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The foundations of music promotion have changed entirely from 50 years ago, even within the last decade, so the traditional marketing tactics once used to get artist’s music heard, are completely different.
Without attempting to market your music in this era means it falls on deaf ears due to the large amount of competition, due to the ability to record and release music being more accessible than ever.
Understanding what music marketing actually consists of is that step closer to actually successfully marketing your music.
What Was Music Marketing?
Traditionally, music marketing was very standard in its ways, fitting into a basic structure that was within a planned timeline. These marketing campaigns were focusing on the only areas that featured music – print, radio and TV. Due to the lack of outlets that covered music, these marketing teams were very restricted in what they could do for an artist and this is why the label artists were usually the only artists to succeed.
The aim with traditional marketing was to get the product (the music) and secure as many physical sales as possible. The major marketing agencies would find a way into the media with an angle or publicity stunt that would make their artist stand out and capture the press’s attention. For example, in 1969 The Beatles played their last gig on the roof of Apple Record’s office in London, before getting closed down by the police. The performance caused a huge media storm and was later used in the 1970 documentary film ‘Let It Be’. These sorts of ‘PR Stunts’ are now close to non-existent and if they are done, it needs to be presented in a digital form to capture an audience’s attention e.g. Facebook Live or Snapchat.
More recently, there has been a transformation from paper to digital, meaning the print world is starting to die out within the music industry. With leading music magazine NME closed their print edition after 66 years, it was clear the music industry no longer needed the medium of print and that’s when blogs began to take over. Blogs have been dominating the music space on the internet for the past decade, meaning the music marketers had to attack them head first. Online promotion meant that artists could secure coverage far more easily and being singed to a label wasn’t your only chance of success. Major music blogs such as The Line of Best Fit, Pitchfork and Clash were dominating the music scene, meaning music marketing had to adapt to secure coverage for artists.
However, in the past few years this has all changed. These TV shows that once blew an artist up, no longer exist. Except from the national radio stations, radio listenership has dropped and although blogs are still thriving on the online scene, they’ve had to adapt to the digital era by introducing new factors to their sites such as playlists, videos and social media features.
Modern Day Music Marketing
With 2019 being in the technology era, your market gets to decide on the structure of your release and how you market it. It used to be that the audience would be told what to digest by the TV, magazines and radio stations but now they decide entirely how they consume their media and for how long, meaning music marketing has had to adapt with this.
Although traditional techniques are still key for marketing a musician, they shouldn’t be the only focus point. Getting an artist played on the radio or featured on a large blog can do wonders for their career, but it mainly acts as a springboard and a form of legitimacy when looking at other outlets such as streaming platforms, social media and YouTube, which have a real impact on an artist.
With there being so many platforms for artists to upload to and even more outlets to pitch to, artists have infinite freedom of where and who their music reaches. In the past, artists would need to record demos and send them to labels, in the hope they’d get signed and the label would help them with the marketing. Now, with musicians being able to record in their bedroom and simply upload it to any platform they wish, any artist can get their music out there and naturally blow up.
The average person’s attention span isn’t what it was due to technology offering short videos, audio and text, meaning music marketing has had to adapt with this, so that the music is placed in areas where people are actually discovering it. Music fans no longer sit and watch MTV to find their favourite artist, instead Spotify playlists are explored, they take their favourite YouTuber’s recommendations and songs played in adverts are Shazamed.
Music marketing is more than promoting the music itself, it’s working alongside modern technology to hack algorithms, creating social media content and providing visuals to engage an audience.