midemblog: What has been the biggest change in the music industry and in your music industry career in the last 3 years?
Sammy Andrews: The biggest change in the music industry over the last three years is probably a heady mix of the business finally fully embracing streaming, streaming finally embracing data, consumers embracing streaming and of course…. the industry finally returning to profitability as a result of all of these things.
Biggest change in my career? Well, since my last stint as a midemblog ambassador (in 2015)… I left my job as head of digital at a record label, joined and co-owned a data and analytics company which provided the independent music industry with the world’s leading playlist analysis tools allowing labels to understand their data in a way they’d never been able to before and then to top it off… I started my own digital agency, Deviate Digital… I have an amazing team behind me and we now work with some of the world’s greatest artists, labels, trade organisations, distributors, promoters, publishers, festivals, startups and more! It’s been the most incredible few years and I’m very happy now working on things that really excite me everyday.
> What do you predict will be the key trends for music consumption and marketing in 2018?
Streaming will of course be the mainstay here and specifically the continuation of mobile consumption but beyond that…smart speakers. People are listening to and surfacing music in ways no one thought of 10 years ago. That comes with its own challenges for the industry, but it’s exciting times for sure.
> What is the one innovation that we should be the most excited about?
The continuation of data analysis tools are high on my list. We now have access to incredible levels of gradual data which can truly help make meaningful marketing campaigns and drive fan engagement and artist-to-fan relations based on insights and actionable data. I’m also very excited about the tools streaming services are said to have in the pipelines to help artists communicate directly with their fanbase. Oculus launching their Venues app is also a pretty big deal for the progression of VR in entertainment. It’s heavily weighted to sporting events at the moment, but I suspect we’ll start seeing concerts find homes there too.
> And what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the music industry this year?
As new services enter the market, like YouTube’s subscription service, and Facebook increasingly interested in music, the industry will really have to start examining its price points and its offerings. It’ll be an interesting few years as we watch folks experiment with that. Beyond that, theres’ the big fat meta data scramble, owing to innovations in the way people surface music now the music industry is scrambling to make sure their meta data is vast, correct, relevant and contextual. The way we interact with music on smart speakers and voice assistants isn’t the same way we react with apps on our phone or laptop. We started to see the age of context a while ago with the growth of playlists — people searching for music to sleep to for example, or music to run to — but voice discovery is a new layer on top of that. And historically, a lot of tags in the west have been done in English… but it you’re French, you’re not going to ask Alexa for music to sleep to, are you? No. You’re going to ask in French, so labels and distributors, major and indie are amongst others things now scrabbling to make sure they are tagged in all languages.
This is the latest in a series of posts from key industry influencers from the world over, whom you’ll be able to meet at Midem 2018. Andrews notably speaks on Midem’s closing Global Trends Wrap panel. Be sure to say hi!