November Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds More Artist Friendly Features


As “Spotify For Artists” evolves and continues to set the tone for streaming platforms and how they allow artists to control their profiles, this month marked another update that most who distribute their music there should be happy about. Spotify introduced “Artist’s Pick”, a new feature aimed at allowing artists to control the music that sits on top of their profile – they can pick any album, track, or playlist they prefer to highlight, and even include a message about why they dig it so much.

In addition to “Artist’s Pick”, artists who distribute their music to Spotify can now add custom images and share geotargeted tour dates. Previously, artists were limited to their profile image when it came to these sort of uploads/customizations – now they can add photos from on the road, album art, or hey, even a fun selfie for the heck of it. As far as tour dates are concerned, this new feature actually coincides with the “Artist’s Pick” feature, as they can choose to make their geotargeted tour date the main focus of a user’s attention up top! Both of these go a long way in offering free tools that allow indie artists to engage and connect with their fans via an increasingly popular streaming platform. We’ll be sure to keep you updated month to month as all the stores/services we help you distribute to make announcements like this!

YouTube Announces Partnership with TicketMaster


Remember last year when Spotify partnered with Ticketmaster to integrate local tour dates into artists’ profiles? Well, YouTube is getting in on the fun! The video streaming giant owned by Google announced in November that they’d begin featuring “hundreds of artist’s upcoming US tour dates on their YouTube videos.

When it comes to music – love it or hate it – a LOT of music fans rely on YouTube to stream their favorite music these days. It remains to be seen what differences lie among those who use YouTube to stream versus those who prefer services like Deezer, Spotify or Apple – specifically in how these users engage with their favorite artists or how often they’d pay to go see them live in concert. But this certainly signals a shift in YouTube’s strategy for additional revenue streams, or at least an attempt to diversify from their main source of dough: advertising.

If you’re an independent artist and you distribute your music to all platforms available, this only increases the access your fans – whether they’ve been with you from the beginning or are just discovering your tunes – have to your upcoming live dates.

Google Assistant Adds Song Recognition Feature


It’s unlikely at this point that you haven’t been hearing a lot more about Google Assistant. The tech behemoth has been making cool updates to their voice-controlled feature available on Google and Android driven devices, and it’s latest involves music.

Eerily similar to the process that helped put Shazam (which TuneCore distributes to) on the map, users with Google Assistant can now instantly get more information about the music being played in their surroundings.

By holding down a home button (to trigger Google Assistant) and asking your device what song is playing, you’ll immediately be served with a song title, the artist and a sample of the song’s lyrics (where applicable). But of course, that’s not all you’ll get: in typical Google fashion, links to Google Play, YouTube and search (for more information) are also offered up with each response.

While it’s not an incredibly revolutionary addition, it’s important to remember that this action no longer requires a music fan to have additional apps they may not have previously considered downloading to get instant access to the new music they’re hearing. That stands to impact artists of all career levels when it comes to how quickly discovery can lead to fandom.

Deezer Announces New “Community” Feature


While the messaging/sharing and social networking elements of streaming services have been explored, blown up, and in some cases completely dialed back, Deezer has decided to open up the conversation…among its users, of course. In November the streaming platform announced that its subscribers can access the Deezer Community feature in order to share new tunes with their friends on the platform, receive Deezer news and updates, and join fellow music lovers on their message board-like system in order to find support, share tips, or act as a leader in conversations about artists and genres.

While it may seem less relevant in 2017, one must not forget about the power of message boards and forums among diehard music fans. They’ve long been a refuge for those active listeners looking to share new deep cuts, discover underground singles, and participate in deep topic conversations with like-minded folks. In the same way that vinyl and cassettes are still being purchased by some, these forums and communities too are populated with vocal and fervent music fans, (don’t believe us? Just check out indie hip hop label Stones Throw’s boards for yourself!)

We’re psyched to see the European streamer get its toes wet in the social game, because after all, when it comes to independent music, word of mouth can be everything.

Are You Guilty? 4 Ways Indie Artists Are Killing Social Media

[Editors Note: This post was written by Joshua Smotherman, co-founder of Middle Tennessee Music, and it originally appeared on the Cyber PR blog.]

 

In an ideal world I would wake up in the morning to a fresh cup of hot coffee. I would enjoy it as I check my e-mail and skim social networks to check up on friends and my favorite bands.

I would immerse myself in an online community of music lovers, songwriters, and musicians sharing, caring, and building with each other… NOT blasting commands to “check out my new hottest thing”.

I see enough billboards on the interstate.

In this world:

  • Bands would stop acting like rock stars and start acting like leaders
  • They would build self-sustaining tribes
  • They would listen to their fans
  • They would understand that growing organically will always win over view counts

As a music blogger, my inbox would NOT be full of one-liners and YouTube links I only see as distractions. Whatever happened to “connecting” with someone?

Unfortunately, this world does not exist. From where I’m sitting, the average indie band sucks at using social media and its ruining it for everyone else. Most importantly, your potential fans.

What are we doing wrong, you say?

Oh boy…where do I begin?

Me, Me, Me Marketing

You might have been raised in a world of billboards and commercials, but using social media as a one way street is killing your promo game.

It seems too many people are missing the social half of the phrase, social media.

You need to engage with fans and listeners instead of blasting them with links, videos, and nonsense about buying your album.

Sadly, most bands qualify [as what the marketing world refers to] as spammers.

Engaging is easier than you think and should come naturally (assuming you are not a recluse).

  • Share albums, videos, and news about other music you enjoy or local bands you play with. Ask others what they think.
  • Share news related to the music industry or issues that reflect the personality of your band and use them to engage in conversation.
  • Instead of posting links to the same videos and songs repeatedly, post clips of the band working in the studio or upload a demo mix and allow fans to share their opinions so you can take the art to another level. Involve fans in your process(es).
  • Network with bands in other areas to create an atmosphere for gig swapping and collaboration as well as cross promotion of content.

This list goes on but the takeaway here is engage in a way that results in feedback and interaction.

Build a community.

Focusing on the wrong metrics

Your follower count means nothing unless you see conversions.

Huh?!

More important than a follower, view, or like:

  • How many fans have signed up for your mailing list?
  • Do you pass around a mailing list signup sheet at your show?
  • How many people have you met at shows? (You do hang out with the audience after the show…right?)
  • How many people have bought a CD or t-shirt?

Stop putting all your energy into increasing numbers on social sites and focus on converting the followers you have into loyal fans.

Use social media to funnel music listeners to your website where you attempt to convert them into a mailing list signup, song download, or merchandise sale.

Would you rather have 1,000 likes or 100 fans spending $1,000 on music, merch, show tickets and crowd funding campaigns?

Show me the money!

Repeating yourself on every social network

Sending your Twitter feed to Facebook then copying and pasting it to Google+ so the same message appears on every site is a horrible idea.

So is auto play on audio embeds but that’s for a different time.

You are not expected to know marketing, you make music! Allow me to guide you on this train of thinking…

People who use Twitter are different than people who use Facebook and the people who use Google+ are not like the others.

It is imperative you consider these facts when developing a social media strategy and act accordingly.

Make sure you actually use social media as a music fan before deciding how to market your music using these tools. Follow bands who are in a position you would like to be in and see how they use each network. Notice what works, what doesn’t work, and then perfect your plan of action.

Posting several updates to Twitter every hour (depending on the nature of the updates) is more acceptable than posting to Facebook every 15 minutes.

When you over saturate a person’s FB News Feed, they hide you from their feed. Or worse…unlike your page or mark your posts as spam.

A general guideline is try to retweet, reply, comment, and share relevant content from others more than you broadcast and peddle your own wares.

Sell Without Selling

If you focus on building a community around your band instead of acting as a bulletin board, you will start noticing the true power of social media.

You will not see overnight results.

The key is to stay consistent, focus on creating great music, and communicate directly with your audience.

If you create a community of loyal fans, they will want to support you.

Your community will become your sales force and all you need to do is be yourself and continue giving fans a band worth loving.

Consistency allows you to reach a tipping point where fans begin promoting your music for you by wearing t-shirts, playing CDs at parties, and recommending you to their friends.

It is hard to conceive this when you are starting at zero, but 6 to 12 months down the road you will notice things happening simply because you remained persistent.

While fans are busy promoting your music, you need to seek out gig opportunities, blog reviews or interviews, and other chances to put yourself in the presence of tastemakers who can expose you to their audience.

Bloggers, journalists, booking agents, and other industry personnel will not give you their attention unless you have proof of a loyal, engaged following.

Buying followers or views might help you manipulate chart rankings and other metrics, but they will never replace the power of community. If you have 5,000 page likes but no one is liking, sharing, or commenting on your updates; we all see right through you.

So can the people who can expose you to bigger audiences of music fans.

In closing:

  • Build your tribe
  • Nurture your community
  • Stop acting like a corporate sales machine

You might also be interested in this panel discussion concerning Marketing, PR, and Promotion on a Budget hosted by Indie Connect NYC which discusses mores things indie musicians are doing wrong online.

How Have You Avoided Killing Social Media?

Let us know below what you have done to overcome these four social media killers above (or any others that you’ve experienced) in the form of a comment below!

TuneCore Artists Head Down to A3C Prepared!

It’s Day Two of A3C Festival 2015 and hip hop artists from all over have ascended to Atlanta to perform, shake hands, and, well, party! Before the festival kicked off, we reached out to some of our TuneCore MCs and producers to get a feel for how they’re planning on making the most of A3C this year, and grab their thoughts on what it means to be an in independent artist in 2015.

Per usual, our insightful community didn’t disappoint! Whether they’re veterans on the scene or they’ve head to Atlanta for the first time, take a look at what they had to say…

On making the most of A3C. . .

“I plan on going to as many conference panels as possible to network and get advice from industry veterans on how to improve what I’m currently doing and continue to improve my musical success.”
– 
AwesomeNobody

“Aside from the obvious answer of making connections and witnessing legends speak/perform, I find A3C and Atlanta in general, a huge inspiration for my song writing. The rich culture and southern lifestyle spark a different kind of creativity I wouldn’t normally experience at home in Canada.”
– Quake Matthews

“This is my first year at A3C, after doing SXSW four years in a row and having great success, I’m really excited to start the A3C chapter in my career. After the festival, I hope to gain the notice of music lovers that enjoy spreading the word on new artists as myself.”
– 
Erreon Lee

“I plan on taking advantage of every opportunity to engage with the supporters of indie hip hop; performing as much as possible, building with people on a one-on-one level, etc. In terms of the “creative” side of things, I’m there to have fun and make sure I remain as visible as possible to those who I may want to engage with in the near future.”

“As an independent artist it’s key to be out and about networking. You don’t have a big team behind you, so you have to play street team sometimes down to the manager. We plan on killing shows and building with like minded artist with the same goals. A3C is the perfect opportunity to make more opportunities just have to apply yourself.”
 Goldyard

As an independent artist I plan on making the most of my time at A3C this year by personally connecting with my current and potential fans. I already have a pretty nice fanbase in ATL, so I will be looking to expand on that. Other ways I will be making the most of my experience in A3C this year are by promoting with CDs, download cards and promotional flyers for the project I released this year through TuneCore. I will also have my personal artist/brand apparel on hand at every show and media event I attend. I’m scheduled to do tons of interviews and a few shows, so I plan to make the most of every opportunity. “
– 
Weasel Sims

“As an independent artist it’s hard getting your music heard and recognized. A3C gives upcoming independent artists a platform to be heard, so if I don’t connect with as many people and artists as possible I’d be wasting my time.”
– 
Kidd Adamz

“In my eyes, the biggest thing that needs to happen during my time at A3C this year is  to go from a shy introverted artist to the very outgoing personable being that I am. The best way to do so is by meeting as many people as possible!”
JoeyB

On being an independent hip hop artist in 2015…

“Being an indie artist in 2015 has it’s ups and downs. As far as myself, I tend to try and look towards the positive, which is freedom. Sometimes the freedom to be you creatively makes a lot of difference – your sound, your look, and your perception always has a chance to be the next thing!”
Boxx A Million

“Being an [independent] hip hop artist, there are many obstacles and challenges – but it’s my job to continue to make interesting music and be as interactive with my fans as possible.”
ChellaH

“We’re the next wave of music. Of course labels will always be around, but everyday another indie artist is going viral without them. We’re the future.”
– Trev Rich

“As an independent artist in 2015 with the Internet at our fingertips, the power is in my hands. As much as I love the art, I understand that I’m a business. The more energy you invest into your business, the larger it can grow!”
– 
Phene

“It means to be able to control your own future. Being able to ride the wave and keep up with the changes by releasing music whenever you choose to. It also means having a close relationship with your fans; they’re like your team.”
– Shawn Chrystopher

“Any thing is possible even without a label support if you work hard for it.”
– 
ILL BOYZ

“To have been signed to a boutique label before and to be independent and thriving at the same time is just a blessing from God. It’s an amazing opportunity and honor to be respected as an independent artist and it makes more sense business-wise for me at the moment; so the timing is perfect for me to succeed as a self-contained force. Shout out my team!”
– Super Spodee