How Streaming Platforms Are Changing Music Promotion and Discovery

[Editors Note: This article was written by Patrick McGuire.]

As music streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music continue to transform and revitalize the music industry, artists are just beginning to fully comprehend the seemingly limitless potential of new music discovery and promotion technology in 2018’s musical landscape. Songwriters and musicians continue to struggle to financially cope in a world with that’s almost completely shifted to streaming music over owning it seemingly overnight, but a slew of new analytic and discovery features delivered by streaming platforms could be the silver lining artists have been waiting for.

Spotify, who has yet to make a profit as a company, isn’t able to pay compensate an artist much money when one of their songs gets streamed through their platform, but they are able to help in other ways. Through tools like their Discover Weekly playlist, Spotify has made significant investments in helping new music find an audience. A thoughtful mixture of human curation and algorithm genius is helping new and unknown artists connect and resonate with fans in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Will 100,000 plays on a big streaming platform earn a band enough money to pay all of their bills? No, but that sort of exposure might give a new artist enough attention to find opportunities that can.

The music industry’s newfound collective acceptance of music streaming is one of the driving factors behind what many are calling music’s big comeback, but new opportunities for exposure and promotion ushered in by streaming platforms and playlist culture deserves a good amount of the credit.

Last summer, an article published by The Guardian profiled a Venezuelan singer named Danny Ocean, an artist whose career was launched by Spotify. In a matter of months, the Latin star went from being completely unknown to having a smash hit with over 261 million plays through Spotify alone. Spotify’s technology was able to detect interest in Ocean’s single after its release, so it added the song to a few of its popular playlists and the rest is history. 

Songwriter Ron Pope has a similar rags to riches story. The Georgia native apparently earned over $250k from streaming alone in 2014 without significant radioplay and help from a label. The incredible breakout success stories of these artists is one that would be simply unthinkable just a decade ago.

With big music streaming players increasingly lending a hand to small artists, the music promotion sector the music industry may need to rethink their strategy.

In addition to helping to launch undiscovered new musical talent in a perpetual quest to satiate the music-addicted masses, streaming platforms are now able to give artists analytic insights and helpful information about their listeners that they used to have to pay good money for. For example, a college or alternative radio campaign usually runs bands anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. The main purpose of these campaigns is to physically submit an artist’s music for possible airplay, but a huge benefit they deliver are detailed insights into which stations have started playing the music, where they’re located and how often they’re playing it. Streaming platforms are now offering up this and other helpful information to artists for absolutely free.

Radio continues to be a major source for music discovery, but with the trend of many influential stations curating playlists replicating the material they play over the air, the free analytic information artists can get from major streaming platforms can help them gain powerful insights about their unique audiences. With these free resources, artists can track the success of their individual songs, book tours based around countries and cities their music is being played in the most and can even see information as detailed as what gender their listeners are.

Shortly after the birth of social media, platforms like Myspace and then later Facebook were the ones mostly responsible for hosting the party as far as where audiences went to listen to an artist’s music, learn about them from their bio and find out about their shows. But in 2018, the party is swiftly moving over to streaming platforms.

In addition to helping artists connect with and learn about listeners, major streaming platforms now provide customizable profile features like pictures, concert listings and even merchandise store options. Essentially, big streaming companies are now helping artists condense and leverage their virtual presences in ways that non-musical social media platforms have never been able to do. Just a couple of years ago, most people used Facebook pages to learn about and keep up with bands, but now fans can do all that directly from the sources they discover and consume music.  

But while some musicians and writers are rejoicing over the new features and benefits streaming platforms are offering artists, others continue to feel the strain of diminishing record sales and fear the possibility that the artform of the album will be replaced by playlists. While no one can predict the future, the music industry’s sweeping irreversible transformation is a certainty, and those who learn to adapt will fare better than those who dig their heels in and wish for a pre-streaming era to return.


Patrick McGuire is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.

Why Playlists Are More Important Than Ever

[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

 

In 2017, the playlist has become an integral part of not just music but our culture at large. While radioplay and the blogosphere still have the power to bring attention to an artist, playlists are becoming a steadfast way for more and more listeners to discover and consume music. This isn’t exactly breaking news for those readers who’ve been making serious music over the past decade, but the fact is that playlists are shaping the musical landscape more than ever before, and if you don’t release your music with that in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll risk missing out on some potentially huge opportunities.

The New Listening Landscape

Remember that snobby record store clerk you used to get your music recommendations from? Or maybe it was your cool older sister. Well, either way, playlists featuring every genre of music you can conceive of are introducing listeners to new artists in way measured by literally billions of songs, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But probably more important than the way listeners are discovering music is the way they’re now listening to it. Listeners are now relying on playlists big and small to guide their unique listening experiences. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of a non-musician for a second. Unless you’re particularly interested in discovering and listening to new and interesting music, you most likely won’t have the time or patience to wade through hours of music to find songs that actually resonate with you. Enter an army of new expertly curated playlists, specifically designed to convey an array of nuanced moods that cater to a wide variety of different music fans. Like indie rap? There’s tens of thousands of playlists out there for you. Looking for electronic jazz/rock fusion for stepdads? Actually, I have no idea if that playlist exists or not, but you get what I mean.

Engaging new and old listeners on this relatively new playing field is becoming more and more important for career musicians, but don’t take my word for it.

Let’s look at the data.

The Data Behind Playlists

On average, Spotify’s 4,500 curated playlists generate over a billion streams per week. Their Discover Weekly feature has connected well over 40 million music listeners to about 5 billion new songs. Love it or loathe it, Spotify is doing something massively important for new artists, and figuring out how to get your music featured on Spotify is worth looking into, even if the chances of your music being selected by one of Spotify’s notoriously picky playlist curators is slim.

But while Spotify is a major resource for listeners when it comes to finding and consuming music, YouTube is an even bigger player. Though the stats are controversial, complicated and difficult to understand, some music industry analysts believe YouTube accounts for 40% of all music listening.

I released a single recently and was surprised to learn that a dude with a playlist I’d never heard of had shared my new song on a YouTube playlist with over 188,000 subscribers. My release performed pretty well on Spotify, but the numbers were nothing compared to the exposure I got from being featured on that one Youtube playlist.

Make music regularly enough and you’ll sometimes get lucky and have your songs featured on decent-sized playlists, but reaching out to playlist curators and asking for your songs to be considered is vital if you’re just starting out and new to the playlist game.

Pitching Your Music to Playlist Curators and Digital Music Stores

Taking the time to submit your music through TuneCore’s feature submission form is an easy way to pitch your music to digital music retailers like iTunes, but if you’re interested in getting playlist curators to consider your songs, you’ll have to do some research.

Take some time to find out what playlists are out there that feature music that’s similar to yours. Rather than gunning for the big, heavily followed tastemakers, I recommend starting small and pitching your music to playlists with smaller followings.

Similar to how you’d pitch your music to blogs, take some time following different playlists and getting a feel for the kind of music their curators like to feature.

Craft a short email explaining who you are, what your music sounds like and why you think it fits on the playlist you’re inquiring about. Yes, you’ll most likely get your fair share of no’s and unanswered emails, but with how much potential there is out there for finding new fans through playlists, getting serious about playlists is becoming a mandatory task if you’re intent on being a successful musician.

Get Started With Feature.fm

TuneCore has partnered an exciting platform, Feature.fm, that helps artists get their music heard. Offering a “digital ad platform” for musicians, Feature.fm lets you sponsor your already uploaded tracks from Deezer, SoundCloud or Youtube on stores, radio and major music websites worldwide, such as youredm, EDM Hunters, Tiny Mixtapes, 1001 Tracklists, PopMatters or HipHopnMore.

So what can Feature.fm do, and how do you get started?

There are three ways that feature.fm can help you get heard:

  1.    By playing your song to a targeted audience of Deezer users.
  2.    By playing your song to a targeted audience of people listening to the 8tracks Radio service.
  3.    By promoting one of your existing YouTube Videos, SoundCloud tracks or mp3 across various popular music websites and blogs.

The ability to create a campaign to promote your music to streaming stores like Deezer, or popular upload platforms like SoundCloud, make this an extremely worthwhile service in engaging your audience and music everywhere!

As one of the biggest streaming services, Deezer has 10 million active users, and offers its service in 182 countries worldwide. These millions of users are a huge opportunity! By generating more streams of your music inside a service like Deezer, you can drive trending activity, and start to rise up the Deezer charts – meaning  more exposure! As an additional bonus because TuneCore pays you 100% of revenue for your streams from Deezer, you will recoup some of the costs of your feature.fm campaign from the increase in streaming revenues you get from people hearing your music!

Once you’ve selected the song,  you will be asked how you would like to target your campaign – you can select locations, ages and genders. You then need to add some tags – genre, similar artists and flag whether or not your song has explicit lyrics.

If you’ve already distributed your music through Spotify, you can use the “similar artists” area to target similar artists based on data – but if not, then make sure you put in some well known artists here, so that you’re getting a broad pool of potential listeners. Targeting your music to the right audience is super important – be specific enough to hit the right people, but don’t be too specific – you want to get in front of as many potential fans as possible. If someone doesn’t like your song they can skip it so don’t worry. And if they skip before 30 seconds, you don’t get charged for the sponsored play.

Let’s take a look at the UK artist Karmah  to see their experience  using the service! They were specifically interested in boosting themselves on Deezer and selected that as their campaign focus with the song “I Ain’t Worried”. Now, as they are a UK band, their currency is in £, but you can use your own Local Currency (AUD$ £, €, $ etc…)

Above, represents the initial campaign creation process and then two days of activity. You can see that by spending £40 the campaign drove 2500 sponsored plays – so that’s more than 2500 potential new fans reached. One really interesting thing to note here is the “play sources”. You can see that almost everyone listened to the track on either an iPhone or Android phone. The number of Deezer users using the Deezer.com website is tiny by comparison. This is worth taking note of generally when you are promoting your music on social media (for example when using TuneCore Social Pro) – remember that the vast majority of people streaming your music will be doing so on a mobile device, and ensure that you are messaging appropriately.

In the image above we can see that there are 152 “engagements” – representing 6% of the people who listened. Let’s dive into bit more detail on that section.

You can see here that 81 people added the song to their “favourites” in Deezer while another 59 added it to one of their playlists – 140 people took an action related to saving the song. This means that new listeners are engaging with your music! By getting your music in front of a new fan with feature.fm, you may actually have started a relationship that continues for years!

Some more useful information that feature.fm gives you is a breakdown of the age and gender of the people who are listening to the track – but also the age and gender of people who engage.

When Karmah’s team created the campaign, they set some broad targeting criteria – you can be as detailed as you like here – the more relevant the data you put in here, the better the audience you will be targeting. The age range selected for the campaign is 12 to 40, and the locations are UK, USA, France, Ireland, and Canada. For Gender, the campaign targeted both female and male listeners.

When you look at the age and gender or people who heard the sponsored plays, you can see that females aged 18-24 heard the most number. This could be because of the “similar artists” that were used to target the campaign. The screenshot below breaks down the age and gender demographics of your audience.

Creating our first campaign with feature.fm took just a few minutes – and already we are seeing some exciting results…

For £40 (and remember, this is just a snapshot of two days in the campaign) Karmah not only got 2500 plays, but also 152 strong engagements as a result of people hearing and liking her music. She and her team also got some really valuable data about what kind of fan is most likely to engage with her music. All of this for just £0.26 per engagement – and with long term potential for those people who favorited or playlisted the track to listen again and again and again.

Karmah’s manager Jermaine from Public Sector Entertainment said “Karmah already has a really engaged fanbase through SoundCloud, Twitter and Instagram – but we know that as her career develops the thing that matters most is getting out in front of new fans who have never heard her music before – feature.fm has allowed us to do that in a way I have not seen from any other tool. Creating our first campaign with feature.fm took just a few minutes – and already we’re seeing some exciting results. I will definitely be using feature.fm with other artists I manage. We made a small spend to test the platform, but I’m already imagining if this campaign keeps running. With a £100 campaign spend, that could be over 6000 streams, and more than 380 engagements… With £200 campaign spend it could hit more than 12000 streams, and possibly as many as 750 engagements – and we will see some of that spend come back directly through streaming revenues. Longer term I’m sure that the value of developing these new fans is sure to pay off.

Get started with feature.fm today – look for the link backstage in your TuneCore account and sign up using that link to get some free feature.fm credit to use in your first campaign.

4 Ways To Engage With Fans in Digital Stores

You already know how to get your music into over 150 digital stores and streaming services worldwide – whether it’s a single, a brand new EP/full-length, or even just a cover song to surprise and delight your fans with.

And while it’s easy to get caught up with the desire to end up on Spotify playlist or get featured in the iTunes Store, independent artists often overlook some even easier ways to solidify their presence and interact with fans in some of these well-known streaming and download platforms.

Let’s take a look at a few simple ways you can engage fans and make your music easier to find when they come hunting:

spotify

1. Set Up a Spotify Verified Artist Account

Start building a community of fans who want to discover music through you – with a Spotify ‘verified artist account’ you can let your fans know when you’ve made a  playlist or share a new song. Your account will be linked to your discography pages, (making them easily searchable) and you’ll be creating a direct-to-fan channel within Spotify.

Once you’ve distributed your music to Spotify and signed up for your own account (avoid signing up with a Facebook profile), head over to this site to complete Spotify’s “Verification Form”. Be prepared to have a URL to a hosted 200×200 pixel profile image on the form. Click here to download a PDF of Spotify’s “Best Practices Guide”.

Next, add a playlist to your account (make sure to ‘right click’ on the playlist name to ‘Make Public’) – that way, you’re not launching an empty page.

Finally, share it with your fans! Copy and paste the playlists’ ‘http link’ and let your fans on Facebook and Twitter know you’re open for business.

2. Get Access to Spotify Fan Insights

Last November we reported on one of Spotify’s coolest roll-outs: Fan Insights. Now you can find out who your fans are, where they are in the world, how they listen, what their other musical preferences are and how they engage.

spotify fan insightsYou can still head over to Spotify’s Artist site and request access to the beta version of Fan Insights here.

 

Google Play

3. Set Up a Google Play Artist Page

If you’ve distributed your latest releases using TuneCore, it’s pretty likely that you’ve decided to include Google Play in the stores we send your music to. And why wouldn’t you? Google has risen to the ranks as one of the biggest household names in digital media, and Google Play serves as it’s platform for getting music, videos, apps and more in the hands of fans.

Selling your music, personalizing your store page and reaching users with your music on Google Play is easy! After you’ve made sure that your music has gone life on Google Play, head over to the Google Play Artist Hub.

Google Play Artist Hub

From there you can sign in with your Google account, find your artist name, and you’ll even be able to use a credit card (without being charged) to protect against “artist impersonation”.

apple music

4. Claim Your Profile on Apple Music Connect

By now, Apple Music has made enough headlines and become enough of a go-to platform for so many fans that as an indie artist, you want to make the most of it. Apple Connect is described as a ‘place where musicians give their fans a closer look a their work, their inspirations, and their world.

When you claim your profile on Connect, you can engage directly with your fans and share audio, photos and videos. Get started by visiting this site and signing in with your Apple ID.

AppleMusicConnect2

From there, you can search for your artist name or paste a link to your iTunes artist page and claim that profile.  Additionally, you’ll be asked for your Artist Management and Label contact information – keep in mind, TuneCore does not fulfill either of these, so if you’re lacking this information, just put in your own personal contact information twice and move on.


Now that you’ve stepped up your store game, head over to your social media profiles and break out that email list – it’s time to start sharing some links!

TuneCore Closes Out Strong Year of International Growth With Launch of TuneCore Italy

Streaming Is On The Rise Across All International Markets

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK – December 13, 2016 – TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration service provider, caps off a strong year of sustained and international growth with the announcement today of TuneCore Italy – the service provider’s fourth launch in the European market and sixth international expansion. Since the company’s inception in 2006, TuneCore artists worldwide have earned more than $783 million collectively from over 43.8 billion downloads and streams. As the only major global distribution service with a dedicated Italian offering, Tunecore.it features local content in the native language that caters to the Italian independent artist community.

As part of its continued commitment to support independent artists around the world, in 2016 TuneCore launched three international sites including TuneCore Germany (April 2016), TuneCore France (October 2016) and now, TuneCore Italy (December 2016).

TuneCore’s global expansion efforts have led to an overall increase in its year-to-date international customer base. Further, TuneCore’s local offerings in international markets have seen significant increases in customer growth, specifically in the France and Germany markets. TuneCore also identified Hip Hop and R&B/Soul as two of the fastest growing genres in each of its key international markets (U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, Germany and France). Additionally, TuneCore has seen the growing popularity of streaming reflected across its international markets, with a 340 percent year-over-year increase in streaming in Canada, as well as year-over-year increases in Australia (92 percent), Germany (71 percent) and the UK (67 percent). Streaming also continues to grow in the U.S., with a 65 percent year-over-year increase.

“As we head into 2017, global expansion is pivotal in furthering our mission to bring more music to more people worldwide, while continuing to establish TuneCore as a leader in the international digital music distribution market,” says Scott Ackerman, CEO at TuneCore. “Our global expansion into Italy – a market that previously lacked a dedicated local offering from a global distributor – is a natural fit as we continue to support our artists by giving them the local resources and tools they need to be successful.”

In addition to keeping 100 percent of their revenues, and retaining complete creative control and ownership of their music, Italian customers will have access to TuneCore’s robust portfolio of artist services, as well as local Italian partners such as Music Raiser and MusicOFF, and world-class customer service. TuneCore Italy artists can also opt to include their music in storefronts controlled by TuneCore’s extensive network of more than 150 digital partners across the globe, including iTunes, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play and Amazon Music. In addition, TuneCore Italy customers will be able to take advantage of the company’s strategic partnership with Believe Digital. With an already existing office in Italy with more than 30 employees, Believe Digital will offer TuneCore Italy customers access to a variety of advanced artist services, such as international campaign management, trade and online digital marketing, video management and distribution, physical distribution and more.

With its expansion into Italy, TuneCore now offers local musicians in seven countries outside of the U.S. – UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, and Italy – the opportunity to collect revenue from streaming services, digital download stores, songwriter royalties, and sync licensing opportunities, all in their local currency.

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About TuneCore

TuneCore brings more music to more people, while helping musicians and songwriters increase money-earning opportunities and take charge of their own careers. The company has one of the highest artist revenue-generating music catalogs in the world, earning TuneCore Artists $783 million from over 43.8 billion downloads and streams since inception. TuneCore Music Distribution services help artists, labels and managers sell their music through iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, Google Play and other major download and streaming sites while retaining 100 percent of their sales revenue and rights for a low annual flat fee.

TuneCore Music Publishing Administration assists songwriters by administering their compositions through licensing, registration, world-wide royalty collections, and placement opportunities in film, TV, commercials, video games and more. The TuneCore Artist Services portal offers a suite of tools and services that enable artists to promote their craft, connect with fans, and get their music heard. TuneCore, part of Believe Digital Services, operates as an independent company and is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY with offices in Burbank, CA, Nashville, TN and Austin, TX, and global expansions in the UK, Australia, Japan, Canada, Germany and France. For additional information about TuneCore, please visit www.tunecore.com or https://youtu.be/TSjGACrJyiY.

YouTube and GEMA Reach Licensing Agreement

After years of legal disputes, German royalty collection society GEMA has finally reached a licensing agreement with YouTube. Through this agreement, songwriters and artists registered with GEMA are now able to get paid for the use of copyrighted works on the video platform.

Back in 2009, a contract between the digital video giant and GEMA came to a close and was never renewed due to disputes over pay-outs. That means for over seven years, any music from the GEMA repertoire was not accessible on YouTube – instead, users repeatedly saw blocking messages. This agreement allows those previously unlicensed music videos to be available all over the region, which means great things for artists looking for exposure on the platform and monetize their music on YouTube in a major market.

TuneCore offers artists the opportunity to monetize their own sound recordings on YouTube. That means artists can earn money when they and other people use their sound recordings in their videos all over YouTube.

Through the agreement between the GEMA and YouTube, all TuneCore artists now have the opportunity to earn money when their music is streamed on YouTube in Germany. It’s especially great for German artists who will be able to reach to their local fans on YouTube and for artists with a large German audience. Through the new agreement between YouTube and GEMA, YouTube is committed to transfer he owed GEMA amounts for used YouTube audio files.

YouTube stated in a blog, “That commitment has helped YouTube evolve into an important source of promotion and revenue for musicians. As such, we continue to invest in our rights management system, Content ID, to protect rights owners while continuing to innovate and create new and exciting YouTube features such as VR and 360, that can heighten the music experience on YouTube even more.”

To learn more about how you can monetize your sound recordings on YouTube, click here!