The Music Industry Just Got Personal
The music industry is changing. At risk of stating the obvious, physical record sales are not what they were in the 90's and early 00's and the number of people signing up to an ever-growing choice of streaming services is growing rapidly.
For years, musicians, producers and artists have had to make do with vague sales reports showing their album sales by geographic region like Australasia, North America and Europe, never providing any valuable insight into the people listening to or purchasing their music. In recent years that's begun to change, with music e-commerce services like Bandcamp providing customer data such as names, addresses and email addresses, allowing artists to build detailed analysis of their fan base.
The one major hurdle still to overcome are social media platforms. Whilst platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer analytics on users, they are restricted to basic information on gender, country and language, not offering any valuable information which is exploitable for an artist looking to maximise their fanbase. All that is about to change. Individual artist apps for iOS and Android are making a comeback and this time they look like they're here to stay.
Much talked about 2015 startups like Disciple Media and Tutti are offering artist focussed apps that allow full album uploads direct to the app and encourage fans to engage with content in a new way, whilst simultaneously providing the artist with detailed user data. Artists like popular American Jazz trumpeter Christian Scott have used Tutti to allow their fans to create individual (no musical skills required) mixes of their music, and post these for other users to listen to within the app, all for just the price of a normal CD.
Former major label artists are also joining the new wave of knowlege-is-power artists, with Grammy nominated Hip-Hop/Rap artist Ryan Leslie releasing his lastest album MZRT via his Renegade Music subscription service. Fans hand over their name, address, DOB and email address in exchange for the download and other exclusives. Leslie was recently quoted at Midem Conference 2015 as saying the problem is "we don't own our audience... we have all this inbound traffic and we allow other platforms to manage it for us, and they're great but they're not returning anything of significant (informational) value to me". Leslie recently opted instead to launch his own SMS based social marketing tool called Disruptive Multimedia, in order to promote his music to loyal fans.
Like Google+ and the ill-fated QR code, it's too early to know whether artist apps will be adopted by the masses. What is clear is that artists are no longer willing to be kept in the dark by record labels and their distributors, and are demanding a higher level of insight on the people who support their careers.
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