Sam Hill is Director of Digital Marketing at BMG UK, and is as such responsible for artist online campaigns, advertising, content, branding and more. As one of this year’s midemblog ambassadors, he shares his outlook on where the industry’s headed, further to his Midem 2018 experience.
We used to be an industry dominated by bad news. In the not too distant past it seemed like a really bleak place to work, simply because of economic climate around music. It was all stories about physical sales plummeting and depressing think-pieces about how it was impossible to make a streaming model work financially. Artists were rebelling against contractual hangovers from nefarious “glory days” and high street record shops were closing.
Therefore, it’s great to see the positivity return over the last few years. 2017 was reported to be the year of fastest growth in the business since 1995. Every company or start up I talk to has a much clearer vision of where things are going. For me, this is the proving the worth of a new music industry which is significantly more agile and flexible than what came before it. Artists aren’t idiots and people have stopped treating them as such. New contract models, new distribution systems, new management structures – all of these are things that helped things adapt to changing times and I’m convinced they’ll continue to change. It’s a new dawn for collaborative working and joined up thinking.
In the digital world, we need to be at the forefront of this – marketing especially. Some people are still struggling to work collaboratively with their artists, labels and partners. We’re in an age where we can trust artists to nurture their own social presence for the most part and use our systems and structure to support rather than dominate. Streaming services provide excellent and accessible dashboards and our ad systems and analytics provide deeper dives on our fan behaviour, so there’s nowhere to hide for people that fudge results and work in isolated units. There’s so many ways to be honest and clear within the industry to help set obtainable targets, make effective changes and let authenticity shine through.
You can’t know everything. Finding people that have specific skills that are right for specific campaigns is a skill in itself. For online marketeers, the job spec can be so broad it can be overwhelming, but collaborative working can focus your thoughts. Many of the best people work independently nowadays, and being part of a label doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t jump at the chance to bring their skills in. Speak openly and honestly with artists and remind other parts of the business that everything has an online connotation nowadays. Find unique ways to work with TV, radio, press, touring, physical that help them resonate online. Digital doesn’t always mean streaming, so stay flexible.
One of the things I took away from Midem this year was a unity in the way that record labels are facing the same problems, and a genuine desire to work together to solve those issues. It’s just a case of our partners in the wider media industry opening themselves up to a more symbiotic relationship, as opposed to the guarded and secretive way that services often operate. The record label landscape is changing and is a more positive force for artists than ever before, so (to me) any fear of label culture from services seems like an outmoded way of thinking. Talk to us, work with us and understand what we do.