Two-thirds of the music industry’s income now comes from streaming – an avenue that was non-existent a mere 15 years ago.
Not only are the listening channels different, but the actual way in which music is consumed has changed. Instead of fans acquiring music and it being monetized through a one-time purchase, the world is now turning to a buffet-style model where $10 per month gets a listener all the music they can consume.
This new pay-per-play format has changed the flow of royalties for the music industry and created significant shifts in how artists make money. The bigger acts have caught on, have you?
Today’s focus is on streaming plays – getting the fan base to listen to the music over and over again. Even if the songs are downloaded or added to playlists, it doesn’t matter. If a song is not actively played, the artists and the industry behind it do not get paid.
The most effective way to keep your music playing is through branding. Not necessarily branding the newest single or EP, but branding yourself as an artist. Keeping your persona at the forefront of listeners’ minds keeps the audience searching through and listening to your entire body of work.
So how can you build your brand and increase your reach, as top artists have learned to do?
1. Stop focusing on outdated money-makers
Gone are the days of concentrating on selling music and finding the fastest path to radio play. While these avenues still play a role in the music industry, they are no longer the only paths to the top.
2. Invest in a tour
Traditionally, tours were loss-leaders used to boost album sales. But today, they are
money-making necessities that are key to getting musicplayed. With each performance, there is a regional surge in catalog plays from the local fan base – both in the weeks leading up to the show and afterwards.
Whether you are an established chart-topper or up-and-coming indie band, live performances will help grow your brand and make you money, even beyond the events themselves.
3. Be creative with promotions
Sell unique experiences to your fan base. Go beyond the traditional meet & greet, or join a larger initiative that gets your name in front of a big audience and helps build awareness. Bonus – such promotions can often also be set up to help a deserving charitable organization.
4. Leverage social media
This should go without saying in 2018, but social media is an extremely powerful and impactful way to connect with your fans and reach new ones.
Artists today are engaging with their fans more than ever before, sharing their personal lives and directly communicating with followers through sites like Instagram and Facebook.
Instead of focusing on one perfect album cover photo to make a sale, it’s now a constant stream of visibility that keep you top of mind and your tracks playing.
5. Take advantage of collaborations
Joining forces with another artist creates exponential opportunity to grow both of your fanbases, or help a lesser-known performing songwriter gain publicity.
Recent examples include “Meant to Be” by Florida Georgia Line and Bebe Rexha, and Skrillex and Poo Bear’s “Would You Ever.”
6. Consider crossover opportunities
Taking Tip #5 one step further are unexpected collaborations or even individual crossover tracks.
For evidence of the opportunity that lies here, look no further than 2017’s blockbuster hit “Despacito,” which gained mass momentum with its remix version featuring Justin Bieber approximately 3 months after its original release.
Of course, these are just a few top ways that artists and bands are using to keep their music in the forefront of their audience’s minds.
In the new pay-for-play world, we will continue to see new and creative tactics emerge as artists attempt to stand out from the crowd and identify branding and marketing plays that don’t just build awareness, but ultimately, help build their number of plays.
Alex Heiche is the CEO and founder of Sound Royalties, a company working to transform the way that music professionals fund their creativity.