2015 is looking to be an interesting but testing year for the music industry; as we wait for Apple to launch their streaming service, see what video strategy labels adopt in their marketing campaigns and we work to find a way to move forwards with discussions on streaming. In the mist of all of these huge topics, and as more and more artists (on all levels) are self-releasing their music – labels, managers and artists are going to be working hard to make sure that their new releases are heard above all the noise.
Last year, in a report about branding, The Guardian spoke of how over the past few years, there has been a real shift towards a collaborative economy and how this has resulted in “a combination of value-seeking, convenience, instant gratification, quality control, less-mass, [and]more unique experiences.” This concept of collaboration is something that is gradually being introduced to the music industry. In a recent interview with Virgin.com, guitarist Bernie Tormé, spoke of the importance of collaboration in the music industry, highlighting a key aspect as being: “[the]building [of]online communities who spread the word via social media, to find the needles in the haystack around the world, people who want to get involved in [a]project but otherwise would not know about it.” This is where collaborative platforms such as Fluence and Talenthouse have the potential to make a great influence on the music industry in 2015 – they present an opportunity for people around the World to get involved with all types of releases, at different stages, and have the potential to make a significant impact on an artist’s career.
Launched in the latter part of 2014, Fluence, created by TopSpin co-founder Shamal Ranasinghe, offers creators and brands an opportunity to get their creations in front of relevant and respected curators within their field. Artists can upload their content – be it a track, or demo video for a new music startup, and approach relevant people within the platform to offer their feedback and opinions. Only if a curator agrees to listen and offer their feedback is the artist/ label charged a small fee.
Having recently spoken to Shamal, he offered an insight into the mission of Fluence, stating that the platform: “wants to help [artists]find and access other people in the creative community who can introduce them to new audiences and get useful feedback for their media… evolving into a network where the general creative community is connecting and promoting each other.” In a time when the industry is overrun by many possible ways for artists to make their music available to fans, Fluence is definitely providing a streamlined opportunity for an artist’s music to be heard above the noise plus heard by relevant people. Alongside this, the platform also helps with the development of an artist’s network.
Talenthouse gives creators across film, music, art, design, photography and fashion an opportunity to creatively collaborate with contemporaries and icons within their field and/ or known brands. When a brand or major artist wants to partner with the best new creative talent they launch a ‘Creative Invite’ – such as create a remix for One Direction or create web art for Kiesza’s website – on Talenthouse, inviting people with the opportunity to submit their best work to a brief. Monetary rewards and unique prizes are offered to encourage submissions, with the winning submission(s) judged and chosen by respected people in the field. This is a huge advantage of Talenthouse, as it offers the opportunity for people to get their work in front of people who may be able to make a difference in their career.
VP of Marketing at Talenthouse, Emma Trant, explained the role of the platform in the music industry, explaining how they have worked extensively to engage creators and get them involved creatively, from creating music videos, merchandise, and even stage outfits for artists. A huge strength of Talenthouse is their huge network of creatives they have access to via their platform, which they have built since their inception in 2008. Emma highlighted how Talenthouse enables labels to engage positively with an influential and growing global creative community, which in turn creates online buzz, PR and engagement. It was announced in 2014 that Talenthouse had secured 10 million dollars of funding which was reported to be invested in their engineering and sales team and use to develop their presence across Europe. With this in mind, 2015 is looking to be an exciting and significant year for the platform.
What’s really interesting is how both of these platforms have the potential to shake up the PR process, in the early stages of an artist’s career. In the case of Fluence, it provides a great opportunity for new artists and their music to be put in front of “tastemakers” and build early awareness. When speaking to Shamal, he mentioned how he sees Fluence as having a crucial role in pre-release strategy in 2015 – as it provides the opportunity for artists to privately send their media to curators weeks in advance and offer it was an exclusive to their blog, website or radio show. As Forbes’ Lori Kozlowski stated in her article about collaboration in the music industry; “[as]most artists will attest, somewhere along the line in their career, there was that one person who gave them a first chance” this is something that’s incredibly relevant here. Talenthouse, the platform provides smaller artists the opportunity to create something for their campaign, which will capture curator’s imagination and creatively add to a release’s PR story. Although, due to the rewards and incentives that are required to make project appealing on the platform, Talenthouse is an avenue that only artists with financial backing can explore using (depending on the scale of the project that an artist wants to receive through using the platform).
The extent of where collaboration can go in the music industry is wide open. Platforms such as Music Gateway and Splice are providing artists the opportunity to connect with other creators to collaborate on tracks and create music together. Collaborative platforms such as these have the potential to be able to shake up the industry – artists have the opportunity to build their own powerful network of tastemakers, curators and creators early on. The next natural step for these platforms could be the introduction of a crowd funding aspect – following the completion of projects, it would be interesting to see the potential success of being able to get financial backing within these platforms.
Taking collaboration to the next level, the music industry could look to take inspiration from Amazon’s Kindle Scout publishing programme, which provides an opportunity for “reader’s to vote on their favourite excerpts from unreleased books to determine what does (and what doesn’t) get published”. Definitely not for every artist, but potentially a great way to re-engage and excite fanbases – which could only benefit artists in the long run.
Top photo via Shutterstock – Ollyy