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Thursday, May 7, 2009



Who is the most-followed artist on Twitter? The answer, once again, is Britney Spears, who now has more than 1.3 million fans. The latest Twitter ranking (as of May 6th), compiled by data partner BigChampagne:

1. Britney Spears (1,327,772)
2. John Mayer (969,040)
3. Diddy (826,006)
4. Coldplay (725,193)
5. Sara Bareilles (572,607)
6. Dave Matthews (569,209)
7. Soulja Boy (507,095)
8. A Fine Frenzy (500,394)
9. Fall Out Boy (443,398)
10. Ashlee Simpson (408,044)

As you can see, this is a pretty static list. Spears, John Mayer and Diddy are still the bee's knees. Dave Matthews' rise is certainly due to increased interest in his upcoming new release on June 2nd. Ashlee Simpson is just at home, being a new mom, and yet people care enough to keep following her, even with nothing for her to promote.

This brings up a good question: how are these artists using Twitter? Twitter seems tailor made for certain types of entertainers - comedians, reality show stars, politicians - but it seems musical artists are torn between using Twitter as a personal outlet or as a promotional tool.

Dave Matthews certainly had a promotional angle in mind when, in mid-April, he released a single from his new record via the platform. That move gained him many new followers. Lily Allen strayed from her usual personal observations and used Twitter for ticket scavenger hunts during her recent US tour.

Using Twitter as a personal forum is popular as well. Twitter is, for all intents and purposes, a mass text-messaging service, and many use it as such, especially in the rap world. You can follow whole conversations between artists, radio DJs, and hip hop blogmasters, if you have the time. Arguments (or beefs) have been started and squashed on Twitter.

But artists have to be careful when using Twitter this way - the world is watching. Asher Roth recently learned this lesson; he had to apologize profusely after making a tweet jokingly referencing that controversial Don Imus quote.

Perhaps the most effective way to use Twitter is a hybrid of personal and promotional. Fans feel a connection with their favorite artists and they get the scoop on new product. This works for Diddy - he tweets about partying in Las Vegas, yet he also posts links to new music.