Music marketing (Part 1) — Artist, algorithm and audience

Music marketing

MintTwist is a digital agency offering a full service of digital products and services. It is our mission to forge digital transformations for your company. This two-part article will dissect digital influences on music marketing and how artists, labels and industry professionals can stay relevant. 

  • Part 1) How informed data transformed the music industry.
  • Part 2) Targeted and performance based music marketing opportunities.

Music Marketing 101?

There was a time when music listeners required a tasteful friend to fill them in on the latest albums and newest singles. What made this friend special was that they understood – better than most – the ins-and-outs and nooks-and-crannies of your musical interests. From guilty pleasures to beacons of nostalgia – mixtapes were little audible gifts – each with personalised nuances.

Spotify success is due, in part, to replicating this intimacy and thoughtfulness. Mood boards, taste profiles and predictive playlists possess the musical prowess of an army of friends, trendsetters and music critics.

This deeply personal experience puts it a nose ahead of competitors, Tidal and Apple Music. Tidal’s advantages include streaming high-quality FLAC files and exclusive releases whilst Apple Music has cheap pricing bundles and improved playlist curation. Though, for now, these are peripheral battles.

Spotify is winning the music streaming war through hyper-accurate personalisation and categorisation.

The key piece of Spotify’s weaponry is Echo Nest – one of the most powerful music intelligence companies in the world – which was acquired by Spotify in 2014.
Echo Nest created the internal tool Truffle Pig, a powerful sonic search engine which allows Spotify to curate mood and adjective based playlists. In unison with Spotify’s music experts, it is possible to entertain an entire spectrum of listeners from neoclassical metal fans all the way through to diehard Beliebers

Digital Transformations Scatter Plot

A genre scatter-plot created by Glen Macdonald of Echo Nest. It’s laid out so that “down is more organic, up is more mechanical and electric; left is denser and more atmospheric, right is spikier and bouncier.”

What makes Echo Nest so unique is the fusion of approaches between founders Brian Whitman and Tristan Jehan. Brian was interested in the way people wrote about music and how software could map and distinguish those insights and opinions. If a Finnish teenager wrote about how a new indie band sounds like a fusion of Pink Floyd and Celine Dion, then Whitman’s goal was to algorithmically map that reference.

This differed from Tristan Jehan, whom Whitman met at a conference in Sweden. Jehan was interested in dissecting the mechanics of music. By identifying and analysing waveforms and data points to categorise sound signals.

These two approaches paint a comprehensive picture of the sonic and textual elements of an audience’s response to both sonic and textual variables. “Music isn’t just about providing a large catalogue of songs, but about understanding the context in which people listen to music,” Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO, said in an interview.

Jehan and Whitman approached the way people listen to music from a human-centric perspective, deliberating over the emotions that were provoked and applying that data to real life scenarios like a baby shower or early morning run.

Conclusion

Spotify has catapulted itself over competitors, but also re-imagined the industry at large. In this, the art of traditional music discovery is dying but with that comes the birth of new possibilities, take Lorde whose inclusion in the Sean Parker playlist – Hipster International ­– skyrocketed her into pop superstardom.

This is both terrifying and inspiring for key players in the music industry, with success being rooted in how well the artist, label and music professionals adapt to digital trends.

Most of our recent clients within the industry come to us with one objective: how to appeal to selective music fans and lucrative businesses. The answer is to build a platform that highlights their rich music library and appeals to other businesses. What’s important to understand is that the principles of design, development and marketing are no different for a label playing into an obscure niche vs. a pop music producer.

Part 1 has covered the necessity of informed data in forging digital transformations. In part 2 we will go into the finer details of music marketing through tactical campaigns and initiatives plus some key tips on design and development.

 

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