June Music Industry News For Indies
June has been a busy month in terms of industry news. From exciting new marketing tools to game-changing technology and a major music organization shutting down, here’s the lowdown on five new important industry news stories that you as an artist/musician should be aware of.
1. Spotify Has Started Testing Its Own Version Of Stories
It started on Snapchat, proved to be a major hit for Instagram and now stories are starting to appear on Spotify in a new feature called "Storyline". The focus is on allowing artists to share their own insights, inspirations, and details behind their music. Sounds just like their “Behind the Lyrics” feature ran by Genius right? Well, it’s pretty similar except you as a user are now in control, tapping through the various tiles on your screen at your own leisure to take in the information rather than the information loading in time with the music and disappearing just as fast. Genius doesn’t always get its facts right either, meaning the upside to Storyline is that artists will be in control of what content gets included. The downside is that it’s only available to a few artists right now including Billie Eilish, Jonas Brothers' and 2 Chainz, who are all working directly with Spotify.
Why This Matters
If these tests go well then it will only be a matter of time before they make this feature available for everyone by building this into the Spotify Artist dashboard. While stories are nothing new, having them directly featured in a streaming app like Spotify not only provides new marketing opportunities, more importantly, it democratizes information all in one place to best sell yourself as an artist. Whereas users currently have to visit music blogs to find out about the inspiration behind tracks and song meanings they will be able to view this all in one place. As an artist/musician looking to take advantage of this, you could include quotes from blog/journalist reviews in ‘Storyline’ posts to promote yourself as well as plug your upcoming shows/tours.
How to get the most out of this feature and get fans to interact with it is up to you. They could become engaged if you give them incentives to view your "Storyline". You could run special campaigns, hiding pre-access promo codes for tours and merchandise in these story tiles or by making important announcements on their first. There’s a lot of potentials to utilize this, all the while accumulating streams.
2. Facebook Has Altered Its Video Ranking System To Benefit Content Creators
Yes, you read correctly, Facebook is actually taking steps to help rather than hinder creators by now giving preference to videos containing original content rather than repurposed and repackaged viral sharing videos. The algorithm tweak will focus on three factors for video placing and distribution: "loyalty and viewing intent, video length/viewing duration, and originality". According to their guidelines, this refers to people who return to view a users content on a weekly basis, perfect for musicians who post content regularly with an active and engaged fanbase.
Why This Matters
You will hopefully see improvements in your reach and numbers of viewers particularly thanks to the "loyalty and viewing intent" element. Videos will be rewarded with more preferable placements and prominence on the platform when users view a video for longer than 60 seconds and even more so if viewers watch videos for longer than 3 minutes. This is perfect given that most songs you post will be above this running time.
While this news in isolation isn’t particularly groundbreaking, I think the more important takeaway is that this bodes well for the future, setting a precedent that social media sites are looking into ways to help creators triumph and thrive on their platforms. I hope and expect a lot more announcements with this incentive at the heart in the near future. With Facebook also finally tackling and eliminating content that is purely clickbait, e.g. superficial lifestyle topics designed to generate likes, shares, and comments, you should hopefully find your videos being placed higher in your fans feeds. If you can consistently create original and engaging content then naturally this will lead to your fans coming back and consuming videos, all feeding into the algorithms, working in your favor.
3. Revelator's New Artist Wallet Poised To Solve Royalty Payment Issues
Revelator is an exciting tech company transforming copyright administration with blockchain technology and has developed a new app to help quash the age-old problem of slow royalty payments for good. Their new digital wallet app is the first designed specifically for artists and musicians, putting you in control of your own economy and exchange value. Using smart contract technology you will be able to create split sheets in real-time to delegate who receives what percentage of the royalty money every time a song is streamed online or played on the radio. Users are notified directly on their mobile app and are able to access and cash out their royalties whenever they want. The app is currently being tested in beta and will first be demoed at the MIDEM conference in Cannes, France at the beginning of June.
Why This Matters
Getting royalty payments is an incredibly long and frustrating saga that has affected all artists and musicians. With all the technology advancements in the past decade, it is baffling that these issues haven’t been resolved sooner but this new app can go along way to combating the issue, putting you in control of your own finances and always in the loop regarding your earnings.
This app promises to not only make your life easier but also your fellow musicians, producers, and songwriters who work on tracks with you. When you get paid, they get paid too, along with the app providing complete financial transparency as well as providing the expected safety and security thanks to blockchain technology. To find out more information visit their website.
4. Facebook Partners With Eventbrite To Enable Direct Ticket Sales Through The Platform
Another example of Facebook stepping up and empowering creatives and business owners means that you will now be able to sell concert tickets directly through the social media platform without your fans having to leave the site. The new feature, appropriately named "Ticketing on Facebook", allows anyone with a Facebook page in the US to add paid or free tickets to their event. This feature is now available, with the tickets being prominently displayed on the Facebook Event page, encouraging users to purchase them directly on the platform using technology powered by the popular event management and ticketing website Eventbrite.
Why This Matters
Marketing yourself as an artist/musician works at its best when you are able to go where the people are and make it as easy for them as possible to engage/interact with you and invest in you. This partnership goes a long way to helping that. As consumers we get put off when we are looking to purchase something and we keep getting redirected, bouncing from different apps to different webpages. The more steps we have to go through the less likely we are to actually end up purchasing something. With this new Facebook feature, fans will be able to buy tickets to your shows with the click of just a few buttons in next to no time, a huge plus. This feature may only be available in the US currently, but with around 700 million people using Facebook Events each month, it’s bound to become a success. Therefore it shouldn’t take long for this feature to start being rolled out across Europe and the rest of the world.
Interestingly this isn’t Facebook’s first venture into e-commerce, with Instagram introducing a new feature called 'Checkout' back in March. This allows users to buy from brands without leaving the app and is currently in beta testing in the US, working with major companies and influencers. Interestingly no artists/musicians have been invited to test this, something which music journalist Cherie Hu has discussed in an insightful analysis article that you can read here. It would seem that it is only going to be a matter of time before you will be able to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram as a one-stop online store to sell all your merchandise as well as tickets, giving you a greater chance to market and sell more to fund your careers.
5. PledgeMusic Is No More Following Bankruptcy
After three months of searching, one of the leading online direct-to-fan music platforms PledgeMusic has failed to find a buyer and is to enter administration. For the past decade, the platform has enabled musicians to reach out directly to their fanbase to pre-sell, market and distribute music projects through crowdfunding. Having lost almost $11 million in the last three years the company is no more, with their assets now being prepared to be sold to the highest bidder. PledgeMusic currently owes artists who have used its platform in excess of $1 million.
Why This Matters
PledgeMusic was a community and a place where dedicated fans could thrive and support artists in ways unlike anywhere else, with the reward being the opportunity to purchase content and merchandise not available anywhere else. This site operated in the same way as Indiegogo and Patreon but was unique in that it was a crowdfunding site solely dedicated to music. Many artists have been affected in that there is now a lot of uncertainty as to whether or not they will receive any money that they are owed from projects that were backed by their fans.
The concept for the business was simple, collect fans money and store it in an account where it could only be accessed to pay the artists and create a separate account to store 15% cut of the revenue for company expenses and salaries. This was not followed and inexplicably poor financial decisions were made, resulting in the end of PledgeMusic. If you are an artist who used the platform to raise funds or a fan who contributed to a campaign I recommend logging on to the site and downloading all of your data now. This is a platform that will certainly be missed. Let’s hope the artists get paid and that lessons can be learned with a new start-up potentially emerging to take its place. There’s certainly a lot of potential in the business model and it’s an invaluable artist marketing tool.
Recommended Reading For Those Interested In Music Marketing
"Playing to Strangers" by Amber Horsburgh
I’m a bit late to the party on this one but this is an interesting article written by freelance music marketer Amber Horsburgh back in February. Her investigation compares the ratio between an artist's number of monthly listeners on Spotify vs their number of followers on the platform. It really flipped my perspective on the 1000 true fans theory and it may well do the same for you too.
The average conversion rate from light listener to fan is surprisingly low, with megastars like Dua Lipa only having 26% of their monthly listeners hitting the follow button. It would be interesting to see this comparison go further and see how these numbers compare to their number of followers on Instagram and whether this significantly alters the average.
I’m curious to know what prompts Spotify users to hit the follow button on an artist’s profile and why they potentially treat that differently to hitting follow on social media. For me personally, I follow an artist if I like a couple of their songs and therefore want to be notified about their new releases.