‘Call Me Maybe’: The Effect of Social Media on the Music Industry


Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Call Me Maybe’ had an unexpected rise to the top of the charts, but rise it did. It sat at the number 1 spot for nine weeks and mainly thanks to social media.

Five years ago, Jepsen came third in Canadian Idol and much of the world never heard of her again until ‘Call Me Maybe’ was being played everywhere, and it wasn’t because of shameless promotion by the music industry, but rather because of YouTube. Canadian pop star Justin Bieber saw the video and found it catchy and fun, and shortly afterwards posted a video of himself and his friends lip-syncing to the song. This set off a landslide of fan tributes.

‘Call Me Maybe’ has now been watched over 200 million times and it has hundreds of tribute versions from Katy Perry to the United States Olympic swim team, and it’s not alone. Studies have shown that nearly two-thirds of teenagers listen to music on YouTube, more than any other medium.

Record labels have realised this and social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are now standard tools in their marketing campaigns. One such example is Epic Records and their artist, Cher Lloyd.

Cher Lloyd was a contestant on The X Factor in Britain who, although she didn’t win, showed tremendous promise as an artist. Epic Records used social media to push her image forward by coaching her on what to say online and who to cosy up to.

Scott Seviour, Epic Records senior vice president for marketing said, “In this day and age, artist development is about how do you turn 10 Facebook likes into 100, into 1,000.”

Since then Cher Lloyd has become a well-known young artist, and while many might not like her music, her single ‘Swagger Jagger’ still catapulted up the charts.

Does this change the music industry completely? Record executives say no. They still believe that radio play is what counts and just because something is a YouTube phenomenon, it might not cross over onto radio, but social media can end up being a very powerful marketing tool for them. Considering what has happened with this song though, could it be that they need to wake up maybe?

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