How Record Labels Buy Social Media Love From Teenage ‘Influencers’February 29, 2016 – Article
The next time your favorite YouTube or Instagram star squeals with delight about a great new song, it’s worth asking whether he or she was paid to do that squealing.
As record labels increasingly lean on YouTube, Instagram and Vine celebrities to break their records — lavishing them with care packages of free music, or plying them with VIP access at concerts or music festivals — a number of them have begun paying those celebrities to play songs, or lip-sync to them, or endorse them in other ways without disclosing they’ve been paid to do so. It’s a legally ambiguous form of promotion, and it’s gaining traction, with artists as big as Rihanna having explored it as a way to promote songs and albums.
These social media celebrities, many of them fresh-faced teenagers who have built huge followings largely through the force of their own charisma, have become a favorite new marketing channel for record labels. Young social media stars, executives say, are often more authentic than polished celebrities. Labels, meanwhile, want to attract young listeners, and a plug from a teenage Vine personality with 10 million-plus followers is essentially a high-impact endorsement coming from within their own peer group.
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