Want to step foot into the entertainment industry? You should be all over of social media!

Back from the late 1990s, when people was still living in the “digital Stone Age era” with dial-up Internet, telephones being attach to the walls and social media platforms such as Facebook or YouTube are meaningless comparing to Yahoo! or Netscape, any sources of entertainment would likely come out from traditional studios or distribution channels. However, as the expansion of digital technology is growing rapidly, the number of wireless network connected smart devices also rising speedily, which lead to the invention of many new ways to produce, distribute and share creative contents. This allows the consumers to have so many more entertainment options to choose from, “available to them at any time, in any mix, through many more delivery options and devices” (Vollmer and Bothun, 2016). The entertainment industry has evolved itself a lot through time to please the demand of the audience, but with social media, the nature of it, the definition of the word “celebrities” as well as the relationship between them and their audience has shifted significantly.

1) Social Media is becoming a new form of entertainment.

Just about 10 years ago, I remember that what entertaining me the most was reading a physical book, flipping pages after pages of a story. Nevertheless, that action has now became scrolling through my Facebook or Instagram newsfeed. It is not that my love for books just simply disappear, it is just that if having to choose between social media and books after a long day of studying and working for some relaxation, a short video of some cute dogs or cats would likely feel more attractive than forcing my tired eyes reading through a paper full of words. In fact, based on a research study conducted by Penn Schoen Berland surveying 750 social network users ages 13 to 49 in the Hollywood Reporter, 88% of the respondents share the same idea with me, considering social networking sites like Facebook as a new form of entertainment (Godley, 2012). The study also found out that nowadays consumers tend to spend more time on social media platforms than on traditional leisure time activities such as watching TV or films or listening to music. Moreover, even when they are watching TV, 79% of them feel the need to visit Facebook while doing so, using it as a “connective tissue” that allow them to multitask during their entertainment experiences through connecting and sharing with others.

Social Media as Entertainment

This phenomenal can be explained by looking at the term “affordances”, which according to Baym (2010), is the consequences of technologies arise. Hence, with the fact that social media was invented to offer platforms for people to communicate and share interests with each other all around the world, it has provided technological affordances that allow us to do so in a blink of an eye. For example, it always feels great to share my emotions when watching Game of Thrones. The show is just too emotional and expressive to keep the feeling for yourself. Initially, when the first episode of Game of Thrones season 4 went on air, there were 95,000 Game of Thrones-related tweets during the show alone. This process of the audiences multitasking while watching TV has brought up a great benefit for the contents that they are loving and posting about. Accordingly, Godley (2012) has also pointed out that of three social networkers, one of them would decide to see a movie after reading something on social networking site, and the same thing happen with 70% of respondents listening to a song through a post from their friend. Therefore, this exemplified the way that social media impacting significantly on the entertainment industry, considering it has revolutionized the traditional entertainment experience to become a supplement viewing tools as well as new entertaining form.

How each “Game of Thrones” episode was discussed on Twitter with data visualization

2) “So… how did Kim Kardashian become famous anyway?”

For those who have not know the answer yet, Kim Kardashian’s rise to fame was back in 2007 when her sex tape with rapper Ray J being “leaked” on the internet (O’toole, 2013). Nevertheless, not everyone with a sextape being leaked can go famous and become a celebrity like Kim does. Social media has helped her a lot in her walk of fame. Accordingly, pictures of Kim living in glamour, privates planes, fancy vacations, gorgeous beaches give her viewers “a taste of what it is like to be a celebrity. And of course, most of those images has been carefully set up to present the best of herself. This is the evidence prove to what Marwick (2013) stated, that the way people boost their social status, construct personas and market themselves in a highly edited, controlled and monitored way is reflecting the values of where they are produced: “a culture dominated by commercial interest”.

Image from Kim’s book Selfies

Moreover, the broadcasting ability of social media has also encouraged people to prioritize attention and visibility, allow them to practices achieveing “micro-celebrity” (Marwick, 2013). Initially, these “micro-celebrity” could eventually become famous someday. For instance, Justin Bieber was also just an ordinary Youtube user uploading his video covering songs to then be discovered by a talent manager. And to maintain and increase his fame, Bieber just simply become an active Twitter user, connecting with his fan with just some simple tweets (Knibbs, 2013). Therefore, it is clearly that social media has changed the way people becoming famous, as it creates more possibility for those talented people to be discovered as well as those who are “pseudo-celebrity” to market themselves.

Justin Bieber’s tweet

3) The walls between fans and their stars is breaking down

Commonly, songs are produced by the artists, artists then have to find some music labels to be funded and going through a whole bunch of other processes before their creation reach the hands of the audiences. However, with the born of social media, the ability to present your music to the world has become simpler due to the “spreadability” of these media platforms. As stated by Jenkins in Fuchs (2014), the audiences play an active role in spreading the content through online platforms and “make them an integral part” of a service’s success. Initially, social media plays an important role in empowering musicians to spread the word whenever their live shows or album releases. Moreover, according to Evans (2015), bands have recently embraced crowdfunding, allow them to fund projects without using traditional means. Accordingly, this has converted fans into investors and also allow them to involve in a participatory culture, in which fans support strongly for the creating and sharing of their musician’s creations. Michael Franzino, a member of a band called A Lot Like Birds, has been able to create a new album named alone. thanks to crowdfunding. In his words: “Crowdfunding is a rare successfully symbiotic relationship that allows fans to be responsible for the creations they want to consume by giving the artists the means to create them” (Evans, 2015). Therefore, with the help of social media, fans can now involve themselves in the actual process of music creation.

Conclusion

It is evidenced that social media as well as mobile technology have contributed to a significant change within the entertainment industry. Social networks such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram have become the basic need for the consumers, slowly turning into another type of entertaining platform that even take the spotlight from other traditional leisure activities. Nevertheless, it has minimized the distant between the audiences and content creators, thanks to the “spreadability” of it.

References:

Baym, N. (2010). Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge MA: Polity Press.

Bothun, D., & Vollmer, C., A., H. (2016). 2016 Entertainment & Media Industry Trends. Retrieved from http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/trends/2016-entertainment-media-industry-trends

Evans, Z. (2015). How Social Media and Mobile Technology Has Changed Music Forever. Retrieved from https://socialmediaweek.org/blog/2015/08/social-mobile-changed-music/

Fuchs, C. (2014). Social Media as Participatory Culture. Social Media: A Critical Introduction, 52-68. Retrieved from Queensland University of Technology QUT Readings

Godley, C. (2012). THR's Social Media Poll: How Facebook and Twitter Impact the Entertainment Industry. Retrieved from http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/facebook-twitter-social-media-study-302273/1-social-media-as-entertainment?cm_mc_uid=47941236011414917294858&cm_mc_sid_50200000=1491729485

Knibb, K. (2013). How social media has changed what it means to be a celebrity. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/celebrity-social-media-anger/

Marwick, A. (2013). KCB206 Social Media, Self and Society [Weekly Readings]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.qut.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_133419_1&content_id=_6737733_1

O’Toole, C. (2013). Sure, She’s Beautiful, but Why Is Kim Kardashian Famous? Retrieved from http://www.wetpaint.com/sure-shes-beautiful-but-why-is-kim-kardashian-famous-697080/

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Quyên Phạm
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