Social Media and Music

     In this blog post, I am going to discuss the music industry and the platforms that are currently available to stream music (some of which I’m sure you are already familiar with) and how they encourage online social interaction amongst users. In this post, I will be discussing Spotify, Soundcloud, and Bandcamp and their features, commonalities, differences, and social aspects.

     First and foremost is Spotify, which I’m sure almost all of you either use on a regular basis or have used previously. I myself am not a huge user of the platform, but I certainly have my Spotify moments. Spotify offers an incredible user experience for a variety of reasons, the primary one being its massive catalog of music. Almost any album (sorry Taylor Swift fans) can be found on Spotify with a few clicks and can be listened to on the spot. Spotify accounts are frequently linked to a user’s Facebook account and this is where the socialness of the platform really comes light. While listening to music on Spotify, a quick glance to the right sidebar on the platform displays the music that a user’s social network, whether it be Facebook friends or connected Spotify users, are listening to. This is a great way to either keep up with the albums that your friends have been listening to (talk about a great conversation point) or discover a great album that might have snuck past you, but that your friend was able to uncover. Spotify also allows you to directly message an album to a connected user, which means that at any time you can share a recommendation over Spotify. This is all done through the platform, which saves the extra step of logging onto Facebook and messaging them the link to the       

     Next up is Soundcloud, which is different from Spotify primarily (in my opinion) in that it traditionally has shied away from the hosting of entire album streams. This platform has seen considerable usage from smaller, up-and-coming musicians who aim to host their art online and receive feedback and critiques from interested users. One really unique feature of Soundcloud is that users can comment on specific portions of a song that they are listening to. For instance, if someone is listening to a track on Soundcloud and noticed that a snare hit is missed, they can comment on the specific moment of the track that the mistake is. This is a much better feedback method than a general comment on the track as a whole along the lines of, “Well the drumming was a bit off”. Because of features like this, Soundcloud is inherently more collaborative than a platform like Spotify. I have one specific friend, Toby, who has met and collaborated with numerous producers through Soundcloud, where one person would create a beat and then send it to another individual to add more instrumentation or vocal elements or whatever else required.

     The last platform that I want to discuss in this blog post is Bandcamp, which some of you might not be as familiar with as Spotify and Soundcloud. Bandcamp can be thought of as iTunes for (predominantly) smaller, independent artists and offers users the ability to host and sell their musical creations to anyone online. One feature that I think is uniquely beneficial to Spotify is their tagging system which allows uploaders to tag their albums with anything relevant to the album. Oftentimes this has genre and geographical connotations with users tagging their album as “Boston” if they are local to the Boston area or “ska” if their band falls under the genre spectrum of ska. This is a social feature because users are able to search Bandcamp by specific tags, therefore someone who is looking specifically for Boston Ska can easily search for those tags on Bandcamp and find my friend Dan’s band Poor Jeremy. Additionally, Bandcamp allows you to create a profile, “collect” albums that you have purchased on the platform, and see what other users have collected the same album. I have a friend who was looking to start a band in the local Boston area and simply browsed the Boston tag on Bandcamp in hopes of finding some similar-minded musicians in the area and soon enough he was in a band with some local folks. This is the power of Bandcamp and it is super cool to me to see people collaborating through it.bandcamp_1000x515.jpg

     What are your thoughts about all of this? Are you a musician and do you use any of these platforms? Even for those of us who are non-musical, what are your experiences with these sites?


  1. Cool post, Billy. Ironically, I haven’t used any of the platforms you discuss in your post. I usually listen to music on Pandora (I know, I know, how old-fashioned), hitting the mute button as soon as commercials come on, or use Amazon Prime, which doesn’t have advertisements. I guess I like those two platforms specifically for their random selection based on algorithms. I like variety in my music, so I rarely ever listen to an artist’s entire album. I have also never used the social feature that Pandora offers, but I have seen plenty of friends’ posts of FB about what they’re listening to on Spotify and have on occasion looked up the song or artist. Much more interesting that sharing what people are listening to on social media is the collaborative side of bandcamp and soundcloud. I love how those are also very location focused, since I love staying in touch with local music scenes etc. I’ll give them a try and see what gems might come up. Thanks for a neat post!

  2. So as a musician and a big supporter of preserving rights to the music that artists have created, I have a few words to say about these online services. First and foremost, my opinions on Spotify are very mixed. First and foremost, I absolutely love being able to stream music at any time from my laptop, and the huge variety has really opened up my music horizons. That being said, what I find very odd is that you’ll often find some artists have most of their albums streaming, but not necessarily all of them, which I find very annoying. Secondly, Spotify has been known to offer a pittance royalty payment to musicians for people to listen to their music. Now, in cases like Taylor Swift, I fail to see why she should be getting a cent considering that others often write her music for her. But in cases like hardworking rock bands or rap artists, Spotify is so tempting yet so difficult to get music onto, and then the exposure/compensation you receive is practically nothing. I think there are a plethora of things that need to be done to correct Spotify and give musicians the fair compensation for their art, but I am the last person who wants to see Spotify get shut down, as i think it performs a great service to society by exposing people to millinos of songs they’ve never had access to before.

  3. I am very interested in the music industry and the changes that have occurred as a result of collaborative sites such as these. It is surprising a social platform solely for connecting musicians does not exist yet. If I were the managers of bandcamp, I would focus on building this aspect of the platform as there is a huge demand. Many musicians I personally know have significant difficulty finding other musicians in their local vicinity willing to commit to a band and have the same musical interests.

    Furthermore, I am wondering when a platform will be created in which many musicians can collaborate via the Internet and create single songs. Thus, taking out the need for a single band. Perhaps, this is the future for the industry?

  4. Interesting post. While I haven’t used Soundcloud or Bandcamp myself, I am very active user of Spotify (even though I am a huge Taylor Swift fan *sheds tear*). I think that aside from being a very easy and cost-efficient way to access a wide variety of music, it also brings together a very social aspect of music. I know that my friends and I like to use a lot of collaborative playlists for gym sessions, pregames, car rides, etc. I like to have the option of sharing what I am listening to with others as well as having the option to see what other people are currently listening to (as long as they make it visible). I like that I can follow people and their playlists to stay updated and get different music suggestions for myself. I think that any other competitor is going to have a hard time beating out Spotify as the leading music streaming app for this very reason. Nice job!

  5. Out of the three, Soundcloud is undeniably my favorite streaming app. I think it allows users to be really creative — something that Bandcamp and Spotify don’t really have space for. I love the reposting feature on the service, and as much as it is similar to Spotify’s Activity Feed feature, I wish the app had something similar so you could see what the people you’re following are playing. Bandcamp is also really for up and coming artists. I work at the radio station and the process of acquiring music includes reaching out to artists via Bandcamp through their emailing tool.

    Music streaming is definitely having a moment so it’ll be interesting to see where it goes within the next few years and how it’ll change.

  6. I’m very happy you made this post! I have posted music on all these platforms and my only regret is that I wish there was an easier way to send a direct mass message of my track to a huge list of people, almost like a Constant Contact/ Instagram but for musicians. I will say that Bandcamp does a great job of theorizing about what consumers want. They generate about 3 million dollars every month for independent musicians. I have some experience in the music platform space, I’m part of a 5 person startup and we are currently developing a social media platform for independent musicians to directly message their fan base. For more info:

  7. Nice post. I always rely on students to keep me up to date on these trends in online music.

  8. I think this is a great post. I am not familiar with Bandcamp, as you’ve guessed, but I am obsessed with both Spotify and Soundcloud. With Spotify, I rely on the quality of their curated playlists and access to recent albums. I use Spotify every day and I am a paying member. I love searching through certain playlists that compliment my mood or situation and it is also really cool to see playlists that other users have created regarding my mood (i.e. Throwbacks or Class Rock). With Soundcloud, my experience has been to use this for remixed songs and basically anything that people who are not on Spotify have created. I also really like Soundcloud’s recommendation feature. It really helps me find new songs that are similar to the ones I have liked or are currently listening to. I may have to check out Bandcamp because it seems like I am missing out on great music from artists who are not as popular.

  9. What I find interesting about social media’s relationship with music is that the different genres of music often gravitate to different social platforms as well. For example, all of the alternative or punk bands I listen to tend to post their albums on Bandcamp, but pretty much avoid Soundcloud outright. It seems like Soundcloud has a stronger presence within rap and EDM, and Spotify is ideal for pop music. Bandcamp seems to have more of an album focus, whereas Soundcloud is catered toward individual tracks, so it makes sense why alt rock fans would primarily use Bandcamp while rap/electronic music fans would prefer the single-track focus of Soundcloud. What’s also interesting is the fact that I hadn’t even heard of these platforms until pretty much the last 2 or so years, so I’m very eager to see where the future of music will be within the realm of social media.

  10. rebeccajin06 · ·

    Really interesting topic! Music platforms were never something I would associate with social media but that has drastically changed since taking this class. I primarily use Spotify for my online streaming so I can speak to that first. I personally do not have my account linked to Facebook but even through the platform itself, there is a sharing aspect to it. My friends and I have created joint playlists and shared music selections with each other because of Spotify’s user features. Secondly, I always find it amusing to see what my Facebook friends are listening to when they have it linked with their Spotify account (i.e. my guy friends who secretly listen to Adele).

    I don’t currently have a Soundcloud account but have really been considering it because like you mentioned, it is a platform to explore some less well-known artists. On the sharing front, SoundCloud is another great way to find new music through friends. One of my best friends from home has great taste in music and I have seriously considered making an account just so I can go through his likes and see which new songs I should be listening to as well.

  11. Nice post. Personally, I am a big fan of Spotify (great student deal for only $5/month), but have also used Soundcloud sparingly. The thing I love about Spotify, as you mention, is the ability to see what other people are listening to. I get sick of music pretty quickly, so it’s refreshing to be able to browse through my friends’ playlists and see what they are listening to in order to find new stuff. It was interesting to hear what Bandcamp is all about because I had never heard of it before this post. It seems like their strategy is geared more towards people who are trying to create a name for themselves in the music industry. I found it really cool that your friend was able to utilize the app and form a band with some local musicians with similar interests. Finally, I know that Apple recently (over the summer I think) created Apple Music, which essentially has the same functions as Spotify. I think Apple Music would be a platform that would compare well with the ones you mentioned. It will be interesting to see if it gains traction in this industry.

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