Twitter Is No Magic Pill For Record Industry

Yesterday, a information emerged from the NPD group that suggests Twitter users purchase more music.  Of the 4,000 Internet users surveyed, approximately one third of Twitter users had purchased a CD in the past three months with 34 percent saying they had purchased a digital download.  Goodie?

Until now, I have refrained from discussing anything about Twitter.  With so many conversations circulating about Twitter, the last thing I wanted to do was add to it.  Plus, it is part of my daily duties at work to  observe Twitter conversations for brands and whip up strategic initiatives. It is easy to get a little Twittered out.  So I have remained attentive to all the information circulating about the community, but really didn’t want to add anything to craziness. I hate jumping on bandwagons, and I am not about to start, but I feel it is worth addressing the finding from NPD Group.

Although the results are interesting , what is lacking is the fact that NPD group finding fails to address the question of “why?”  What would be more interesting is if a social anthropologist evaluated how a community like Twitter impacts our behavior and encourages music purchases.  If the Internet destroyed the recording industry model of distribution, then social network communities has amplified this by impacting our behavior in way that apparently lends itself to purchasing more music.  I would hypothesize there is a link between sharing music in social communities drives music discovery leading to more music sales.  I also think social communities amplify fandom.  The stidy hints this is the case.

NPD group also found that Twitter users have a higher engagement level to music sites like Pandora and MySpace Music.  Really, MySpace music?  While it is more likely Twitter users, at least the early adopters, are more engaged with music hubs, I would have guessed the Twitteratti  would be more engaged in places like Last.fm, Imeem, MOG, Grooveshark, and Blip.fm (the last two especially) more so than Pandora and MySpace Music.

Do these survey results further illustrate the importance of Twitter? Maybe.  There are several other communities to ask questions about and behavioral activities to better understand. Twitter maybe the most active microblog, but there are certainly others to consider in this study.  What would also be interesting to understand is if Twitter users are listening to traditional radio or ignoring the medium all together.  Radio used to be the way music aficionados learned about new music, but I don’t think this is the case any longer.  I think the sharing of music using various social network platforms is impacting how we learn about music thereby influecing our buying habits.

When I first started blogging, I wrote about how Plurk was my preferred microblog to share music.  Since then, Twitter has evolved and become the leading microblog to share music.  However, this is true only because of all the third party applications that sync into Twitter versus other services.   I still believe Plurk is the better platform, but that is my personal preference.

Bottom line, the NPD Group study reveals little and is far from adequate.  Much more analysis is needed before anyone can definitely say that Twitter is the magic pill the recording industry is searching for.  That said, there are other reason for musicians and bands to join the twittersphere and microblog frenzy.  That is for another discussion at another time.

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