For a music industry that’s currently thinking hard about digital ‘storytelling’ around artists, the emergence and evolution of the ‘story’ format on social media has been an important development.
Led by Snapchat and then enthusiastically copied by Instagram and its parent company Facebook, 24-hour, raw, rolling snapshots of people’s lives have become a fascinating new twist on self-expression.
Yesterday brought some new developments, as interesting for their potential for artists as for their wider impact on how people use these apps.
Snapchat announced “a whole new way to create custom stories”, where a group of people can co-create a rolling Snapchat story, and geofence it to a specific location if they want. From band members in the studio or on tour to fans at festivals, there are plenty of musical uses.
Instagram, meanwhile, is making it easier for its users to find other people’s stories, with the ability to search or browse by location – either where they are right now, or other places around the world – while also seeing a collection of relevant stories when searching for a hashtag in Instagram’s ‘Explore’ section.
This should widen the audience for musicians’ Instagram stories, as well as – just as importantly – the stories about them being posted by fans.
It is difficult to get data about how much artists’ stories are being seen on these apps, given the lack of public stats.
There is also an emerging issue of platform clash: should artists near-simultaneously post the same story snap on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook, or treat them separately – in which case, this starts to feel even more like a social-media treadmill?
Still, there is plenty to be learned from exploring this new media format. That may also apply to music-streaming services.
Why shouldn’t there be a ‘stories’ feature within Spotify, Apple Music and rivals? Whether for artists talking about their music and – crucially – direct-linking to those tracks within the app, or for fans to express themselves, again with direct links to tap through to the songs?
Spotify’s decision to axe its messaging features may have suggested a waning interest in internal social interaction, but a part of us wishes it was clearing the way for something like stories. Meanwhile, Apple’s recent partnership with Musical.ly makes us wonder how the latter’s model of musical self-expression might work within a streaming service.