The foundations of music promotion have changed entirely from what they were just 50 years ago, so the traditional marketing tactics once used to get artist’s music heard, are completely different. Without attempting to market your music in this era means it falls on deaf ears due to the large amount of competition as everyone now has the ability to record and release music.
Understanding what music marketing consists of is one step closer to successfully marketing your music, so in this blog post we’re going to outline the changes in music marketing and how you can use them to your advantage to make your next release your most successful one.
WHAT WAS MUSIC MARKETING?
Traditionally, music marketing was very standard in its ways, fitting into a basic structure that was within a planned timeline. These music PR companies were focusing on the only areas that featured music at the time – print, radio and TV. Due to the lack of outlets that covered music, these marketing teams were very restricted in what they could do for an artist and this is why the label artists were usually the only artists to succeed as they had the money and the professionals behind them working on the project.
The aim with traditional music marketing was to get the product (the music) and secure as many physical sales as possible. The major marketing agencies would find a way into the media with an angle or publicity stunt that would make their artist stand out and capture the media’s attention. For example, in 1969 The Beatles played their last gig on the roof of Apple Record’s office in London, before getting closed down by the police. The performance caused a huge media storm and was later used in the 1970 documentary film ‘Let It Be’. These sorts of ‘PR Stunts’ are now close to non-existent and if they are done, it needs to be presented in a digital form to capture an audience’s attention e.g. Facebook Live or Snapchat.
THE CHANGES TO MUSIC MARKETING
More recently, there has been a transformation from paper to digital, meaning the print world is starting to die out within the music industry. With leading music magazine NME closing their print edition after 66 years, it was clear the music industry no longer needed the medium of print and that’s when blogs began to take over. Blogs have been dominating the music space on the internet for the past decade, meaning the music marketers had to attack them head first. Online promotion meant that artists could secure coverage far more easily and being singed to a label wasn’t your only chance of success. Major music blogs such as The Line of Best Fit, Pitchfork and Clash were dominating the music scene, meaning music marketing had to adapt to secure coverage for artists.
However, in the past few years this has all changed. These TV shows that once blew up an artist no longer exist. Except from the national radio stations, radio listenership has dropped and although blogs are still thriving on the online scene, they’ve had to adapt to the digital era by introducing new factors to their sites such as playlists, videos and social media features.
MODERN DAY MUSIC MARKETING
With 2021 belonging unequivocally to the technology era, the market gets to decide on the structure of your release and how you promote it. It used to be that the audience would be told what to digest by the TV, magazines and radio stations but now they decide entirely how they consume their media and for how long, meaning music marketing has had to adapt with this.
Although traditional techniques are still key for marketing a musician, they shouldn’t be the only focus point. Getting an artist played on the radio or featured on a large blog can do wonders for their career, but it mainly acts as a springboard and a form of legitimacy when looking at other outlets such as streaming platforms, social media and YouTube, which have a real impact on an artist.
With there being so many platforms for artists to upload to and even more outlets to pitch to, artists have infinite freedom of where and who their music reaches. In the past, artists would need to record demos and send them to labels, in the hope they’d get signed and the label would help them with the marketing. Now, with musicians being able to record in their bedroom and simply upload it to any platform they wish, any artist can get their music out there and naturally blow up.
The average person’s attention span isn’t what it was due to technology offering short videos, audio and text, meaning music marketing has had to adapt with this so that the music is placed in areas where people are actually discovering it. Music fans no longer sit and watch MTV to find their favourite artist. Instead, Spotify playlists are explored, people take their favourite YouTuber’s recommendations and songs played in adverts are Shazam-ed.
Music consumption has been one of the biggest changes in the music industry, and so has had the most impact on the way music is promoted. Music is consumed in an entirely different way to how it used to be, so the aim of music marketing is also different. Previously, music PR campaigns were performed with the aim to secure physical sales, but with music being consumed on streaming and video platforms, the aim of a music PR campaign is to direct an audience to those areas.
Therefore, Spotify is a major focus for modern day music marketers, with Spotify being the leading music streaming platform. Spotify has over 207 million monthly active users and thus is the focus for any musician and their team. The talent in a publicist was their pitching skills to magazines and industry tastemakers but now, they also need to be able to pitch to Spotify Editors, understand the platform to know where a track should be featured and what editor is best to approach.
The Spotify algorithm is also another area that music marketers need to understand as although very complex, understanding it means being able to take advantage of it, which results in more streams and fans for an artist.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Over half the world’s population are on some form of social media, making it the easiest way for musicians to distribute their music and content, engaging an audience like they never could have before. To be able to promote an artist on social media is difficult as people don’t enter Instagram or Twitter to listen to music, their aim is to scroll and take in short form content that’s extremely engaging but doesn’t require them to be taken to another platform such as Spotify.
Therefore, music marketing has now become more creative as in the past, music PR companies would just need to be imaginative with an angle that the media would pick up but now, they also need to create an ongoing angle for an artist’s social media. This angle is the theme which an artist creates their content around and this is what draws in an audience and can lead to an artist blowing up overnight.
Alongside the content itself, social media advertising has become increasingly necessary for musicians as the organic reach of these platforms is getting less and less every day. Therefore, understanding every social media platform and its algorithms, taking advantage of them to grow an artist is essential in this digital era, making music marketing comparable to digital marketing companies who focus on content, social media and online marketing techniques.
With social media being so popular, the definition of ‘sync’ has changed in the music marketing world. Sync is still pitching to get a track placed in TV, adverts and films, but now there’s another area of sync falling closely into influencer marketing.
Influencer marketing is a modern phenomenon in the marketing world, and this is also the case in music marketing. The average person spends over 5 hours a day on their phone but only 3 hours 30 mins watching TV, so placing your music in TV shows, adverts and movies won’t have the same impact like it used to. Instead, influencer marketing can be used to place a track in YouTube videos, Instagram Stories and feed videos, and also tweeted about by high follower Twitter accounts. Getting added to a YouTube video on a channel with a few million subscribers acts as a form of sync, which was never before possible and engages an audience easily.
Music marketing is more than promoting music, it’s working alongside modern technology to beat algorithms, creating engaging social media content to engage an audience and building an online presence for a musician that can become their brand.
This blog post fully explains the differences between music marketing today in 2021 compared to what it was just 10 years ago, so if you understand these changes, you can adapt and market your music correctly to expand your fan base exponentially.