WHO WOULD HAVE believed even 20 years ago that we would be listening to our music almost exclusively through the Internet?
There's no denying that the social media have changed virtually every aspect of the music industry. Sources of revenue have shifted from albums to singles and artists' popularity and success no longer rely on the traditional gauges of airwave play and album sales.
But perhaps the biggest change lies in the number of people watching music on YouTube, the biggest - and free - music streaming service on Earth.
Thailand's music labels were even slower than their foreign counterparts to jump on the social media bandwagon.
That changed in 2015 with both majors and independents finally recognising that the social media - and particularly YouTube - are not only a great way to engage with consumers but can also be used to influence purchase behaviour and learn about consumers.
GMM Grammy, RS Public, Spicy Disc and Smallroom are just four of the industry players looking back on 2015 as a truly golden year.
"We became far more actively involved in social media in 2015 than in previous years because we recognised that channels such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, iTunes Music Store, KKBox and Line Music, help fans communicate easily and closely with our artists," says Wichian "Nick" Rerkpaisan, executive vice-president of Genie Records' music production and promotion. "More importantly for us, those channels also measure the popularity and success of the artists, and we were very proud to see 25 Hours' album 'Mom and Pop Shop' acclaimed a winner on the iTunes Music Store."
GMM Grammy made the biggest splash on social media last year when Getsunova's "Klai Khae Nai Khue Klai" earned more than a 100 million views on YouTube and became the first Thai song to achieve such a feat. The numbers have continued to climb and the clip has now been played more than 200 million times.
And Getsunova, who record with the GMM Grammy's Duck Bar label, went on to score a hat trick, with two more of their songs, "Yoo Trong Nee Nan Kwa Nee" and "Kham Tham Sueng Rai Khon Tob", also hitting more than 100 million views.
Potato's "Thing Wai Klang Thang" soon caught up. It hit 10 million views within 6 hours, 2.7 million views within 24 hours and 100 million views in less than three months.
Cyberfans also liked Labanoon's "Chueak Wiset" music video, featuring Sarach Yooyen of the national football team, sending it to the 100-million-views mark within two months and scoring a place in Thailand's musical history. Moreover, "Chueak Wiset" became the most searched keywords on Google.
And a new star was born when rookie singer Chanagun "Atom" Ratanaudom's "Please" crossed 100 million views on YouTube.
GMM Grammy puts its success down to the arrival of the faster 4G cellphone networks and an overhaul of its strategy to better respond to consumers' lifestyles. GMM Grammy also created a new teen entertainment community, calling it "MBO" - for embryo - and rounding out its total music business.
"We decided to categorise our business by genre - pop, rock, luk thung and teen - to help us communicate more effectively with our target groups. We also modified our artist management strategy to give us more channels and thus improve revenue. Our promotion strategy changed too, coming more into line with our target groups' behaviour. Consumption on social media continues to grow. We tested our new strategies with Genie Records and it was successful," says Wichian. "In 2016, we are planning to make MBO Thailand's No 1 teen entertainment platform."
Another major label, RS Public, also turned its attention to social media and has been delighted to see the ever-growing numbers of views on its RSFriends channel on YouTube, which covers the label's Yes! Music and Garden Music subsidiaries. WeLoveKamikaze, RS Public's teen-leaning YouTube channel, also had a record year.
Rock outfit Flame's latest single "Okay Pa?" featuring mor lam singer Nuch Wilawan of R Siam, has proved particularly popular and it, along with new pop artist Koh Niphon's first single "Tad Phor", has already earned 50 million views. "Tad Phor" also made it into the Top 10 Google Trends 2015.
Big Foot's "Khrueng Huajai", a soundtrack of the TV drama "Suparbburut Satan", earned more than 21 million views and the band's new release "Nueng Cheewit" is heading in the same direction with nearly 900,000 views. Panyarisa "Waii" Thienprasiddhi, who moved from Kamikaze to Yes! Music, is another success story, with her "Cheewit Dee Dee" featuring Timethai getting more than one million views.
On the Kamikaze label, "Kla Mai (NEXT)" by 18 artists from Kamikaze Next went to more than one million views.
"RS is going to come up with a lot of surprises in 2016," says Supachai Nilawan, deputy chief executive of R Siam. "The music market is more competitive than ever before and we are working hard to select the very best artists to entertain consumers. Our labels are ready to release 200 singles this year."
Independent labels Spicy Disc and Smallroom are also reaping the benefits from increased YouTube interaction and are delighted, if not surprised, at just how popular their artists are proving to be.
Spicy Disc's pop band Mild was the label's biggest success of 2015 with its music video of "Sayonara" earning more than 70 million views. The Parkinson's "Ja Bok Ther Wa Rak" was next with 18 million followed by Helmetheads' "Unfriend" with 14 million, Sqweez Animal's "Secretive" with three million and Wan Thanakrit's "Roy Kaew" with one million.
Over at Smallroom, Tattoo Colour's two songs, "Son Ha" and "Rak Raek Phop" both earned more than 20 million views, while Polycat's "Phop Kan Mai" and "Man Pen Khrai" won 16 million and 12 million views respectively, and Somkiat's "Chang Man" was viewed 15 million times.
Smallroom's managing director Rungroj Uptampotiwat says 2016 will be a busy year for the label as its works on refining its strategies for promotion and activities. The year will also see album releases by Tattoo Colour and Greasy Cafe and singles from Gene Kasidit and Barbies. The Campus Freshy Tour, he says, will be bigger and better too.
"We plan to push all our artists, both new and veteran, to come up with quality recordings. We're also lucky enough to always have a dark horse waiting in the wings, which enhances our reputation as a label. Last year, that was Polycat," says Rungroj Uptampotiwat.
"We work hard to make all our new bands popular. After all, they are our future."