“The Internet, Viral Marketing”: The Effect on the Music Industry


This paper is a critical review of a final year project, “The internet, viral marketing and the development of the music industry.” This paper was submitted as a research into the effects of the internet on the current music industry. The uses of viral marketing and the internet have been critically reviewed and discussed in the paper. The paper has been organized in well defined parts; there is an insight into the music industry in the past and the current marketing approaches in use today, the paper then dwells into the concept of viral marketing in details such that the reader can be able to grasp the content of the paper having adequate knowledge of the terms that are applied. At the later parts of the paper, the use of viral marketing in the promotion of the music industry has been clearly cut out, making the body of the paper. The body has been focused on some specific examples which have been products of this marketing strategy (Korsyn, 2004).

The author of the paper used various data collection techniques in the course of his research. There was an application of questionnaires that were broadly defined to collect data from two main groups of people; hardcore fans of music and bands. In this way he was able to establish the way people perceived music and the effects that the internet had on music. Apart from these sources, the author laid greater emphasis on the history behind the scenes. The former methods which were used to market music in the past and the modern approaches have been discussed in the paper. To collect this data, the author used secondary information mostly from the internet. This was of help in getting the impact of the changes that were as a result of the proliferation of the internet.

Internet viral marketing

Viral marketing is mainly concerned with the spread of information about a particular product through the word of mouth or through the internet with an intention of achieving some growth about that particular product. In this process the media of choice, be it the internet or any other media which can be used to pass on the information is used to pass over some marketing messages about that particular product. The concept of viral marketing is based on the behavior of people and how they perceive a certain product. The research has gone ahead to discuss the main elements that are involved in the realm of viral marketing.

The case of the “arctic monkeys”

In the flow of the paper, this research looked into the case of the marketing done by a rock band known as the arctic monkeys. The paper has shown that the band encouraged people to share what they thought of them online and gave away CD’s as a way of marketing. This was later met by a high success rate that was almost instantly recorded. According to the elements discussed by the author on internet viral marketing, the author has been able to explicitly defend his argument by giving a clear comparison of the case study. This is a proper justification on the use of the strategy by the group and a consequent reason as to why the group was chosen.

In justifying the use of the case, the following elements corresponded with the case; viral marketing strategy involves giving away of goods and services. This was evident from the “Arctic Monkeys” as they gave free CD’s to their fans. There is the element of easy transfer to other media which was evident in the easy availability of their music online. The scaling of the product from a small group to a large group has been justified by the author using the social networking concept. The band encouraged the listeners to share their feelings and the music to their friends. In a social networking site, a person has many people around his or her social circle. Once a person feeds the information into the circle of friends, there is almost an instant transfer to so many other people who have bigger circles of friends. The element of common motivation fell on a single swoop to teenagers who have a liking for what their peers have. Utilization of the existing communication network can also be linked to the social networks which allow people to share information about their experiences and other issues through a common network of communication. The band was also able to take advantage of the available resources. This happened from the fact that apart from giving away the CD’s, hey uploaded their music to a page in the MySpace website and the rest was a smooth flow of information. From these justifications, it is evident that the author was very cautious in choosing his case study in the explanation of the effects of internet viral marketing on the music industry. The choice can then be deemed as perfect in explanation of the concept in question.

The author has also analyzed his music using some marketing analysis tools. The main analysis tool which has been applied is the five porter’s model of analysis. In this model, the author has fairly looked at all the possible threats to this market and also to the band thus pointing out the weaknesses and the strong points. Among the least affected threats are the buyers and the suppliers. There is constant production of high quality music which is hitting the local market with a boom thus a perfect supply and thus no threat. The buyers have shown willingness to buy the records owing to the first week sales which hit a record 136, 000 copies thus no threat. Substitution has also experienced no threat as their records are all in the current and most common formats. The highest risk factor is the threat of entry as the cost of getting into music industry has been greatly reduced by the internet usage and so there is a high likelihood that there will be an increase in entrants into the music industry thus more competition. Looking at the factors that are likely to affect the industry and the analysis that was put across by the author of the research paper, it is clear that the author was cautious when analyzing the chosen market was fit for any reader to make a decisive conclusion on the venture.

In the research, the author gathered most of his data from surveying. He targeted hardcore fans of music which he deemed relevant in that they would supply the best answers to his questions. After getting the target audience for his questionnaires, the author chose the objectives which he would consider in creating his questionnaires. As per the study topic, the main points which he chose to include in his questionnaire included:

  • To check out whether the target audience used the internet to update themselves on their favorite bands
  • To find if they used the net to get information about some new talents in the market and their readiness to inform their friends of this talents
  • To find out if the internet is a method which can be successfully used to advertise and promote the music industry. In this method, the author seeks to establish whether the interne can be money making venture.

From the points outlined by the author of the article, it is clear that he was in a way stickling to his objective and thesis as to whether the internet was a justified method in music industry promotion and the impact of internet viral marketing on the music industry.

The questionnaires that were set out by the author incorporate both open ended questions and closed questions. This would be helpful in making sure that the data obtained would be easily quantified such that the results could be easily tabulated such they would be easy to interpret. In making sure that the questionnaire was viable, the author developed a pilot which could be used to justify the applicability of the questions. This was a key role that was played by the author and it could be used to ensure whether the questions that were set would be useful. After this the author consequently revised his questionnaire in accordance with the results of the pilot.

On developing the right questions for the survey, the author went ahead to chose a location where he could get the right audience based on his target. The choice of the location was perfect in that he decided to focus the questionnaire on a building which was famous for local jigs and so there was likelihood that most of the participants would be lovers of music and music bands.

Another questionnaire that was designed by the author chose to determine the reaction of various bands on the effect of viral marketing to the proliferation of their industry. This was a good choice in that the author would get first hand information from the people who were and would be victims of the research. The questionnaire in this category was based on the reaction of fans to their music through the internet and the changes that they perceived to have been brought about by the use of the internet.

In the course of the research, the author questioned 27 people and tabulated the results. In the survey, 59% of the respondents used the internet to get some bands of artists. 20% did not use the internet and the remaining population used the intermittently. This is evidential information on how the concept of viral marketing was useful in marketing of music. Most of the interviewees were positive on the use of this tool. When asked about the most favorite website where they could get the information, most people suggested the social networking forum, MySpace.

Over 70% of the people who were questioned recommended the artists to their friends and over 90% suggested that it is important for all artists to have their music and information about them in a website. Reasons as to why the interviewees suggested inclusion of the music into the bands were spelt out. Most of the fans claimed that this would help them in identifying to particular music and that the music would help them chose the artist of choice and also be able to download free tracks as part of the promotional facility. Most of the people interviewed thought that the music that they heard was of paramount importance in the way that they planned to buy records from particular artists. After listening to the online records, most of them found essence in buying the products.

From the results brief as seen in the previous paragraph, most of the people who were interviewed in this research have been seen to have a positive response towards then use of the internet and the effect on their perception of music and the way that they perceive their favorite bands.

Most of the respondents suggested that the bands and the artists needed to have a web page which they would use to market their products. Further suggestions indicated that a website would also be found by opening a profile page in a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace. This is a direct indication of the strength that the social networking sites have come along with.

The research has gone ahead to analyze the changes that have been brought about by the use of internet in the music industry and the various effects that it has. In this study, there was an indication of the positive impression that people have gained from the inclusion of the music industry into the internet. The positive impacts of viral marketing have been clearly drawn. On top of that, all the collected data has been graphically represented in charts and bar graphs. This provides a clear picture of the results and makes it simple for a reader of the research to draw conclusions.

Reaction of the reviewer

The research can be viewed to have quite a number of limitations. In the first place there was a lot of bias in selecting the right panel for the distribution of the questionnaires. The building which was selected included hardcore fans that are exposed to local gigs every now and then. This is a factor that can culminate someone into a culture of music. When someone grows in such a setup, they would do anything including using the internet to get information about music. This entails that the data collected is data representing a particular sub group of the population and not representing the whole music lovers’ fraternity. It is a fanatical point of view.

The choice of the bands was perfect and should be hailed. These are the people who are directly affected by market strategy that they choose. If they choose a good market, they get positive results and vice versa. Information collected from this group is a good and true representation of the facts.

The data collection method is also very good as the author was able to collect real data from the people who were involved in the trade. Primary data is more authentic as he would be able to personally analyze the data and interpret it according to his instruments of choice.


The research paper on focus was based on the effect of the internet marketing strategies on the music industry. Despite the effectiveness in data collection methods applied, more care should have been done on choice of the right people to be interviewed to avoid bias. The paper was well documented and the analysis methods used were perfect. The results of the paper from the fans’ point of view were therefore slightly biased though the other parts were fine and perfect (Korsyn, 2004).


Korsyn, K. (2004) Decentering music: a critique of contemporary musical research, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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