I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the issues with the recorded side of our industry lately, so for this month’s column I want to have a little look into another sector.
For context, I started life in music as a promoter and have run festivals and events on and off ever since, but over the last decade I’ve been in a very privileged position as a digital advisor and advertiser with a unique insight across the board. I’ve worked directly for big players in areas including digital/data, promoters, record labels, managers, media, radio, artists directly, agents, DSPs, publishers and big industry organisations. Not many folks have that 360 view, but I do.
That’s something that continues at Deviate Digital to this day: we get a complete overview of the music industry... Warts and all. As you may be able to tell from my social posts and my columns, it often leaves me utterly flabbergasted at how far we have yet to go until our industry actually works the way it should. We can see the dots that need joining, we just need you all to pick up the collective pencil and join them.
This week, I want to have a look at my now decade-old frustration at the disconnect between the live industry, managers, the various services and recorded music.
Long before DSPs even uttered the word ‘pre-sales’, I publicly spoke about the potential for them to join the dots between fans and artists for ticketing (and to produce shows, and even own venues). It still pains me that the music industry sectors and services are on the whole so utterly disconnected – where the hell are the options to sell tickets to our fans with every service? Spotify are without doubt one of the biggest innovators in that space and there is not one pre-sale I have worked with them that hasn’t yielded more sales than a social network ad, but they’re not widely accessible and are now clearly over-subscribed. That data and those connections hold the key to that door. Sure, someone may have “liked” a post on a social network from a band a few years ago, but it’s the DSPs where they’re actually listening, that’s a really important thing to note here.
From my days owning an analytics company, I also understand the data points they have access to and the data points the socials have access to. Many labels are making the connections now because their distributors own the data being pumped out from listening. But imagine a world where we can easily, at the touch of a button, place ads both on a service and, more importantly, to our fans and listeners. It’s possible via various identifiers in the data streams across services and socials, but there isn’t one amazing free-standing, easily accessible option to offer that yet (though many labels are working hard in-house on it).
There’s so much potential for our services, socials, labels and distributors to offer us more organic and paid features for reaching fans, yet we’re frustratingly limited right now and part of that is to do with data ownership. I’ve written about this here before: it’s not the labels, artists or managers that own that data, it’s the distributors.
Outside of streaming, I want to have a chat about how utterly archaic the live marketing process is on the whole in the digital age. I work with managers and artists directly, we know about tours months in advance of them ever going on sale, as do agents, but promoters are often the last ones in that chain owing, in the most part, to the bidding processes, despite being the folks with the biggest job to do.
In the last decade there isn’t one promoter I know who isn’t spending upwards of 60% of their time scrabbling around to get assets for ads for an on-sale that’s happening the next day. The next fucking day. I shit you not.
Imagine for a second you’re a global brand like say, Coke, Nike or Adidas. You have a huge product launch happening in a specific territory. Do you think they send their marketing team assets the day before or day of on-sale? No, they don’t. I can’t even begin to describe how bonkers the current process is – the system is inherently broken and managers and agents need to break that chain, embrace the digital age and flow, properly.
The industry has, once again, lost sight of what’s important and what’s actually involved in the processes, because it’s stuck in some weird, moth-balled yesteryear. Promoters take all the risks in live, but are still last in the chain.
I’m on a big drive this year to join the dots between the sectors so they can all thrive and, most of all, so our artists can enjoy long and successful careers. Without them we are nothing. I hope you’ll join me.