On That Note/ There’s No Demand for New Music – Just Great Music
I am a music executive the way a musician is a musician. Whether you’ve got a deal or not, this is the business you do, follow, know, and love. With that perspective I’m appreciative of the current view of the industry, that’s afforded to me via my varied work. Here’s my summary of what I think matters in the music marketing.
1. Strictly as a marketer Soundscan sales numbers are not the Holy Grail. They are not the complete and great indicator of band/artist popularity. Streaming numbers are. Tell me who’s listening and how many, that’s the motivation for a lucrative brand partnership. We are seeing more artists jump to the majors (i.e. Corporate Sponsorship) before they EVER sell platinum (Janelle Monae’– she’s been to the White House, because she had the FLOTUS listening.)
And why do industry trade ads still only tout the radio add/audience numbers but not the streaming audience (afraid of competition)? Isn’t the point to demonstrate how strong the listening demand is for your record? And yes, I know that radio still has the biggest slice of the pie – 35% of people discover new music through radio, but an equal percentage can be reached by combining Word of Mouth (21%), YouTube (10%), Pandora (9%) and Facebook (4%).
2. Music/Brand Sponsorship/Partnerships should be organic or stop! (And hence, the genesis for my company’s name: Organic Soul Marketing.) We’ve all witnessed the debacle of brands that have hired or tied their brands to artists solely due to their numbers, but not their soul. Think it’s irrelevant. Think again. Just as brands are drilling data to analyze their customer’s current and future desires, being perceived as misogynistic, homophobic, or racist ain’t one of ‘em. When you pair up with an Artist, you better know who you’re dealing with. Or as CeeLo put it, “Whether you’re selling a dream, selling a scheme, or playing a role – like it or not, we’re selling soul.”
3. Know that Not Everyone Knows Your Name - With so many platforms and channels to view/hear music content, do not assume that your name – although well known in your niche– is known by others outside of it. That’s what just happened to Pharrell - Everybody knows him NOW. Before he was well known in his niche (influential and sexy as his musical career was - it was not the magnitude of this mainstream audience). So, when you travel outside your circle, be humble, make friends, put on a hell-a-fide show (oh yeah, because knowing your name won’t make me buy a ticket either) and introduce your peculiar/freaky/unique self to the greater body.
4. There is No Demand for NEW Music. There is so much good music invested (i.e. #1 Market share Universal Music Group acquisition of Capitol) and accessible in the world, that record companies are able to sustain their profitability on the sales of catalogue. So where does the demand for new music come from? Not the labels. Or it doesn’t have to. It doesn’t have to because labels first hedge their investments (bets), by qualifying new artists with the new/old rigmarole: How many YouTube views; how many Facebook Likes; how many Twitter followers you got? As if they weren’t buying these metrics already. Please, everything is corrupt or open to negotiation. YouTube views and Twitter followers can be bought. But instead of doing the gritty work of listening, discovering and nurturing real talent, most labels are looking for the expedient. The shooting star across the digital sky. But really all that matters is the artist that can withstand the heat…who is in it for the long haul. Who is still relevant tomorrow?
The winning label will be the one that cultivates an amazing A&R filter: the label that can differentiate the wheat from the chaff. People will actually look for your stuff again (hey, Motown) Remember when Quincy Jones was an A&R man?
Demand for new music comes from the pure demand that erupts from an audience seeking that voice; that repository of what’s going on – an artist who has integrity, and something to SAY – not just something to SELL. That artist that gives voice to what hasn’t been said; in the way a GREAT artist says it! Period. (I.e. Lorde, Gregory Porter, Adele, Prince (forever))
5. When people see my office and note the many platinum albums they say “it’s not like that anymore!” It’s no wonder, only 13 album titles went platinum in the U.S 2013 – and only one album sold more than 2 million units—Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience.” This reflects an increase from the 10 titles in 2012. And only 106 track titles (topped by Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” with 6.5 million units) sold 1 million each. Digital album sales in the U.S comprise 40.6% and the CD is still the king format with 57.2%. And in case you’re wondering where said CD’s are bought, while mass merchants Walmart and Target saw sales drop 16.3% – non traditional CD merchants like Amazon, Starbucks and concert venues saw album sales increase by 2.4%. And although iTunes reported a decline in digital album sales, there overall market share grew to 40.6% of the U.S album sales. So, which merchant is selling CD’s on the mobile platform?
About the Author: Jacqueline Rhinehart is the president and founder of Organic Soul Marketing, a consultation firm that integrates entertainment concepts into creative marketing, publicity and branding opportunities. She is the author of My Organic Soul, From Plato to Creflo, Emerson to MLK, Jesus to Jay-Z (Broadway/Random House). With a career span of 30 years in music, she is a masterful omni-media strategist, creating, developing and implementing memorable campaigns in music, entertainment and lifestyle industries. She is a native of South Carolina and Brooklyn, NY. For more information visit Jacqueline’s website at: www.jacquelinerhinehart.net or www.organicsoulmarketing.net; email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.