In recent decades, the music industry has evolved substantially. This has largely been due to the introduction and development of the internet and all that comes with it. Because of this, many musicians are able to take a much more hands on approach with the aid of digital tools, online platforms and networks. Without which, artists would have previously been reliant on the support of record labels and managers. Artists that take this approach are often referred to as ‘DIY' artists. The DIY attitude is made possible due to the multitude of digital tools at their disposal which can aid in most, if not all, aspects of their careers. Various digital tools are now available to an artist working on recording a debut piece of work. Additionally, tools are also available to aid in marketing, promotion, digital distribution, the releasing and selling of music, crowd funding and finally ticketing and merchandise.
Self promotion is one of the key aspects of an artists career. Not only does it allow the artist to create their identity, it also allows them to manage their reputation and how they are received. Additionally, it can also help develop a level of trust and respect between the artist and their audience. Currently, one of the most common method of promotion for artists is done through the use of the internet. Websites such as YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook allow artists to develop a social media following. According to Nielsen, 53% of committed social media fans will pay to get exclusive content from an artist. This shows how important it is to build up a social media following as it will inevitably lead to an increase in demand and financial gain. In 2019, it is estimated that there will be around 2.77 billion social media users around the globe, up from 2.46 billion in 2017 (Statista). Over 70% of these users in 2017 were social media users. This shows the overwhelming need for artists to develop their social media presence as the vast majority of their audience is reachable this way. In particular, Facebook is currently the leading site in terms of current members. Therefore, it is almost critical for artists to create a Facebook page. The process is extremely straightforward and enables an artist to post updates, share content and alert people of any upcoming releases or events.
YouTube is also a major tool for established and DIY artists alike. A viral video on youtube can lead to large profits. Psy proved this when ‘Gangnam Style' reached more than 1 billion hits and he made an estimated $800,000 to $2 million in revenue (rolling stone). For a smaller artist, YouTube can be a great way to be discovered and build up a fanbase. The majority of teenagers, 64%, listen and discover new music through Youtube (Cnet—Dara Kerr). Furthermore, he analytics tool within YouTube can also allow an artist to discover exactly what kinds of people are consuming their content and where. This allows an artist to promote their content further to specific audiences. Once an artist has enrolled in the YouTube Partner Programme, the artist is then eligible to generate revenue through advertisement. The requirements for this are to have a channel with 1,000 subscribers with atlas 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months (Youtube). Since YouTube has fast become the largest streaming site as well as the second biggest search engine (Make it in music). And so, it seems that because of the immense impact YouTube can have on an artist, it is just as important to have content on YouTube as it is a Facebook page.
Twitter is another major tool that all artists can use to promote themselves. Twitter can enable a “direct way to connect with your audience” as said by McDonald (2017). It allows social interaction between an artist and fans in a much more efficient way than both Facebook and Youtube. As well as this, Twitter can be used as a good tool for promoting within the music industry as artists can follow and interact with major industry figures as well as journalists, pluggers, labels and fellow musicians. Currently, twitter has 327 million monthly active users. Because this is such a vast amount of people, it is almost crucial for an artist to tap into this market. Perhaps more importantly though, is Instagram with 800 million monthly active users in 2017 (statista). According to DeMers, the increase in engagement on Instagram is due to its mobile functionality, visual nature, novelty and functionality. According to a survey done on a group of 2,500 influencers, 60% thought Instagram was the best platform in terms of engagement. The runner up was Facebook with only 18% of the vote.
Social media is not however the only way for an artist to promote themselves. Another one of the main ways of promotion for an artist is through an Electronic Press Kit. An EPK is a must for an artist or band seeking exposure as it is essentially a “musician's resume” (Symphonic, 2017). It is essentially a promotional package that is usually found on an artists website. The two biggest tools for the creation of one of these include SonicBids and ReverbNation. SonicBids, who claim to have “invented the Electronic Press Kit for musicians” have 450,000 bands on their service that have grown their careers through their service (SonicBids, 2018). ReverbNation claim to provide this service to over 3.8 million people (MusicBusiness Word). These companies offer customisable EPK's that can target promoters, press and even venues. Users can also use the analytics to view who has views their EPK and what songs they have listened to. Both of these companies offer statistics from all social media platforms in their EPK's, showing again the importance a building a presence of social media.
Whilst promotion and marketing are very similar in approach, they differ in their goals. Whilst promotion is intended to create hype around an artist, the target for marketing is to push those people towards making a purchase.
As previously mentioned, social media can be an excellent and low cost way of promoting to a large audience. It is especially useful to a DIY artist as, without paying for boosts, it is free. However, managing several different social media sites can be very difficult especially doing so effectively in order to maximise their reach. Because of this, a number of digital tools are available to ease this process. Hootsuite is an example of one of these tools. With Hootsuite, posts can be scheduled, managed and tracked over 35 popular social networks all at once (Hootsuite, 2018). Additionally, ReverbNation also offers a service in which users can update all of their social networks at once. Similarly to Hootsuite, this service enables you to easily post, track stats to know what's working, and improve your social media presence (ReverbNation, 2018). Not only do these tools enable artists to save a great deal of time, they can also make an artist appear much more established and professional as all of their social media pages will appear consistent and well organised.
In addition to this, email still remains an effective form of marketing. Staggeringly, a survey performed by McKinsey & Co. states that email is nearly forty times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. This may be due to the fact that an email is much more personal and people are much more likely to check their emails than pay attention to advertisement on the side of social media sites (Working, 2014). Tools are also available for artists who wish to exploit this to their gain. MailChimp is the biggest tool for this, boasting 14million customers and sending out over 15 billion emails monthly (DMR, 2018). MailChimp allows artists to build their audience by providing sign-up forms which can be implemented into websites and any social media sites. For a DIY artist who is building up to a release, MailChimp may be the perfect tool to help do that as you are able to build a campaign which will send out emails building up to the release of material. This can be very effective in building the awareness of something. MailChimp can also be directly synced up with Squarespace meaning an artists website can draw in even more people into the mailing list.
Music distribution, both digital and otherwise, is the way in which recorded music “gets into the hands of consumers” (McDonald, 2017). Previously, music was distributed physically in the form of Vinyl, cassettes and then CD's. Currently however, streaming has taken over as the main way in which people consume music as is depicted in Figure 2 where 65% of music revenue came from streaming in 2017. After the blow dealt to the music industry by Napster in 2000, iTunes music service quickly became the only significant source for acquiring music legally online (Sandoval, 2013). Recently, howver, streaming has taken over digital downloads as shown in Figure 3. According to Statista, Spotify now lead the way with over sixty million users on their streaming service - double that of Apple Music.
As shown in Figure 5 (Statista, 2018), there are currently many different streaming platforms available. The most notable include Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Napster and Tidal. There are however, two distinct leaders in the market; Spotify and Apple Music. This shows that it is vital for DIY, and established artists alike, to make their music available on these platforms. This can be done with the aid of digital aggregators.
Digital aggregators are responsible for getting an artists music on these services previously mentioned. They generally come in two separate forms; those that take a membership fee or percentage such as MondoTunes and CD Baby, and those that charge per release such as ReverbNation and TuneCore. TuneCore allows any musician to sell their songs worldwide while keeping 100% of their sales revenue (TuneCore, 2018). They also claim to release your music on all of the major streaming sites such as Amazon, Spotify, iTunes as well as over 150 other digital stores. CD Baby performs the same function but claims to be able to get an artists music in more places than any other distributor (CDBaby, 2018). However, CD Baby takes a 9% cut on each sale which may not be quite as appealing as TuneCores flat fee for a DIY artist. However, unlike TuneCore, members of CD Baby are able to create physical CDs. This would be beneficial to DIY artists wishing to sell CDs at gigs and other events. Whilst both of these platforms have an inspection process, they differ in the time that it takes them to distribute the content across platforms. TuneCore for example claims to be able to get content on Spotify within 2-3 days and as much as 16 days for iTunes (Tunecore, 2018). For CD Baby, they state that it could take up to eight weeks for all of their partners to start providing the content (CD Baby, 2018).
In addition to using aggregators, DIY artists can also distribute their music themselves using direct to fan platforms such as BandCamp and SoundCloud. SoundCloud can be of great benefit to a DIY musician starting out as it is free, has a large user base and is well trusted within the industry (Karinassaf, 2011). BandCamp differs to Soundcloud in that fans are able to directly pay artists for their music. In 2017, all-time payments to artists through Bandcamp reached $270 million (BandCamp, 2017).
Releasing of music videos simultaneously as 78% of people watch online video content each week
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