BLOG: The Shift in Music Marketing

By Adam Cardew

The music industry is constantly changing – that’s something that we’re all used to. However, in the last 6 months there have been a few significant changes that have made a bigger and more lasting impact:

(In no particular order)

  1. The shift to a Friday global release date
  2. The supposed return to ‘On-Air/On-Sale/On-Stream’
  3. The launch of Apple Music

From speaking with industry colleagues and contacts over the past few months, it seems there’s a general consensus that the above events have caused a ‘tearing up of the rule-book’ for when it comes to releasing records. The shift to streaming as the main method of consumption is well underway and nobody so far can be certain as to how the industry will look by the end of next year, let alone in 3 or 5 years’ time.

What is clear is that the old template of starting with single 1, going to radio X weeks in advance, releasing single 1 across all platforms, etc etc has been thrown out the window. Yes, that will remain a workable strategy for a certain type of artist but for many others this is no longer suitable. Obviously this creates uncertainty within the industry as to how we create the maximum impact with our releases – but it could also be viewed as a wake-up call to music marketers who need to reinvigorate fans whose attention is drifting elsewhere. We’re a creative industry, yet the set-template approach that has become the norm of releasing records is far from creative.

This summer, we’ve already seen several artists release surprise albums with no advance notice to create an impact and also witnessed One Direction achieve a number 1 mid-week position without having any audio or video representation of that single available on YouTube (MBW Article). People are coming to the table with new ideas. Not everyone is going to have the impact ability that the global behemoths have with shifting their approach but gradually the industry is moving to a place where trying something new is becoming the norm. The way a record is released, as well as the music, is part of the fan experience and if the shift in consumption forces our marketing to be more considered and creative, it’s a good thing for everyone involved.

One thing’s for sure – none of this works without using the data available to us and using it to hone those strategies. The changes we’re experiencing in consumption mean that more attention than ever needs to be paid to the data we get back from physical, download, streaming platforms and social networks. At Absolute our labels have access to their own analytics tool, which empowers them to see exactly the data we’re seeing (from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more) to get visibility on how the campaign is unfolding and if anything needs adjusting. As a label services company, having all that data in one place updating daily enables us to shift strategy quickly when we see something working or not working in the way we had planned.

I’ve always been cautious of anyone who tells you they know 100% how to market your record to success – but now more so than ever. We’re undergoing a period where honesty, transparency, willingness to try new things and flexibility to shift focus when the data suggests is infinitely more valuable than old industry hype.