How Social Media Normalized Mediocrity: Through the Lens of Music

How Social Media Normalized Mediocrity

OKP Contributor Jacqueline Schneider is the Founder of Current Mood and a writer living in Los Angeles. She is the former head of Global Strategy for Soulection and comes from a rooted history in uniting ideas and people at the intersection of music and technology. Follow her on Twitter @ jacqmarie or Instagram @j_minty

The internet culture of social media has created a phenomenon that allows for mediocrity – on and offline.

If word is bond, social media is the opposite.

I grew up when people used to “kick it” in real life. Online socializing only happened inside of AOL Instant Messenger boxes, chat rooms and on music torrent sites – with desktop computers that stayed inside of our house. We had pagers too. I had a purple one and my mom had a flip phone. We worried about running out of minutes on our cell phone plans and once MMS became a thing, you could send multimedia messages (images) via text and that’s when the visual side of social sharing began to gain momentum.

When we started to call each other less, we’d communicate in pager code and via text – methods of short form communication that quickly started to influence language subtleties while increasingly normalizing slang. Wider media trends saw the effects of bite-sized content in a new type of [clickbait] headline and once media properties and brands realized they could monetize digital content, the way everyone related to and had patience for information and each other quickly started to change, and with it – an entirely new model of rapid communication became the norm and justified mediocrity in the name of convenience.

If you work in entertainment or media, you know nearly every article, post or piece of content is now linked to an advertiser or someone with a vested financial stake or interest in data. Clickbait – the more clicks, views and time spent on the site or piece of content, the higher media brands can set advertising rates. Clickbait headline example courtesy of Complex Media.

Similar effects mirroring cell phone and media trends were happening on “blogs” – a democratic way to share ideas and opinions – a new form of media. That’s how I got started. In 2008, I created a blog, The Mint Collective, and dedicated the site to “bring visibility to creative endeavors through the medium of music.” I was always social and the blog allowed me to unite real life conversation, experiences, internet music finds and interviews of the artists behind the sounds. This became an entirely new culture of broadcasting largely giving birth to The Soundcloud Generation.

Soundcloud became popular in 2008 and was one of the the first sites that allowed anyone to upload audio content to create your own platform – broadcasting to an audience of 5 or 500,000. The number of people you could broadcast to [and receive messages and comments from] was largely wrapped into how you drove traffic to Soundcloud – typically through social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.

There were a lot of Soundcloud successes – of them, a digital record label and radio show called Soulection that I helped build from the ground up [and exited from this summer] which started as a local podcast, growing into to a worldwide cultural brand and radio show. The new music [media] business started on Soundcloud [and YouTube] and rights holders (mostly major labels) have been trying to figure out how to successfully monetize digital content for nearly a decade. We spoke about our Soundcloud experience here back in 2014.

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