Digby Pearson, founder of Earache Records and the new Earache Digital Distribution, looks at how the music industry has developed alongside the evolution of technology and why it’s important for new and upcoming artists to use streaming services to their advantage.
The power of good fans
Loyal fans can build an artist’s music career. Word of mouth recommendations from trusted peers often make ears turn to new and upcoming artists or build hype around existing tracks.
As the world gears up for their seventh studio album, it’s hard to remember the early days of The Arctic Monkeys – but they’re widely recognized as one of the first groups to take advantage of the internet. They would post their demos on MySpace – the major social platform of the time – while their friends and fans leaked tracks on free file-sharing sites, which were also dominant in that 2000s era. Their debut album became the best-selling debut in history. from UK.
The rise of music piracy was a turning point for the industry. This led to the creation of streaming platforms that were launched to offer a legal alternative and keep the industry supported. The Arctic Monkeys’ story, however, is a prime example of the power of building online communities and how early access to music can do wonders to inspire new fans. The trick is in learning to make the most of the platforms that are making the biggest impact today.
new music discovery
According to the Competition and Markets Authority, the number of monthly active users of music streaming services increased from 32 million to 39 million between 2019 and 2021. They are a popular tool for discovering new music, according to 36% of users. respondents in a YouGov poll, ahead of radio (33%) and social media (32%). While there were large discrepancies in preferences within age groups for each platform, streaming was consistently the most popular way for most age groups to discover new music. It’s important to note the impact of newer platforms like TikTok, where 75% of its US users say they discover new artists.
There have been countless Spotify success stories such as Glass Animals or Ed Sheeran. The goal of becoming a global sales star is, of course, very appealing, but it’s important to remember the smaller-scale impact this can have as well. When artists release their music on streaming services, they make it available to a huge global audience base. In the age of editorial and algorithmic-influenced playlists, even the most specific sounds or genres are likely to find their way into relevant virtual ‘mixtapes’ and graceful ears.
We saw this happen ourselves when Elles Bailey used our distribution service to release her album on her own. It appeared on Spotify’s Blues & Roots Rock playlist, reaching over 730,000 plays in its first three days of release. According to Loud and Clear – Spotify’s website was launched to increase transparency around its payments to the music industry – nearly a third of DIY artists (with at least 10,000 monthly listeners) have generated more than $10,000 ( £8,700) in 2021 after being released on Spotify through an artist distributor.
Making the most of the platform
Simply making sure music is available on the right channels is only part of the puzzle. To truly capture the imagination of a future fanbase and make each track go further, musicians need to build a strong and varied artist profile. This doesn’t just mean having a social media presence, although that is also critical. Most platforms where music can be streamed also offer the option to create a profile for that website or app.
Similar to a Facebook account, for example, this profile is a place where viewers will ‘land’ after discovering new music and clicking through to learn more about who made it. In addition to music consumers, these viewers can also be playlist teams, booking agents, or more, so it pays to ensure that each touchpoint accurately portrays a band’s story, with up-to-date information. Images are also important and can often increase people’s chances of being included in any of the app’s marketing campaigns. Our distribution service gives artists access to help from our team and digital marketing is one of the areas we support. It recently helped Matt Mitchell & The Coldhearts reach #19 on the UK Rock Chart and #10 on the Independent Album Chart.
One of the most transformative aspects of almost all developments in the digital age, however, is the data it generates. Behind each artist’s public profile will be an insights panel to show where a band’s audience is, what songs they like and how they discovered them. Whether an artist is supported by a major label, has support from an independent label, or is launching their own career, the same kind of information will be used to create campaigns to help take them to the next level.
With the help of digital tools, the music industry has become much more democratized. At Earache, we’ve always been fiercely independent and approach our ‘traditional’ releases that way. By offering a self-distribution platform, we are also enabling more bands and artists to take control of their creativity and connect with their fan base on a much more personal level. If it worked for Arctic Monkeys…