The greatest shift in the music industry in the next 10 years will be a continued break down of the space between the artist and the fans. The artists who find ways to break down this barrier without losing the high brand value musicians have always had, will be the leaders of this effort. Social media has allowed fans into components of an artist’s life which were completely off limits a decade ago. This has created significant opportunity for those who understand how to use media of all kinds to build audiences around their brand. It is also dangerous in that the entertainment industry has always relied on an err of mystery and an “it” factor in building an artist’s platform. Many in the current music marketplace are providing just a little too much access to fans to maintain an elevated brand value; some of the activity seems a bit desperate. Companies like Kickstarter and Patreon have further broken down this barrier by enabling artists to distribute music and creative projects directly to fans, but at what cost?
Patreon requires artists to break down this barrier in a way that is unnatural, requiring ongoing content to keep patrons subscribed, which is a distraction from artists do; write and record music. With so much pressure to create low-level content, Patreon premium video content often devolves into areas which are not necessarily brand enhancing for an artist. Furthermore, these patrons are passive. They pay the artist, but don’t do any work to further the artists career. A Kickstarter project begins by asking the creator to post a video explaining why they need money. This is an instant brand devaluing moment. If artists are the bad asses we believe they are, they aren’t going to just beg! While these companies are a part of breaking down the fan-artist barriers which will cease to exist by 2030, they do so in a way which can damage an artist irreparably. A better option is needed.
Digital marketing, digital music promotion, influencer marketing, and playlisting are expensive, saturated, and difficult to determine the value added for the artist, if any. Around every corner of the internet is a company promising more listens for artists on Spotify, and playlist exposure, but are these companies promising more fans? The answer is simple, no they are not. That is because music lives in a feeling realm, and these companies may be able to use the algorithm to place a song in the way of Spotify users trying to get to the music they actually want to find, but they are not able to use a computer to get an artist actual fans who will convert into lifetime customers (or even medium-term fans). The area of digital promotion for emerging artists area is over. Done. Saturated, crowded, and a waste of money and time. The future of digital marketing for music is in finding people who already love an artist, and paying them to spread the word to as many people as they possibly can. They know where these people hang out, they can find them, and they connect with the music on an emotional level; something an algorithm could never do. Stop paying huge upfront fees for small gains, and start building a team of true believers around your business; this is the future of music after all.
Music in 2030 will feature artists and fans in business together, using the organic reach of actual true raving fans to drive more and more people to the artist in a way which creates a winning situation for everyone involved.