As Midem 2015 approaches, our conversations with leading young executives from top labels, distributors and publishers continue with Nick Parry, digital marketing manager for the UK at Believe Digital.
midemblog: Tell us about yourself, your background, what you do and who you do it for?
I work for digital distributor and services provider Believe Digital, running bespoke social media and online advertising campaigns for distribution clients and our in-house record label Believe Recordings, as well as overseeing Believe UK’s community management and external communications. Before Believe, I worked for the good guys over at CMU, as well as their sister-publication ThreeWeeks. I also write for online music magazine Bokah, which I co-run with my two very good mates.
> What are the best things about your job, and what have been your career highlights to date?
I get the opportunity to work on some great campaigns alongside a fantastic team of knowledgeable individuals. The best digital marketing campaigns I work on are where the artist has a great brand or style and we’re able to be creative in communicating that across multiple online platforms. It’s obviously so rewarding to see releases do well; and working with independent music, that can come in so many different forms, be it successfully building an artists’ fanbase over time, helping contribute towards a chart position, or simply seeing positive responses online so you know you’re helping that music reach a greater audience and be enjoyed by many. Highlights would include working on incredible acts like James Vincent McMorrow or Public Service Broadcasting over the last few years and seeing them develop and succeed over time.
> What advice would you give to people looking to start working in the music industry today?
Gain experience where you can and capitalise on any connections you have. The notion of “who you know” is often perceived in a negative light, but it’s just a reflection on the personable aspect of the industry – making a good impression goes a long way and I always think enthusiasm, flexibility, and intuition are the best skills to hone. It’s always worth showing initiative with personal projects, like starting blogs, being involved in music events or helping out promote a mate’s band – it will expand your network and knowledge, and hopefully increase the opportunity of finding your dream music job.
> What do you predict will be the top trends for music consumption and marketing in 2015?
Firstly, on a social media perspective: Facebook’s not a dying platform. It may not be the current buzzy platform that is seeing a surge in usage like Instagram (remember who they’re owned by!), but it is not to be underestimated. It is still used by 70% of online adults and remains a key (and cheap) marketplace for digital marketers. In terms of music consumption, there is an undeniable shift towards streaming, which we’re seeing at Believe. Digital marketing trends in 2015 will continue to encompass this, with more focus placed on streaming strategies involving playlist creation and music discovery. I think we’ll also see more intuitive new tools being developed to aid digital music consumption and make the user journey from discovery to purchase even more streamline – for example, tools like Linkfire.
> Are labels, distributors and publishers still the most viable route to market for artists, given the proliferation of direct to fan platforms?
There’s a plethora of easily accessible online platforms available to use for any budding artist to get their music to market and promote it, but it’s still impossible to beat the experience, resources, and infrastructure of any label, distributor, or publisher in effectively looking after and releasing your music. There’s only so far you can go with these platforms and having the necessary teams in place is still vital for releasing music in the modern digital age. At Believe we have dedicated teams in place across label management, trade marketing, neighbouring rights, video management, and of course digital marketing to help give our labels and artists a 360-degree strategy around a release.
> With music sales in decline, how can artists address the challenge of monetising their fanbases in the streaming era?
Platforms like YouTube and Spotify are key. Artists need to ensure their content is available on these outlets and that it’s being properly monetised. Even if the revenue streams earned from these sources are minimal at low-level consumption, artists need to remember that due to the nature of the ‘listen to all’ environment, they are hotbeds for music discovery and therefore a goldmine for acquiring huge fanbases. Other revenue streams can then develop from this initial discovery stage, like fans investing in gig tickets, physical products, and merchandise.
> How do you think streaming can address some of its key issues – such as sustainability, growth, pricing, windowing, transparency – in the next 12 months?
I think a lot of these issues are inevitable with the rise of any “new” music format developing within the industry and will be ironed out over time. The biggest issue is that of pricing in conjunction with the depth of music available on these services working as an all-you-can-eat model, and how freemium users and paying users have the same access to this. Smaller artists cannot benefit as much as the top major-label streamed artists in terms of revenue generated and it is understandable how it can feel like a fool’s errand to a lot of the independent sector. But, I think this can be addressed by more tastemaker editorial content being pushed on these streaming services, and distributors working closer with them to ensure more quality independent music is being pitched for high-profile playlist inclusion. The spikes in streams and follower growth you can attain from these are crucial for smaller acts to get a foothold on these platforms.
> Would you persuade Taylor Swift to come back to Spotify? If so, how?
Well, she needs to shake off her Spotify hang-ups and come-round to the current digital music landscape. She’s denying a whole chunk of her fanbase the ability to listen to her music on one of the biggest music platforms and even though she’s clearly doing fine sales-wise without it, the statement doesn’t set a good precedent for other artists. I’d probably try and convince her streaming’s about the long game: in a good few years when she’s not the current flavour of the month and her download sales have eased off, she’ll miss out on the revenue generated from her huge core fanbase continually streaming her music over-and-over again for years to come. But then maybe she’ll have caved by then and this was her plan all along! Either way, personally I’d prefer Thom Yorke to come on board rather that Taylor, so I’d try and solve that one first!
This is the latest in a series of posts from leading label executives, who’ll be posting regularly here on midemblog between now and Midem this June. The posts are sourced and curated by Motive Unknown‘s Lucy Blair; and you can find them all here!