August Music Industry News For Indies
August has provided us with some very important developments and new features from some of the biggest players in the industry including Apple Music, TikTok and Pandora. Here’s the lowdown on five important industry news stories from the past month that you should be aware of.
1. Apple Music For Artists Is Now Available For All Users
Apple Music For Artists (AMFA) has finally emerged out of Beta, providing artists and managers with access to data regarding the volume of streaming plays on Apple Music and album/song sales on iTunes, updating daily. The service is pretty similar to Spotify For Artists in that it has a desktop interface and standalone mobile app (only available on iOS) and features stats related to streaming figures and number of listeners down to country and city levels. Notable features that differentiate this platform from its rivals include artists being able to access Shazam data. Users will be able to see where their music has been most Sahzam’d in particular locations and regions. Artists will also get automatically alerted when there are meaningful changes to their data including when they’re added to an Editorial playlist, sudden spikes in streams, milestones like “1 million plays” and stats for first week plays of a new release versus previous week-one plays.
Why This Matters
Almost two years after Spotify For Artists launched, Apple Music has finally entered the data race and it’s about time that you all have access to detailed streaming figures for the world’s second-largest streaming platform. AMFA will act as a great incentive for you to focus more attention on driving streaming traffic to Apple Music, particularly as it offers far higher royalty rates - in fact almost double on a per-play basis compared to Spotify. The Shazam data is also a great feature as another data set to help you plan tours, tailor setlists in each city and discover new fan bases across the world. If you’re an artist with music on Apple Music then you can sign up now for free and claim your AMFA account here: https://artists.apple.com/. The AMFA platform can also be conveniently accessed through your CD Baby, DistroKid or Tunecore dashboard if you’re a member registered to one of those distribution platforms.
2. DistroKid Members Can Now Upload Their Music To TikTok
DistroKid has become the first indie music distribution platform to allow artists to upload their music directly to TikTok, beating CD Baby and Tunecore to secure a deal. With TikTok emerging as a massively popular platform for music promotion over the past year independent artists have mostly been unable to get in on the action until now. Given TikTok’s current stature in the industry and plans for parent company ByteDance to launch its own streaming platform soon, it is expected that other music distributors will be offering this service in the near future but there is no news as of yet.
Why This Matters
Independent artists have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time and if you are a DistroKid member you finally have the chance to promote your music directly on the platform, potentially reaching over 500 million monthly active users. This is your chance to get ahead of the game and stand out before other independent artists who use CD Baby Tunecore, etc inevitably get the opportunity and saturate the market. Given that there is no time frame for when deals with other distributors will be struck, if you are serious about utilizing TikTok to market your music it may well be worth signing up to DistroKid now. If you are a DistroKid member and want to upload your music to TikTok you can do so for free in one of two ways. If it’s an unreleased track all you need to do is select the “TikTok” checkbox when going through the upload process. If it’s an old release then on the Distrokid homepage click your chosen album/song, click “Add to more stores”, choose “TikTok”, then click “Add” and repeat this process for all your tracks.
3. Pandora Expands Its Independent Artist Submission Tool
Independent artists now have a better opportunity than in the past for their music to be discovered by a possible 64 million monthly active users by submitting their music to potentially be added to Pandora’s radio stations. Pandora’s expansion of its submission tool means that all artists need to do is upload their music to Pandora through distributors such as DistroKid, CD Baby, Tunecore, etc and then sign up for a free Artist Marketing Platform (AMP) account. Artists then search for their track, choose a genre and write a description of 4,000 characters or less before submitting.
Why This Matters
This submission tool has already seen 64,000 tracks accepted by the company from more than 44,000 independent artists and this expansion will reduce wait times and allow for more submissions. The process to sign up and submit is pretty straightforward meaning there’s no reason as to why you shouldn’t start doing this for your future releases. The information you can provide about the track when pitching is different from the Spotify For Artists music submission tool as there are currently no options to tag moods or keywords, however, you have the chance to provide significantly more information about the track. Spotify’s submission tool has a 500-character limit but Pandora boasts a far larger 4000-character count, which equates to roughly 500-800 words. You can really sell your story, your track/album, previous achievements, and previous streaming statistics to maximize your chances of landing on a Pandora station. To submit, first ensure that your music is on Pandora, then you can sign up for your free AMP account here: https://www.ampplaybook.com/.
4. Instagram Is Testing Increasing Its Volume Of Ads In Stories
Why This Matters
Story ads are becoming increasingly popular and are a prime way for you to advertise your music to potential fans. While they only appear for a brief amount of time compared to a post ad on the main feed they do attract significant attention as they take up the full screen and are more likely to autoplay with the sound on. While there is a danger that this increase in ads will lead to ad-fatigue by users this just means that you will need to get more creative with how you advertise. The fact that more will be appearing within Stories is a positive given that there’s a better chance for your music to be heard. Instagram Story ads account for nearly 20% of ad spend on the platform and that number is only going to increase so act now to maximize your reach and get a feel for what form of ads work best for your music before others start to invest.
5. Facebook Has Shrunk Its Mobile Ad Space
Facebook has altered the space taken up by ads on mobile on its News Feed, affecting regular posts, videos and advert layouts. I mentioned this last month but thought it was worth mentioning again now that the social media platform has rolled out these changes, altering the aspect ratio of the News Feed to 4:5, shorter than the previous 2:3 aspect ratio. The new ad layout only allows for three lines of text before seeing a prompt to display more of the text as opposed to the previous seven lines which could be read in the past before seeing this prompt.
Why This Matters
There are some positive and some negative elements with this change but it will certainly impact the adverts you create to promote your page, music, and services. Starting with the negatives, you have lost a significant amount of advertising space including four lines of text and you will now have to optimize your videos for the new size, otherwise, potentially important portions of it will be automatically masked. On a more positive note, only having three visible lines of text will encourage you to write tighter, more engaging ad copy, which is crucial in social media marketing where less is certainly more. Having less text that is skimmable also draws more attention to the important content, that being your striking images and videos. This change in aspect ratio should draw the attention of your audience to your content quicker than with the previous design. That is definitely Facebook’s aim with this feature as it attempts to appease brands who are frustrated by the declining direct-ROI from the platform.