Digital Marketing has become a buzzword over the past few years, with streaming coming to power and technologies quickly advancing. 2018 is the healthiest time thus far for the digital marketing sector, and will continue to be at the forefront of driving artists’ careers for the foreseeable future, especially with the industry evolving to fit the mass need for content and accessibility. Everything needs to be at everyone’s fingertips, which is driving segmented consumption to merge across formats like streaming and video. Platforms are transforming so users can consume in various different formats, on all platforms and in every room.
We’ve seen some very positive changes in the last few years being led by digital and streaming. Five to ten years ago, music consumption was slowing, and the big ‘what is the future of the industry?’ question loomed. Nowadays, that same question is much more exciting. With the current upswing in revenues, we see streaming power the industry’s growth. So looking forward to the next five years, we’re entering a potentially very exciting time where revenues will continue to increase and marketing opportunities will expand as platforms become more accessible to labels and artists. This opens up lines of conversation, and gives users more access to consume music and content, which makes it easier for us to reach wider audiences, avoiding the more traditional and expensive routes, thus giving more power to the content owners.
At this point, the discussion of streaming isn’t revolutionary, but the fact that all the services are starting to take video more seriously, especially around the time of YouTube discussing a launch into the streaming sphere (a move confirmed just the other day) is fascinating. Video and TV consumption is at an all-time high, so it’s an obvious move to tie into music’s top form of consumption; streaming. I can easily foresee a future where all DSPs and video services can offer either format, audio or video, making so fans can access each format on whichever platform they prefer. Each audio track will have a video component linked to it. Some may even integrate VR or AR, depending on how far the technology will take us, and how receptive the wider consumer is of the product.
To reiterate how integral video can be to a campaign, take Childish Gambino’s This Is America (above and top photo). Without that video, the song would not have 938,000 search results in Google, nearly 150 million plays on YouTube, or have been written about in top news platforms around the world like The Guardian, CNN, BBC News, Forbes, Vice, Rolling Stone, etc. The track has 36 million streams on Spotify in its first week, some of those (probably many) being video views from playlists such as Rap Caviar. Now that is power. Power, which services like Apple Music and Spotify have a piece of, because they’ve made video accessible to the general user of their service, for both on-demand viewing and music discovery. Power which artists and labels can now more easily tap into.
Voice controlled devices have made their way into millions of homes worldwide, some of which have not had music access for many years. This opens up another huge opportunity for the industry by increasing consumption in another realm. However, this move by huge tech giants provides an even greater challenge to the music industry. Metadata needs to get much smarter, allowing users to make requests for tracks more casually to get to what they want to hear. Pronunciation, accents and tones also pose a problem. Another question raised is how we will be able to respectfully advertise in this sector, if at all? Personally, I think editorial opportunities should be looked at over advertising, so homes don’t feel invaded by these brands. Additionally, with Amazon, Google and Apple releasing these voice activated systems, users will be further sucked into each company’s eco-systems, creating a stronger sense of segmented consumption, which is something we will continue to be up against as an industry. The plot thickens, when it comes to the battle between services.
I haven’t even had the chance to mention how data protection will strengthen globallyJ. The EU is seeing it with the GDPR, Facebook and other social platforms are experiencing data protection lawsuits, forcing companies everywhere to get smarter when it comes to data ownership. This will only increase as the internet exposes us, so I foresee data laws taking a much stronger effect globally.
Between streaming being Queen, video integrating into direct music services for more accessibility, YouTube rolling out their subscription service and voice-activated devices bringing everything into your home, we’re looking at the possibility of a very strong future where content is available to everyone, everywhere. Accessibility to direct music services is the key to a happy consumer and growth in our industry.
Top photo via Donald Glover’s Facebook page