Marketing Breakdown

Allan Woodstrom's Marketing Blog

Musicians and Hip Hop Artists on Twitter Have Little Success Marketing

with 6 comments

I did a little research to find out if there were any musicians or hip hop artists successfully using Twitter to market themselves. Surprisingly, I found very few.

MySpace, still the ultimate hangout for musicians, rappers and hip-hip artists has helped launch the careers of many young musicians, including: Soulja Boy Tell Em and Sean Kingston. But can an emerging social media tool like Twitter, do the same thing?

My resounding answer is no. MySpace and Facebook have two major things that Twitter does not: users and features. It was estimated that Twitter has about 3.5 million active users. Compare that to Facebook and MySpace, who respectively have 175 and 110 million users and it’s clear which network has the greatest opportunity for exposure. 

Also, musicians on MySpace can create unique experiences for their fans. Passersby can listen to music, view photos and read blog posts. Compare that to Twitter, information and interactivity is limited. Other than a background, which may or may not look good on every screen, not much can be used to differentiate new artists from one another.

I will close with a final comment, saying that musicians with an established brands like Jay-Z or Diddy could attract quite a following. It just depends on whether or not they embrace Twitter. Notice how many people are following NBA star, Shaquille O’Neal

Hip Hop Artists on Twitter
Soulja Boy Tell Em –
Kanye West –
50 Cent –
Snoop Dogg –
Diddy –
Q-Tip –
Noreaga –
Ghostface Killah –
MC Hammer –
Joe Budden –

Please let me know if you think I left out any major hip hop artists using Twitter.


6 Responses

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  1. As a hiphop artist, I can tell you that this article’s premise is flawed.

    Would one drink a glass of soy sauce? Would one eat a cupful of salt? Or drink a glass of ketchup? Spices and condiments were never meant to function as a main course.

    So too with twitter.

    MySpace acts as an introduction – many people have “stumbled upon” bands on MySpace, and everyone knows about how useful and significant being on a band’s “top 8” is, you basically have their listeners on lock. In fact, being on an artist’s “top 8” is like an endorsement from the artist. MySpace also acts as an artist’s “business card” – virtually every venue in America asks almost by rote “who is it? uh huh…and who’s the manager? uh huh…and what’s the MySpace?” Even one’s MySpace URL is judged for professionalism.

    Facebook is for engagement. You post on my wall, I post on yours. We link up. Join my group. One doesn’t post music to Facebook (and if they try that TOS thing again, no one ever will); it’s not for finding bands. It’s for finding people, and connecting personally. You don’t “stumble upon” people, you “run across” them – and your relationship isn’t based on a one-way “you entertain me” paradigm, rather it’s far more mutual.

    Once you know who I am (MySpace), and we’re connected personally (Facebook), now it’s time to “spice up” the relationship. Maybe you want to see some pics from my last tour. Maybe you want to know what I’m eating for lunch. Maybe you want to know where I’m on my way to. That’s twitter. It spices up an existing relationship – to make “that sick MC I ran into on MySpace” more interesting. Now it’s not just “he toured with MC So-and-so” (from the MySpace top 8/bio), now it’s “he eats the same kind of veggie chili I do!”.

    Just like one doesn’t open up with one’s life story upon meeting someone at a cafe (unless you want to be “that guy”), an artist who would rely solely on Twitter to get a fanbase is either fooling themselves or DAMN interesting in <140 characters. People like GuyKawasaki and @Mashable blow up on Twitter because most tech heads are on Twitter, and thirsty for the info and links they provide. People find musicians when they want to hear music – and when they want to hear music, they want to click play and hear something phat. At face value every tinyurl and link is the same — no one will click on @SickLyricistMC’s “please retweet” link without knowing what it SOUNDS like first.

    Twitter is not only useful, but invaluable to MCs and all musicians and artists, but only as a “3rd phase” of a relationship. It works with MySpace and Facebook, not against them. Artists who want to promote themselves have got to hit up all 3.

    And on that note, check out my sick new video! 🙂


    February 18, 2009 at 8:21 am

  2. interesting article and equally interesting comment on how twitter can spice up an online brand/relationship with one’s fans.

    Kristen Nicole

    February 18, 2009 at 8:50 am

  3. Y-Love, thanks for the great insight. Your music is definitely hot. I liked the music video too. It has a beat that can definitely bring some hype to a party.

    Back to what you were saying though, I think I was trying to say pretty much the same thing. We just said it differently.

    Basically, I was trying to make the point out that hip hop artists should be established on MySpace and Facebook before expect a great following on Twitter, unless the artist is also a champion for fashion, social change or some other cause. They can definitely make some serious connections, if they have serious thoughts outside of music.

    I was also merely trying to point out that up until this point, the marketing successes that hip hop artists have had on Twitter, in no way compare to the successes they have had on other social networks. And I totally agree with you about the “3rd phase” of connecting. Artists who do not utilize all relevant social media networks are continually missing out on various opportunities to connect with people on different levels.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

    Allan Woodstrom

    February 18, 2009 at 9:00 am

  4. I’d also like to add:

    That which twitter does, neither MySpace nor Facebook can do. I used to be the guy with 40-60 “Facebook status” updates a day. This costs you friends who are sick of seeing “Yitz is eating cake. Yitz is reading http://blablabla” 45 times in their news feed.

    MySpace content, like a business card, is meant to remain mostly static (obviously not including show dates, new tracks, etc). Were one to update their MySpace data (or even profile look) 40-60 times a day, they’d have no identity.


    February 18, 2009 at 9:19 am

  5. Hey Allen, interesting post. A couple of thoughts…

    First of all as we should all know, Twitter by itself is no magic bullet. As such, any artist, company or entity should be using it as a ‘supplement’ to other online existence. Part of the integrated efforts and all.

    With ‘major’ hip-hop artists, the issue is going to be the same as with any ‘large’ entity. They won’t be Twittering much anyway, nor do they MySpace or Facebook that much. Sure they post things etc., but there is no real ‘interaction’ between a Diddy or Jay-Z and the people. They just don’t have the time or inclination, and their brand is big enough to not really warrant it anyway.

    So for up and coming or moderately successful hip-hop artists, MySpace and Facebook are better options. Despite MySpace being overrun and saturated with music artists and brands, it is helpful to establish and maintain an interactive presence there. But I agree with Y-Love in that many MySpace pages have become less of a fluid presence, and more static. In essence, MySpace pages have almost become substitutes for stand-alone websites for many artists, which is fine, but doesn’t invite interaction, which is the key to successful social media marketing.

    Twitter is a next-gen type of interaction, and it is simply too early to say whether or not next-gen hip-hop artists will find success using Twitter. The newer artists, while still sticking to old standards such as MySpace, are putting more weight into their Twitter game, strong new contenders like Charles Hamilton (@charleshamilton), Mickey Factz (@mickeyfactz) and Asher Roth (@asherroth) all tweet fairly regularly. Since their rise is largely based on blogger and internet buzz, they are hitting the exact people who will then turn around and preach their gospel on blogs, through linking, etc., which has largely been what has fueled their respective success so far.

    So, for major, established artists, Twitter can really only enhance their brand if they choose to be very interactive. In fact, Twitter can ONLY enhance a brand if the user is GENUINELY interactive, not just pumping robotic tweets out. Big time artists will generally not do this.

    For the moderately successful, or up and coming artist, Twitter has the potential to be an extremely effective self-promotion tool. To say that they are not having particular success, is premature, especially when there are few entities at all who can claim any particular success based strictly on Twitter.

    So to your question, can Twitter help launch the career of a hip-hop artist like MySpace did for others, where you say resoundingly “no”, I say resoundingly, “not yet”.

    Manny Faces

    February 18, 2009 at 10:07 am

  6. […] a posting over at where Allen Woodstrom feels that hip-hop artists are not having any particular success marketing […]

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