opinion

Centre Stage: Mark Davyd

Any column about royalty collection for songwriters is usually subject to allegations that the author doesn’t want those writers or publishers to be paid. So, let’s clear this up: the entire grassroots music venue sector is united in believing that ...

Digital Discourse: Monetising fanbases

There has been so much going on in the digital landscape of late, many things have perhaps not had the attention they deserve. While the wars are very much raging in the streaming world, there is much-needed innovation taking place across some platforms in areas such as monetisation, not directly linked to rates per stream. These are often overlooked, but I believe they are things we should be pushing for across all DSPs. Outside of cash money, what these services have that we need is data and infrastructure. If used correctly and effectively these features have the potential to provide serious value far beyond what you would gain per stream. There’s a reason we all spend so much on advertising on these platforms, but they’re increasingly under fire and as a result are starting to roll out some brilliant tools that can be utilised as part of a successful marketing and monetisation plan. These incremental revenue streams are not only vital to the ever-evolving music industry landscape, but they play a crucial part in the future. Ignore them at your peril. It’s very easy to dismiss these tools as ways for platforms to get away without paying properly for content but that is, in my opinion, shortsighted and not always true. Sure, they’re making money from it but if you are, or you represent a creator, depending on your partner deal terms, they offer vast potential to increase your revenue and your connection with your fanbase. The opportunities that are emerging across the globe for digital monetisation of consumers on social networks and DSPs are limitless and some are already well established markets – including gaming – and widely adopted across Asia. The West is only just starting to understand the value here and it is applicable beyond the music business. Rather than dismissing these tools as simply a distraction from streaming rates, I would strongly advise artists and managers to view them as your chance to make (potentially quite serious amounts of ) money outside of your existing deals – as long as you have retained the right to do so. There are certainly labels who are after a bite of this cherry and some contractually have a right not only to that bite but the whole bowl. I’ve often touched on what I believe to be the best and most practical tools on the market, but here I’m going to have a little deep dive into one platform in particular and regular readers will know that they’re not usually top of my list... YouTube. Honestly, blink and you’ll miss the amount of things they’ve been up to lately. Many of us have long argued that the true potential for YouTube to monetise fanbases outside of ads and views was underdeveloped, and I have spent many nights drunk with friends from Google arguing about their lack of innovation in this space. So, let’s have a look at some of the things that they’re knocking out the park at the moment... YOUTUBE APPLAUSE This feature was announced recently and is currently in a very limited beta test, but YouTube plan to roll it out to all creators later in the year. Until now, fans have only really been able to – for want of a better word – tip a creator via Super Chat (more below). But that feature has been limited to livestreams. Applause will change that. Creators who are eligible for monetisation will be able to add this to their pre-recorded and uploaded content. When activated an “Applaud” button will be visible on the video, when clicked this gives the user an option to donate $2, $5, $10 or $50. YouTube takes 30% of the revenue from both this and Super Chat but creators take the rest. LIVESTREAMS ON THE GOOGLE SEARCH KNOWLEDGE GRAPH PANEL This is a great new feature. If you’re running a livestream and people head to Google to find it, the event will now show in the search Knowledge Graph panel (the info snapshots that appear on the right). It is lovely bit of SEO goodness. LIVESTREAM NOTIFICATIONS This is a really nice and overdue feature to make the most of bringing existing fans into the livestream experience. I’ve seen a few mock-ups of the functionality, but it is not online at time of writing. Anything that leads a fan to a livestream offers the potential to monetise further through other mechanics. SUPER CHAT AND SUPER STICKERS These are starting to see real uptake and can be a very lucrative addition to livestreams. Super Chat gives fans and artists a way to connect with one another during livestreams and premieres. Anybody watching can purchase a Super Chat, a highlighted message in the chat that stands out from the crowd, to get even more of their favourite artists’ attention. Fans will also be able to buy Super Stickers to connect with artists during eligible artists’ livestreams and premieres. CHANNEL MEMBERSHIPS Memberships viewers pay a monthly recurring fee to get unique badges, new emojis and access to unique custom perks offered by the channel, such as exclusive livestreams, extra videos, or shoutouts. YOUTUBE MERCH I was pained at how long it took for this feature to come to YouTube. We as an industry were shouting about it for a few years before it finally arrived, but it’s there now. You can now offer this fully integrated into livestreams already, and rumour has it they are looking to expand beyond just using Merchbar (I can hear the shouts of joy from here). Let’s hope those rumours are true.

Black Lives In Music CEO Charisse Beaumont calls for industry-wide change

Black Lives In Music launched last month with details of a groundbreaking survey that the organisation plans to change the music industry forever. Here, writing exclusively for Music Week, CEO Charisse Beaumont sets out the organisation's mission and underlines the severity of the issues facing Black professionals across the business... With the UK government’s recent announcement denying institutional racism calling the evidence “flimsy”, never has it been more important to use data and evidenced based research to amplify the voices and experiences of Black musicians and professionals in the UK music industry. We have recently launched the Black Lives In Music survey, which is a groundbreaking exercise and is key to understanding the issues of diversity in our industry. Some of the issues addressed in the survey include discrimination, mental health and wellbeing, economics, education and the talent pipeline. We have are aligned with music industry partners such as Help Musicians, the Black Music Coalition, and PRS Foundation’s Power Up. We urge all Black musicians and professionals to take part in our survey by visiting blim.org.uk/change. We need everyone to be a part of it; your story could change the music industry. Black Lives in Music (BLIM) aims to address the lack of diversity at all levels and in all areas of the music industry in particular jazz and classical music. We are currently working in solidarity with over 40 like-minded groups and organisations to make change happen – together. We will recommend effective diversity actions and initiatives that cover areas of recruitment, governance, learning and training for staff at all levels. We also aim to provide groundbreaking data through two annual, national surveys on the lived experience of people of colour in the music industry and on diversity in organisations. The Black Lives In Music Taskforce is comprised of the most esteemed executives in the UK working for diversity and equity in music including Paulette Long OBE, Yvette Griffith, Shabaka Hutchings, Orphy Robinson OBE and more. Black Lives in Music aims to address the lack of diversity at all levels and in all areas of the industry Charisse Beaumont One of the reasons we started Black Lives In Music is hearing many stories of Black musicians struggling with issues where systemic racism was at the root of the problem. There are many barriers Black musicians face in the music industry, especially Black students in music education. One student in particular comes to mind, when they felt as though were not being taught properly and given the same treatment as their fellow students. This went on for some time and despite voicing their concerns the student was consistently gaslighted and ignored. They are now in therapy as this affected their mental health because they felt their treatment was racist.  Another was after watching Former X Factor contestant Misha B’s video on instagram after saying she was left suicidal and suffering from PTSD after experiencing racist treatment on the show. Entry into orchestras and professional ensembles is also an issue. There are many Black musicians who never win an audition even though they are top players. Many Black musicians go through blind auditions only to reach the final when they (and their race) are revealed, and they don’t get into orchestras. This is rife across the industry even in commercial music where the feedback Black musicians receive is, ‘they don’t have the right vibe or look’, or they are the subject of micro aggressions such as, ‘I bet you can’t read music’, or, ‘you are Black therefore you’ve haven’t received a formal education, you must have learned how to play in the church or something?’ They are excellent Black musicians who have studied just as hard as everyone else. But they are not given the chance because they are Black. After being consistently told you are not good enough or you do not belong, it can affect your confidence and mental health. Black Lives In Music exists to bring these issues of discrimination to the forefront, confront and eradicate the systemic racism that is in the music industry. We use data to inform, advocate for equality and create opportunities so all musicians can thrive. We use data and insights to campaign for equity and we support the empowerment of Black musicians to realise their aspirations. If true equality is going to be achieved, then we must work together. Musicians and music professionals get involved by completing the survey at blim.org.uk/change Organisations align with us to help unify the music industry by signing our charter at blim.org.uk/charter The Black Lives In Music film series celebrating Black Music and Culture featuring Zeze Millz, Sheku Kanneh Mason, Jake Isaac, Ayanna Witter Johnson and more drops online and on Spotify on April 6. Charisse BeaumontCEOBlack Lives In Music #TheMovementContinues #CompletetheSurvey

Identity crisis? Imogen Heap reveals why artists must take control of their digital presence

UK Music's Diversity Taskforce chair Ammo Talwar on driving the change agenda forward in 2021

Digital Discourse: The future of advertising and marketing

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