“So could we finally be reaching a social media tipping point – at least in music marketing? My view is that potentially we may well be. Ever since MySpace arrived with public stats on friend and play counts, metrics have been central to music marketing – especially to those looking to land themselves on Radio 1. I’ve seen a few instances of unsigned bands being told by prospective labels that their social media ‘numbers’ just weren’t high enough yet. Now though, things are shifting once again – and the really telling sources for response may be less easy to spot. Of all the platforms teens still use, only YouTube really provides public data. Even Shazam only provides various charts; no numbers are listed to say how many times anything has been tagged (although the company manages over 15+m tags per day worldwide – so we know a lot of people are using it).
In many respects, this is all A Very Good Thing. For too long now, artists have felt an obligation of sorts to be social online. Accepted wisdom has long-held that it is necessary for a band to have some kind of social media page (originally MySpace, latterly Facebook) through which to engage fans. Not only was this considered a great means to sell more records, it was also playing nicely to the people in radio and other platforms who would see these social media numbers as a large indicator of popularity.
The reality, of course, is that great bands get marketed most by their fans. It isn’t necessary for any band to have a social media page as such; if their music is brilliant, people will be sharing it across their service of choice – be that Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc – without the artist needing to do anything. That’s not to say they shouldn’t have presences; merely that their importance may be diminished and could hopefully no longer be essential.”
“I bought a lot of music in my youth. Some of my earliest purchases were the vinyl single of Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’ and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince’s iconic album, ‘He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper.’
My music access only increased as I got older. In college, I worked part-time at WHOV, the campus radio station where I also DJed a couple of shifts – everything from R&B to straightforward jazz. That meant a little extra spending change … and more knowledge about music than I ever thought I would need.
In 2001, when my entire CD collection was stolen from my by a very bad person, I thought I’d never be able to rebuild. But, I was determined. So I kept collecting, this time opting for mostly-used CDs via sites like half.com. A few years later, digital music came on the scene, which made it easier than ever to organize my collection, create mood-setting playlists and buy everything I liked.
But something happened to my music buying habits recently. Free streaming services like Pandora and Spotify came along and my phone got smarter, too – or at least better at gaming the system for free downloads. I just stopped buying music with any regularity. I can’t even remember what year it was when I last updated my iTunes library, and it looks like I’m not alone. Earlier this year, Billboard reported the first drop in digital music sales since the iTunes store made its debut in 2003. CD sales continued their steady decline and overall album sales also experienced an 8.4% drop. All of this made me wonder: Is owning music important to anyone anymore? If yes, then who?”
“We started out on Myspace around 2009 when all the current bands used it as their primary source of information, and some used it as their website. We only had one song at the time and didn’t plan to do too much with TeraBrite, it was just for fun. Our Myspace eventually had over 20,000 friends, yet we still didn’t get a whole lot of activity on our page.
Shortly after we started really producing content we found out that you can make money making YouTube videos. This was a thought that blew my mind. The fact that I could take two things that I love, combine them into one, and make money doing it was a thought that I could definitely live with.
The best way to engage with viewers is to have a vlogging channel on the side. TeraBrite is our main channel, but we created a second channel called VleraBrite (TeraBrite daily vlogs) where we simply record our lives and behind the scenes of our music career in the same way that SHAYTARDS and CTFxC do. We find that uploading videos daily gives a fantastic place for viewers to sort of check in daily and see what we are up to. There’s a strong community of viewers out there that have that same craving for daily vlogs that I had when I started watching SHAYTARDS.
The fact that the vlog community is so dedicated makes the vlogs a fantastic place to update everyone on what we are working on, dates, etc. It also provides a much more intimate connection with subscribers since you are giving them a piece of your life. There is a connection there that you really can’t get with anything else, and it’s awesome.”
“The long drawn out demise of recorded music revenue is well documented, as is the story of artists, labels and managers all trying to make sense of a world in which music sales can no longer be counted upon. But the contraction of recorded revenue has occurred at the exact same time that the live music sector has undergone a renaissance. The net effect, when coupled with publishing revenue holding its own and the growth of albeit modest, merchandise revenue, is that the global music industry has largely held its own, contracting by just 3% between 2000 and 2013 (see figure). Compare and contrast with the 41% decline in (retail) recorded music revenue over the same period. Indeed it is the 60% growth in live revenue that has done most to offset the impact of declining music sales.
It is probably fair to say that we are approximately half way through a huge period of transition for the music industry. The realignment of revenue is merely a precursor to the new business models, products and career paths that will emerge to capitalize on the new world order. It is in this next phase that the real ‘fun’ will start. Expect every traditional element of the industry to be challenged to its core, expect dots to be joined and old models to be broken. But be in no doubt that what we will end up with will be an industry set up for success in the digital era.”
“10 grand from one sales platform at a time when ‘no-one pays for music anymore’…what does it mean?
I guess for some of you, your reaction is ‘only 10 grand?? I thought you were LOADED!’, in which case, you perhaps need to take with a pinch of salt the over-inflated claims of success of some other musicians pretending to be making millions. ‘Fake It To Make It’ has long been the received wisdom of music promo, but we’re kind of beyond that now. Apart from everything else, it makes it very difficult to build honest friendships with the people who dig your music if you’ve been lying to them for years about how massively successful you are.”
“So what does £10k mean?
Is it wages? If it is, it’s not much of a milestone. Should it be measured against what other artists are making? That seems a bit meaningless, given the role that marketing (and marketing budgets) play in headline figures. There are going to be a LOT of acts–signed as well as unsigned–who will see FAR less than we do go into their bank accounts from sales while still grossing WAY more than we do.
Because, making money from music costs money. And for MOST artists, it costs more than it makes. I could probably sell a lot more music if I assigned myself a sizable advertising and promo budget, if I was willing to do a buy-on tour opening for a bigger name act…but I just can’t afford to do that. That would cease to be sustainable. So I spend what I have–which is time–and use it to tell stories, to present the music in as many different contexts for as many different audiences as I can. For about 80% of my Bandcamp sales, I can tell you where the person heard about me, because I’ve been in touch with them already. It’s an extension of myriad friendships, not the effectiveness of an ad campaign that has bred whatever success we’re looking at here.”
“A friend of mine, who is an actress, told me that when the casting for her recent movie came down to two actresses, the casting director chose the actress with more Twitter followers. I see this becoming a trend in the music industry. For me, this dates back to 2005 when I walked into my first record-label meetings, explaining to them that I had been communicating directly with my fans on this new site called Myspace. In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans–not the other way around.”
“I predict some things will never change. There will always be an increasing fixation on the private lives of musicians, especially the younger ones. Artists who were at their commercial peak in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s tell me, “It was never this crazy for us back then!” And I suspect I’ll be saying that same thing to younger artists someday (God help them). There continues to be a bad girl vs. good girl/clean-cut vs. sexy debate, and for as long as those labels exist, I just hope there will be contenders on both sides. Everyone needs someone to relate to.”