Digital Marketing and the music industry as a whole are constantly evolving. These fast-paced advancements are exciting, but also challenging when addressing the hurdles they present, like current hot topics of data protection and metadata. Facing these barriers will become a lot easier if we take the time to look at our foundation. How are our companies currently structured, and how can we open up lines of conversation to embrace digital developments?  What has a typical digital role at a record label become, and how can it continue to evolve? What is the future of music business in the digital age?

Why every music business department should be engaged in digital

Every sector of business has to re-think and restructure as technologies and consumer trends advance throughout time. The music industry is no different. For the last 1-2 decades, the structure of a label and duties of a digital team have somewhat remained the same. However, in those years consumption has shifted from Myspace and CDs, to iPods and downloads, to iPhones and streaming, 3-5 minute long videos to 6 second attention spans. Not to mention global planning, where teams mostly focused on their home territory, and now all marketers must consider all territories for a well-rounded campaign.

With advancements, our point of sale shifts. So should the duties and structures within companies. It’s time to look at the key market drivers and how we can together be most effective in overcoming digital hurdles.

In 2018 and beyond, every department needs to be engaged in digital developments, how the business may change when embracing new technologies and what are the  impacts of technology on the music industry. Accessibility and flexibility in roles will be our course for success.

Some labels are already having these ‘big picture’ talks, by merging teams that would traditionally be looking at similar areas and often crossing over, like digital and marketing. The roles of sales teams are changing too as digital marketers own conversations with DSPs due to the creative tie-ins to their campaigns. Legal and finance teams are also more engaged in digital, from understanding data protection to making deals with new services and of course understanding how to track and distribute these new revenue streams.

Testing the waters and learning what works and what doesn’t will be key to our continued development. As campaigns become more digital and accessible, lines should continue to blur. We need to observe and encourage change as record labels, to remain at the forefront of the industry. In the next phase of our industry’s evolution perhaps the digital role should span across marketing, international and sales departments, focusing on streaming, video, social activations around releases, as well as social data (not necessarily social upkeep), media planning and large scale marketing, whilst production falls under distribution. As we get more effective, we will be stronger partners to our artists and the go-to partners for services.

In relation to the restructure and the music industry being averse to change at times, we should also look at social expectations. Strong employees are valued due to their ambition, knowledge, passion and sense. This should always defy gender, age and race. We need to embrace the younger generation and welcome people of all backgrounds and genders, as they will always be at the forefront of change and open-mindedness.

If we can rethink our approach to the digital sphere as labels by opening up lines of conversation, embracing change with a fluid and open structure and bringing more people to the table, our businesses will be more successful. The future of music business in the digital age will be bright.



Top photo: GettyImages © NicoElNino

About Author

Rachel Stoewer is Head of Digital for UK-based indie label Cooking Vinyl. As such, her remit covers streaming services, digital and online platforms, creative strategy, campaign management, digital sales, brand partnerships and more. Previously, she held similar positions at Glassnote, Sony and Universal Music.

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