October Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds Playlist Pitching Options, Partners With Google & Launches New App


October was a busy month for Spotify! They’ve announced some recent updates that impact fans, labels and artists. For music fans who use Google and Android smart devices, an advanced partnership now allows Spotify subscribers to use voice command control of the app using  Google Assistant. Formerly relegated to Google Home smart-speakers, this marks a move towards Google’s acceptance of Spotify’s high subscription rate and putting it front-of-mind when updating its mobile offerings. While Andorid users can rejoice in their ability to say “OK Google, Play Spotify”, Music Ally points out that the tech giant may still be leaning toward YouTube being the lead music brand for Google going forward, as it merges with Google Play.”

For independent labels, pitching for slots on playlists and Spotify’s ‘Browse’ section can be as difficult for those without representation. There also remains an internal struggle between the promotion of label playlists and Spotify’s own in-house playlists. As such, Spotify has moved to offer a new system for indie labels aimed at giving their artists a better shot at making it onto playlists while also (ideally) giving labels’ playlists “a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.” Read more about the pitching system here, and as indie artists, keep your eyes out for more transparent pitching opportunities in the future!

Finally, as creators are concerned, Spotify launched it’s “Spotify For Artists” app on iOS. We’ve talked about the “Spotify For Artists” app on the Blog before, so it’s exciting to see such a helpful tool being offered to artists right in their pocket. An Android version is soon to follow, but for now, indie artists with iOS devices can edit their bios and their ‘artist’s pick’, as well as update their playlists and keep an eye on their listener analytics.

2017 On-Demand Streams Soar in the U.S.


We know, even though it feels like time is flying, the year isn’t over yet. But as a digital music distributor serving independent artists with the opportunity to make their music available on dozens and dozens of digital streaming platforms, we can’t help but get excited about figures like this: on-demand audio and video streams are up 40.5% in the U.S. so far in 2017

At 442.44 billion streams so far, MusicAlly once again provides a helpful comparison that shows that this year, eight tracks have already toppled last year’s most-streamed track, “Panda” by Desiigner, in the comparative window of time.

While the top artists being streamed are no doubt most of the big-timers you’d expect to see leading the way, it’s important as ever to look at these types of figures as an overall shift toward the trend of streaming. Once a consumption method for the ‘active’ music listener, more and more subscribers means more and more music discovery. With direct access to these platforms, it puts independent artists in a good position to be marketing their releases across fans’ preferred channels for streaming.

BandsInTown Announces “Big Break” Platform For Emerging Artists


BandsInTown – if you don’t already know (and you should) – is a popular app aimed at helping artists promote their concerts/tour dates and helping fans keep track of when all their favorite performers will be playing locally. In addition to helping fans discover new artists by offering concert dates for bands they don’t already follow on Facebook via a “listen-if-you-like” style algorithm, BandsInTown is launching their “Big Break” platform in an effort to promote new independent artists.

The new feature “highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future…”, supported by a series on their blog. BandsInTown will select 50 artists in order to grow their ‘trackers’ following from 500 to 5,000.
This is a very cool step towards further connecting indie artists with new and potential fans. The app is already right up any diehard music fan’s alley in terms of keeping up with their favorite acts’ performing schedules – even for local artists. Head on over to their blog to learn more about the platform and how to keep up with the opportunities coming from the app down the road.

August Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Begins Testing Videos Within Playlists


It’s amazing to think about the progress that streaming platforms have made over recent years. Streaming itself was and is a groundbreaking way to listen to music digitally, but one can even point to the amazing influential powers of playlists as an example of how quickly the way fans discover music and engage with their favorite artist changes. Any independent artist who has been added to a higher profile playlist will likely be able to tell you about the positive impact it has on their career, too.

This month, Spotify – which also announced that it has surpassed 60 million subscribers – officially rolled out the inclusion of videos within its incredibly popular “Rap Caviar” playlist (it began testing this feature in March, as reported by MusicAlly). While this is only available in the U.S. for now, it marks another impressive step towards integrating new forms of content for fans to geek-out on. One could say this move also shows video giants like YouTube that Spotify can keep up with the demand.

Outside the realm of traditional music videos, this will be exclusive video content from various artists aimed at engaging fans in a less traditional manner: Spotify claims fans will be able to see everything “from 2 Chainz visiting Dr. Miami to assist him with a butt-lift surgery to Sza hanging out in the woods and talking about her rise to fame, or Wale getting a gourmet meal from a five-star weed chef”.

As this feature is sure to be rolled out further in the coming year, independent artists can see this continued commitment to playlisting as a positive. Getting placed on a playlist can be a powerful way to market your music to new fans, and the opportunity to include video content down the road only sweetens the deal. TuneCore always offers artists the opportunity to be considered for feature placements (with no guarantees, of course), and this facet of marketing and promotion should be implemented into their upcoming releases.

 

Nielsen Report Shows Interesting Millennial Music Consumption Trends


Tired of reading reports and headlines about how ‘millennials’ are eating, drinking, ruining industries, and interacting with the world around them? Too bad! But hey, at least this recent report by Nielsen actually pertains to folks – millennial or otherwise – making music and distributing to digital platforms.

Millennial music fans display “Lots of Love, Lack of Loyalty”, Nielsen says. The report touches on a lot, but when it comes to music, it appears as though fans in the 18-34 range are using multiple platforms to tune in with little regard for the brands fueling them. 57% of millennials are using two or more apps to stream music, compared to only 39% of those streamers over the age 35.

While it’s commonplace to bemoan the decline of terrestrial (and even digital) radio listening among this generation, figures around how much radio they’re dialed into have barely dropped since last year (10 hours and 14 minutes per week down from 11 hours and 17 minutes per week). An interesting thing to note, though, is that millennials are “21%more likely to frequently choose songs than to let the music play without making changes” – an obviously different listening experience from what broadcast radio offers.

As mentioned above – if you’re an artist distributing to popular streaming platforms, this is some must-read stuff. The report concludes that loyalty to platforms aside, “the reality of today’s media scenario is that the addition of new offerings has actually inspired increased consumption.”

 

YouTube Begins Offering In-App Messaging & Sharing


Tired of reading what those animals in the YouTube video comment sections have to say? Yeah, we all are. The good news is that YouTube has launched an exciting new way for fans to share their favorite content with their friends and chat about it without ever leaving the app. As streaming services like Spotify scale back their messaging offerings, YouTube hopes to inspire more sharing, discovering and private conversation while keeping folks in-app.

YouTube Product Manager Benoit de Boursetty says, “We think it’ll make sharing easier, faster and more fun on your phone… These shared videos all live in a brand new tab on your YouTube mobile app, making it easier than ever to catch up on videos your friends have shared or to show them a few of your own favourites.”

The demand for music on YouTube continues, and thankfully independent artists are offered a way to not only distribute properly but also collect sound recording revenue from the Google-owned giant. It’s not hard to believe that we’ll see a spike in sharing among dedicated users who might shy away from music-first platforms such as Apple Music, Deezer or Spotify. As an app that attracts less-than-active music listeners at higher rates, YouTube’s new features stand to make it a friendlier place for artists to share their new releases.

What It Means: Catalog Sales Outnumber Current Sales

Every year since people have been reading and writing blogs, January has been a time in the music industry to examine the depressing statistics of album sales from the previous year.

While often grim, these articles are an essential part of covering the year-to-year evolution and changes in how music fans consume their favorite genres. (Plus, they’re usually a better read than the comment section in your favorite music blog’s article about the best albums of the year.)

Case in point, a very interesting article emerged on Music Business Worldwide over a week ago, presenting to us that 2015 was the first year in recorded history during which catalogue album sales outnumbered current album sales.

According to Nielsen data, catalogue albums – which it defines as any release over 18 months old – shifted 122.8m copies in 2015 in the US, down 2.9% on 2014’s tally of 126.5m.

And since no music article is a music article without mentioning Adele, author Tim Ingham pointed out that the pop starlet’s 25 album made up for 7.4 million current sales. That means without her release in 2015, catalogue sales would have cleared any current releases by 11.7 million. (It’s of course important to acknowledge Adele’s position in mainstream music – independent artists don’t necessarily have a lot in common with this sort of star when it comes to sales, whether they’re old releases or new. Adele is worth mentioning in this case because of how much of an impact one album had on the final stats for the year 2015.)

catalog sales nielsen

Taking a deeper dive, the Nielsen stats show that there was a larger discrepancy between sales of new albums and sales of past albums in the ‘physical sales’ column than in the ‘digital sales’ column. Not hard to believe when you factor in the popularity of vinyl records – it’s a lot more likely that the 21-year old getting into record collecting is purchasing 2 old Rolling Stones or Velvet Underground LPs than using his or her record player to spin albums released this year.

On the digital front, current albums beat out catalog albums in sales 52.5 million vs 50.9 million, with catalog singles beating current single sales by a larger margin of 484.9 vs. 479.8. This probably comes down to the demographics of those purchasing music: younger fans are more in touch with digital consumption, following their favorite artists on social media and knowing just when their new music is going to drop. Streaming on the whole is being done by a younger demographic, and we see that this group is more likely to stream singles than older consumers, who might opt for a more dated release. This is good news all around if you’re an artist looking to appeal to a wide array of ages.

catalog sales nielsen

Are catalog sales not something you’ve ever really taken into serious consideration when thinking about the state of music? You’re not crazy. If you’re an independent artist reviewing their year-end sales, you’re likely more focused on how you can continue to better market your more recent or even upcoming work.

What does this mean for artists who are going at it without label support, booking their own gigs, and managing their own marketing efforts across all channels? It’s a lot of data to digest, and there are lots of conclusions to draw. One hugely clear takeaway from all of this, however, is that your old releases can still be important to your future career.

Now, if you go from playing black metal to pop music over 6 years under the same name, yeah, maybe you can let go of some of those early releases as you head into a new direction. But as you continue to evolve and you begin to reach new fans, they’re going to want to hear everything you’ve got to bring them, even if it’s from years ago.

There may be some releases you have from back in the day that have a lot more value you than placed in them originally. You’re trying to appeal to diehard music fans, and in 2016 diehard music fans want access. Find your ‘super fans’ on social media channels, your email lists, and at your shows – give them as much access to your music as you can! When you find those demos or old EPs you handed out after gigs and offer them on iTunes, Spotify and Deezer, you’re able to grow your super fan base and reinforce their dedication.

We’re seeing that catalog sales and streaming matter for all artists, and when you’re able to offer access to more of your music to super fans, everyone benefits.