The great paradox of digital marketing in 2018 is that while it has never been easier to run effective advertising campaigns on social media, it has also never been easier to run incredibly terrible and useless campaigns.

Last year I did a panel and asked the audience (who were mostly budding musicians) how often they spent money on Facebook and about 70% of the room said they were boosting posts weekly. And yet I still come across music companies that only ever look to outsource this kind of advertising to large marketing agencies that struggle to care about their subject matter. I’m not saying that every baby band in the country is doing amazing marketing, but the message from them is clear – it’s easy to advertise your music. It’s up to us to make it stand out and prove it’s doing a good job.

But music has always had one Achilles heel in advertising. Outside of our D2C stores we’re not an e-commerce business, so once a fan hits Apple or Spotify, we’ve no real idea what happens afterwards. That makes calculating the value of our marketing difficult and removes a whole suite of functional stuff that would otherwise be useful.

The big question for me is whether we’re likely to see conversion or activity data coming out of Apple or Spotify anytime soon?  A year ago I would have said “absolutely no chance” (very loudly), but then Pandora started offering conversion metrics to Linkfire users. Obviously Pandora is a US-only service, but it still shows a willingness to provide this data that DSPs haven’t done before. I’d love to see a world in which we can see what social initiatives are driving playlist follows, album saves or repeat plays on the main services. With YouTube’s strong analytics offering on channels, my hope is that we’ll see something similar from its premium service.

What are our current options though?  Well now it’s easier than ever to be clever with the data we have. Linkfire and other tools have solved a problem – how to make one global link for music that offers all the options for fans – but alongside that, it’s also giving us amazing insight into how fans behave. Tracking that data alongside our Spotify data, social data and everything else is fascinating insight. Finding the correlations helps us formulate adaptable marketing.  Analytics are getting more detailed, more available and more affordable. Just a glance at Chartmetric provides data that you would have killed for a couple of years ago.

What about places that you can get conversion data? Digital marketing doesn’t only mean digital media.  For physical product alone, D2C is a great way to reach superfans, serve specific content, capture data, track conversion and prove effective advertising all at a good profit margin. In the changing market of physical and looking at the growth of products like Vinyl, it’ll be interesting to see how the physical market evolves and I still think D2C can play a big part of it as buyer’s habits change.

Marketing technology is evolving insanely fast. So fast that the entire marketing industry has had to take a long look at itself and come to terms with a few things. GDPR and fake news (both terms I hate for different reasons) have made the headlines and exposed failings in the system.  However, for those doing marketing well, this is actually an opportunity to have a lot of detritus removed from the internet and reach more of the people that matter.

People want to discover music.  We just have to find the best ways of reaching them.


This is the latest in a series of posts by world-leading industry influencers, whom you’ll be able to meet at Midem 2018!

About Author

Sam Hill is director of digital marketing for BMG UK's frontline records division. Having worked for companies like the BBC, PIAS and Infectious Music before joining BMG in 2014, Sam has worked on campaigns for alt-J, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Blink-182, Vance Joy, DMA'S, The Sherlocks, RY X, Lil Dicky and more.

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