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Discover the latest music trends and insights with A&R Factory. Stay informed and inspired as we explore the dynamic music industry landscape where we cover the latest music industry trends, analysis and predictions in the industry. Whether you’re a music enthusiast or industry professional, A&R Factory is your go-to source.

Which is the Fairest Music Streaming Platform in 2024?

Streaming Platform

Just when you thought that Spotify couldn’t sink any lower, the evil incarnate streaming platform has recently implemented new rules that are set to significantly alter the distribution of royalties within the music streaming industry. These changes, aimed at supporting ‘working artists’, involve the elimination of payments for tracks that receive fewer than 1,000 plays annually. This move is part of a broader effort to crack down on what are termed as “junk tracks”. The overarching goal of these policies is to redirect royalties away from less popular streams and towards artists and labels that are deemed more ‘legitimate’. Artists who struggle to surpass the 1,000 stream mark will take the labelling of their music as “junk tracks” as the ultimate blow and will undoubtedly want to take their so-called “junk tracks” elsewhere.

This strategic shift is expected to channel an additional $1 billion to working artists over the next five years, which seems like a noble endeavour, but the development raises several questions about the fairness and impact of such policies on the music streaming landscape.

Which is the Fairest Streaming Platform in 2024?

In light of Spotify’s recent policy changes, a discussion on the fairness of streaming platforms in 2024 is necessitated. Spotify’s initiative to shift more revenue to ‘working artists’ is a significant move, but it also brings into question the criteria used to define a ‘legitimate’ artist or label.

How do these changes affect smaller, independent artists who might not hit the 1,000 plays mark but still contribute valuable content? Additionally, how do other streaming platforms compare in terms of supporting artists fairly? Are there platforms that offer better opportunities for emerging artists, or are the bigger players like Spotify setting a new standard for the industry?

Before we give our view on which is the fairest streaming platform in 2024, here are some key factors to consider when assessing the fairness of music streaming platforms:

Royalty Payments: Platforms that offer higher royalty rates to artists are generally seen as more fair. Look for platforms that have transparent payment models and are known to pay artists a fair share of the revenue generated from their music.

Support for Independent Artists: Some platforms offer better support and visibility for independent artists. This can include promotional opportunities, playlist inclusion, and tools for engaging with fans.

User Base and Reach: A platform with a large user base can provide more exposure for artists, but this should be balanced with how royalties are distributed among artists.

Artist Control and Rights: Platforms that allow artists more control over their music, including rights management and the ability to set their own pricing, can be more appealing.

User Experience and Discovery Features: Platforms that have robust music discovery features can help lesser-known artists gain exposure. This includes algorithm-driven recommendations, curated playlists, and social sharing capabilities.

Additional Revenue Opportunities: Look for platforms that offer artists additional ways to earn revenue, such as through merchandise sales, concert tickets, or exclusive content.

Community and Engagement Tools: Platforms that provide tools for artists to engage with their fans, like direct messaging, live streaming, or community features, can help build a loyal fanbase.

The 6 Best Spotify Alternatives for Independent Artists in 2024

  1. Nina: This open-source platform stands out for giving artists total freedom and ownership of their work. Artists receive 100% of royalties with no ongoing fees after a one-time transaction fee. It supports MP3 and WAV formats and offers a discovery feed and editorial features.
  2. Bandcamp: Known for supporting underground music discovery, Bandcamp allows artists to receive 100% of revenue on Bandcamp Fridays. It offers a DIY user experience and focuses on new music discovery through its editorial section.
  3. Apple Music: With a royalty rate of $0.01 per stream, Apple Music offers better payouts compared to Spotify. It features lossless and spatial audio supported by Dolby Atmos and has over 100 million songs.
  4. stream: Co-founded by Laura Jaramillo and TOKiMONSTA, this platform uses Web3 technology for fair artist compensation. It emphasises decentralised permission for AI-generated music and offers biweekly streaming royalties payouts.
  5. Tidal: With a royalty rate between $0.0125 to $0.015 per stream, Tidal is artist-centric and offers high-quality audio and exclusive music content.
  6. SoundCloud: This platform is ideal for up-and-coming artists and features a fan-powered royalty system. It allows artists to upload and promote their music directly to a global audience.

Alternative Revenue Streams for Independent Musicians

No streaming platform should be the cornerstone of your revenues. In an ideal world, Spotify and other platforms in the same vein would allow more artists to earn a living wage, but it is unlikely that will ever be the case. Rather than lamenting over the exploitative nature of such services, which artists can do until the cows come home and get absolutely nowhere, it is crucial to explore alternative revenue streams.

  1. Patreon allows musicians to receive funding directly from their fans, or patrons, on a subscription basis. Artists can offer exclusive content, early access to new songs, and other unique perks to their subscribers. Alternatively, you can ask fans to Buy You a Coffee.
  2. Bandcamp: Known for its artist-friendly model, Bandcamp allows musicians to sell their music and merchandise directly to fans. The platform is particularly popular for its Bandcamp Fridays, where it waives its share of sales to benefit the artists.
  3. Radio Play: Getting your music played on the radio can still be a viable source of income. Each play generates royalties, which are collected and distributed by rights organisations.
  4. Sync Deals: These are agreements where your music is used in film, television, advertisements, or video games. Sync deals can be a significant source of income and also offer exposure to new audiences.
  5. Physical Sales: Selling physical copies of your music, such as vinyl, CDs, or cassettes, can be profitable. Physical sales often attract collectors and fans who want a tangible connection to the music.
  6. Merchandising: Selling branded merchandise like t-shirts, hats, or posters can be a substantial income source. Merchandise sales are often most successful in conjunction with live performances or as part of an album release.
  7. Live Performances: Performing live is not only a way to earn income through ticket sales but also an opportunity to sell merchandise and physically connect with your fanbase.
  8. Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow artists to fund projects through direct support from fans. This can be a way to finance new albums, tours, or special projects.
  9. Licensing and Royalties: Registering your music with rights organisations ensures you receive royalties whenever your music is played in public venues or broadcast. This can provide a steady income stream over time.

By exploring these alternatives, independent musicians can diversify their income sources and reduce reliance on streaming platforms, which often offer lower payouts. Each option presents unique opportunities to monetise different aspects of a musician’s work and fanbase engagement.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Do Bands Need an Official Website in 2024?

Official Website

In 2024, having an official website remains a vital element for bands and artists; it should serve as a cornerstone for digital presence. Many independent artists make the mistake of thinking that establishing a presence on social media platforms removes the necessity of creating a website; however, there are several reasons why official websites have not become outdated.

In this article, we will cover several compelling reasons why your own domain can be crucial for connecting with fans before covering what you should include on your official website and how to improve the SEO of your website to ensure it reaches the top of Google’s search results.

8 Reasons Why Artists Should Invest in an Official Website

  1. Digital Identity and Brand Control: An official website acts as the digital epicentre of an artist’s identity. Unlike social media platforms, where algorithms and changing policies can affect visibility, a website is a controlled space. Artists can present their brand, ethos, and artistry in a way that reflects their true essence, unfiltered and undiluted by third-party agendas.
  2. Direct Communication with Fans: Websites offer a direct line to fans. By circumventing the noise of social media, artists can engage more meaningfully with their audience through newsletters, exclusive content, and updates. This direct communication can foster a deeper connection and loyalty among fans.
  3. Monetisation and Commerce: Websites provide a platform for direct sales of merchandise, music, tickets, and exclusive experiences. This direct-to-consumer approach often results in better profit margins and more control over the sales process compared to third-party platforms.
  4. SEO and Discoverability: A well-optimised website enhances an artist’s visibility in search engine results, making it easier for new fans to discover their music and content. This is crucial in an era where online discoverability can significantly impact an artist’s career.
  5. Professionalism and Credibility: In the industry, having a sleek, well-designed website signals professionalism. It shows that the artist is serious about their career and provides a go-to source for media, promoters, and potential collaborators to find accurate and official information.
  6. Archiving: A website can act as a living archive of an artist’s career. It’s a space to chronicle tours, album releases, press features, and other milestones, creating a historical record that can be valuable for both the artist and their fans.
  7. Creative Freedom: Unlike social media platforms with specific formats and limitations, a website offers vast creative freedom. Artists can experiment with design, multimedia elements, and interactive features to create a unique online experience that complements their artistic vision.
  8. Global Reach: Websites are accessible globally, allowing artists to reach an international audience without the regional limitations sometimes imposed by social media platforms or streaming services.

In summary, while social media and streaming platforms are integral to an artist’s online presence, the importance of an official website cannot be overstated. It remains a powerful tool for identity, communication, monetisation, and legacy building in the digital age.

How to Kit Out Your Official Website

For independent musicians, an official website should be a comprehensive hub that not only showcases their artistry but also provides practical information for fans, media, and industry professionals. Here are 10 essential elements to include:

Engaging Homepage: The homepage should capture the essence of your brand and music. It should be visually appealing, with a clear navigation menu leading to other sections of the site.

Artist Bio: A compelling biography that tells your story, including your background, musical influences, achievements, and any notable collaborations or accolades. This helps in building a connection with the audience and provides context to the music.

Music Catalogue: A section dedicated to your discography. This should include links to listen to and purchase music, ideally across multiple platforms (e.g., Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp). Exclusive tracks or versions available only through the website can add value.

Tour Information: Up-to-date information on upcoming shows, tours, and appearances. This section should include dates, venues, ticket purchase links, and any special tour-related content or announcements.

Merchandise Store: An online store for fans to purchase merchandise directly. This could include apparel, physical music formats (vinyl, CDs), posters, and unique memorabilia. High-quality images and secure payment options are key.

Press Materials: A section for media and industry professionals, offering high-resolution photos, official logos, press releases, and contact information for press inquiries. This makes it easier for the media to cover your work.

Music Videos and Gallery: A visual representation of your work, including music videos, live performance footage, and photo galleries. This section can showcase your visual aesthetic and stage presence.

Fan Interaction: Features for fan engagement, such as a mailing list sign-up for newsletters, a blog or news section for updates, and integration with social media feeds. Interactive elements like fan polls or Q&A sections can further enhance engagement.

Contact Information: Clear and accessible contact details for booking, media inquiries, and general contact. This may include a contact form, email addresses, and possibly a phone number.

Social Media and Streaming Links: Hyperlinks to your social media profiles and streaming platforms. These links facilitate cross-platform engagement and make it easy for visitors to follow you on their preferred platforms.

Each of these elements plays a crucial role in creating a dynamic and informative website that serves as a central point for everything related to the artist. The website should be regularly updated to reflect the latest developments in your career.

How to Improve the SEO of Your Official Website

Improving the SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) of your official website is crucial for increasing online visibility. Here are some fool-proof strategies to enhance SEO:

Keyword Optimisation: Identify keywords relevant to your music, genre, and brand. Use these keywords strategically in website content, including titles, meta descriptions, headers, and body text, while avoiding keyword stuffing – the content should remain natural and engaging.

Quality Content: Regularly update your website with high-quality, original content. This could include blog posts, news updates, behind-the-scenes stories, and more. Fresh content signals to search engines that the website is active and relevant.

Optimise for Mobile: Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. A significant portion of online searches are done on mobile devices, and search engines favour websites that are optimised for mobile viewing.

Use Structured Data Markup: Implement structured data tools (like schema.org) to help search engines understand the content of your pages better. This can include marking up events (like concerts), music albums, and breadcrumb navigation.

Optimise Site Speed: Improve the website’s loading speed. Slow-loading sites can negatively impact user experience and search engine rankings. Compress images, use efficient coding, and consider a content delivery network (CDN) if necessary.

Build Quality Backlinks: Gain backlinks from reputable sites. This can be achieved through collaborations, press releases, guest blogging, and getting featured in articles and music reviews. Backlinks from respected industry sites can significantly boost SEO.

Social Media Integration: Integrate the website with social media platforms. Regularly share website content on social media and encourage sharing by visitors. Social signals can indirectly impact search rankings.

Local SEO: If you perform locally, optimise for local SEO. This includes listing the website on local directories and Google My Business and including location-specific keywords.

Meta Descriptions and Title Tags: Craft compelling and descriptive title tags and meta descriptions for each page. These should include relevant keywords and encourage users to click through from search results.

Video Content Optimisation: If the website includes music videos or performance footage, ensure these are optimised for search engines. Use descriptive titles, tags, and descriptions for video content.

Consistent Content Updates: Regularly update the website with new content, such as tour dates, album releases, and news. This keeps the site dynamic and engaging for both visitors and search engines.

For more tips on how to become more visible in the digitised music industry, keep following our blog or enquire about our artist development services.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

No, It’s Not Just You, Post-Pandemic Gig Etiquette is Still Down the Toilet

Gig Etiquette

While grassroots venues are struggling to get people through their doors and stay afloat in the UK, large-cap venues have become host to a different issue; the decline in post-pandemic gig etiquette among music fans, reflecting a confluence of social, psychological, and cultural shifts.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to go to a gig recently which draws a predominantly Gen Z crowd, you will already be painfully aware of how younger crowds are using artists’ live performances as platforms for their main character moments, or far more disturbingly, to exhibit as much attention-seeking disrespect as possible.

For many Gen Z, raised in the digital era, the boundary between living an experience and showcasing it has blurred. At gigs, this can manifest as a desire to dominate the moment, turning a communal experience into a backdrop for personal storytelling, and ruining the experience for everyone comfortable to let the performing artist take all of the spotlight.

In this article, we will track a few of the disconcerting new trends exhibited by music fans, spurred on by the social ineptitudes as a result of pandemic isolation and the insatiable desire for fame, resulting in gig-goers not being content with just being a face in the crowd and simply just enjoying a collective and communal experience.

The Rise in Exhibitions of Main Character Syndrome at Live Music Events

The narcissism which breeds in the domain of TikTok is spilling into the physical world – no place is safe from their high-decibel amateur dramatics. From airports becoming the perfect place to scream “BOMB….bastic, just to add to the travel anxiety of already stressed to the eyeballs bystanders, to gigs becoming auditoriums for their incessantly desperate attention-seeking tendencies.

Blowing up on TikTok is one of the only ways for artists and bands to capture the attention of younger audiences. However, viral TikTok fame can be a blessing and a curse; take Mitski’s audiences as a prime example. One video of a Mitski live performance captures ‘fans’ using the quiescent parts of her performances as opportunities to relentlessly meow at her (?!?!), and scream “mother” at her (she’s 33).

@hypesage

Mitski fans, are you ok? 😭 #mitski #concert #concertetiquette #mitskitok #mitskishuffle #alexg #sandyalexg #indierock #indiemusic #midwestemo #concert #thegardenband #thegarden #vadavada #wyattshears #fletchershearssupremacy #shoegaze #slowcore #hardcoremusic #sunami #slowdive #duster #dusterband #dropnineteens #glareband #hypesage #deftones #indiememes #musicmemes #aphextwin

♬ My Love Mine All Mine – Mitski

I saw the infuriating spotlight-grabbing narcissism first-hand at Mother Mother’s gig at Brighton Dome; a girl next to me decided it would be appropriate to scream the lyrics in the face of a guy who probably instantly regretted attending with her, with both hands on his shirt, she was living for her own hysteria while her back was turned on the band in complete disregard of how her discordant tones were drowning out the band for everyone surrounding her. But the self-obsessed behaviour doesn’t stop there.

Worryingly, while it’s not an entirely new phenomenon, there is a growing trend of music ‘fans’ throwing objects at musicians while they’re performing, psychologists have attributed this new fucked up trend as a confluence of over-excitement and wanting a slice of their own fame.

Perhaps seeing a musician receive so much zealous attention from other attendees is too bitter-sweet for some people who have convinced themselves that they are equally deserving of their time in the spotlight in spite of having no discernible talents themselves.

From Cardi B being drenched by someone’s drink while performing to Kid Cudi having to walk off his headline set at Rolling Loud in Miami after being relentlessly bottled to someone throwing their dead mum’s ashes at Pink on stage, the trend is as impossible to ignore, and if it is a shape of things to come, the future of live music events doesn’t seem promising.

@elliaunamcroberts

So sad! Kelsea having a bracelet thrown at her in Boise! 🫣😞 #kelseaballerini #boise #heartfirsttour

♬ original sound – ellie

How Audiences of All Ages Lost Their Gig Etiquette During the Pandemic

It is far from just Gen Z who have lost the ability to exhibit gig etiquette at live music events following the pandemic. Music fans of all ages re-entered the arena of live music with a complete disregard for how their behaviour ruined the experiences they had been waiting 18 months for.

The Crescendo of Pent-Up Energy: The pandemic was a long, silent interlude in the world of live music. When the curtains finally rose again, there was an outpouring of pent-up energy. This resurgence, while invigorating, also led to a cacophony of over-exuberance. The audience, starved of live performances, may have forgotten the subtler notes of gig etiquette in their eagerness to immerse themselves in the live music experience once more.

A Shift in Social Dynamics: The pandemic was a period of isolation, leading to a diminuendo in social interactions. This has inadvertently affected people’s ability to navigate crowded, communal spaces like gigs. The social skills once used to harmonise with fellow concert-goers may have dulled, leading to a more discordant atmosphere.

The Dissonance of Digital Interaction: During the lockdowns, screens were the stages. This digital shift altered the way people interacted with music and artists. The anonymity and distance provided by online platforms may have led to a more detached, less empathetic approach to engaging with live performances and respecting fellow audience members.

Economic and Psychological Pressures: The pandemic was not just a health crisis but also an economic and psychological one. These pressures may have left some concert-goers with heightened stress or anxiety, which can manifest in less considerate behaviour.

The Evolution of Music Consumption: The way people consume music has been changing, with a focus on personal, curated experiences through streaming services. This shift might influence gig-goers’ expectations and behaviour, as they adjust from a personalised listening experience to a communal one.

In conclusion, the post-pandemic landscape of gig etiquette sees various elements – psychological, social, and cultural – play their parts. We are still living through a period of readjustment, where the audience and performers alike are relearning the rhythm of live music and the harmony of shared experiences. Hopefully, the respectful and communal spirit that characterises the best of gig experiences will make a comeback, but it isn’t likely that will happen without a certain degree of accountability put on music fans intent on ruining experiences.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

The Controversy of Music Industry Plants in 2024

Industry Plants

Everyone loves a good underdog story; a rags-to-riches allegory which proves that regardless of your starting point in life, there are no limits to success, which may go a fair way in explaining why every stratospheric music industry ascent in 2024 results in accusations of artists being media plants.

In this article, we will explore what an industry plant purportedly is, the artists that have been brandished with this label, how the phrase is often misused and why the buzzword is leaving such a bitter taste in music fans’ mouths in 2024.

What Is a Music Industry Plant?

A “music industry plant” is a term that’s often used, sometimes controversially, in the music industry. It refers to an artist who is presented to the public as being a self-made, organic success, but who actually has significant backing from a major record label or industry insiders. The implication is that the artist’s popularity and grassroots support are not entirely genuine, but rather manufactured or heavily assisted by the industry.

Here are some key points about music industry plants:

Hidden Support: The artist may have significant financial, promotional, and professional support that isn’t disclosed to the public. This can include high-quality production, marketing teams, and connections that independent artists typically don’t have access to.

Image of Authenticity: These artists are often marketed as having risen to fame through their own efforts, such as through social media, word of mouth, or self-releasing music. This creates an appealing narrative of an underdog or a breakout star.

Controversy and Debate: The term is somewhat controversial and can be seen as pejorative. It’s often used by critics or fans who feel that the industry is being disingenuous about an artist’s origins and support. However, others argue that all artists require some level of support and that the term unfairly delegitimises the artist’s talent and hard work.

Impact on Perception: Being labelled as a plant can affect how audiences perceive an artist, potentially leading to scepticism about their authenticity and talent. However, it doesn’t necessarily diminish their popularity or success.

Industry Plants - Another Form of Sexism in Music — Unpublished

How the Phrase ‘Industry Plant’ is Misused in the Music Industry

Eric Skelton’s article on Complex delves into the misuse of the term “industry plant”. Skelton explains that while the concept of industry plants is real, with music executives sometimes using their influence to promote artists, the term has been overused and misapplied to artists who quickly gain popularity, without clear evidence of label trickery or deception.

The article highlights that a true industry plant is an artist whose success is primarily due to industry connections rather than artistic merit or genuine fan interest. Skelton uses the example of 4Batz, a Dallas singer who became a sensation with just three songs. Despite accusations of being an industry plant, 4Batz’s rise was a result of viral success and not industry manipulation.

The article criticises the quick judgment of new artists as plants without substantial evidence, noting that the term is now used as a lazy dismissal of any rapidly rising artist. Skelton argues that the term’s overuse detracts from its original meaning and is counterproductive to understanding the music industry’s workings. He suggests that instead of hastily labelling artists as industry plants, people should focus on the music itself and decide whether they like it, rather than getting caught up in unproductive conspiracy theories.

Which Artists Have Been Tarred with the Industry Plant Brush?

Over the years, several artists have been accused of being industry plants, often due to rapid rises to fame or perceived sudden shifts in their musical style or image.

Here are some artists who have faced such accusations:

Billie Eilish: Due to her rapid rise to fame and the polished nature of her debut, some speculated that she had significant industry backing. However, Eilish and her team have consistently credited her success to her unique style and organic growth through platforms like SoundCloud.

Lana Del Rey: After her breakout with “Video Games,” some questioned the authenticity of her image and backstory, suggesting she was a creation of the music industry. Del Rey has been open about her struggles and journey in the industry, countering these claims.

Halsey: Halsey’s rise to fame, particularly after she collaborated with The Chainsmokers on “Closer,” led to some labelling her as an industry plant. She has spoken about her grassroots beginnings and the hard work that went into building her career.

Lizzo: Lizzo’s sudden mainstream success, especially with her album “Cuz I Love You,” led to some speculation about industry backing. However, Lizzo had been actively making music and performing for years before her breakthrough.

Travis Scott: Some have speculated about industry support in Scott’s rise, particularly given his connections with established artists early in his career. However, Scott’s unique style and production skills are often cited as the primary drivers of his success.

Post Malone: Post Malone’s quick rise after “White Iverson” led to discussions about whether he had industry support. Malone has talked about his journey and the work he put into his music before and after becoming famous.

It’s essential to approach the topic of industry plants with an understanding that the music industry is complex, and the path to success can be varied and nuanced.

The Controversy of The Last Dinner Party

In 2024, it is impossible to talk about music industry plants without mentioning The Last Dinner Party, the Brixton-hailing indie group, which has been described as a modern-day paradox due to the millions of pounds of marketing being poured into their inarguably artfully affecting music. Stream their 2023 hit single, Nothing Matters, once, and you won’t be able to fight the compulsion to keep returning to the earworm.

Given the gravitas of their music, there’s no denying they were worthy of their Rising Star Award bestowed upon them at this year’s Brit Awards after they became BBC Radio darlings opened for the Rolling Stones and Hozier.

The Last Dinner Party | Showbox Presents

However, The Last Dinner Party’s express route to notoriety isn’t the only source of contention surrounding the band after a misquoted statement suggested that people no longer wanted to hear about the cost-of-living crisis in post-punk music.

Criticism surged through social media, accusing the band of being out of touch, especially considering the lead singer, Abigail Morris’ background from the affluent Bedales School. Bassist, Georgia Davies, who initially made the statement while discussing the scarcity of bands at the Brit Awards, claimed that the statement was used out of context, and in her original statement she wanted to emphasise how people are seeking escapism in theatrical music amidst a challenging political climate. She emphasised the band’s awareness of their privilege and their passion for supporting independent music venues and artists from marginalised backgrounds.

Why Music Fans Are So Averse to Industry Plants in 2024

In 2024, the aversion to music industry plants stems from a growing awareness and appreciation of authentic artistic journeys, especially in an era where social media has amplified the visibility of independent artists.

When industry plants use a facade of grassroots growth, the perception of inauthenticity clashes with the values of transparency and genuine talent. The frustration is further heightened by the visibility of numerous talented artists who tirelessly work to build their careers without significant industry backing.

Social media platforms have made it easier than ever to witness the struggles and successes of these independent artists. Fans can now follow an artist’s journey from their early stages, often involving years of hard work, setbacks, and gradual growth. This direct connection and the transparent view into an artist’s development foster a deeper appreciation for their efforts and achievements. In contrast, industry plants are often seen as bypassing this struggle, gaining unfair advantages through connections and financial backing. This can be perceived as undermining the meritocratic ideal that the best talent, regardless of background or connections, should have the opportunity to succeed.

The visibility of hardworking artists on social media, who may struggle to gain recognition despite their talent, underscores the perceived injustice of the industry plant phenomenon. It’s a narrative of authenticity versus manufactured success, resonating deeply in a culture that increasingly values genuine artistic expression and the democratisation of opportunity in the music industry.

Every talented band who isn’t getting paid their dues in the industry will have been told, ‘all you need is one lucky break’ by well-meaning fans and politely agreed, meanwhile knowing that all they really need is millions in marketing money at their disposal. So is it any wonder that artists who rise to fame and get all the backing they could possibly need are posited as the natural enemy of the average independent artists tolling the dilapidated fields of the music industry? The same goes for promoters who pour their blood, sweat and tears into promoting an artist only to be ignored by the gatekeepers such as the BBC and NME.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

The Anatomy of an Earworm: How to Create an Unforgettable Hit

Earworm

Everyone knows the feeling of having a lyric or melody reverberating around their brain, leading to an irresistible urge to scratch the earworm itch and hit play on the track. But why does it happen? And more importantly, for artists wanting to live rent-free in the minds of music fans, what are some of the most crucial components of a perennial earworm?

In this article, we will cover a few of the key fundamentals in the creation of infectious hits after exploring the psychology of aural addictions and how platforms, such as TikTok, have changed the way we get hooked on hooks.

How Earworms Bed Down

Before catchy singles were known as earworms, they were referred to as ‘sticky tunes’; regardless of the buzz words/phrases used to describe them, they allude to the phenomenon, scientifically known as involuntary musical imagery, which is a fascinating interplay of memory, emotion, and the brain’s wiring.

For the perfect metaphor, imagine your brain as a DJ, constantly mixing tracks for your sole audio pleasure. When a song becomes an earworm, it’s like the DJ has put a particular track on repeat. Several factors contribute to this:

Repetition and Familiarity: Our brain loves patterns and repetition. Songs with simple, catchy, and repetitive melodies or rhythms are more likely to become earworms. It’s like the brain finds a groove it enjoys and keeps spinning that record.

Emotional Connection: Songs that trigger emotional responses, whether joy, sadness, or nostalgia, can become deeply ingrained in our memory. The emotional chords they strike resonate within us, echoing long after the music has stopped.

Recent Exposure: Listening to a song frequently or hearing it in a significant context can lead to it lodging in your mind. It’s as if the song leaves an imprint, and your brain keeps returning to it, retracing its steps.

Brain Triggers: Certain activities or states of mind, such as daydreaming, stress, or idleness, can make your brain more prone to playing these mental mixtapes. It’s like there’s a part of your brain that, when not fully occupied, decides to throw on a song for entertainment.

Closure Seeking: Sometimes, an earworm persists because your brain is seeking closure. It’s like your mind is stuck on a puzzle, replaying the song in an attempt to complete it or understand it fully.

In essence, earworms are a testament to the power of music and its deep-rooted connection to our emotions and memories. They’re like echoes of melodies that resonate within our minds, sometimes welcome, sometimes not, but always a reminder of music’s enduring impact.

The Evolution of the Earworm

Historical Earworms

Throughout history, certain songs have become legendary earworms, transcending time and trends. Classics like Queen’sBohemian Rhapsody” or The Beatles’Hey Jude” have unforgettable melodies and choruses that have echoed through generations.

In more recent times, tracks like Pharrell Williams’Happy,” Carly Rae Jepsen’sCall Me Maybe,” and Luis Fonsi’s Despacito” have become inescapable earworms. These songs share common traits: a catchy melody, a memorable rhythm, and often, an emotional or cultural resonance that makes them stick in our minds.

Spotify and the Era of Instant Gratification

Spotify and similar streaming services have also influenced the musical landscape, particularly in how songs are structured. In an era where listeners’ attention must be captured swiftly, long intros are becoming relics of the past. Artists are now more inclined to deliver an instant hook to engage listeners from the outset.

This shift is a response to the streaming algorithms and user behaviours, where songs are often judged within the first few seconds. As a result, musicians craft their tunes with immediate appeal in mind, knowing that a strong start increases the chances of a song being added to playlists, shared, and remembered.

TikTok’s Influence: The ‘Oh No’ Phenomenon

TikTok, with its bite-sized, viral content, has become a maestro in creating and spreading earworms. Take the “Oh No” song, for instance. This track, often used in TikTok reels, epitomises how just a few seconds of a song can burrow into our collective consciousness.

The platform’s format encourages the use of short, catchy snippets of music – often just the hooks or the most memorable parts of a song. This means that while the entirety of a track might not be universally recognized or appreciated, its hook becomes a viral sensation, echoing through countless videos and, subsequently, in our minds.

How to Make Your Next Hit an Earworm – Regardless of Genre

Creating an earworm is a blend of art and science. If you want to turn your next single into one while maintaining your unique sonic signature and creative integrity, follow these tips and pray the earworm gods are feeling kind!

  1. Embrace Simplicity: A simple, memorable melody is often the backbone of an earworm. Earworms stick because they’re easy to remember and repeat. However, simplicity doesn’t mean mundane. It’s about finding that sweet spot where a tune is both catchy and has depth.
  2. Incorporate Repetition: Repetition is a key ingredient in making a song stick. Repeating melody lines or choruses helps embed the song in the listener’s memory. However, too much repetition can make a track monotonous – balance is key.
  3. Craft a Strong Hook: The hook is the most memorable part of a song, often a line or a riff. It should be distinctive and catchy, but it doesn’t have to conform to a formula. Let your creativity guide you to a unique and engaging hook.
  4. Play with Rhythm and Beats: A compelling rhythm can be just as catchy as a melody. Experiment with different beats to find one that’s infectious and speaks to rhythmic pulses.
  5. Use Lyrics Wisely: Words are powerful. Choose lyrics that resonate, are easy to remember, and evoke emotions. Sometimes, the most profound messages are conveyed in the simplest words.
  6. Incorporate Familiar Sounds: Using familiar sounds or chord progressions can make a song more relatable; to make them memorable, blend them with original elements.
  7. Experiment with Instrumentation: The choice of instruments can greatly affect how a song is perceived. Unusual or unexpected sounds can make your song stand out, but they should complement, not overpower the melody and lyrics.
  1. Consider the Song Structure: Traditional song structures are popular for a reason – they work. But don’t be afraid to break the mould. Sometimes, an unconventional structure can make a song more memorable.
  1. Focus on the Emotional Connection: Music is about emotion. A song that evokes feelings, whether it’s joy, sadness, nostalgia, or excitement, is more likely to become an earworm. Let your emotions guide your creative process.
  1. Stay True to Your Artistic Voice: Don’t sacrifice your unique style and expression for the sake of popularity. The most enduring songs often come from a place of authenticity.

Have an earworm to share with us? Submit your music today to be featured on our award-winning music blog.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Why Musicians Shouldn’t Overlook TikTok’s Influence Over the Music Industry

TikTok’s ability to catapult musicians into the viral fame stratosphere is hardly the music industry’s best-kept secret. Everyone from Lil Nas X to Selena Gomez to Lizzo to Doja Cat owes some degree of their success to the platform, which is often largely disregarded by people outside the Gen Z generation as a breeding ground for narcissism.

The controversial platform has also proven efficacious in turning older songs into new viral hits, which find their way back into the charts or reach the music charts for the first time. While there is some degree of luck and chance to the viral TikTok fame formula, there are ways to increase your chances of ensuring your music resonates with the new generation of music fans.

In this article, we will touch on how to leverage the platform for success, in the same vein as Mother Mother, and how TikTok fame translates to success outside of the platform.

How Mother Mother’s 2008 Single Shot to Viral Fame Overnight in 2021

The Canadian indie band Mother Mother is a testament to the power of adaptation and evolution. Their journey, particularly post their viral TikTok fame in 2020, is a fascinating narrative of how modern platforms can redefine an artist’s journey to success. After 15 years of steady, yet under-the-radar, work in the music scene, Mother Mother’s trajectory took a dramatic and unexpected turn, thanks to the social media powerhouse.

The band experienced a seismic shift in their career when their 2008 album ‘O My Heart’ found unexpected fame on TikTok. The standout track ‘Hayloft’ became a viral sensation, amassing over 635,000 videos on TikTok and nearing 263 million streams on Spotify. This surge in popularity was a stark contrast to their status two years prior, where they had approximately 1.08 million monthly Spotify listeners. Post-viral success, this number skyrocketed to 7.33 million, peaking at 8.17 million in April 2021.

A review of double release from 'Mother Mother', the band who shot to  popularity thanks to TikTok - Brig Newspaper

Interestingly, ‘Hayloft’ was originally deemed too unconventional for mainstream radio, the song found its audience over a decade later among the Gen Z users of TikTok. Its quirky, genre-bending nature resonated with a generation known for its embrace of diversity and rejection of traditional norms.

The band’s response to this newfound fame was ingeniously strategic in 2021, they released ‘Inside’, an album that came 13 years and five albums after ‘O My Heart’. This release was followed by an intriguing move – the tease and eventual release of ‘Hayloft II’, a sequel to their viral hit. This sequel was part of an extended version of ‘Inside’, offering fans a fresh take on the beloved ‘Hayloft’ melody and lyrics.

This strategic release sequence not only maintained the momentum but also deepened the engagement with their audience. Within a week of its release, ‘Hayloft II’ was used in over 35,000 TikTok videos and garnered 3.4 million streams on Spotify, with the music videos for both ‘Hayloft’ tracks collectively hitting 2.5 million views on YouTube.

How to Gain Traction on TikTok

Mother Mother’s story is a striking example of how artists can leverage viral success to not only sustain but also expand their creative horizons. While Mother Mother’s fame even left the band perplexed as to how it happened and not every artist can bank on winning the same virality lottery, musicians wanting more traction behind their careers shouldn’t overlook the platform’s influence over the music industry. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Leverage Trends and Challenges: TikTok thrives on trends and challenges. Musicians can gain traction by creating content that fits into or inspires these trends. Creating a catchy, easily replicable hook can encourage users to create their own content with the song, amplifying its reach.
  2. Authentic Engagement: TikTok users value authenticity. Musicians who engage genuinely with their audience, respond to comments and participate in trends themselves can build a loyal following.
  3. Collaborations: Teaming up with popular TikTok creators or other musicians can expose an artist to new audiences. Collaborations can take the form of duets, challenges, or simply using each other’s music in videos.
  4. Consistent Posting: Regularly posting content keeps an artist visible and relevant. This doesn’t always mean only posting polished music clips; behind-the-scenes footage, songwriting processes, or personal stories can also resonate with audiences.
  1. Hashtag Usage: Strategic use of hashtags can increase the visibility of content. Including trending hashtags, as well as specific music-related tags, can help a musician’s content surface in more users’ feeds.
  1. Snippets and Teasers: Releasing short, catchy snippets of songs can generate interest and anticipation for the full version. This tactic can lead to users checking out the artist’s other work or streaming platforms.
  1. Adapting to the Platform: TikTok’s format favours short, engaging content. Musicians need to adapt their music to fit this format, focusing on creating impactful, concise clips that capture attention quickly.
  1. Interactive Content: Encouraging user interaction, such as asking for duets, remixes, or reactions, can increase engagement. This also gives fans a sense of participation and connection with the artist.
  1. Understanding the Algorithm: TikTok’s algorithm favours content that keeps users on the app longer. Understanding and adapting to these mechanics, such as creating loopable content or videos that encourage repeat views, can help in gaining traction.
  1. Embracing Virality: If a song or artist starts gaining traction, it’s crucial to capitalise on this momentum. This could mean creating more content around the trending song, engaging with users who make videos with it, or quickly releasing related music.

How TikTok Fame Translates to Success Away from the Platform

When a musician goes viral on TikTok, their visibility skyrockets. This newfound fame means more people are aware of the artist, which naturally leads to increased interest in their live performances, streaming their music, and purchasing their merchandise. Here’s how the success typically translates to other domains.

  1. Spotify Streams: Viral TikTok songs often lead to a surge in Spotify streams. Users who discover a song on TikTok are likely to search for the full version on streaming platforms. Additionally, TikTok’s short format leaves users wanting more, driving them to platforms where they can listen to the entire track or album.
  1. Converting Followers to Fans: TikTok followers can quickly become dedicated fans. As these followers develop a deeper interest in the artist’s work, they are more likely to buy concert tickets and merchandise. This conversion is often facilitated by the artist’s continued engagement and content creation that resonates with their audience.
  1. Cross-Platform Promotion: Musicians often use TikTok fame to promote their activities on other platforms. For instance, they can announce new music releases, concert dates, or merchandise drops on TikTok, directing traffic to Spotify, ticketing websites, or online merch stores.
  1. Algorithmic Boosts: The algorithms of platforms like Spotify often take cues from social media trends. A song trending on TikTok is likely to be featured in Spotify’s popular playlists, further increasing streams and visibility.
  1. Merchandise Sales: TikTok allows artists to showcase their personality and brand, which can be leveraged in their merchandise. Fans who feel a connection to the artist are more likely to purchase merch as a way of supporting them.
  1. Tour and Event Promotion: Artists can use TikTok to promote tours and events directly to a highly engaged audience. Viral fame can lead to rapid ticket sales, as fans are eager to experience the music they’ve enjoyed on TikTok live.
  1. Collaborations and Sponsorships: TikTok fame can lead to collaborations with other artists or brands, further increasing an artist’s exposure. These collaborations can also include exclusive merchandise or sponsored content, leading to additional revenue streams.

Conclusion

If you want to connect with the new generation of music fans, put your music in front of them. If you’re always relying on Instagram and Facebook and then lamenting about the pitiful reach of your posts, this is a sign that your social media music marketing game needs to evolve in line with contemporary digital trends.

Use TikTok to market your new releases and your older material that you think would resonate with the new generation of music fans. Pour the same creativity you use in your music into marketing it and see what mark you can make on the increasingly digital music landscape.

For more A&R advice, enquire about our artist consultancy services today.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

From Community to Consumerism: How the Music Industry Has Evolved in the 21st Century

Consumerism

As someone who follows and champions hundreds of independent and established bands, I constantly feel conflicted between wanting to show my support via my wallet and trying to keep my consumerist impulses in check.

Every week, I’m over-faced with new merch, gig tickets and physical releases, especially when Bandcamp Friday rolls around and my newsfeed is littered with bands trying to make the most out of the monthly event that allows them to save selling fees. And I get it, I really do, selling out venues, and producing new merch and physical releases is one of the only ways that independent artists can make ends meet. But in an era when music fans are feeling the pinch just as much, in a time when loneliness is on the rise and people are meeting their unmet social needs with material possessions, mindfulness of this new nefarious cultural shift is crucial.

Music Fans Aren’t Tighfisted; They’re Emptyfisted

In 2024 social media is littered with laments on how inflated the prices of seeing major artists are versus how much it costs to see a local indie act, but the closure of 125 grassroots venues in the UK in 2023 is proof that people no longer have the funds to keep venturing down to their local venue to support up-and-coming artists, let alone buy all the merch and new releases to boot. Furthermore, music fans are also constantly guilted by reminders of how their streams don’t contribute to the economic stability of artists.

British Band Makes a T-Shirt Inspired by Abysmal Spotify Royalties

Music fans cannot be blamed for how constrained their finances are; and sure, there are people out there paying three and four figures to see mainstream artists; more often than not, it is people with far deeper pockets than your average music fan. A recent study by The Food Foundation revealed that 15% of people in the UK went hungry in January 2024; the financial insecurity of artists is more of a reflection of the economic times than a lack of love for independent music. So rather than blaming them, turn your attention to the wider economy, take your ego out of the equation and realise that the income of artists is a sign of the times. To conflate the issue of the cost-of-living crisis, the number of artists releasing new music is skyrocketing. In 1984, 6,000 albums were released in the UK; in 2021, 55,000 reached streaming platforms every day. With every artist effectively tapping into the same well, is it any wonder that it running dry?

How The Music Landscape Has Evolved

The evolution of music from a community-centric tradition to a more consumer-driven industry is a complex journey. Historically, music served as a crucial part of communal life, reflecting shared experiences and cultural identities. It was an essential, unifying force within communities.

Today, the scenario has shifted significantly. The advent of digital technology has made music more accessible than ever, but it has also transformed it into a commodity. This change has particularly impacted independent artists, who are often not backed by major labels. These artists depend on income from merchandise sales, concert tickets, and music physical releases. For them, making music isn’t just about artistic expression; it’s also about economic survival.

Music fans face their own challenges in this new landscape. Amidst a cost-of-living crisis, supporting multiple artists financially can be difficult. Fans often have to make tough choices about where to spend their limited funds, which can affect how much support they can offer to their favourite artists.

The Cruxes of Consumerism in the Music Industry

Consumerism, particularly in the context of the music industry, can have detrimental effects on both artists and audiences. At its core, consumerism prioritises the acquisition of goods and services, in this case, music, over the deeper values and connections that music traditionally fostered. This shift towards viewing music primarily as a product to be consumed rather than an art form to be experienced can lead to a superficial engagement with music.

As consumerism in music has risen, paralleled by the growth of streaming platforms like Spotify, there’s been an increase in loneliness and a decrease in community-oriented experiences. Music, once a largely communal activity that brought people together for shared experiences, is now often consumed individually through headphones and screens. This isolated mode of consumption contributes to a sense of disconnection and loneliness, as the communal, connective aspects of music are diminished. Of course, gigs and festivals still exist, but many music fans have been priced out of gigs and festivals after the pandemic due to the rising costs of attending them.

Moreover, the relentless pursuit of the newest and most popular music can create a sense of inadequacy and a constant chase for fulfilment through consumption, rather than through meaningful connections and experiences. In the music industry, this can manifest as a never-ending quest for the latest hits, overlooking the deeper, more fulfilling experiences of engaging with music on a personal and communal level. This shift not only impacts listeners but also pressures artists to continuously produce content that fits the consumer mould, potentially stifling creativity and authentic expression.

Conclusion

In summary, the music industry today forces everyone within it to navigate a complex environment where artistry, consumerism, and economic challenges intersect. This situation affects artists, fans, and venues alike, highlighting the need to find a balance between the commercial aspects of music and its role as a vital cultural and communal force. It is too much to ask artists or fans to singlehandedly resolve the issue, but by being mindful of the issue and utilising technology for connection, we can at least work towards a future where artists don’t resent fans for not giving them their bottom dollar.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Artists in the Algorithm: How to Hack the Facebook Algorithm in 2024

Facebook Algorithm

There are few things more disheartening than tumbleweed rolling over your new music announcements after you have poured your blood, sweat, tears, and limited funds into a new release. It is all too easy to take it personally, but rather than seeing it as a sign of your perpetual lack of popularity, view it as a defect in the digital landscape; one that you can work around by understanding the Facebook algorithm.

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to, musicians would get as much space on newsfeeds as people sharing schadenfreude memes, cat pictures and selfies with so much cleavage you might as well be on Pornhub. Unfortunately, that isn’t the digital landscape that Zuckerberg has put in front of us.

Why Facebook Feels Impossible for Musicians

The Facebook algorithm is notoriously discriminative for musicians trying to promote their music. Primarily, this algorithm prioritises personal content over promotional posts. So, when musicians share their latest tracks, these posts are less likely to appear prominently in their audience’s news feeds, especially compared to personal updates and casual content from friends and family.

Moreover, the algorithm is designed to encourage engagement (likes, comments, shares), but music posts, which might not immediately prompt such interactions, can struggle to gain visibility. This means that even if the content is high quality, it might not reach a wide audience simply because it doesn’t generate immediate reactions.

Additionally, there’s a financial aspect to consider. Facebook often promotes the use of paid advertising to increase post visibility. This model favours those who can afford to invest in advertising, putting independent artists with limited budgets at a disadvantage.

In essence, the Facebook algorithm can inadvertently side-line musicians, especially independent artists, by favouring personal, engaging content and putting a premium on paid promotions.

Furthermore, artists are put under immense amounts of pressure to keep posting regularly and make performing monkeys out of themselves to compete with the TikTok generation of narcissists whose contributions to society are lip-syncing terribly to music they didn’t create and pretending their brain cells are in shorter supply than they actually are for 15 seconds of fame.

“The platforms we have to exist on now don’t even allow us to reach the people that have gone out of their way to follow us. The algorithms want you to post daily and maybe just maybe they might reward you by sending it out to a few more of your followers. I know I can’t and don’t want to personally keep up with those expectations.” BATT

Understanding the Facebook Algorithm

AI Integration: AI plays a crucial role in personalising content by analysing user behaviour and preferences.  AI algorithms analyse a user’s past interactions on Facebook. This includes which posts they’ve liked, commented on, shared, and the time they’ve spent on different types of content. For instance, if a user frequently interacts with music-related posts, the AI is more likely to show them similar content.

Meaningful Interactions: Facebook prioritizes posts that encourage conversations and meaningful interactions. A “meaningful interaction” is a metric that goes beyond basic engagement like likes or clicks. It refers to user actions that suggest a deeper level of interest or engagement with the content.

Relevance Scores & Engagement Predictions: Each post receives a relevance score based on content type, user interactions, and viewing duration. Then, the algorithm predicts the likelihood of a user engaging with a post or page.

Content Variety: The Facebook algorithm always ensures that a balanced mix of content types (videos, photos, links, text posts) is presented to users. This may put some musicians at an unfair disadvantage if another artist’s music-related posts are promoted ahead of theirs. However, by ensuring your content is engagement-worthy, you could put yourself at an advantage.

User Control: Facebook offers features like “Show More, Show Less” for feed customisation. By ensuring that you’re only posting high-quality content, people will be less inclined to hit the “show less” button.

Hacking the Facebook Algorithm

  • Understand Your Audience: Know what is meaningful, relevant, and informative to your audience.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Prioritise meaningful interactions and respond to comments.
  • Post at Optimal Times: Maximize engagement by posting when your audience is most active.
  • Utilise Status Posts: Simple status posts can sometimes yield high engagement.
  • Leverage Your Advocates: Find ways to encourage your fans to share your content.
  • Collaborate with Influencers: Partner with influential figures in the music industry.
  • Monitor Analytics: Use insights to adjust and optimise your content strategy.
  • Use links wisely: Facebook doesn’t like posts containing links to other sites, such as Spotify, as they take users away from Facebook and Facebook’s ads.
  • Use calls to action sparingly: If your posts contain phrases like “check out our new merch”, you will be automatically downranked in the algorithm – use phrases like these sparingly.
  • Don’t go OTT on hashtags: Use a maximum of three hashtags on your Facebook posts – choose them wisely and consider using a hashtag generator.
  • Avoid Manipulating the Algorithm: Stay authentic and avoid black-hat strategies.
  • Experiment with Reels: Focus on high-quality, engaging reel content.

Facebook Reels Algorithm

If you’ve been resisting becoming a reel-generating musician, it may be time to jump on the hype if you want to conquer the Facebook algorithm in 2024. Reel addiction has become a major phenomenon for TikTok, Facebook and Instagram users. You may have even noticed that YouTube has become proliferated by YouTube Shorts. The obsession with reels boils down to the dopamine hits from watching short-form videos; the dopamine hits trap people in a cycle of watching them due to the sense of reward and satisfaction. If you’re interested in taking advantage of people’s reel addictions (yes, I do feel a bit sickened with myself writing that!), keep the duration as short as possible (15 – 30 seconds), be as entertaining and engaging as possible, use built-in tools effectively, film clear audio, use good lighting and always shoot vertically.

By understanding and adapting to these algorithmic nuances, musicians can significantly enhance their visibility and engagement on Facebook in 2024.

For more advice on how to market your music, enquire about our artist consultancy services, or keep following our blog for more tips on how to navigate the tempestuous waters of the music industry in 2024.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

The Silence of Oppression: How Totalitarianism Inhibits Culture and Expression

Culture

As the quote “Give them bread and circuses, and they’ll never revolt” from one of Ancient Rome’s most observational poets, Juvenal, is now circulating throughout social media in the form of a meme, in a time when grassroots venues are under threat and it is getting increasingly harder for anyone but industry plants to make their mark, I couldn’t help but question the intentionality of the silence of oppression.

The suppression of culture and expression by oppressive regimes has long been a means of population control and is a multifaceted and deeply intricate issue, intertwining the threads of power, fear, and human psychology. This article will explore the phenomenon of artistic expression, highlight contemporary instances of suppression and propose ideas of how to evoke positive cultural change.

Eduphile on X: "Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt.  https://t.co/evtohzST5q" / X

How and Why Culture is Quashed for Control

At its core, culture is the heartbeat of a society’s identity, a vibrant symphony of ideas, art, language, and customs. It’s a mirror reflecting the collective soul of a people. When a regime feels threatened by the power of this reflection, it may attempt to shatter the mirror, fearing that the image it casts could inspire dissent or challenge the status quo.

Suppressing culture and expression serves several nefarious purposes:

Erasure of Dissenting Voices: By muzzling poets, artists, and thinkers, regimes attempt to silence the voices that question, challenge, and inspire. In the absence of these voices, a monochrome narrative prevails, one that paints the regime in an unchallenged light.

Control Through Fear: The suppression often involves punitive measures against those who dare to express dissenting views. This creates an atmosphere of fear, discouraging others from stepping out of line. It’s a chilling effect, where the mere possibility of repercussions leads to self-censorship.

Manipulation of Identity: By controlling cultural outputs, regimes can rewrite history, manipulate national identity, and create a version of reality that serves their interests. This can be a powerful tool in shaping public perception and loyalty.

Distraction and Diversion: Here, Juvenal’s insight rings particularly true. By providing the masses with superficial entertainment (“circuses”), regimes can distract them from more pressing issues. This diversion can be a potent tool in keeping the populace preoccupied and complacent.

Fragmentation of Society: By suppressing certain cultural aspects while promoting others, regimes can create divisions within society. This ‘divide and rule’ strategy ensures that a united front against the regime is less likely to form.

In essence, oppressive regimes fear the power of culture and expression because they are catalysts for change and revolution. They are the sparks that can ignite the fire of dissent. By suppressing these elements, regimes maintain their grip on power, often at the cost of the human spirit and the vibrant mosaic that makes up a society’s true identity.

How Creativity is Being Progressively Inhibited in the UK

While some of the challenges faced by artists and other creatives in the UK can be considered unintended consequences of governmental policies and the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic, it unequivocally cannot be argued that the current government is doing its best to see culture thrive following Brexit.

Here are a few examples of how the current government has damaged culture in the UK:

Funding Cuts to the Arts:

Over recent years, there has been a trend of reduced funding for the arts. Local councils, facing budget cuts from central government, have often found themselves needing to reduce spending on cultural initiatives. This has led to a decrease in support for local arts projects, community programs, and educational initiatives in the arts. For some perspective, since 2010, spending on arts development and support has been almost halved from £3 to £1.52 per person.

Changes in Education Policy:

The emphasis on the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) in schools, which prioritises core academic subjects, has led to a decline in the uptake of creative subjects like music, drama, and art. This shift potentially impacts the long-term health of the UK’s cultural sector by reducing early exposure to and engagement with the arts.

“Arts subjects are disappearing from the curriculum in England at a frightening rate, and we should all be alarmed. The damage goes far beyond the economic; it requires a long-term coherent plan and investment in creative arts education. We know that governments often struggle to value what they can’t easily measure. This government appears to be incapable of valuing even the things that it can.”  Michele Gregson, CEO, National Society for Education in Art and Design

Gentrification and Cultural Spaces:

Urban development and gentrification in cities across the UK have led to the closure of numerous grassroots music venues and art spaces. While not directly a government policy, there is a perception that local and national government policies have not sufficiently protected these cultural hubs. 2023 was dubbed the worst year for grassroots venue closures, with a total of 125 grassroots venues closing each week.

It’s important to recognise that these issues are often interlinked and can have a cumulative effect on the cultural landscape. While not always a direct result of government policy, these factors can create an environment where cultural expression and development face significant challenges.

What Will Make the UK Culturally Thrive Again?

Reversing the damage done to the UK cultural sector requires a multifaceted approach, involving both government intervention and grassroots initiatives. The goal is to create a sustainable and vibrant cultural ecosystem that supports artists, cultural institutions, and the wider community.

The potential strategies to reverse cultural damage should start with increasing government funding, implementing tax reliefs and other incentives, offering grants and scholarships, negotiating better terms for UK touring artists following Brexit and reinforcing the importance of education policy.

From there, protective measures for independent venues and cultural hubs must be put in place, followed by local cultural initiatives and partnerships between the private sector and cultural institutions. The mainstream media will also have a role to play in promoting UK cultural content, and ensuring diverse representation is key to ensure everyone has a voice in the future of the cultural sector.

By implementing these strategies, the UK can not only work towards reversing the damage done to its cultural sector but also lay the foundation for a more resilient and flourishing cultural landscape in the future.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

How ‘The Brit Fest’ Became a Tragic Sign of the Post-Brexit Live Music Industry

The Brit Fest

The announcement of The Brit Fest, the inaugural event celebrating “the best of British”, may have stoked excitement in music fans who don’t need much persuasion to partake in nostalgia, but beyond the surface of the line-up poster, the festival is a tragic symbol of post-Brexit Britain.

With its red, white, and blue iconography all over the festival posters and official website, the festival seems less a celebration and more a British funeral for festivals as we knew them. This event, set against the backdrop of a nation grappling with its identity and economic challenges post-Brexit, stands as a stark reminder of the changes sweeping across the UK.

Clinging to National Pride

In the wake of Brexit, the UK’s economy has taken a significant hit; a recently published report, which came to light in January 2024, revealed that the UK economy is now almost £140 billion smaller as a result of the majority of voters ticking ‘leave’ on their ballot papers following an obscurely deceiving pro-Brexit campaign. This economic downturn has left many Brits searching for a semblance of hope and assurance, clinging to national pride as their last lifeline. The Brit Fest, in this context, is more than just a festival; it’s a desperate grasp at the straws of national identity and pride, a way for people to reassure themselves that leaving the EU was a beneficial move and the democratic decision wasn’t the sole reason for the cost-of-living crisis that is gradually crippling us.

The Struggle of Festival Organisers

The challenges of post-Brexit Britain are not limited to the economy but extend to the cultural sector as well. UK festival organisers are facing a tough time as American headline acts are increasingly shunning UK festivals. This trend is a direct consequence of the economic and logistical complications brought about by Brexit, making the UK a less attractive destination for global artists. The Brit Fest, focusing on homegrown talent, is a response to this new reality, where international acts are harder to secure.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for celebrating and championing British artists, but this celebration of cultural alienation is a dystopic stretch too far in our era where everything is a culture war because we’ve got no culture (in the truest definition of the word) left to celebrate. The collective nationalistic flagellation is a worrying symptom of a society grasping at the echoes of a bygone era, mistaking loudness for substance and spectacle for depth. In this clamour, the true essence of artistry – the raw, unvarnished expression of the human condition – is drowned out by the cacophony of jingoistic fervour. It’s as if we’re in an amphitheatre, where the loudest cheer, not the most profound message, wins the day.

A Homage to Nostalgia

Despite its patriotic veneer, The Brit Fest is essentially a homage to nostalgia. Described by The Manc as “a pure throwback”, the festival mostly features a lineup of British artists from years gone by, evoking memories of a different era in British music. This focus on the past highlights a longing for a time before the complexities and uncertainties of the post-Brexit landscape. It’s a celebration of what was, perhaps, in an attempt to escape the realities of what is. If you want to learn more about why people are being drawn to nostalgia like moths to a flame, read our piece on the neurology of nostalgia and the price the music industry pays for it.

The Brit Fest is An Emblem of Stagnancy in the UK Music Industry

With Bonnie Tyler, Scouting for Girls, Kim Wilde, Heather Smalls, Starsailor, Toploader and Dodgy as the biggest acts on the bill at The Brit Fest, the festival poster proves what happens when the music industry becomes stagnant and refuses to let new bands rise to the top.

Even though music fans would be forgiven for thinking that there are no new bands worthy of securing headline festival slots, that is far from the case. The UK music scene is as vibrant and diverse as it has ever been – bands just can’t grab the same slices of global acclaim as their predecessors, and there are multiple reasons behind this depressing phenomenon.

Changes in the Music Industry

The music industry has undergone significant changes in the last few decades. The rise of streaming services and the decline of traditional album sales have altered how artists gain exposure and make money. This shift has impacted bands worldwide, but British bands, which traditionally relied heavily on album sales and extensive radio play, may find these changes particularly challenging.

Globalisation and Diversification of Music

With the advent of the internet and social media, the music market has become more globalized and diversified. Listeners have access to a vast array of music from all over the world, which means that competition is no longer local or even national but global. This increased competition can make it harder for any one group, including British bands, to dominate.

Cultural Shifts

In the past, British bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and later Oasis, were part of larger cultural movements that had significant international appeal. The cultural shifts of today might not be as conducive to bands playing a central role, or the movements themselves are more fragmented and diverse.

Economic and Logistical Challenges

For new bands, touring and getting exposure can be expensive and logistically challenging. This is particularly true in the post-Brexit era, where touring in Europe, a key market for British bands, has become more complicated and costly due to new regulations and visa requirements.

Media Focus

The media landscape has also changed, with a more fragmented audience and a shift towards reality TV, solo artists, and celebrity culture. Bands might not receive the same level of media attention as they did in the past, making it harder to gain widespread recognition.

Nostalgia and Comparison with the Past

There’s also a factor of nostalgia and the tendency to compare contemporary music unfavourably with the past. The British bands of the 60s, 70s, and 90s set a very high bar, and contemporary bands are often measured against these legends, which can overshadow their achievements.

In conclusion, The Brit Fest, with its nostalgic line-up and patriotic branding, stands as a symbol of the times – a post-Brexit Britain struggling to redefine its identity and place in the world. It’s a festival that is as much about music as it is about the collective psyche of a nation trying to find its footing in a new, uncertain era.

To learn more about how Brexit has impacted the music industry, read our statistical overview of the crushing blow of Brexit on the music industry.

Article by Amelia Vandergast