With live events taking a massive hit due to lockdown restrictions and millions of listeners changing their spending habits overnight, it seems as though the music industry is facing a challenge with no near end in sight.
According to the World Economic Forum, the global music industry is worth over $50 billion, with two major income streams. The live music stream makes up over 50% of total revenues and is derived mainly from sales of tickets to live performances.
The good news is that this industry can adapt to current and future trends, both in COVID-19 pandemic times and beyond. Here’s how.
Know when and where to target listeners
Spotify, which added subscribers during the first quarter of this year, has noted the change in consumers’ routines. Listeners’ daily habits now consist more of weekend consumption and increased searches for relaxing genres.
Other trends to note include radio listeners being fewer in peak morning and afternoon times (due to less of them commuting to work). This has also affected Streaming platforms such as Deezer who’ve reported a slight change in their users’ listening habits, with a daily spike in listeners shifting from rush-hour (7am - 8am) to now between 9am - 10am. The real peaks are happening in music streaming services as well as a rise in YouTube consumption.
What do these trends mean for you? It’s time to adapt and make your music visible where your listeners are spending most of their time. Think of YouTube as the perfect platform to not only increase your subscriber base, but also to market on through in-stream ads, as well as non-skippable and skippable ads with "teasers" of your music to leave your listeners wanting more.
Re-visit your content strategy
How did your digital marketing and social strategies look prior to COVID-19? Now is a good time to re-evaluate what’s been working and what hasn’t. For example, if your page used to be mainly just for updates on live events, you may want to consider what other types of content your followers could engage with and enjoy. Now more than ever, it’s important to review your strategy and adjust it in order to make the most relevant and engaging content possible.
How to soften the loss caused by live events cancellations
Look for opportunities
According to the IFPI, recorded music today is close to the industry’s pre-piracy peak with streaming now making up almost half of recorded music revenue. This is especially true now due to lockdown, with many more people looking for entertainment they can easily access online. Focus on streaming, online merchandise purchases and any other offerings that would be of interest and easily accessible to your audience.
Many listeners are now enjoying “virtual concerts”, which can either be pre-recorded or streamed live. Have a look at Johnny Drille’s virtual concert, NPR’s Tiny Desk (Home) concerts or the COLORS channel for some inspiration. You can harness your own, or your artist’s large following by hosting a Facebook live mashup where a few artists can get together and do a small live collaboration. This content can be cross-promoted on each artist’s social channels.
Take this even further by capitalising on music that’s more relaxing and mellow, or showing artists in their pyjamas. This will make the performance feel more authentic and relatable, making listeners feel less lonely during this lockdown period.
Harness the fans
Artists, in addition to being talented musicians and performers, also have powerful connections with their fans. While they may not be able to perform live at the moment, they can still interact with their fans in exclusive virtual spaces such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram Live, as well as offer them fan-only perks and exclusive content through sites such as Patreon. Live streamed events offer the opportunity for artists to interact with their fans and even earn donations via the chat and superchat options.
Another great way fans boost your marketing is through their user-generated content (fan-made videos, visual art, song covers, dance tutorials, etc). You can encourage the creation of user-generated content through the artist’s platform, or by hosting a competition with some marketing spend behind it. Remember that many fans are now spending more time at home and exploring their own creativity. Encourage them to express themselves, share the content and link this back to the artists they love.
Music is a form of creative expression, and creativity is precisely what can turn the limitations of COVID-19 into opportunities. Work with your artists, encourage them to use their social pages creatively and to express their experiences in the best ways they know how. If you yourself are an artist, remember that your fans are going through this lockdown with you and that your self-expression can resonate greatly with them.
Remember that thinking out of the box will also help you avoid cliches in your music marketing. Consider what audiences may be getting sick of hearing and seeing by doing your competitor research, and remember that you can’t go wrong as long as you offer value to your audience. Putting yourself in your audience’s shoes will also boost your creativity. For example, do you think more of your fans have taken up learning a new instrument since they’re now in lockdown? Maybe you can share helpful tips, tricks or even live lessons to help them learn how to play some of your most popular songs.
Continue sharing music
Now, more than ever before, fans are excited for music that resonates and brings joy to them during this uncertain and stressful time. Just because high-energy, summer tracks may not resonate with your audience at the moment, doesn’t mean that there’s no space for new releases. For example, a previously unreleased B-side track with a home-made video can be something new and special for fans to enjoy.
Chloe x Halle are a duo who showed how mindful they were of their fans’ situation through, among other projects, their live performance called Dear Class of 2020. This was a special performance to celebrate graduates all around the world, who may have missed their ceremony or celebration due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Consider music in the post-COVID-19 world
The music industry has faced its fair share of issues in the last few decades, and many analysts speculate that it may be permanently changed after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
This is a pivotal moment for the industry in many ways, and it may be the time that you need to re-think your long term strategy and consider how to market your offerings in a way which fits into people’s changing music consumption habits.
As with every other industry, the music industry is being pushed to adapt to more changes, faster than ever before. The good news is that challenging times bring about innovation, and that many of these shifts (specifically thinking digital first) have been long overdue in the world of music.
If you need help with digital marketing, PR, Social Media or web development for your own or someone else’s musical brand, contact Arc Interactive on email@example.com.
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