AJ Tracey manager Andy Musgrave talks streaming

AJ Tracey manager Andy Musgrave talks streaming

Andy Musgrave has said that his independent management and services business Supernature is defined by its streaming strategy.

Speaking to Music Week for our Indie Takeover issue, Musgrave – who works with AJ Tracey, Sega Bodega, Murlo and more – revealed that he has “always focused on consistent income, rather than a big pay cheques for artists” from streaming.

Musgrave, who is a strong advocate of AIM and speaks regularly with boss Paul Pacifico, recognised his achievements with Tracey, who received the Innovator Award at last week’s AIM Awards show.

“We’re now five years into our journey together and I would say that 80% of it has felt like a real battle, where we’re constantly reminding ourselves that we’re doing great, considering we’re independent,” he said. “This year was supposed to be the calm before the storm of album two and it’s actually turned into the biggest growth period that we’ve had.”

Tracey began the year alongside Aitch and Tay Keith on Rain (502,220 sales, OCC) and has released Dinner Guest (410,279 sales) with MoStack and West Ten (190,539 sales) with Mabel. He features alongside Stormzy on Headie One’s Ain’t It Different, which is due later this week.

“We’ve finally broken through that door where everything we put out will connect due to the level of support we’ve managed to build at radio and DSPs,” said Musgrave. “It’s the result of five years of battling and staying consistent.”

Musgrave also pointed to Sega Bodega’s lockdown covers project Reestablishing Connection, which raised funds for AIM’s Covid relief scheme, to illustrate his company’s strategy.

“It’s been a case of refocusing energies that would have gone into live, back to recordings,” Musgrave said. “It’s been successful, it’s been great, we’ve been able to speed up the process of getting music out, where a lot of major label projects ended up getting paused or pushed back.”

Read on for Musgrave’s in-depth explanation of Supernature’s streaming policy.

How important is streaming at Supernature?

“It’s the core focus for us, it’s the thing we build our artists businesses around. I’ve always focused on helping an artist not to get the big pay cheque, but to get a consistent income. The thing with streaming is, it’s not like physical products or even MP3 downloads, the model keeps going. You put an album out and, yes, you’ll get a spike initially, or you might get a single that will maybe spike later on in the process, but when all is said and done, a couple of years down the line, those tracks or that project will have settled to a consistent daily number of streams. That allows you to make quite accurate forecasts about income over time. As I begun to realise that, I started to think, ‘This is the way to create consistent predictable income for artists’, so I started to double down on that.”

How exactly?

“By making every effort to preserve as much of that income as possible for the artist, that’s why we set up our in-house distribution capability. Once you can get an artist up to a point where they’re doing enough streams a month – of music they own the rights to – to earn a modest salary, that’s the basis for everything and that income just rolls. So there’s never a worry about where the next cheque’s coming from. It’s never going to be about doing shows because you need to pay the rent. I’m talking about ground level artists, if you can get streaming income to a point where it’s putting a couple of grand in your pocket every month, which only takes – and it sounds like a large figure – say 750,000 streams a month, then you can think, ‘What do I want to create?’"

The more music you release, the quicker your base level of streams and therefore earnings will rise

Andy Musgrave, Supernature

How straightforward is that to enact? 

“It’s a case of moving and putting music out consistently. You want to strike a balance, you don’t want to just chuck out a song every week with no quality control, but it is a fact that the more music you release, the quicker your base level of streams and therefore earnings will rise. I’m always encouraging artists. A lot of artists strive for perfection and I think that that’s a mistake that can slow artists down to a crawl at a point where, actually, putting the next project out a year after the previous one that did quite well would be the best move. It keeps people connected to you. An artist’s audience wants to be along for the ride, they’re not waiting for the masterpiece, they just want to connect with the artist.”

Read our 2019 cover story with AJ Tracey, Andy Musgrave and Earth Agency’s Rebecca Prochnik here

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PHOTO: Paul Harries

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