Op:Ed – Is Viral Socal Media Marketing Destroying The Music Industry?

oped halsey viral marketing

It’s the debate that’s starting to divide the music industry – and it’s got fans, publishers, managers, PR reps and artists all sharing their opinions on the matter – the importance of social media content!

In this day and age, music lovers and eager fans have tried to get as close to their favourite artists as possible and social media has opened up a world where they can go behind the scenes (in between album/song cycles) and keep up with their day to day life – dependent on how much of their lives the artist in question wants to share… But when those unintentional viral videos start to become a marketing tool that gets in the way of releasing your own music, shouldn’t there be a limit?

It all started when Halsey released an insightful video on TikTok stating that she had a new song ready to be released, but their label wasn’t going to drop it until they had a viral video on her account (to drum up some free attention).


I’m tired

♬ original sound – Halsey

In doing so, she shined a light on the back end tactics labels force their artists to do – who, yes, can have a bigger potential reach due to their popularity and the attention on what they’re doing on socials – but to essentially hold a song ransom until enough hype has been stirred up, surely that’s a stitch up!?

Following on from the drama, Halsey jumped onto Twitter to explain in-depth to the fans that sent a stack of questions about the situation. There are way too many to post here, but I highly recommend going for a browse if this subject interests you…

Playing devil’s advocate for a second here – the attention surrounding this drama is growing and to some, it’s reeking with hints of PR stunts and co-ordination – so when you take a step back from the bigger picture and look at what’s going on – the concept of going viral has worked – even if it shines a light in a negative way at Halsey‘s label in the process.

One of our OG Wall of Sound readers, PR Specialist Kat Orchard shared some of her own opinions on the subject manner (from a PR perspective) and believes a vast majority of what’s going on is all part of their devilish plan to “go viral”. 

To be honest with you, this whole concept of viral marketing put me back on the fence about the situation and any “negative issue-based” media stunts that have happened in the past for bigger acts. Now, you might be asking “why do you even care about these musicians Browny?” Because at the end of the day, WoS is here to use our platform to help promote (and talk about) the music/musicians we love and appreciate by sharing their news to the masses and the community we’ve built over the years.

Every so often, we come across our own hurdles while working with labels (even for artists on a lower level compared to the almighty Halsey) and usually we turn a blind eye and move on. But when you start getting seasoned veterans jumping in, you know the issue extends wayyyyy past the current landscape.

Overnight Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda also weighed in on the debate sharing his thoughts and it struck a chord with me, so much so that I had to put this piece together.

The wonderful world of social media has changed our lives. For better or worse is completely up to the individual user, but when these mundane requests start getting in the way of artists being able to release music, then surely something has to give, right?!

Labels, marketing teams, and promotions managers SHOULD be enlisting the help of those who are passionate about the bands/artists that they’ve put their heart and soul into talking about, and utilise other platforms outside of their sometimes defeated musicians – who pour their heart and soul into their music and afterwards, just want to release it upon the world with a stack of interviews (that they’re trained to do) – the rest should come from independent teams or outsourcing to content creators who have made lives and careers out of studying and dedicating their time to the workings of the music industry and who have a plethora of ideas ready to be unleashed.

Maybe I’m just old man ranting again, but it sucks seeing the people we look up to, essentially having their music held at ransom until they can “go viral” or generate their own hype. Gone are the days when labels were smart thinking and had dedicated teams within their own offices to come up with these types of concepts themselves. There’s already a lot of pressure on musicians in this day and age and instead of forcing them to work until they break (or worse), there has to be a better compromise.

Also, a massive shout out to all the upcoming bands who manage and maintain all of these kinds of strategies and conceptions on their own in the early years. We see you, we respect the shit out of you and hopefully one day soon, you won’t have to tackle the promotional side of pushing your music all on your own.

End Rant. Come at me on Twitter!

Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown.

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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3583 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!