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A Brief History of Music and Social Media

IMusic and social media image by Incase  via flickrImage by Incase via flickr

When rumors hit the web last month that Twitter was looking to acquire Soundcloud, a lot of users expressed their disdain. Twitter Music, the social network’s previous failed attempt to incorporate a music discovery service, didn’t bode well for Soundcloud in the eyes of its many fans.

While the Soundcloud deal isn't happening, the news is just one more example of social networks trying to tie themselves to music. Music is inherently a very social experience, from going to see concerts to sharing our favourite tracks and bands with friends. As such, it comes as no surprise that music and social media technologies have been very intertwined.

Here’s a brief history of the relationship between music and social media:

2003: Myspace Launches and within months quickly becomes a go-to space for bands and musicians to share their work. It helped artists —including the Arctic Monkeys and Lily Allen— gain a fan base and kick off their careers, and over 8 million musicians are thought to have been present on Myspace. As a result, Myspace was the go-to music discovery platform for a generation of social media users, who were also allowed to place music on their own personal profiles.

February, 2005: YouTube is founded and rapidly becomes the home of professional music videos, amateur bedroom musicians and everything in between. The playlist functionality also makes YouTube a convenient music player for many.

March, 2007: Twitter is a massive success at SXSWi, the interactive portion of the major music and arts festival, kicking off a social media era of sorts at the event.

Twitter Wins SXSW Web Award 2007. Image by Scott Beale  via flickr Twitter Wins SXSW Web Award 2007. Image by Scott Beale via flickr

May, 2007: The first known instance of a Rick Roll, where internet users pretend to point someone to one link but actually directs them to the music video of Rick Astley’s 1987 track “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The prank would soon become widespread, to the sadness of many.

August, 2007: Soundcloud is created as a social network for musicians, allowing them to share, collaborate and promote music. It quickly grows to become a leading music discovery tool, helped along by easily embeddable players used widely on blogs.

October, 2008: Spotify launches. This music streaming service allows you to integrate social profiles, then see friends’ favourite music and playlists.

August, 2010: Music streaming service Rdio is launched. It incorporates a social networking component by allowing you to see what friends are listening to, and to share and combine playlists.

The Itune Ping logo. Image from Wikimedia CommonsThe Itune Ping logo. Image fromWikimedia Commons

September, 2010: iTunes launchesiTunes Ping, a music-oriented social networking service that allowed users to see posts by friends and musical artists.

May, 2011: Facebook partners with Spotifyletting users listen to music on the social network, share what they’re listening to.

June, 2011: Musical artist Justin Timberlake part of group that purchases the now rather unpopular Myspace.

September, 2012: iTunes shuts down Ping, after low adoption. They integrate Facebook and Twitter into the service instead.

April, 2013: Twitter launches Twitter #music to help people discover music through their social network contacts.

June, 2013: With Timberlake’s backing, Myspace relaunchesIt still sucks, and quickly falls out of the media spotlight.

Tom Anderson myspaceTom Anderson, the man whose smiling face greeted every new Myspace user, still has a page. Check out his Top 8.

January 31, 2014: Katy Perry becomes the first person with 50 million Twitter followers.

March, 23, 2014: After a poor response from users, Twitter #music is pulled from the app storeThe feature would be shut down entirely on April 18.

Shakira in 2009. Image via Wikimedia Commons.Shakira in 2009. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

March 24th, 2014: Shakira becomes most ‘liked’ person on Facebookwith 86.66 million fans.

March 27, 2014: Twitter and Billboard pair up to create real-time music charts, in order to help users see the most-talked about new artists as the buzz happens.

May 21, 2014: Facebook releases a new Shazam-like feature that can identify the song you’re listening to, and pre-populate the name and a sample of the track into your status.


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