Original image courtesy of mashable.com
When I first created a Facebook account in 2006-2007, I didn’t think that it would become what it is today – a key marketing tool and promotional powerhouse for music artists, amongst other things. What started out as a social networking platform for college students (not too soon after, high school students followed) later became the “new MySpace”, a sleeker and more user-friendly version of its predecessor. Facebook absorbed MySpace and took along with it not only its primarily young user-base, but also music artists that were once utilizing MySpace Music to their own advantage – remember that useful little music player from ages ago (see below)? If you wanted to stream (and in some cases, download) your favorite artist’s singles online, look no further than the MySpace Music player.
In addition to the player, which was any artist’s main push to attract “friends,” MySpace music pages were consistently populated with music videos, personal blog posts that acted as news updates for fans, and concert date announcements. MySpace became such a personal space for artists that many times artists would announce their own group’s breakups via a blog post on the website. At its peak, it became the ideal online space where fans and artists could interact, where fans could keep up-to-date on their favorite musician’s every move. Keep in mind, this is before Twitter and Tumblr really took off and when artist’s own websites were doing little to keep their listeners satisfied – the perceived “closeness” of social media, specifically MySpace, altered the fan/artist relationship for the better. What was the point of weekly newsletter e-mails when you could see what your favorite rapper was really up to, sometimes daily, on a website like MySpace? The most tantalizing thing about it all? MySpace also happened to be free.
Fast forward to April 2009, MySpace’s President and CEO step down, Specific Media buys out 95% of the company and attempts to re-brand and re-vamp the site as best they could, unfortunately to no avail (peep the awkwardly put together ad campaign from 2013 below).
So, what were artists left with after MySpace’s unexpected, yet inevitable downfall? Facebook, of course. However, Facebook wasn’t exactly the type of space made to showcase mass media and music content, so eventually Zuckerberg and co. adjusted.
From the music-sharing-friendly nature of Bandpage, the Facebook “fanpage” was later birthed in 2013, which was essentially a public Facebook profile for a music artist. Finally, Facebook had it: their equivalent to a MySpace Music page. Now, artists could share media, news, blog posts, and anything else they wanted to on a personal level, just like they used to before: simply subtract out the “friends” for “likes.”
Enter 2014 and we have clickbait. What exactly is clickbait? Wikipedia provides the following definition: “pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue, especially at the expense of quality or accuracy, relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.” If that sounds confusing, in layman’s terms, it’s basically any article you see online with a shock-worthy title made to lure you in to clicking on said article. An example of a link to a non-clickbait article versus a clickbait article follows below, courtesy of ComputerHope:
These type of links are pretty easy to spot, and if you spend enough time on the Internet this year, you’ll start noticing them in a kind of overwhelming capacity. So, how does clickbait relate to musicians and Facebook? Clickbait is all over the place now since its introduction to the world wide web, and it’s unfortunately entered our close-knit, personal social media spaces, especially Facebook. I used to think the invites for game applications on the website were bad, but clickbait’s invasion into the famous social media service has slowly begun to turn me away from even logging on to Facebook. Clickbait has become a part of daily Facebook usage so much so, that late last year I began noticing a trend when browsing a handful of big-name rapper’s “fanpage” profiles: the accounts themselves have become clickbait-producing machines. The once seemingly “personal” feeling of interacting with an artist/their management on their profiles seems lost now, and every link that the artist posts today needs to be carefully examined in order to prevent one from being virtually thrown into a twisting blackhole of endless clickbait.
Everyone from Wayne to Raekwon have decided to adopt the clickbait angle and morph into their daily Facebook activity.
Waka has been a leading figure in the clickbait cause, with whoever running his profile incorporating all types of non-sensical articles and links into his Facebook posts.
This clickbait post from Raekwon is particularly laughable. LOLs aside, the post a) is completely false, and b) gives money to the website responsible once you click the link. I mean, come on: Tangy-Thug.MOSTEXTREMENEWS.COM? Though the photoshop is obviously apparent in the picture with regard to the makeup, not everyone on the Internet and in the online rap community would immediately discount the article as false, and would actually, curiously click on this link.
These aren’t the only rappers/music artists to have their profiles “hijacked” by (see: sold to) clickbait head-honchoes, but just a few I used to illustrate the problem. If you go to any of these artists’ Facebook profiles, you will stumble upon limitless examples of clickbait posts to the point where you literally have to look for any music-related news and/or media about or from the artist. Raekwon, who is a rapper that I don’t even consider “mainstream”, has even fallen victim to the clickbait trap. I understand that this isn’t the ideal climate for making money by selling music, and that artists must look in other avenues to diversify the methods in which they earn legal money, but I’m not sure clickbait should be one of those avenues. Not only is it destructive to the artists’ pages, but it is also destructive to fans, and will slowly wipe out Facebook’s useful medium of social networking between music listeners and music makers, one that managed to take the place of, arguably, MySpace’s greatest innovation: its music pages. Thankfully, Facebook has been working on fixing the problem, according to Forbes, using their two-method system:
Hopefully this works and actually makes an impact on mitigating the public’s, and mainly music fans’, exposure to clickbait from artists they ‘like’ and closely follow on Facebook. It’s only a matter of time before clickbait pours over into Twitter and Instagram. Maybe in their case, however, those companies will be much quicker to react.