State of all (music) things.

08/26/2017 05:22 pm ET Updated Aug 28, 2017

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It’s been over three years since my last post.

Fast forward these three years— I manage talented artists and still advise brands on use of music (in meaningful, engaging ways). When last I wrote, I was starting out in music management after 25 years in Brand Strategy, Marketing and Advertising in NYC & LA by launching my own company Juel Concepts and I was hyper focused on the AI framework that was expected to come from the algorithms from both Shazam and Spotify — data used for predictions (grammy’s, breaking artists, etc). I suspected there would be significant movement there and I continue to track it very carefully.

We’ve all seen shifts in this category these past few years. We’ve undoubtedly and quantifiably moved further into the “future of the music industry.” But there’s not a real defined path established, so it’s very much the wild west in terms of what success looks like.

As a manager, I have the incredible fortune of seeing the landscape comprehensively—not silo’d as many of the categories in the music industry do. Breaking an artist in todays fragmented, consumption driven market has been an exercise in use of all marketing & PR techniques, with real time review of data to inform next move. We’ve had some critical acclaim and PR love for our artists, which works to keep us all very motivated.

For the most part, it’s true— this industry is not for the faint of heart, you need to be financially able to dive in and support, but in the recent months, it does seem like things are looking up—especially for the emerging artist.

Here’s a couple key indicators.

1) Emerging artists are getting more support on Spotify and similar streaming platforms than ever (source: Adweek, 2016).

2) For the first time in years the music industry is seeing growth due to streaming (source: Billboard, 2017). That is due to DOUBLING of paid memberships to digital players -- up to 22.6 million, from 10.8 million in 2015). That means that each stream is worth more than in the past. Here’s how it breaks out historically by average per-stream rate (which includes video and audio on-demand streams).

2017: $0.0072

2016: $0.00517

2015: $0.00506

2014: $0.00666

3) There are more emerging markets coming to support music consumption, too (source: Edison Research)

4) For discovery, Radio is still the best method - by far (source: Edison Research via Forbes.com)

Then there is the 500 pound elephant in the room that needs to be addressed: how much artists and songwriters get paid by streaming services.

I watch the landscape shifting, but not as favorably as it could. I’d like to reiterate what I said to to California Representative Adam Schiff during the Grammy in my District meeting last year — it’s difficult to comprehend that the technology companies aren’t paying more margins to the content creators (artists, songwriters).

It’s simple — when you break down ANY subscriber-based model (in my work experience that includes, TiVo, Herbalife, Kaiser Permanente) there are opportunities to make margins higher (and lower) with control of the ACQUISITION funnel. Keep in mind, when content is given away, it’s very difficult to find a way to get a premium price for it later. It’s a slippery slope for any brand with deep pockets (Walmart vs Target), let alone one with limited funding. Spotify is starting to reap benefits of the subscriber model, but early indicators have shown that they aren’t paying more to the content creators. This is an area we all should be watching carefully.

All data aside, it seems that the NEW NORM for the Music Industry comes down to THREE promotional opportunities (beyond the traditional release new music, do some hail mary passes with Sync/Licensing, and TOUR, TOUR, TOUR).

They are:

Brands matter. Brand events and curated playlists are coming into their own as a new discovery tool (think H&M, All Saints, Starbucks, and Coca Cola,). Do your research and pitch brands who’s style makes sense to your music. Now, brands are even sponsoring the more popular playlists (cite Adweek, 2016) while advertising during peak hours (cite Adweek, 2017).

Getting placed on a variety of playlists that aren’t “official” still gets your algorithms going. Research other non Spotify oriented playlists and find the curators so you can pitch your music directly. Do it with the highest levels of scrutiny and class so you don’t annoy them. This is their passion, not jobs. Remember, they don’t get paid to do these playlists.

Word of mouth from trusted sources is still a catalyst for finding new music. To tap into this, find your advocates and ask them to help spread the word for you (tell them to reach out to Festivals, other bands to suggest you for support slots, to their local Radio Stations and even curated online playlists who are doing great playlists you dig).

One thing that does surprise me is how non community based the music community is at it’s core. I’d love to see that change as consumption today is so fast paced, it’s obvious there is room in the market for nearly every talented, focused and engaging artists. Love to hear what you all do to foster community. I know the Hotel Cafe in LA does quite a bit to create music nights - would love to see more initiatives than just live performances (but it’s a great vibe and you should definitely stop by on Monday nights if you’re in LA).

In fact, we are tracking all sorts of new ideas to help foster the community for emerging artists and always open to hearing what works for others. My company is always looking to further relations with progressive businesses, artists, and media partners, and it’s a privilege to work with such innovative partners. Would love to hear what works for you so feel free to drop us at line at media@juelconcepts.com.

And be sure to follow our own “Vibezzz for Days” Spotify playlist for updates on new music!

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