It’s not 2009 anymore.
Subcultures storm public conscious then wither away in 12 months. Trends perish in the flash pan. The content lifecycle is as distorted as content platforms are fragmented. The result? A desperate need for navigation. Good ideas often require wings—ad spends, influencer campaigns, interactive sites—to really lift off.
Anyone can push an Instagram post, though. The best digital marketers feel at home on unstable ground, tackling rapid currents, discovering the unexplored. Aaron Bogucki left Republic to join AWAL as VP, Digital Marketing, in hopes of doing just that for gifted, ambitious creators who can reach the masses with a little ingenuity. If there’s one rule that presides over today’s landscape, it’s anything goes. Read on for Bogucki’s birds-eye synopsis of music marketing that doubles as food for thought.
Pivot to Video Voice
We occupy a world that’s always listening. The 2014 introduction of Amazon’s Echo launched a smart speaker boom still rippling across music and beyond. Bezos and co—alongside Google, Alibaba, Apple and others—have grown the sector considerably. Nine million units shipped in Q1 of this year, a 210 percent increase over 2017’s Q1 numbers. These seven-digit spikes won’t slow for some time.
“Smart speaker ownership has exploded over the last few years. By this Christmas, 48 percent of all American households will have a smart speaker. This opens up a massive opportunity for music consumption. 70-80 percent of all activities on these devices is music related, so that's huge.”
“This is a big opportunity, but also a challenge for artists and music marketers because we are going into a voice-audio-first interface versus a mobile and maybe desktop world. Getting your content in front of people is going to be even more difficult.”
Some music companies have already started working with Amazon, among other tech behemoths, to try and influence the query responses dished out by the HomePods of the world. The audio that follows requests big and small—“Play me some good morning songs”—determines which copyright owners enjoy bottom line boosts. The promise of an Internet of Things—networked convenience—is only just beginning. Hold on tight.
Bigger Pie, Smaller Slices
Significant growth in year-over-year music consumption sums up the common story for myriad international economies. Saavn (India), Anghami (Middle East), and Tecent’s CC (China) are driving streaming adoption overseas, converting millions of users into paying subscribers. Their western counterparts aim to follow suit in faraway regions. Spotify, for instance, has reportedly plotted a MENA launch this autumn.
“Over the last few years, we've seen mobile penetration grow in South America, Latin America, and Southeast Asia,” Bogucki notes. “These fans in these markets are highly social and they use direct messaging platforms to share music, they use, of course, social media platforms to share music, and we're seeing artists break out of these territories first and grow campaigns for them globally based on these audiences being so engaged.”
That said, context matters. For starters, artist popularity on developing music platforms usually reflects that region’s music scene (Drake won’t automatically seize the most-streamed-act award in Libya.) Relatedly, your typical music fan in China generates a fraction of the value of her UK counterpart. More streaming in more places is good for music everywhere, but not all artists will benefit equally.
Your Digital Fingerprint
The advertising economy—and music’s place within it—exists as a flat circle that starts and ends with identity. Personal data helps mine more. The information cycle has the familiar pros (improved experience) and cons (lost privacy), though recent government regulations have started to shift the narrative ever so slightly. Bogucki explains.
“In the digital marketing landscape the accuracy of our segmenting and our targeting is incredible. It's getting better all the time. However with new laws like GDPR and future laws coming into play consumers are opting in to be marketed to, opting in to be advertised to. So the challenge there is to create a value exchange when you're marketing to people so that they want to hear from you and we're getting better at that all the time.”
The General Data Protection Regulation spells out what third-parties (re: companies) can and can’t do with your data, from Portugal to Finland and everywhere in between. A far reaching EU policy, the formal attempt to protect user information is a reflection of mounting concerns over invasive marketing. While music sits on the less sinister edge of that spectrum, artists and marketers will experience strategic shifts spurred by legal change.
Aaron Bogucki will address tech’s impact on music marketing at Music Week Tech Summit in London, September 26.
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