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#SongTitlesWithHashtags

Artists are adding the "#" symbol to their song titles -- we try to understand why.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

(YouTube)

If you need any proof of how Twitter has affected our culture – just look at what’s happened to the old number sign. Back in the day, "#" just was a way to denote the word “number.” But throughout the past past few years, that humble little symbol has taken on a new title -- the “hashtag” -- and new significance on Twitter and other social media. And, now, it appears to have officially infiltrated the music biz, with hashtagged song and even album titles popping up all over the place. In the past month, artists like will.i.am, Mariah Carey and Busta Rhymes have all released songs with the symbol in the title. 

Joining us to discuss are Lexi Mainland, social media editor for The New York Times, Rembert Browne, staff writer for Grantland, and William Gruger, social/streaming chart manager at Billboard. 

Lexi Mainland, on the origins of the "#": 

It goes back before Twitter, to the nerdy world of IRC networks, where computer geeks were trying to create small groups and conversations and they were using hashtags as almost like chat rooms. Not when Twitter first started, but sometime maybe a year later, hashtags started to pop up there as a way to sort of put metadata into conversations. 

William Gruger, on why Mariah Carey and Miguel's new single "#Beautiful" could be a smart marketing move: 

Where in one way, it can be mixed in with a lot of clutter, it can also help that particular song or an image with that song be a part of that topic. For instance, if I'm looking at things that are "#beautiful" on Tumblr, and I'm scrolling through dogs and beaches -- oh hey, there's that Mariah Carey song. And as media consumption moves more and more toward feeds -- my Twitter feed, my Facebook feed is where I discover content -- marketers are always looking for ways to get their content into those feeds, and a hashtag is a good way to do that. 

Rembert Browne, on why this trend bothers him: 

It's less that I feel like the actual songs are being affected -- it just feels kind of insincere. It's kind of throwing it in your face that it's like "promotion, promotion, promotion" before the actual song. 

Check out our #video playlist below:

Guests:

Rembert Browne, William Gruger and Lexi Mainland

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