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Music Trends

Get our insights on the music industry. A&R Factory covers the latest trends, analysis, and predictions in music. Join us as we explore the pulse of the music industry. Whether you’re a music lover or industry professional, A&R Factory is your go-to source.

The Impossibility of Legacy in the 21st-Century Music Industry

Legacy

When history leaves no room for modernity; when nostalgia is a greater incentive to engage with ‘culture’ than contemporary innovation; when legacy pedestals went out of production in the 90s, what hope is left in the music industry?

The post-pandemic era of music is becoming increasingly alien to what we have known before. It is not technology adding tentacle-ESQUE appendages to the industry. For the past 50 years, the rapid rate of technological progress has been integral to the way music has embedded into our daily lives. Industry oligarchs relentlessly pushed for progression to increase profit margins with every artist gambled on. Now that digital streaming services have reached the pinnacle of music consumption convenience, there is little to anticipate. Sans Musk embedding Neuralink chips in our skulls, and we can stream music directly into our brains.

We can point the finger at the culture of streaming platforms until Rigor mortis sets in, ignoring the three fingers pointing back at ourselves with our strange transfixion on the past that dictates modern-day legacies do not last.

The unattainability of legacy especially rings true within the confines of indie, rock, and alternative music. The alluring sentimentality of nostalgia and reminiscence is the real reason why fame is fleeting; success is slender in supply and why music fans are now eulogising their only music icons on Facebook every five minutes.

Even if an independent artist hits number one in the official music charts in 2023, it means almost nothing in terms of standing in the industry. It is only a matter of time before they downrank under the perpetual dominance of Nirvana, Nickelback, and Pink Floyd.

To go full circle on how streaming has affected the music industry, the contemporary irrelevance of official music charts has even started to change how albums hit the market. Why bow to the pressure of raw sales when streaming is king? And in the words of Post Malone, why compromise the artistic and authentic integrity of a record to ensure an arbitrary number that is no longer of any consequence is reached?

The Fame-Talent Dichotomy

As someone who has spent the past six years in the music industry listening to new artists, I find it impossible to subscribe to the theory that the fixtures in the rock n roll hall of fame are portraits that contemporary artists cannot hold a candle to.

The painful awareness of the off-kilter correspondence between fame and talent is something the average music consumer will never see. If they did, they would be infinitely more open to the suggestion that living and breathing artists who aren’t inches from being six feet under are as capable of ground-breaking music as the artists made divine in their blind eyes.

May be an image of 3 people, people standing, people playing musical instruments and indoor

The addiction to the bittersweetness of sonic nostalgia is undoubtedly a stark sign of where our collective psyche stands at this strangely sour point in history. Yet, if we continuously ignore the irony between the statements that “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” and the complete unwillingness to listen to what they ARE making, we are setting a generation of artists up to fail. Not that it is surprising people of a certain age are somewhat ambivalent about that. Given what they have done to the rest of society and the economy.

While there are sniffings of viral TikTok fame for some contemporary artists, one-hit-wonders can only get with their passive fans in their unsustainable careers. As a new generation comes of age, they are shown that history is required for legacy – unless you’re lucky enough to get the jump up from nepotism or selected as a media plant.

Music as a Mausoleum: A Tale of Two Cities

As a Manchester-based music journalist, I’m no stranger to music cultures led by ancient tastemakers and epitomised by records that have been collecting dust since the 80s. I’ve long since accepted that my words, no matter how sharp, will never be as cutting as the people twice my age who can say they were in all of the right places long before I was cerebral enough to string a sentence together. But this isn’t about me. It is about the absolute exception to George Santayana’s rule of; “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Making my first trip to one of Liverpool’s most iconic music venues, The Cavern Club, showed me just how insidious the fetishization and fixation of legacy truly is. Tawdry statues of the Beatles scaled the walls with endless ephemera as a reminder that they were once here. Like graffiti on a dirty public toilet door, they were stamped in history. Tacky memorabillia enshrined behind glass tempted tanked-up tourists to grab a kitsch piece of history and ignore the glaring commodification of culture that reminds every artist that steps foot into that venue that their legacy will always be less-than.

The Beatles Image In A Wall In The Cavern Club, Liverpool, UK Stock Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 81903358.

While there should always be room to rhapsodize artists that were integral to the inspiration of many, became the soundtrack to many lives and earned themselves a place in history, there should still be enough room for fresh talent to breathe.

Yet, there is little oxygen left for new and emerging artists to share. Creative sparks diminish as soon as they are lit in our suffocating atmosphere where cover bands get all the cash and artists with any modicum of distinction about them are chastised for sticking out from the mould.

Mindless connections with music and music culture are infinitely more dangerous than the perils of Spotify and Ek’s ilk. You can’t keep your head in the sentimental sand for decades, pop back up for daylight and bemoan the changing technological tides that have removed gatekeepers for many, and provided the platforms for even more.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

Perfect Your Release Strategy in 2023: The Ultimate Checklist for Independent Artists

Release Strategy

If you are planning a debut release for 2023 or looking for your new music to pick up more traction than your 2022 releases, we’ve compiled the ultimate step-by-step release strategy to follow through your music release campaign.

All too often, we see independent artists scramble around trying to promote their new singles, EPs, and albums immediately before or after their music has hit the airwaves. While this is fine if you are releasing your music for fun, any artist wanting to make the maximum impact with their music will want to ensure that the hours spent in the studio don’t go to waste due to a lacklustre release strategy.

In 2022, 22 million new singles hit Spotify. That is a new song every 1.4 seconds! Standing out in this increasingly competitive industry will only get more difficult. However, for artists willing to do the heavy lifting with the promotional work, there is still a shot at success.

While sitting on your new releases for the recommended duration of three months may be frustrating, it is the recommended timeframe to build an effective campaign and get everything into place with time to spare. This timeframe goes for artists using a DIY approach to promotion or artists with enough of a budget to enlist PR help.

NEVER be the kind of artist who springs a release on a PR company on the date of release, or after, then complain about the lack of attention! Once you have tied up all the copyrights and other legal matters to protect your music and royalties, you can start to build anticipation around your release.

How to Perfect Your Release Strategy in 2023

Start Promoting Your Music During the Creation Process

Keep promotion in mind while you are creating your new releases. Creation-journey videos and other content is vital promo material for social media. Not only does it tease what is to come, but it also helps build connections with fans who enjoy feeling like they are part of the process with you. To increase engagement on your posts, you can also run polls and ask for opinions on anything from track names to cover art.

Three Months Before the Release

Create a Marketing Plan

Once your music is recorded, mixed, and mastered, decide whether you will hire a PR team or use the DIY promo approach. The existing connections of PR agencies can be highly beneficial to your campaign. If your budget won’t stretch that far, if you do enough research and practice your pitches, you can still make some great connections.

Start Playlist Research

Getting your music on a popular or official playlist is one of the best ways to boost the reach of your new releases as an independent artist. Your playlist plan should consist of

  • Preparing your best songs to submit to Spotify Editors after creating a detailed description of your best tracks.
  • Building personal playlists before releasing your new music to build up play and a following by using similar tracks to attract fans.
  • Finding contact details for independent playlist curators through the help of services such as Submit Hub.

Two Months Before the Release

Finalise Your Artwork

In the digital era of music, image is everything. Never leave your artwork as an afterthought or try to knock something up on Photoshop if you have no idea how to use it! Pay a designer to design artwork that is as eye-catching as it is on-brand. These images can be plastered across your socials, be a part of your EPK and work as cover art for all your artist profiles.

Find a Third-Party Distro Site for Your Spotify Pre-Saves

Once you are equipped with on-brand artwork and alternative artist/band images, scout for a distribution platform for your Spotify pre-saves. We highly recommend Ditto and CD Baby for these services. By getting your fans to pre-save your Spotify release, you will increase the chances of your new releases appearing on New Music and Discover Weekly playlists.

Widen Your Net & Fill Your Social Media Content Calendar

At this point in the campaign, you should also be looking to increase your audience and fill your social media calendar. To widen the reach of your posts, use your time on social media wisely by friending and following bloggers who would be interested in covering your music, local music venues, and any other figures in the industry who you can turn into warm contacts. Also, be on the lookout for music fans to connect with who are in your target audience!

Ideally, your content calendar should be filled to the point of release. It should include countdowns, artwork unveilings, invitations to listening parties, live launch invitations, Spotify pre-save link promotions etc. To make posting across all the relevant platforms less time-consuming, use a social media marketing organiser, and schedule the posts to prepare for the coming weeks.

6 Weeks Before Your Release

Release Standout Singles from EPs and Albums

If you are releasing an EP or an album, six weeks before the launch is the prime time to release a single or two with the help of a distributor. The distributor should also be used to distribute your full album or EP across all of the popular music platforms, including Spotify, Bandcamp, Deezer, Tidal, iTunes, Amazon Music and Google Play.

Send Your Single Submissions to Spotify Curators

Using your previous research on Spotify playlist curators, utilising the Spotify for Artists feature and firing off your submissions should ideally happen six weeks before your music will land on the platforms. Spotify playlist curators get inundated with requests, which is just one of the reasons to send them early. For more information on how to go about your Spotify playlist submissions read our guide here.

Drive Your Social Media Followers to Your Artist/Band Page

If it has been a while since you went through your personal Facebook contact list, now is the perfect opportunity to send a fresh invitation to your artist/band page. While some artists only choose to do this when they get a new friend connection, the process is far more effective once you have been connected with them for a while. While this might not seem a big deal, industry figures, such as promoters, radio stations and bloggers, still notice your following numbers!

One Month Before the Release

Announce a Launch Show or Listening Party

Playing your new release live is a great way to increase sales and attention around the release and bolster your release strategy. Ideally, the launch show should happen on the day or shortly after the official release date. If you don’t play live, you can always opt for a listening party or live stream on social media. Always think outside the box with these events and make them as unmissable as possible!

Two Weeks Before the Release

Prepare Your Website for Release Day & Send Newsletters

If you already have an email list for your marketing, enlist the help of your superfans to spread the word about your release. Rather than expecting them to do your promo for free, give them an incentive to do so. Allow them to win a free signed vinyl or CD copy, a free piece of merch, or tickets to your launch show. At this point, your website should contain a digital EPK with news and info about your new release.

Contact Music Reviewers, Bloggers, and Radio Stations

Music media sites love exclusive content. Always give your favourite blogs, websites and radio stations the opportunity to give their audience an exclusive premiere of your new music in addition to contacting all of the media outlets that are a good fit for your music. The more positive press and critical acclaim you have amassed around your new music, the higher the chances of music fans checking it out!

On the Day of the Release

If you thought that the hard work was finally over, think again! During the release day, skin all your socials with an OUT NOW message. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Always use Canva to create unique graphics for each post.

If you are a newsletter user, make another announcement to your avid mailing list as a part of your release strategy. Even if your mailing list is infinitely smaller than your social media following, there is a greater chance of your contacts seeing the newsletter when it drops into their inbox.

On Instagram, update your bio, create a story and a post, and ask for feedback when you go live!

On Facebook, pay for a sponsored ad sharing the release info, edit your About Me section, ad a story, or go live.

On Twitter, tweet about your new release and pin it to the top of your page.

On Spotify, update the profile photo and header with your artwork, update your bio and add your new release as the Artist’s Pick.

If you are looking for professional promotional help for your new release strategy or campaign, our A&R team is always on standby. A&R Factory’s music development services help independent artists gain more exposure, plays, fans, and placements! Enquire about our services via this link. Or submit your independent music for review on our award-winning blog. 

 

Article by Amelia Vandergast

2023 Music Trends for Independent Artists

2023 Music Trends

With 2022 almost in the rear-view mirror, A&R Factory has investigated the top 2023 music trends for independent artists and feigned optimism for the year ahead after a somewhat mercurial trip around the sun for everyone in the music industry.

It would be naïve to expect to stroll into a utopia given the year music has endured, especially with the recent YouGov poll showing that half of the British public feels priced out of the music industry. However, there are a few key trends to note and slithers of hope for independent artists.

The Top 2023 Music Trends for Independent Artists

  1. TikTok Will Be One of The Best Platforms for Music Promotion

The big three social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, have had to make room for a fourth major league player in recent years. In September 2021, the platform broke the 1 billion user mark, and the number of active users will grow in 2023.

The platform, which is no longer solely for annoying Gen Z dances and other feats of filmed narcissism, is already unparalleled in its ability to offer user-generated content campaigns and make artists go viral.

Once the ball gets rolling on TikTok, the momentum around new phenomena can be hard to stop. To get started, use a distro company, such as Ditto, which can publish your music on TikTok. Once your music is on the platform, bolster your music marketing campaign by creating catchy videos. Share 15-second viral-worthy clips of you performing cover songs, deconstructing your tracks, giving behind-the-scenes glimpses, or collaborating with influencers.

TikTok now offers an exponential amount of potential to independent artists. Leave your grievances with the app behind you as you enter 2023.

  1. Publishing & Sync Deals Will Offer Greater Opportunities

While music publishing and sync deals may not replace playing live as the biggest revenue stream for every artist, there is ample financial opportunity within it, especially as it has become a more lucrative endeavour than selling physical copies of your singles, EPs, and albums.

Social media influencers, adverts, video games, television, YouTubers, and Netflix all need licensable music. If you want to quit your day job to focus on music full-time, syncing your music offers some of the best opportunities to do so.

While it is slightly sad that, in popular culture, music is becoming increasingly less of a standalone entertainment format and more of a complementary format to films, TV, ads, and games, it is worth taking note of and taking advantage of. For independent and unestablished artists, the best shot at sync success is by teaming up with a music publisher. Sync placements can also be obtained by placing your music in libraries or attempting to build those connections for yourself.

  1. Music Genres Will Become Even More Inconsequential

The shift towards genre-fluid music has been amassing traction in the last few years, and that will continue to be the case throughout 2023. Gone are the days when younger generations of music fans partook in tribalism defined by their favourite artists.

In the past decade, an increasing number of artists have been unafraid to wear their eclectic influences on their sleeves, which has paved the way towards music unconstrained by restrictive genre parameters.

While it may seem safer to release records that fit into pigeonholes, the advent of mood-orientated playlists on Spotify has made it easier for artists to market genre-fluid music. You can also read our guide on how to promote genre-fluid music here.

  1. Independent Music is Expected to Boom

With the soaring costs of tickets to bigger shows, more and more music fans are turning to grassroots shows to get their live music fix, and the live music arena isn’t the only area where independent artists are thriving.

In April 2022, The Independent Music Insider revealed that indie music celebrated its fourth consecutive year of growth, with UK indie labels taking 27% of the chunk out of the total revenue. One of the main drivers behind market growth for independent artists lies in the opportunities presented by social media.

In 2023, even more, independent artists will celebrate a wider reach via social media, cutting out the necessity of signing a record label deal that strips autonomy from artists and takes a massive chunk of the profit too.

  1. Streaming Platforms Will Become Even More Popular

If you were hoping that 2023 would bring in the end for Spotify and its other poorly paying counterparts, unfortunately, the opposite is expected to happen. In fact, in 2023, the number of people utilising streaming platforms will outnumber people who own physical copies of music.

This popularity shift will impact how record labels operate and how artists make their money. However, that doesn’t have to necessarily lead to financial ruin for artists. There are still plenty of avid vinyl collectors, and physical sales opportunities will never be completely obliterated for as long as you can get inventive with your merchandising.

  1. The Appetite for Socially Aware Artists Will Grow

Anyone with an iota of taste whirling about their consciousness lamented at LadBaby reaching number 1 in the Christmas charts in 2022 as he paraded under the poxy guise of a selfless do-gooder.

Thankfully, some artists know how to project their socially aware conscience into their music career without angering half of the population. The appetite for protestive music is expected to grow throughout 2023 as we contend with the mother of all cost-of-living crises and the perils of Brexit.

Whether you implant meaningful messages in your music, work with organisations to address social issues or partner with charities, it’s a great way to stay relevant and reach a like-minded fanbase in 2023.

To keep up to date with the best independent music throughout 2023, keep checking out our reviews of some of the hottest up-and-coming independent artists. If you have new independent music to promote, submit your demo for review, or use our Interview submission service to introduce your music to our millions of readers!

Article by Amelia Vandergast

 

12 Ways to Get More Music Fans

Music Fans

With a loyal fanbase, independent bands and solo artists don’t need to rely on the mercy of major record labels anymore. Attracting new music fans should be a massive part of your music marketing strategy – don’t just bank on them finding you.

This article will cover 12 top ways to get more music fans. Not every method will be appropriate for every artist – so use discretion when deciding which methods will be right for your career and music.

  1. Play Live

Heading to shows and festivals is no longer the top way music fans discover new bands in the digital age of music. Yet, if you can bowl over someone at your show, you will make an ever-lasting impression. To maximise your success with this method, always look for gig and festival opportunities outside your town and city – unless you’re happy to remain a local band.

  1. Collaborate

Whether you’re collaborating with other musicians, photographers for your band photos, video directors for your music videos, graphic artists for your cover art, or big-name producers, all collaborations are a great opportunity to expose yourself to new people and strengthen your fanbase. Keeping your music career 100% DIY might give you a great sense of pride, but ultimately, it can cost you!

  1. Spotify Playlists

Finding new listeners via Spotify playlists may only help you to attract passive music fans, but it can be key to boosting your metrics and getting your future music in more ears. With enough engagement with your former releases, you will increase the chances of future releases appearing in generated playlists, such as Discover Weekly playlists. For your best shot of getting on the playlists with millions of listeners, always claim your Spotify for Artists profile and submit your music to the editorial team.

  1. Radio Play

Before your music starts to be automatically selected for international radio stations, don’t be above submitting your tracks to independent, local and internet radio stations. Their following may be smaller, but there is remarkable strength and passion within every grassroots music scene. Radio stations may not be as important as they used to be in the 90s, but they still have their place in the industry, especially for up-and-coming independent artists on a budget!

  1. Submit Your Music to Blogs and Magazines

Music fans can be extremely fickle. They won’t want to hit play on a track until they see a credible industry figure adding to the hype around it. Submit your music to sites such as A&R Factory to put yourself in front of a readership of millions of music fans, promoters, independent labels, and music publishers.

  1. Pay for Promotion

If you are serious about your music career and know your music has a shot at success if it falls into enough of the right ears, invest in paid-for-promotion if your budget can accommodate it. While some promotors out there will charge you £3,000 for a month-long campaign, this isn’t always the case! Some music promoters are happy to promote independent music they believe in for a nominal fee!

  1. Strengthen Your Social Media Presence

Social media has radically transformed the music industry. Especially regarding how artists can connect with their fanbase. When you are initially growing your fanbase, putting out posts that barely get any attention can feel depressing, especially with how much engagement other bands get. However, with a smaller fanbase, you have a great opportunity to create valuable relationships with your fans!

  1. Pay for Sponsored Ads

If you don’t have enough cash flow to pay for a PR campaign but you do have some to strengthen your position in the music industry, Sponsored Ads on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube can pay off massively. Sponsored ads can help you advertise new releases, merch drops and tours outside your social media circles. However, for sponsored ads to be effective, you need to research your target audience. Your Spotify data can come in handy here, as it will show you fan demographics.

  1. Do Interviews

Interviewing on a music podcast, radio station, or YouTube channel is a great way to expose yourself to new music fans who follow the podcasts, stations, or channels. For shy artists with plenty to say about their music or anything else, they feel passionate about, submitting to interview services that will conduct interviews via email will be less daunting.

  1. Nurture Your Existing Fanbase

Once you have reeled new fans in, don’t expect their support to be unwavering. Regardless of your talent, you should never feel as though you are above the people making your music career a possibility. Where possible, always respond to comments left by your fans. When you get more popular, liking comments will suffice, but until then, always let your fans know how gratified you are for their support. Furthermore, you will want to stay fresh in the minds of your fans, so always ensure that you are posting on social media consistently – not just when you have something to hawk!

  1. Partner with Charities and Other Good Causes

As a musician, you have a platform that stands above most of the population. If there are charities or causes you believe in, use your position to support them. You can donate the proceeds of your singles to charities you want to advocate. Or you can use your social media platforms to fight for what you believe. Do not be afraid of getting political. You might rub some people up the wrong way, but you will also inspire support and respect from fans on the same page as you!

  1. Create Cover Versions of Your Favourite Songs

Many independent artists have shot to relative fame by covering artists and bands that their intended fanbase is already listening to. Even if you hate cover bands, covering other artists’ material is a clever marketing ploy – especially if you then upload snippets of your cover songs to platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, in addition to uploading your cover tracks to streaming services, such as Spotify, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, Deezer and Apple Music.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

What Will Replace Spotify?

Spotify

Every year when Spotify Wrapped rolls around, the social media posts highlighting the exploitation and unfair revenue for artists are quick to follow. This year, the laments came early after many Spotify users posted their Instafest line-up posters, generated by a third-party app from data based on users’ recent Spotify history.

While many people within the music industry are quick to tear into the streaming service, there is a distinct lack of voices pushing the conversation further and suggesting how we can move beyond the exploitative practices of the platform.

Spotify

Every decade, there has been a reformation in how we consume music. In the 70s, vinyl records were the popular music formats; in the 80s, cassettes increased in popularity; in the 90s, CDs resolved the issues from the previous two formats; in the 00s, mp3s started to digitalise music before streaming platforms became the most popular way to consume music.

In this decade, it is becoming increasingly less likely that we will see the introduction of a new superior format – regardless of how many artistic voices join the chorus on how the streaming format is obliterating their chances of financial stability and security. The lack of drive for innovation mostly boils down to the convenience and accessibility of music for music fans. For just £9.99 a month, Spotify users have access to most of the music recorded since the 60s.

Of course, the fact that the major labels and publishers are still getting a massive slice of the streaming royalty pie is yet another monolithic factor in the stagnation of progression.

Are Alternative Streaming Platforms the Solution?

Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, Tidal and YouTube are all often hailed as alternatives to Spotify, but the highest paying, Tidal, still only pays around $0.013 per stream. Furthermore, the platform only has 5 million registered users, compared to the 195 million premium subscribers and the 422 million monthly users on Spotify.

New streaming platforms will not resolve the issue that Spotify is presenting to artists in the music industry. In 2021, Spotify paid $7 billion in royalties; the real issue is that the bulk of that cash doesn’t end up in the pockets of artists, because, despite popular conception, Spotify doesn’t pay its artists directly.

Spotify Royalty Split

The money goes to the rights holders, publishers, and distributors before artists sniff the cash. So, in 2021, *only* 52,600 artists generated $10,000 or more via the platform. It is easy to blame Spotify for the current state of affairs. However, that is letting the major record labels and publishers still profiteering off the back of musicians off the hook.

Spotify is Reigning Supreme, But Other Revenue Streams Are Still Flowing

At this point, crying about Spotify not being able to pay the rent for all of the 11 million artists on Spotify is like shedding tears over the fact that you can’t get blood from a stone. Furthermore, it is misleading to suggest that streaming platforms are the only source of revenue for artists in 2022 or that streaming has completely replaced album sales.

It isn’t my intention to insinuate that every musician has the chance to rake in as much as the Rolling Stones by operating as an independent artist. What I’m alluding to is the fact that Spotify isn’t the only means of generating income in 2022. If recording an album and whacking it up on Spotify is the extent of your effort to create a viable income through your music, you’re not going to get far.

As the pandemic proved, most artists without a day job can only support themselves by heading out on tour, selling their merch and gaining new fans that will be happy to further invest in their careers. Even if you are the next big thing since the Beatles, fame and fortune aren’t just going to land on your doorstep; if you want it, you have to work for it. Only industry plants blow up overnight, don’t use the success of Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish as a measuring stick!

The music industry is incredibly oversaturated due to its accessibility in this era. Now, it is impossibly easy to create a lo-fi recording at home, stick it up on streaming platforms, call yourself an artist and expect the royalties to come streaming in. It is in no way realistic to expect that every artist contributing to the music industry will be balling from their artistry.

Everything may be a commodity in our era of late-stage capitalism but there has never been an industry which gives everyone the equal opportunity to bankroll themselves based on their passions.

This unrealistic and mercenary view is abstracting the beauty of 21st-century technology, which gives every artist the chance to express themselves and share their art with the world. That isn’t to say the population will be falling over themselves to hear it; what it does mean is that more artists have the chance to make a cultural impact with their art than ever before. And as we have seen that there is no easy way out of the digital era of music; it is vital to maximise income revenues away from platforms such as Spotify.

Create merch your fans will want to part with their hard-earned cash for. Push for physical sales on Bandcamp Fridays. Promote your music online. Be willing to tour with your music. And if that doesn’t yield any results, get inventive and check out this list of 42 ways to finance your career as an artist!

 

Article by Amelia Vandergast

How Has Social Media Affected the Music Industry

How Social Media Has Affected The Music Industry

In the social media beginning, platforms such as Myspace facilitated the rise of many of the 00s greatest metal, rock and alternative acts. You Me at Six, Suicide Silence, Black Veil Brides, Job for a Cowboy, Bring Me the Horizon, Enter Shikari and Taking Back Sunday all owe their careers to the platform.

In 2022, the answer to the question of how has social media affected the music industry is a slightly different story. But for all the naysayers and contemporary social media bemoaners, there is plenty of social media marketing promotion potential within them.

This article will explore social media’s role in the evolution of the music industry in the last few decades. Before covering some of the top social media platforms all independent artists should be active on, and how to maximise your reach on each platform.

20 era-defining MySpace bands: Where are they now? | Kerrang!

How Social Media Affected the Music Industry

Technology has revolutionised every aspect of our lives in the last decade, and the music industry is no exception to that rule. Before it, the only means of communication artists had with their fans were the music, running interviews and speaking to the audiences at shows.

Now, thanks to social media, two-way conversations can easily flow between artists and their fans. This is mostly a good thing, although if you look at the drivel that Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown put out on the regular, it can also be taken as a negative. The adage used to compel us to never meet our idols. Now, it might be more apt to say never follow your idols on Twitter.

The momentous movement has been generated in artists’ careers with the advent of Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. Now, there is infinitely less reliance on record companies, meaning that success isn’t only synonymous with signing with one of the big four record companies. Similarly, independent record labels have also found their wings thanks to the reach that social media gives them.

Through social media, bands can build fanbases that can help them kickstart their careers, make touring outside of their hometown a possibility and put real longevity behind their careers and showcase their music by sharing content.

Social Media & The Music Industry in the New Normal

Social media was key to the survival of many artists throughout the lockdowns. When heading to your local venue and seeing your favourite artists was off the cards, artists stepped up to the entertainment mark and entertained us through livestream shows.

Even though the darkest days are behind us, it is clear that the return to normal isn’t normal at all. A study that was published in May 2022 which looked into the impact of COVID-19 on music consumption and music spending highlighted that there is a 45.1% dip in total market spending compared to pre-pandemic levels.

However, the demand for digital entertainment is still booming, which makes subscription platforms, such as Patreon, a vital source of income for independent artists looking to finance their careers in an industry where the fault lines are becoming impossible to ignore.

Patreon has been helping fans to support artists since 2013; when the pandemic struck its plaguey blow in March 2020, the platform saw the biggest surge in creators and subscribers in its history as 35,000 new creators signed up on the platform.

The platform isn’t for everyone, but all artists with a dedicated fanbase who can come up with unique selling propositions should consider using it as a potential revenue stream.

The 5 Top Social Media Platforms for Independent Artists & Bands

1.       TikTok

TikTok now has its own music distro and promo tool, SoundOn, developed to help artists grow their fanbases and fuel their careers away from the platform. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just an annoying and problematic platform where teenagers share their dance crazes and self-harm trends. On TikTok, with the right content, anyone can go viral. For your best chances, collaborate, post covers of your favourite songs, get inventive with your instrumentation, and share behind-the-scenes footage between posting your songs and clips of your music videos.

2.       Instagram

Instagram isn’t the same beast as it used to be. Before its major 2022 update, it was primarily a photo gallery app. Now it’s trying to follow in the footsteps of TikTok with its reel-based content and stories. For your best shot at Insta-fame, or at least some attention on the app, go live regularly, post clips of your music videos, and help your fans to get a more intimate view of you as an artist.

3.       Facebook

Users on Facebook are far more likely to appreciate longer-form content. So, it is the perfect place to share your full music videos, share your reviews and interviews and write long-form statuses updating your fans on what you are up to in your music career. Facebook may be losing its popularity amongst the younger generation of music fans, but it is still one of the best platforms to network on, spread news of shows by creating events and live stream gigs.

4.       Twitter

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it can help witty artists looking to amass a fanbase with a similar mindset by weighing in on trending topics. Your hashtag game needs to be on point here, and for any shot of success, you’ll need to dedicate ample time to tweeting, retweeting, replying, and liking to build a fanbase. Although the platform is now in Elon Musk’s possession, there is no guarantee that it won’t be an absolute dumpster fire by the time this article has been published.

5.       Bandcamp

Bandcamp falls into the grey area between a social media platform and a music streaming site but given its merit in the contemporary music industry for the ability for music fans to support and follow artists on it, we’ve included it on the list, nonetheless. You’re fairly limited in what you can share on Bandcamp in the form of updates, but it stands as one of the only platforms with a viable profit-share model.

Article by Amelia Vandergast

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