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What is the Best Way to Promote YouTube Videos? Read Our 6 Top Tips for Music Video Promotion

YouTube Video Promotion

With a viral music video, independent artists’ careers can change overnight, but racking up those initial streams and amassing the hype around your new music video takes plenty more than a stroke of good luck and a killer music video. Even if Tarantino himself directed it, you need to put in the work with music video promotion to ensure it makes an impact.

With over two billion people worldwide using YouTube, the video streaming platform which swung into our everyday lives in 2005, is a hotbed of music marketing potential. In this article, we will cover some of the best ways to hit the ground running on your music video marketing campaign and cover what is the best way to promote YouTube videos. Covering everything from shelling out for YouTube ads to more budget-friendly options, such as getting strategic with your keywords and thumbnails to putting the groundwork in with your existing fanbase.

The Top Six Ways to Promote Your Music Videos on YouTube

1.       Utilise YouTube Ads 

YouTube ads may come at a cost, but they are the number one way to promote your music videos on YouTube. If you have spent any amount of time on YouTube, you have likely encountered your fair share of YouTube adverts between watching the videos you have searched for.

With YouTube ad campaigns, you are completely in control. After you have set a budget, which will determine the cost per view, you can choose your target audience, the format of the YouTube ad, how your ads appear, and the keywords associated with your ad.

To get started, you will need a Google Adwords account, and to run an effective video promotion campaign, you will also need to have an idea of which audiences you should be targeting. You can get these insights from YouTube Analytics if you are already active on YouTube, Spotify’s Artist Insights and Google Analytics. This step may be incredibly laborious, but if you are serious about making an impactful impression with your YouTube ads, treat it as a necessary evil!

2.       Verify Your YouTube Channel

Verifying your YouTube Channel takes just a few minutes, but it can have a substantial effect on your streaming stats in the long run. Verifying your account will give you access to statistics that can help you run your ad campaigns better, allow you to promote everything from merch to tours to physical copies of your music under your videos and improve the SEO of your YouTube channel. With improved SEO, you will bring more organic traffic onto your channel, which will translate to more streams on your old and new music videos.

To verify your account, head to YouTube.com/verify and enter your phone number to receive a verification code; once entered, you’re all set! However, before making the verification request, you must have uploaded at least three videos on YouTube.

3.       Clip It & Mix Up Your Content

Video clips aren’t just king on TikTok; they are also great for placing on your YouTube channel to illustrate your songs and your brand as an artist. Via YouTube clips, which often work best as ads, you can let your fans and future fans into your musical world.

In addition to using YouTube as a platform to showcase your music videos and albums, it is also a prime location to jump on the hype of vlogs and behind-the-scenes videos, which give fans an intimate view of you as an artist.

By creating and publishing content of this nature, you get the chance to build a community around your music, rather than just appearing as a ‘faceless’ artist. If you’re feeling stuck for content, you can always curate playlists of your favourite music from other artists.

black iPhone X

4.       Master SEO & Keywords in Music Video Promotion

SEO may sound complicated to complete beginners but as an artist wanting to promote your music, there are a few key things to master that will take your promotion to the next level.

For optimal YouTube SEO, always use an appropriate title for your videos, a meta description that will appear beneath each video and the appropriate tags. For music videos, keep the title as simple as just your artist name and track title. For other content, look at the current trends on YouTube and form your titles and descriptions around them. Google Trends and YouTube Autocomplete are two of the best tools to help you get started as an SEO wiz.

5.       Don’t Forget Your Thumbnails

Would you click on a poorly framed and blurry thumbnail on YouTube to check the video behind it? Of course, you wouldn’t. You would assume that the video quality would be just as poor.

To create eye-catching and alluring thumbnails, make them colourful and impactful. Instead of attempting to get a clear shot from your music video, take some stills while you are filming your music video, which can be uploaded to YouTube as thumbnails. If you need to do additional editing after the shoot and you’re not a Photoshop pro, you can always use tools, such as Canva; you can either pay for the service or use the free version.

6.       Connect with Your YouTube Audience & Collaborate

Every artist wants an engaged audience, and while you are starting out, that is the perfect time to nurture your fanbase by responding to YouTube comments and showing your appreciation to your subscribers! Keeping up with showing appreciation to your fanbase gets tougher the more popular you get, but a simple like can go a long way!

For most independent artists, it is easier to gain a following on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Always promote your YouTube videos across these platforms and push your followers to subscribe to your channel; it can work wonders for the overall reach of your YouTube channel.

To get more fans onboard and bolster your music video promotion, collaboration is often key. While some artists pride themselves on being 100% DIY, collaboration is one of the best ways to combine the forces of fanbases. For your music videos and lyric videos, find other creatives that can bring their artistic touches to your videos, and always credit them in your meta descriptions.

If you have a new music video to promote, submit it to A&R Factory. Our award-winning blog will boost the signal on your new video and help you kickstart your music video promotion campaign.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Did the Music Industry Kill Off Rock Music?

Rock Music

After the grunge era in the early 90s, rock music started to slip out of the mainstream, making room for hip hop to become the most popular music genre. That didn’t happen overnight. It took hip hop until 2017 to finally overtake rock as the most tuned-into music genre.

But the music industry isn’t solely to blame. The oligarchs in the music industry only sell what is in demand, and in the 21st century, the zeitgeist’s preferences changed from craving angsty riotous rock to preferring hip hop, alt-pop and EDM.

The Slow Decline of Rock Music in the Mainstream

Since rock music first burst into popular culture, it has never been as insignificant in the mainstream as it is today. That isn’t to say that there aren’t die-hard rock fans still out there and there are no talented rock bands contributing to the music industry. It just means that rock music is more of a sub-culture after the last hurrah of the 00s rock acts, who, despite their ingenuity and catchy hits, were the last icons of a dwindling culture that is becoming cannibalised by nostalgia for the glory days.

For a stark sign of the rock-averse times, you only need to look at the top ten most streamed artists on Spotify. At the time of writing, that included Drake, the Latin artist Bad Bunny, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Arianna Grande, Eminem, Post Malone and the K-Pop act BTS. The top 50 most streamed Spotify artists do include a few rock acts bringing up the rear, including Queen, Linkin Park, and Imagine Dragons. Proving that if there is an appetite for rock music, rock fans don’t usually sate it with new blood.

Even in rock and metal festivals, it is impossible for new acts to grab headline spots. For the 20th Anniversary installation of Download Festival, the three headliners include Slipknot, Metallica, and Bring Me The Horizon – all names which have graced the bill multiple times before. The top half of the line-up posters have scarcely changed since the festival started in 2003. But year after year, hundreds of thousands of rock fans have rocked up to Donnington Park to stand in front of the familiar names, making no bones about the lack of new acts on the big stages.

New independent rock artists scarcely stand a chance with the declining number of rock and metal fans that are so preoccupied with the past that they are blinded to the new talent that surrounds them. On that basis, it is ludicrous that rock fans are putting the music industry in the firing line during inquests into who is to blame for killing rock music. The blood is on the hands of the people who refuse to listen to bands who weren’t around when they left high school!

Download Festival | Stages - Download Festival

When all of your favourite rock artists prove they aren’t immortal and die of old age (shocker), that is a clear sign that you are a part of the decline of rock music. The genre is unsustainable if it is nothing but an ageing population with no room for new bands to make their mark!

Rock Music as the Sound of the Underground

The commercial appeal of rock, metal and punk may have waned in the past few decades, but a fall from the mainstream does not mean that the alternative genres have died. Back in the underground, rock artists know that while they will never be as big as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Who, Queen, U2, Aerosmith and AC/DC, more relative success is still in reach in thriving scenes. Furthermore, rock acts are not attempting to appease the masses anymore. They have infinitely more scope to be experimental and create music that they want to make instead of making music that they think swathes of hard-to-please people would want to hear.

Ipecac Recordings Making People Sick For 20 Years.

In 2022, the alternative music scenes are more diverse and daring than they ever have been. Just take a look at the bands signed to Mike Patton’s label, Ipecac Records. Even some of the biggest acts are taking risks by releasing the records they want to make. Take Slipknot’s new album, The End, So Far, for the perfect example. The band veered away from the heavier sounds of their first few albums and dared to be melodic. The album received ample critical acclaim and hit the number 2 spot on the US Billboard album charts. That didn’t stop bitter and pedantic fans dubbing it as “SlipColdknotPlay”, lamenting the “boring vocal melodies”, and assuredly proclaiming that “there’s nothing of interest here”. Seemingly, they wanted a replica of Vol.3 and didn’t have all too much consideration about what Slipknot wanted to do and say with the release. It’s hardly a surprise that the band has said it may be the last album!

Slipknot's search for something beautiful is always heavy | The FADER

If we want rock music to survive through the 21st century, then rock fans need to play their part. If you have ever been to a gig, you have probably heard the words, “thank you, we couldn’t have done this without you”, though it may seem cliché it is true. So, it’s time for rock fans to reevaluate the role they play within the music industry and support independent and up-and-coming artists.

Even if you can’t stump up the cash for gig tickets, merch and physical releases, it costs nothing to discover new rock bands via blogs and magazines. Follow them on social media, share their music, playlist their music, pre-save their new releases on Spotify, and watch their live streams to make a career in the industry viable.

A&R Factory constantly covers hot new rock bands that need and deserve your support. To name a few, they include the agitators of art-rock, Gated Estates. The Cardiff-hailing psych-rock band Columbia. The hard-rock Swedish newcomers Ember Street. And the synth-driven indie-rock outfit, The Spheres. 

To have your music featured on our award-winning blog, submit your demo for a review. Alternatively, use our interview submission service to introduce yourselves to our rock-inclined readers.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

How Do I Find Spotify Listeners to Promote My Music To?

Spotify Playlists

Spotify has become the best way for new independent artists to get discovered in the digital age of music. But driving up those streaming stats takes plenty more than just uploading your music to the platform. Even if you have released the next best thing since the Beatles’ White Album, Spotify listeners won’t just happen across it without you putting in the music marketing work first.

Given the recent trends in music consumption and discovery, investing time and money in ensuring that your music thrives on streaming platforms is a far better use of your promotional budget than traditional publicity. Influencers and playlist curators hold plenty of the power that used to belong to label managers, now that streaming is far more popular than purchasing physical music. The balance first tipped in favour of digital music in 2019 when streaming accounted for 56.1% of recorded music revenue globally.

In this article, we will cover some of the best tried and tested methods to increasing your Spotify fanbase, including contacting playlisters, reaching out to bloggers and growing your fanbase on social media before you herd them to your Spotify profile.

How to Find Spotify Listeners to Promote Music To

1. Reach Out to The Editorial Team & Shoot for the Editorial Playlists

As of August 2022, Spotify has over 182 million premium subscribers worldwide, which by any measure is significant, but considering that there are 11 million creators and artists on the platform, standing out and reaching them is no easy feat. Spotify playlists are one of the most effective ways to find new fans.

Spotify’s Editorial team currently run over 3,000 editorial playlists, the competition for these is incredibly tough, but if you succeed and land a placement on one of them, you will easily start clocking up 25,000 streams a day. To pitch to these playlists, you will need a Spotify for Artists profile, which will give you a direct line to the editors to send your pitches.

Pitch all new music three to four weeks in advance and explain in your pitch why your music is worth playlisting, here you can explain to the editors how you will bring users to the platform and impress the editors with details of any press, radio play, or dropping in big names such as collaborating artists and producers.

2. Don’t Dismiss Independent Playlists

If your pitches to the editorial team at Spotify have been successful, don’t overlook the powers of the independent playlists, which are curated by influencers who aren’t on the payroll at Spotify. While some independent playlist curators do it for the love of the music, be aware that some playlist curators charge a fee for a place. To make sure that a placement is worth a chunk of your promotional budget, set aside ample time for research before you embark on self-PR.

There are some great tools out there which help artists submit to the right independent Spotify playlists, including:

Playlist Supply – a search engine that allows independent artists to find the best playlists for their music before revealing the contact information for the curators. Playlist Supply gives artists a full view of the number of playlist subscribers and the number of tracks included on each playlist.

SubmitHub – a music submission site which connects artists and curators. With just one click (submission), you could contact over 900+ playlist curators. The $1 – $3 submission fee is infinitely cheaper than what PR companies charge for a music marketing campaign.

Groover – while SubmitHub works better on a global scale, Groover is better for artists wanting to make an impact in the European market. The platform was set up by an ex-SubmitHub employee, and while it hasn’t grown to the same scale as SubmitHub, yet, it is becoming increasingly popular with artists, playlist curators, record labels and radio stations.

PlaylistPush – this submission service takes the hard work out of distinguishing which playlists you should target with your submission pitches. The campaigns on PlaylistPush last for two weeks; during this time, curators will review your music and place them on Spotify playlists as they see fit. The platform also has an automatic notification system which pings you every time your song has been placed on a playlist.

3. Submit Music to Blogs

As we mentioned earlier, your success in landing a place on official Spotify playlists can boil down to your previous successes and accolades given to you by the press. One of the main reasons independent artists submit to blogs is to gain credibility in the industry, which will open doors further along the road.

Even if new fans won’t be heading to your Spotify profile in droves after a flattering review, what you do with those quotes and soundbites can make the world of difference in your music career. For example, if a blogger lauds your new album as the album of the year, music fans are far more likely to prick up their ears and give you the time of day, as will independent playlist curators.

4. Develop a Fanbase on Social Media First

Building a fanbase from scratch won’t happen overnight, but as a figure in the music industry, I can attest to how easy it is to make connections on platforms such as Facebook. Once I was connected to a few artists and other key industry figures, the friend requests came in droves from music fans, independent artists, promoters, and other music journalists. Regardless of your music genre, there are sure to be niche groups to make your mark in and find potential fans in. It is important to promote your music and Spotify links on your personal pages and your official band and artist pages and stay active instead of just popping up when you have new music to promote.

When you are growing your fanbase, don’t take any of your fans for granted; always take the time to respond to comments; the difference could be between a casual fan and someone who will support your every move! Once you’ve amassed a fanbase, always push your Spotify pre-saves to your followers. This will feed the Spotify algorithm positive data, which proves your music has a place on algorithmic playlists, such as the Discover Weekly playlists.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

What Can Save the UK Music Industry?

How Can the Music Industry Be Saved

With issues continuing to amass in the music industry, more people are starting to despairingly speculate on what can save it. Earlier this year some people banked on the ham-fisted benevolence of Elon Musk saving the day, while others pinned their hopes on opportunities opened up by the metaverse and music NFTs.

Realistically, there is never going to be a catch-all solution that gently cradles all musicians from the cut-throat nature of the industry and uplifts it from the increasing economic strains. Nor will there be a return to how things used to be – no matter how longingly we long for it. Instead, the individual issues within the music industry need to be addressed before there can be a discussion of how it can bolster some resilience in an era where even the most robust markets are feeling the increased pressure of the cost-of-living crisis.

The Three Biggest Challenges That Need to Be Overcome in the Music Industry

The Lack of Government Support

In 2022, the UK music industry is now one-third smaller than in 2019 due to the hat-trick devastation caused by inflation, Brexit, and the pandemic. The calls for government support are getting louder and louder in an attempt to quash the blow of the rising costs of touring and keeping the lights on in venues.

Manchester’s Dave Haslam was one of the many voices calling for support in a recently published article in the Guardian, which followed the trajectory of the decline of the music industry through the years and called for government intervention. The government support would ideally involve a freeze on alcohol duty, reductions in VAT, and relief on business rates, to prevent the closure of even more clubs and venues across the UK. Removing the red tape imposed by Brexit to help touring musicians is also a prominent request in calls for governmental intervention.

Keeping the pressure on politicians, especially the newly appointed Culture Secretary, Michelle Donelan, by reminding them of the value of the multi-billion-pound industry, which employs hundreds of thousands of people, is more important than ever. With Rishi Sunak at the top, it’s easy to give into apathy, given his recent declaration that “the state can’t fix all your problems”. If you care about the future of the music industry, fight for it, don’t just hope that someone will do it on your behalf!

The Economic and Ecological Cost of Touring

National and international tours are how many artists attempt to make their music careers economically viable now that streaming services such as Spotify are reigning over CD and vinyl sales. But with the increasing awareness of the carbon footprint of touring confounding the economic unviability due to the inflated prices of fuel and just about everything else, how long can the massive shows go on?

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to contemplate the ecological impact of artists heading out on tour and living their dreams of finding themselves in a new city every night and playing to a sell-out crowd. Unfortunately, the planet is hotting up; the music industry can’t put their heads in the scorched sand any longer and pretend it is not contributing to the massive existential problem.

A study published in 2010 reported that the live music industry annually generated 405,000 metric tonnes of emissions in the UK alone. That is enough energy to power 46,000 homes. While there is no shortage of greenwashing festivals with their token efforts, such as banning plastic cups, it isn’t going to cut the mustard if we are going to achieve net zero by 2050.

Whether you like it or not, the reality of touring is being reshaped by climate change. But that doesn’t mean that live music needs to be wiped from existence. It does mean that we need to consider the ramifications of the environmental impacts and start to place more value on smaller-scale local and regional performances. If communal music traditions met artistic needs for millennia, why should they be discarded now? Local and grassroots music is the overlooked, slightly less glamorous backbone of the music industry. If neglected for long enough, everything else will crumble.

Unfair Royalty Cuts from Streaming Platforms

There are a lot of popular misconceptions around streaming platform royalties, namely that services such as Spotify pay their pitiful revenues to the artists directly. Before royalties reach artists’ and songwriters’ bank accounts, they go through distro companies, record labels and copyright management companies, who take a sizeable chunk for themselves.

Spotify takes a 25% cut of the revenue, the recording owners take 59.9%, and the songwriters and publishers share a 15.1% cut. While it is easy to paint Spotify as the devil incarnate, the real issue is the complexity of copyright law which commodifies music and exploits artists in the process. For the same reason it took The Rolling Stones until the 70s to make any real cash, the struggle is the same for any contemporary artist signed to a record label that was drafted to bleed them dry.

The decline of the major record labels as artists are seeing the light and opting for an independent music career is a step in the right direction but it is easier said than done for independent artists to succeed. Frank Ocean and Chance the Rapper proved it is possible to be successful and independent, but that doesn’t mean it is viable for all artists. Especially given that thousands of new tracks launch on Spotify every day, and almost 80% of artists on Spotify have a monthly listener count that is less than 50.

So, to answer the question of how can the music industry can be saved in short, the answer is recognising that the current framework of the industry needs a drastic overhaul. From tearing up the copyright laws which exploit artists instead of protecting them to recognising why the live music industry is really up against the wall to accepting the over-saturated unsustainability of the industry. Something has to give before the music industry goes further than a 1/3rd slump in market value.

 

Article by Amelia Vandergast

How to Promote a Concert in a Fragile Live Music Industry

Gig Promotion

Whether you have been asked by a promoter to sell tickets to an upcoming show or you have put on your own gig, there are a few golden rules on how to promote a concert you should follow to boost your attendance, and hopefully avoid every artist’s fear – playing to an empty room.

While it is true that artists are currently struggling to sell out their tour dates with 2022’s Mercury Prize winner, Little Simz forced to pull their tour due to financial constraints along with Animal Collective also struggling to budget for their tour, this isn’t a sign that you should give up the ghost just yet.

Before you put your blood, sweat, tears and own funds into playing live, make sure you are playing smart. A common mistake new independent artists make when they don’t have a band manager to push them in the right direction is playing too often in their hometown.

Times are tough, and even if you have a loyal fanbase that will do their best to support you, if you’re playing every month in your hometown, don’t expect to magically find new fans that will come out in support of you. Or that your most loyal fans will shlep from their busy lives time after time when they know that they will probably see the same show they’ve already paid their good money for.

Circle-jerk gigs are killing live music scenes up and down the country – don’t be a part of the problem! With that warning out the way, we will move on to how to effectively pull a crowd to your live dates to make sure that the attendees aren’t solely the support acts and people working at the venue.

8 Ways to Promote a Concert

1.       Circulate Videos of Your Past Live Performances

We have all been to gigs after falling in love with a band’s records, only to be sorely disappointed by what the live show entails. If you thrive in the domain of live music, make it known to your fans by creating promo videos for your live dates using footage of your past shows that can be posted across your social media channels. Additionally, share any good quality fan-made videos from your last gigs and post live content to YouTube and other streaming platforms.

2.       Reach Out to People Individually or Offer a Cheap List to Friends

Many independent artists boost their attending lists by offering access to a cheap list for their friends, family, and industry figures, such as journalists, photographers, and A&R reps. That personal touch can be what it takes to convert someone considering attending the show into a ticket holder. Go carefully with this approach; don’t hound people into paying for a ticket! Always use discretion.

3.       Utilise Gig Listing Platforms and Publications

Many local newspapers and online music publications run features every month to let readers know what is happening in their city. Rather than sitting and hoping that your gig will be picked up by the editorial team, be proactive in your gig promotion efforts to make sure that your upcoming shows have the best chance of being noticed. Using Manchester as an example, The Skinny, All Gigs, Visit Manchester, and Manchester Gigs all promote upcoming live events, along with other national sites, such as Skiddle and Song Kick.

4.       Choose a Crowd-Pulling Support Act

If you have free reign over who opens for you, decide wisely. Book a local opening act that has a proven fanbase and is willing to put the effort into pulling a good crowd. Rather than just roping in your friend’s bands in an act of nepotism, consider if your fans would want to watch this band too. After all, gig-goers are far more likely to stump up the cash for gig tickets if they think they will enjoy the entire evening, not just an hour’s worth of entertainment they will have to go out of their way for.

5.       Plaster Your Gig Dates Everywhere

If you have Spotify for Artists, you can easily upload your tour dates to the platform, so the next time someone flicks through your discography, they will see all of your upcoming tour dates. As Spotify is one of the main ways music fans discover music, it makes sense to use Spotify as free advertising for your upcoming gigs. Similarly, if you have an official artist website, which every artist definitely should, all of your upcoming (and past) gigs should be listed here too.

6.       Create an Event Page on Facebook

Even though you may not be able to trust who is coming to gigs via the attending and interested lists on your Facebook event pages, Facebook events are one of the best ways to circulate news of new gigs. Be sure to keep the page updated with the necessary information, such as who is opening the show and the set times. Many disagree that set times should be published as this discourages gig goers from watching all of the bands, but by publishing set times, you’re more likely to boost attendance by letting fans know how to arrange their travel plans.

7.       Get to Grips with Digital Advertising

If your budget allows it, promote your gigs and tours via Facebook, Instagram and Google adverts – just be sure to set the appropriate parameters. For an efficacious digital advertising campaign via sponsored ads, ensure that you are only targeting the right geographical audience and people who have seen your posts before. For bands who can’t afford paid ads or are reluctant to use them, email marketing and using local hashtags can also increase the number of ticket-holding gig goers.

8.       Don’t Rule Out Conventional Means of Advertising

Social media may dominate a worrying proportion of our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean that gig promotion solely has to happen across digital platforms. Team up with talented graphic designers to create an eye-catching gig poster that can be used online and printed and plastered across the town or city you’re playing in. Ask local businesses, such as bars and shops if they would mind putting your tour poster in their window – the worst that could happen is that they say no.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

From Pre-Saves to Playlists to Spotify & SoundCloud for Artists, How Independent Artists Can Make the Most of Streaming Platform Tools

Music Marketing

Standing out in a crowded digital music landscape has become one of the biggest hurdles for independent artists to overcome. Distributors and labels used to stand in front of the gates of the music industry. Now there is a bottleneck of other artists trying to get through, leading to talented artists getting a fraction of the renown they deserve.

The platforms that enabled the democratisation of the music industry have facilitated an oversaturation. However, there is a silver lining in the marketing tools that, if used properly, can allow artists to connect to the right audiences and open up a wealth of opportunities.

Distributing all of your music onto the most popular streaming platforms is just one small step. While utilising the marketing tools can take you the rest of the way. This article will cover some of the most effective music marketing tools that will allow you to reach the right music fans at the right time.

Spotify & SoundCloud for Artists

Unlike social media platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, Spotify makes it easy for all artists to become verified. Once a Spotify artist profile has been claimed, artists can take advantage of the in-depth analytics, which helps artists to understand listener demographics.

Through Spotify for Artists, it is easy to see the age, gender, and location of fans, which can aid marketing strategies both on streaming platforms and off them. For example, the analytics could highlight prime locations for gigs that you may not have considered otherwise! Or these analytics could show you where to invest the rest of your marketing budget. Beyond the analytics, there are profile customisation tools, and Spotify for Artists gives all artists a direct line to the Spotify editorial team, who curate the official Spotify playlists – more on that later.

In October 2022, it was announced that the exec behind Spotify for Artists launched SoundCloud for Artists, which works under a similar premise in that it aids promotion, monetization, and distribution on the platform, which is steadily amassing a stronger reputation. Even though SoundCloud hardly has the rep of being a premier music streaming platform, it is still one of the strongest digital music communities, with over 40 million creators contributing to the site.

Playlist Placements

What record labels were to the music industry in the 90s, playlist placements are in the 21st century. The royalties might seem like a slap in the face, given all the hard work put into music. But if you view streaming platforms as a marketing opportunity rather than a revenue stream, they instantly become more attractive! There are five different types of playlists on digital streaming platforms; here is how they work and how they can boost the signal on your new releases.

 

  1. Official Playlists are curated by the editorial teams of each streaming platform. Generally, these editorial teams consist of genre specialists and music experts. Even though many artists make these playlists their playlist goals, the users are much more passive!
  2. Major-owned Playlists are curated by ‘major’ brands or record labels, such as Sony, Warner and Universal. These account for 70% – 88% of Spotify playlists, which proves that major-label backing still goes a long way in the domain of digital music!
  3. Third-Party Playlists curated by independent influencers. These playlists can be just as popular as Major-owned playlists and official playlists, and they accept submissions, which either come at a cost or are free.
  4. Personalised playlists created by algorithms, such as the Release Radar Playlists and Discover Weekly playlists. These playlists reach listeners that are almost certain to love your music.
  5. Fan-Generated playlists. These are usually the least popular playlists, but every time your track is added to one, this will provide the streaming platform with data, which can lead to your music being suggested to other music fans.

When it comes to playlists, bigger certainly isn’t always better. The key to success via playlist placements is to find a niche, identify your target audience and grow your fanbase. Before pitching to any random playlist, analyse your music to ascertain which mood, experiences, and emotions it correlates. If you can’t do that from an objective standpoint, get feedback from your fans and music-minded friends.

Promote Your Pre-Saves

In the run-up to any new release, ensure there is a massive push across your social media pages to pre-save your singles, EPs, and albums. If you have seen artists promoting their pre-saves and have no idea why it is so important, you may be surprised to learn how much of an impact it can have on the success of a new release.

Pre-saving music ensures that the new release will be ready and waiting on the day of release. It also improves the odds of a new release getting more streams on the first day of release, and in turn, being added to career-making playlists! Additionally, the fans who pre-save your music are likely to be your most committed fans, so you will know exactly where you should be planning to tour next.

Just be sure to let your fans know how pre-saving can help your music career – a point that is not always reiterated on pleas for pre-saves.

In Conclusion

The necessity for all independent artists to become marketing pros in addition to creating stream-worthy music may be a big ask. But for any chance of success in the 21st-century music industry that is becoming increasingly more precarious – especially in the realms of live music – getting to grips with free marketing tools is one of your best chances of success. By utilising free tools, such as Spotify for Artists and harnessing the powers of pre-saves, artists can make an impact on their target audience which is eagerly awaiting new music to lap up while not breaking the bank.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

 

The Relevancy of Live Stream Gigs in 2022 and Beyond

Livestream gigs

The concept of Livestream gigs may never fully break away from its synonymousness with lockdowns and COVID-19. They were a small collective comfort when venues were out of bounds, but for the same reasons they became popular in 2020 and 2021, there is still a place for them in post-pandemic society.

As much as we’ve moved on from the restrictions that dictated the limitations on our social lives, our behaviours, especially those around music consumption, haven’t snapped back with quite the same vigour as predicted. A review of the impact of COVID-19 on music consumption and spending was published in May 2022. the report highlighted a 45% decline in consumer spending compared to pre-pandemic levels. Along with physical sales taking a direct hit, interest in purchasing gig tickets has also waned.

It is a decidedly difficult period for up-and-coming artists, with the new normal being not quite what it cracked up to be. But if one thing has remained a constant, it is that musicians thrive during live shows, and live shows still give artists the perfect chance to connect with their fans on a more meaningful and intimate level. That goes for livestreams as much as it does traditional tours.

5 Reasons Why You Should Still Play Livestream Gigs

1.       The Cost-of-Living Crisis

With the cost-of-living crisis hitting music fans just as hard as it is musicians, fewer music fans are inclined to or have the funds to buy gig tickets. Even if gig tickets to a local show are free or cost as little as £5, the ticket cost is usually a fraction of the cost of attending a show when you account for travel and other expenses.

With so many households worried about how they will heat their homes or cover the costs of inflation that are sending their food bills through the metaphorical roof, there is a massive issue with consumer confidence, which all artists should consider. The income via traditional tours may be a vital revenue stream, but in 2022 and beyond, gigs and live streams do need to be mutually exclusive!

2.       The Digitalisation of Music

The infrastructure which shaped the music industry has been transforming ever since Napster. The digitalisation of music has been something that has been slowly creeping up on us. Traditional modes may be more desirable, but artists have to ensure that they’re not operating within an obsolete framework.

Every facet of the music industry has been digitalised, from distribution to creation to monetisation. While no one wants to embrace the idea of music only being consumed in isolation and within the confines of our own homes, there is a lot to be said for playing live online. From the ability to connect with a wider international audience without thinking about travel logistics to the increased chance of interaction with your audience, playing live online will help you to stay connected while music fans are less inclined to go to as many live gigs in venues as they used to.

3.       Live Stream Gigs Are an Income Opportunity

Even if you livestream your gig on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube for free, playing live online can be a great way to get more cash into your revenue streams. During the live stream, you can point your fans towards a digital tip jar, post your Venmo tag, or promote your new merch, physical music or gig tickets.

Music fans are far more likely to spend money on music-related purchases when they have gained something from an artist in an emotional sense. For example, if you go live on a Sunday evening while everyone is tackling the back-to-work blues and then point out how tips or other purchases could help, you’re infinitely more likely to tempt them into investing in you as an artist.

4.       Live Streams Are a Cost-Effective Way of Promoting New Material

In 2022, independent artists are spoilt for choice when it comes to how to promote their music. For those on a budget, options are slightly more limited, but playing live from a practice room or wherever you can get away with turning up your amps can be a cost-effective way of making your fans fall in love with your new singles, EPs, and albums.

While many artists choose to launch their music with a gig in their hometown, or a national or international tour for artists who have a wider fanbase, this isn’t feasible for every independent artist. Furthermore, there are massive geographical constraints on who can make it to your new music launch shows. If you choose to stream a live launch show, no matter where your fans are in the world, they can celebrate with you!

5.       Connect with Your Fans!

Before and after you have played through your livestream set, you have the chance to connect with your fans and make them feel included. It is a great way to get feedback or get to know your fans better. Before the livestream, you can even reach out to your fanbase to ask them what songs they would like to hear during the livestream. If you’re feeling especially daring, you can even put it to your fans to suggest which covers they would like to hear.

However you interact with your fanbase in the run-up to a livestream or following it, remember, even the smallest interactions go a long way when nurturing new and long-time fans!

To conclude, I would like to clarify that livestream gigs will never be a substitute for the real thing; the live music industry, no matter how fractured and precarious, is still the lifeblood of the music industry and music-centric communities. However, by holding the occasional livestream gig to supplement your live touring schedules, you get the opportunity to promote your music to a wider network, and you include your fans who wouldn’t be able to make it to see you live. Livestream shows are impervious to geographical and financial limitations. Not to mention the music fans who miss out on gigs due to social anxiety or because they have no one to go with!

Article by Amelia Vandergast

The Fall of Collectivism & The Rise of Commodity in the Music Industry

Counterculture

There has long been the somewhat naive belief that hard times create good music. Awaiting the influx of aural gold has been a silver lining many have clung to since the pandemic. But with the economic collapse threatening to close music venues and recording studios, pricing many punters out of gigs, and generally reducing consumer confidence, it is becoming increasingly more evident that in its current commodified state counterculture only thrives in stable financial times.

Realising that counterculture relies on the whims of a late-stage capitalist government is a pretty bitter pill to swallow; it is better to choke it down at this stage of the game before our respective culture bubbles burst completely. Scenes around the UK are already starting to feel increasingly fractured, with many artists only going to local gigs if their names appear on the bill – something that I haven’t been able to ignore since the return of live music in July 2021.

Creativity is infinite, but as we start to move away from community and collectivism toward individualism, it is painful to see acts of creativity existing as random, isolated feats of ingenuity as opposed to the lifeblood of anti-establishment movements. And I am not alone in being aware of the fragmented state of the music industry and its respective scenes.

The author, academic and musician Alex Niven pointed out that even if we look to the 70s, a reportedly bleak chapter in UK history which saw the rise of the UK punk movement, we still had a well-funded public sector and it was the height of equality in Britain. The same can not be said for 2022, following the last mini-budget that has desecrated the pound, widened the rich-poor divide, and instilled even more fear into minds already frantic with anxiety.

While some artists are still able to amass staunch followings, sell-out tours and their physical music releases, the music industry as a whole is suffering under the weight of the crumbling infrastructure. The void of anti-establishment counterculture is also painstakingly evident when we look at the lack of protests in the UK. Our protestive apathy puts plenty of weight behind Simon Reynolds’ 2009 statement, “The next big thing could be that there is no next big thing… just further entropy”.

I have previously written on how to recession-proof your music career, but it is becoming increasingly more evident that the community side of music is disintegrating around the pervasive self-interest of many independent artists. Music has been bringing communities together for far longer than it has been a commodity for artists to make money and grab glory off the back of. Music and society have always been interlinked; music has helped to promote and protect human rights, drive social change, document history, and facilitate communication. Given our precarious current times, we need more of that than ever.

In commercial terms, it is clear that things are going to get worse before they get better, especially if we heed the warning of the CEO of UK Music, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, who is already anticipating 2023 to be worse than 2022 for the music industry. What better time for artists to reevaluate their positions in their scenes and start to find ways of bolstering communities? In this era, it will be the artists able to bring meaning to their fans’ intrepidly anxious existence who get to thrive.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Have Gen Z Killed the 3-Minute Pop Track?

3 minute pop song

Following the 3-minute formula used to give artists the best chance at creating a chart-topping hit, but in 2022, it is official, hit songs are getting shorter. The rise in micro-media platforms and the abstract idea of the limited 8-second attention spans of Gen Z are often said to be the main driver behind the durations of songs getting briefer. As much as older generations love to moan about the youth of today and their technology, which reportedly disintegrates popular culture, there is a bigger factor at play.

Much of the cause behind the inclination to condense singles into shorter packages can also be attributed to how we all discover and consume music: on streaming platforms.

The History of the Three-Minute Pop Track

Traditionally, pop tracks were kept to three and a half minutes and under so they could comfortably squeeze onto one side of a 7-inch record in high fidelity. Shorter pop tracks would also get the best chance of being spun on the radio. Radio stations have always been wary of losing the listener’s attention, often sacrilegiously using the intros and the outros to talk over them. Today, radio is much less of a music discovery medium, with streaming platforms and social media being a much bigger part of the music culture picture.

There are also fascinating urban legends of the mafia owning jukeboxes in the 40s and 50s. It was in their best interest to litter the jukeboxes with shorter records to maximise their income. Fast forward 70 years and not much has changed from the mobster’s reign. The cigar-toting mobsters have been replaced with the likes of Danie Ek, the CEO of Spotify, who now earns infinitely more than the most powerful mobsters in history and gets a fraction of the respect for his mercenary desecration of the industry.

The Influence of Streaming Platforms on Song Durations and the Rise of the Earworm

To immediately capture the interest of attention-deprived music fans who are all about instant aural gratification, independent artists and label-signed artists alike are becoming increasingly wary of how they construct their music. Heaven forbid artists let the tension build through inventive interludes; in modern pop culture, it is less about the artform and more about the capacity to endlessly entertain the listener.

More and more artists are cutting the intros to their songs and starting with hooks or choruses to prevent listeners from bouncing to another track on streaming platforms out of boredom.

For songs played for less than 30 seconds on Spotify, no royalties are paid to the artist. That may only be a loss of $0.004, but the detriment doesn’t stop there. The Spotify algorithm notes each song skip as a signal of dissatisfaction. Enough skips could lead to the artist and their music getting put in front of fewer fans. Regardless of at which point the song is skipped. Meaning, that if you opt to use an extended outro or an ambient middle eight that your listeners get bored of, your track has a far greater chance of being skipped and underperforming on streaming platforms and in the charts.

Furthermore, the royalties for a 31-second song are the same as a 3-minute song and the longest song on Spotify, which spans 48 hours, 39 minutes and 43 seconds. So, it literally pays for artists to monetarily maximise their listeners’ time by creating shorter tracks.

The St Albans rock band, The Pocket Gods, released an album of 1,000 30-second songs to protest Spotify’s unfair royalty rates in 2022. They didn’t exactly end up on the Forbes rich list via this PR stunt, but their protest was an inventive retaliation to how streaming services, such as Spotify, are altering the industry with the unfairness of their royalties. But once again, Gen Z is taking the fall for using the technology they have grown up with.

Are Music Consumers’ Attention Spans Getting Shorter?

Reportedly, in 2022, the collective average consumer attention span is just eight seconds; and people said millennials had short attention spans in 2000 when their attention spans stretched over just 12 seconds. However, it is worth keeping in mind that this eight-second duration is the length of time it takes to win a music fan over – it is not the maximum length of time that we can now focus on a particular medium.

So, to answer my titular question, the 3-minute pop track is not dwindling in duration solely because of Gen Z and their preferred social media platform. In fact, TikTok has come to be one of the best social media platforms for music discovery, consumption and promotion, compared to the graveyard of a boomer favourite, Facebook.

Micro-media is king on platforms such as TikTok and Twitter, but that does not mean that Gen Z is incapable of sitting through longer songs or appreciating classic song structures. Take the popularity of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill as the perfect example. It has a duration of 4:58-minutes, and according to the official charts, it was the most popular song in the summer of 2022. Once you have captured interest, you have a captive audience to impress with your music.

The dwindling attention span is one of the most common misconceptions of our modern age. The main reason for the comparisons between Gen Z and a goldfish is because of the vast selection of stimuli available to the younger generations. Gen Z consumers, like all consumers, have more content vying for their attention.

To conclude, for independent artists releasing music in 2022, it is worth considering omitting needlessly extended intros, pre-choruses and fades to prevent Spotify’s algorithm from demoting your music after too many skips, but don’t doubt music consumer’s ability to appreciate traditional song structures.

The appetite for high-quality music is still there; if anything, the draconian rule of Spotify and other streaming platforms is one of the biggest drivers in ensuring that the music that gets promoted is worthy of consumers’ attention.

Amelia Vandergast