The trend of music being owned via the traditional model of labels dictating play has been under threat for some time. This has been moved when Napster was first formed as an illegal file (music) share service, all the way through to the massive business of digital music on the likes of iTunes and to a lesser degree the legal Napster.
The model for established artists doesn’t end there, with internet radio stations shooting up and the likes of Spotify meaning more channels are now open for signed artists, even if it is less traditional. Some of the traditional artists have suffered but others have grown their fan base as a result.
The likes of YouTube have presented both opportunities and threats to artists and now the commercial models are more established, YouTube provide a huge reach for music videos, bigger than any TV station. YouTube still needs to work on protecting copyright if it is to become a channel of choice and one where only official videos are rated and viewed.
MySpace is also a well established channel for music. However many users have moved away from the platform due to its overtly commercial nature. One of the most well-known early cases of a UK act making it via the Internet has to be the rise of the Arctic Monkeys. They were one of the first to make it big due their profile on MySpace and the active promotion they took off that base. Culminating in hit albums, tours and awards, including being recognised by the coveted Mercury Music Award.
All of this is a lovely background, but what does this mean for the industry at large?
There are two main shifts, one being the major labels are losing some of the control over their artists. Due to the higher number of avenues open to artists, they can also utilise more routes to market. A number of newer acts are actually starting to push their music via social channels rather than performing all over the pubs and clubs hoping to get noticed.
For me the acts that embrace the channels in their true way, stand a great chance of getting out there. If the acts engage with their fans, followers or friends then they will get a massive following. Facebook the acts should share pics, videos and updates. They should also respond to comments. On Twitter the acts should Retweet (just not too much) they should also message their followers when asked a question, Professor Green does this well. This will provide a massively loyal following.
On any channel, You Tube included, the acts should supply something unique, maybe snippets of forthcoming tracks or accoustic versions. One of the acts that has done this successfully at present is Duchess, an up and coming girl band.
For the marketeers in this area there are great options. Targeting is very easy. With Facebook for instance you can target fans or potential fans on geo-demographic factors but more interestingly on what they like. This is a great option in terms of picking people with interests in your genre or looking at people who like similar or rival acts. Twitter is moving along these lines as well with the introduction of sponsored trends, tweets and profiles.
Sites such as LinkedIn allow people in the industry to connect to others, bringing managers, agents together with record industry people. It also allows bands to secure contacts with corporates and gain input in to areas such as styling, image and coverage.