Photo by Lori Tingey.
Much lament has arisen this week among music listeners with the recently announced partnership between Facebook and Spotify, the former now serving as a requisite for the latter. The debate ventures far and wide into philosophical and commercial theorems, but the overarching complaint from users is simply, ‘Why?’– Why must one be on Facebook to stream music from Spotify, and, why is every song we listen to on display for the entire community? Why?!
From a business perspective, the news is both good and bad. People follow their friends’ every move and if their friends are checking out a new artist, they will too. Music apps have spawned a new style of music consumption, where we catch songs on the fly via radio, Shazam, Spotify, and Turntable.FM; if we like it, we find a way to keep it. In a world where music is all-access at all-times, the industry should feel inspired by such upsurge in attention. Nevertheless, there is a downside. Long gone are the days of CD towers and trips to the record store to uncover the next big thing. It’s just not the system anymore. With the decline in sales of physical products and the speed of satiating desires, music collectors are in need of virtual spaces to house their latest inventories.
Historically, a fan would hear about a new record through the DJ, either on the radio or at the block party. The DJ would be the one who had provided the breakthrough, and when you heard it, you ran out quickly to find a copy. Nowadays, there are other ways of going about it. The trick for the business is deciding how and where music fans are first hearing records, and then providing an immediate, effective avenue for them to capture the song instantly.
See this recent article from Billboard on the rise of capture culture.
Buddy Media is a web software design firm that works with large corporations and brands like MTV Networks, People magazine, and ABC Television, to create social and analytical tools which help determine the most effective approach in reaching an audience. As Joe Ciarallo, VP of Communications of Buddy Media explains, there are three primary facets to a successful social strategy, as defined by the company’s work: publishing, profiles, and conversion. “Conversation Buddy” writes textual content for social pages – tweets, status updates, and the likes. “Profile Buddy” delves into layout and creatively arranges galleries, tabs, and contests for pages. “Conversion Buddy” tracks how social traffic drives sales and identifies key demographics.
“A lot of artists will tap into their following on Twitter or Facebook, offering them an exclusive video or product, but the trick is learning how to keep the audience you’ve hooked engaged and excited,” explains Ciarallo. “Once they’re in, you have to continue offering them rewards and prizes, or else they’ll go somewhere else.”
Buddy Media recently worked with Lady Gaga on a charity campaign, wherein she gave fans the opportunity to vote for one of four charities to which she would donate $1 million. By providing fans with a real say in the matter, the pop star was able to increase traffic and interest to her site. Other artists have similarly taken suit, using their platforms not only as a vehicle of self-promotion, but also as a means of connecting to fans and reinforcing relationships.
“Umphrey’s McGee just gave fans the opportunity to pick their set list at a show,” notes Ciarallo. “Bands have an advantage because people are passionate about music, and naturally want to associate with them. It’s a point of pride to tell everyone you’re listening to a song or at a concert…It’s a reason to share.”
Accordingly, Buddy Media follows how these ‘shares’ and ‘adds’ translate into ticket sales, downloads, and other revenue. The statistics additionally reveal what portion of a brand’s following carries the most influence, thus who should be targeted more with exclusives and gimmicks. It’s an approach other marketing groups like Topspin and Reverb Nation are equally embracing, and it’s all based around this notion of the new music collection—one that isn’t tangible, but omnipresent, and can be tapped into through passion and impulse. Even Gaga’s manager observed this week, at Facebook’s F8 Conference, if music is free, the love is widespread.
As reported by NME, “What we’re looking to do is not just about selling the CD or the digital file. It’s how many people can we get the music to. How many people can experience it… If it was up to me, I’d give away the next album and put it on every handset that I can put it on, to get that scale.”