Charles Kirby-Welch is the CEO and founder of Kartel Music Group – independent global music services, which offers integrated solutions for marketing, campaign management, distribution and business services. Their clients include managers and record labels, plus independent artists such as Kiesza, Liz Lawrence, Morcheeba and Mr Bongo. Here, Kirby-Welch gives his thoughts on the untapped potential artist marketing has to unite the music industry…
In these incredibly testing times it has been heartwarming to see the industry come together and provide support to people across all sectors. From artists to freelance workers to record stores, we are all in this together. Working as a united front has got me thinking about the future and whether we will all go our separate ways as we slowly return back to normality. Or will we use this moment to bring about positive change?
One area of the business that might benefit from a more coherent approach is marketing. While technology has largely democratised the recorded music market, enabling accessible and affordable distribution for all, it has only complicated the marketing process.
On the one hand, the media landscape has proliferated hugely. Once significant benchmarks at TV, radio and press now make little impact on their own, instead, they sit within a panoply of different platforms that continue to grow. Long gone are the days of a track being played on the radio and blowing up overnight, the development pathway takes significantly longer and requires patience. On the other hand, the amount of data that development teams can bring to bear from streams or socials from across the world, pinpointed to a specific city and often by demographic group, has exploded.
While distribution requires experienced negotiators and state of the art technology to power the outflow of accurate repertoire and metadata and the inflow of billions of lines of reporting, it has become readily affordable and accessible. An artist’s main objective is to select and manage the best vehicle to deliver their goals and complement their strengths. This is not in any way to belittle the process; after all, it represents the beating heart of the recorded music business. However, moving forward from this point, with distribution in hand, it is in the marketing of recorded music where the greatest potential lies to deliver success.
No longer should artists have a marketing team in place solely to work a record, instead, they ideally need to be working across all elements of the artist’s business, swiftly reacting to the data as it becomes available
Charles Kirby-Welch, Kartel Music Group
On the upside, leveraging data from across the world astutely can, in theory, give any DIY operation global reach, often leading artists to be heard in countries where they could never have previously envisaged having a fanbase.Yet, translating that “discovery moment" (the point when someone hears a new artist for the first time, usually on a streaming platform) into a lasting offline relationship requires more than just great tech.
While of course marketing teams now benefit from the preponderance of various digital platform tools at their disposal, the expertise in interpreting and leveraging the data takes creativity, experience and investment. It requires an expert human touch.
It is here where the real point of difference in an artist’s trajectory may occur. To make the most of this potential, artists and managers need to ensure that their marketing teams work nimbly and diligently, bringing all elements such as content creation, PR, social media, influencer marketing and digital advertising together as a tightly knit unit.
A dedicated and experienced team working across all aspects of an artist’s business allows for better communication, support and planning. This helps the artist navigate the data touchpoints of their brand and audience across the world, focusing on the right mix of media promotions and marketing at the right moment.
Artists need sustainable and affordable campaigns that focus their resources beyond week one performance and consider deeper artist and audience development strategies. Creating successful music businesses for artists means devising campaigns with a holistic approach, adapting and taking advantage of the data available across all of the traditional industry sectors.
No longer should artists have a marketing team in place solely to work a record, instead, they ideally need to be working across all elements of the artist’s business, swiftly reacting to the data as it becomes available. A good marketing team can help to understand the relevance of streaming and social media audiences in international territories and take explorative and informed action to nurture and convert digital consumers into real fans.
If teams can combine all of these elements, marketing may well begin to take a leading position in powering the evolution of the industry away from its siloed state towards a holistic business revolving around artist development. With marketing leading this charge as a key function within the wider management team, we may soon look forward to a business working as one to efficiently develop artists to scale. We have come together during this pandemic, let’s hope we stay together on the other side and create permanent and positive change in the industry.
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