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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musical Lessons from Twitter

Analysis by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK
(Special thanks to Chris Crum, staff writer at WebProNews)

Justin Bieber in popular cultureWhat with the Miley Cyrus wannabes and the Twi-hards of this decade, the future culture historian will be forgiven for arguing that American popular culture (and the world's by default) had been hijacked by teenage girls - in what some will say were appropriately called "the teens".

And it's just suddenly got a whole lot worse (or better depending on your age, sex and location).

If you're not familiar with Justin Bieber (you're excused if you're not a 12-year-old girl), he is 16-year-old singer, who was discovered by his manager on YouTube, apparently after his mother uploaded videos of his performances so his loved ones could see them.

His catapult into the public eye and his continuing (and rising) popularity reads like a text book into how to become famous these days, measured by the amount of tweets the young singer is getting.

It bears repeating how important social networks like Twitter are for acts in connecting with their fan base, but it's also a good indication of what is hot right now.

Twitter is about what's happening right now, and pop culture is always happening right now.

Twitter's Pop Culture Status Means Business

According to What The Trend - which attempts to offer short blurbs about trending topics in Twitter with a short explanation on them - Bieber is popular right now because, he "has a lot of fans who like to tweet about him," and his new album was just released.

With over 1 million copies pre-ordered in the U.S. alone - according to Nightline - Bieber sure has something to celebrate with the release of his second album My World 2.0.

It has to be more than that though. Bieber has frequently been a trending topic for over a month straight. The tweets just keep pouring in, and they're generally not of a spam nature.

The week of Valentine's Day, What The Trend said, "the young Canadian R&B/pop singer has a lot of fans who like to tweet about him! He is trending these days because his solo begins the new version of "We Are the World", a song for the relief efforts in Haiti."

The next week, it was attributed to the same thing. The week after that, it was: "the young Canadian R&B/pop singer is trending these days because his new song, "Never Let You Go" was released for download on iTunes this week, as well as a duet with Sean Kingston, an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. He also had his birthday March 1st."

Last week, it was: "Justin Bieber's new album My World 2.0 comes out on March 23rd his fans are excited. He also appeared on, QVC, and GMTV in the UK."

So, making the rounds on the TV circuit doesn't hurt, either. In an interview for the Houston Chronicle, "the biggest little pop star" said of his Twitter status, "It's pretty crazy to think about and just to have all the fans' support ... Everything's just been wonderful."

It's more than wonderful. The sheer domination over trending topics that has grown from these happenings has been quite remarkable. Have the Twitter stars just aligned for Bieber or is it all part of the marketing? Either way, perhaps there are lessons here that marketers could take away from Bieber's spark of Twitter interest.

And so could Tarkan. And Tarkan's fans, too.

Lessons to Learn

Bieber not only has his own Twitter account (with over 1.5 million followers), but his official site hosts a stream of tweets about him.

Any site can do this, and it helps promote your Twitter presence. Sure, you can't control what people are saying about you, but if you're fine with that openness, let it show, but if you take care of your fans, chances are they won't have much negative to say about you anyway.

It also helps you to stay relevant, in a way other than getting your name dragged through the gossip press. If you stay relevant, then you be relevant.

It's foolish to suggest that Tarkan needs to drum up support for himself from younger generations by trying to snag them on Twitter, but keeping avenues alive and open would get feedback from the faithful when he does have a crisis.

Tarkan's Twitter audience may not be huge at first, but if he allowed for one on an official site, it would allow for retweets to create a word of mouth that would grow, because a pop artist shouldn't just stay relevant to pop culture, but to his fans, too.

Much of Bieber's Twitter popularity has been attributed to the various things he has been working on - appearances in songs, TV performances, new singles and an upcoming album, so he's doing things that his fans find interesting and worth tweeting about.

Tarkan needs to do things that his fans find interesting, and they will hopefully tweet about it. His most recent animal rights campaign for PETA could have gotten a big boost here, rather than just having US publicist Avo Yermagyan tweeting about it.

Music has been at the forefront of branching into different and new media. Websites were where music really came alive, and pushed websites forward - a lot of the publishing norms now came from music publishing sites. With blogs, too, music really paved the way in terms of that becoming an established media in its own right. For a long time, Tarkan has been ignoring this.

However, is it fine to say no to Twitter? Sure - Tarkan Deluxe does it to keep its reach intimate - but you can't deny the potential reach the service allows you, and this is only growing. This blog isn't about making money, but if you are, then you need to take a few lessons from Twitter. A year from now, Twitter is likely going to be even more useful to businesses in a variety of capacities, not just the music industry.

Is it so hard to imagine the next step of special commercial tweets advertising products in micro format? A recent study found that brands on Facebook and Twitter are favoured by consumers.

And we can hear the true music lover ask, just what does this have to do with real music? At the end of the day, Tarkan's a pop singer. So is Bieber. One thing history will show, too, is that teen idols for the most part come and go, despite a few exceptions.

For his home nation at any rate, Tarkan will always be an exception.

And all those in favour should get tweeting, so the rest of the world doesn't forget it.

The views in this article are those of the author alone.
Read more Mark Mayhey articles on Tarkan >>

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