Is YouTube Music Considered Social Media?
If you were to ask random people to define social media, they’d likely give you examples like Facebook or Twitter. It’s easy to identify different platforms, but not easy define what social media is or why one platform might be considered to be an example and another not.
This article takes a step back to consider whether YouTube Music is a social media platform or not.
YouTube Music Is a Content Community
To get right to the point, YouTube Music is social media. Why? Because YouTube is a content community. Content communities enable text-based communication and the sharing of videos and other media. Users gather on YouTube Music to interact, engage, and view videos (channels and playlists).
They also may decide to leave a comment or respond to another person. Two-way communication is encouraged. Users worldwide spend millions of hours on the platform, resulting in billions of views daily. Other examples of content communities that are music-based are Spotify and Apple Music.
Content communities primarily aim to share media and engage with others. They’re different from other primary forms of social media: blogs, social networking sites (WhatsApp, Facebook), virtual game worlds (World of Warcraft), and virtual social worlds (Second Life). Blogs or collaborative projects like Wikipedia are mainly text-based. Virtual social and game worlds attempt to replicate all real-life dimensions in a virtual environment.
That’s the simple explanation: YouTube Music is social media because it’s a community with a range of content available, and there are varying options related to that content where users can share, like, or comment.
YouTube Music Doesn’t Meet Academic Social Media Criteria
Interestingly, YouTube Music doesn’t fully meet the scholarly criteria of what constitutes social media. These platforms are distinguishable based on two criteria: the ability to increase (1) social presence) and (2) the ability to manipulate self-presentation and self-disclosure.
YouTube as a platform (not YouTube Music) can create a culture of self-promotion and enables the broadcasting of self. There are genuine and meaningful discussions in academic literature about how YouTube has created the online attention economy. Many highlight how YouTubers use self-presentation strategies (like the construction of authenticity or realness, i.e., relatability).
Social media is about more than just sharing. It’s fundamentally tied to self-construction and self-presentation. Social media enables the creation of a social relationship with its users through the identity creation and manipulation function. YouTube Music fails in that regard.
The richness of the media is another dimension of social media. The media richness theory is based on the assumption that communication is meant to reduce ambiguity and uncertainty. So the more information delivered, the more effective it will be.
YouTube as a platform is media-rich because it carries a high source credibility given the amount of information that can be included in the video (even if it’s delivered in less than authentic ways). YouTube Music is not. There’s nothing provided apart from the song (audio) or music video.
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The content creation function of YouTube allows users to make videos to share with specific target groups. They do so by presenting themselves in ways that they create through a media-rich medium. While YouTube Music doesn’t offer this, as many artists create an official channel on YouTube to encourage fan engagement.
The good news is there might be a range of strategies you can try. For instance, if you’re a musician who wants to launch your own YouTube channel instead of relying on YouTube Music alone.
Consider, for instance, a “Q&A” session, or set up a video where users can get to know you. A live video stream is a great way to interact with your audience and is much more intimate than listening to a song. You might also want to consider this route if you’re releasing a video, a teaser video, or a behind-the-scenes clip.
Other options include vlogs, where you can discuss the songwriting process or your daily life. Think about sharing videos about the musical influences in your life to engage with audiences. These strategies work better to support the self-presentation aspect of social media and encourage users to listen to your music.
If you’re following any of these suggestions, you’ll want to keep a consistent schedule when you upload your videos. This way, your fans will know when a new video will come out. There’s no specific rule you have to follow about the timing, but you should at least deliver a few videos a month. That way, your fans will know your channel is active. You don’t want the audience you’re building to go in search of new artists, especially after you’ve worked so hard to build a loyal subscriber base.
New Additions to Immerse Users
YouTube Music is a step behind other apps like Spotify. For instance, podcasts would be more likely to increase engagement, and it’s a move YouTube didn’t make until just a few months ago (available for U.S. users only). In general, YouTube Music lacks many features that other apps offer. However, the platform has new options to make users’ experiences more socially immersive.
At the end of 2022, the Recap feature was launched, letting users see their favorite artists, songs, music videos, and playlists. It also includes a “Top Trends” stat that shows you the artists you discovered before others have. And there’s an “Identity” feature letting you access a customized “music personality” to capture your “music vibe” based on what you listen to.
Users need to be able to share their stats with others on social media. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why Spotify was so successful. So YouTube is taking note. With Recap, you can share your Recap on other SM apps like Instagram or Twitter. This option increases the social dimension of sharing but doesn’t fully meet the requirements discussed in academic literature.
YouTube Music as Social Media
YouTube Music meets the social media criteria as it’s a content community and allows users to share and like videos or songs. However, YouTube more fully and accurately represents a social media platform. With YouTube, people can build their social media presence and promote themselves and their channels through user-generated content. If you’re a musician, you should consider opening a YouTube page to promote yourself.
Do you think YouTube Music is social media? Have your experiences on the platform been positive or negative? Let us know in the comments section below.