Why Social Media Numbers Don’t Really Count

Submitted by Peter Åstedt

On Cashbox Radio where I work as a playlist programmer as well as a co-owner and Station Manager, one of the ways we choose songs is through Submithub. Submithub is a service where you pay to get your song reviewed by bloggers, playlists, or influencers with the chance of being heard and played. In there you can give an elevator pitch. In many cases nowadays the artist writes how many people they have on social media, so if I choose the song, they would share a post on their social media that our station is playing the song.

I just saw a mail like that where the artist wrote “If you share our song we will be sure to promote your platform to our 2,100+ followers on Instagram!”

I can see it’s tempting for many of these outlets to just go on the followers of an artist. The problem is that social media is not really a working tool in the music industry. What? Did I just write that, yes, I did! Right now, after the pandemic and when we open again the proof that social media is not a very good channel to push your music out. Live is still the biggest outlet by far.

On Cashbox Radio we don’t care if you have 100 followers or 100,000 followers. If your song is great, we will play it. We can’t fill our airtime with crappy songs just because you have so many followers on a social media channel. But if it just so happens that artists with a lot of followers have great songs, of course, we have accepted artists writing that they will share our playlist on their social media. The thing is that we have measured when we have done that and, to tell the truth, it has never worked. We have never seen any bigger mass of new listeners after a post like that.

The main reason is that since the artist is sharing a link the social media takes off more people that actually see the post. And if we go into the example above, 2100 followers and you share a link that your song is played on a radio station will be seen about 10% so 210 people. Since the social media then sees that the link tries to take the people out from the platform it probably takes off 50% so, in the end, it will be around 100 people seeing it. Since these people are scrolling a social media platform the chances that they will click the link are slim but if it’s really good that is 10%. That is 10 people, but then you have to calculate that our station is not playing the song at a certain time and that might not be when you see the post so we are down to one person reacting on the post.

This is the reason why social media is not really in your favor. I would rather be on a newsletter for artists that has 500 dedicated super fans. They will get into the station and really actively request the song. That is more valuable for me.

It feels like artists today just look at numbers on platforms that can’t make their career any bigger. The big artist with a lot of followers just uses these systems as a part of their communication. Many artists think that social media is their priority channel for communication. In reality, your social media numbers mean nothing until you have over 10 million followers, then the 10% becomes a substantial number.

Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.