tools.
“Music is like any other business. When one has the product, he implements marketing strategies!”, says Nemirschi. These marketing strategies may be styling, hairstyling, sexy and provocative outfit, interminable photo-shootings. But still the artist needs like 12-14 rehearsal hours in the studio, a good and commercial play and an aggressive marketing campaign by all media channels.
There is no doubt that her songs lyrics are facile and do not have any message. „You make me this/ Bring me up/ Bring me down/ Play it sweet/ Make me move like a freak” or „If you wanna see my / Pam pam param pampam/ If you wanna feel my / Pam pam param pampam/ If you wanna touch my/ Pam pam param pampam/You gotta lick my lolli-lollipop. But entrepreneurs from the music industry like to say that “in English everything sounds well, so she is lucky. The simpler the music is the better. Anyway, her lyrics sound like Kant and Schopenhauer comparing to some other lyrics from the international market”, appreciated Alexandru Baculea, one of the managers from the Romanian music industry.
But the questions about the ingredients that made her music so popular abroad still persist. She ranked for the first position in Billboard Hot Dance airplay, for a couple of weeks, outrunning Lady Gaga. In the German top 40 she also had the first position with “Mr. Saxobeat”, while Jennifer Lopez was situated on the second position with her famous “On the floor”. Moreover, she got a platinum record in Italy and she came into Top 20 Shazam Tag (Shazam is a famous application for smart phones and iPad by which songs can be downloaded. Last but not least, she had the first position from a top of a well-known Turkish radio stations.
Alexandru Baculea thinks that her international success is also related to mentalities. “People from abroad are stuffed with their music and they like these insertions of accordion and saxophone”, says Baculea. Florin Grozea, who is a Romanian composer, producer and musical entrepreneur brings a few more arguments. “The fame of an artist is not necessarily related to the quality of his/ her music. Many aspects are bounded to the context. Alexandra has a great voice, I know her since she was 13 years old. Why did she simply get European crowds crazy? Because Romanians can make surprisingly Kitsch songs that foreigner composers cannot make. This also explains the success of another Romanian band, O-Zone, with their famous “Dragostea din tei”. It is all about absolute simplicity and stupid lyrics, easy to remember. Romanian young composers capture everybody by their simple melodies and great rhythms”, says Grozea.
On the other hand, Romanians are more reluctant to this type of music, because they are old fashioned and still not so much in love with the club music. “They need international confirmation and appreciation to admit that one singer is good”, thinks Cristi Paun, a Romanian DJ, who works for Radio Zu. However, Alexandra became famous in Romania only after her international success. Marketing studies ordered by her managers showed that, in Romania, the majority of people who love Alexandra are teenagers, while abroad her fans are also people over 19 years old.
Her songs were promoted on Facebook and YouTube
In the music business industry, opportunities are important, her managers claim. “Sometimes, when you push for a play and promote it aggressively, people don’t react. Concerning Alexandra, we didn’t experience this kind of problems. Her songs promoted by themselves through social platforms and You Tube”, says Andrei Nemirschi. Last but not least, the PR team was really important. They taught her “what to say, when to say it and how to say it”.
We have already noticed that, when the artist refused to talk to us directly and let her managers speak to us. However, she doesn’t make the headlines too often in the Romanian press. She has been interviewed by Money Channel, a business magazine in Romania, she has sent a few beauty tips for Cosmo, a beauty magazine while the tabloids rarely have news about her. On the other hand, British people could see her topless on FHM cover. “We think that is better for her to be in international newspapers. Romanian tabloids don’t give one the chance to have an orthodox marketing campaign”, says Nemirschi.
Alexandra considers that her international success was actually surprising. “It is important to have something from everything and to be prepared for hard work and for only two-three hours of sleep per night”, she said, when she was interviewed by Bucharest Herald.
She gathers around 20.000 fans per concert
20 euro is the cost for a ticket to her concert
She had more than 81.000.000 plays on You Tube with her single Mr Saxobeat, more than famous songs from Beatles and Queen could gather
She has over 425.000 fans on Facebook
She was one of the nominees for European MTV Music Awards.