Encouraging industry creatives to embrace change and adapt to new technologies, Andrew Gazdecki here outlines several different ways in which mobile apps are changing things, and how artists can benefit from them.
Guest Post by Andrew Gazdecki
The music industry was transformed when the internet brought everyone online, and that transformation is still ongoing. There might be an ongoing debate about when that change exactly started, but not what changed it forever- technology. We saw Windows Media Player support MP3s in 97, the streaming boom of 2000 following Radiohead’s Kid A, and iTunes impact the way we listen to music. Both independent and big name musicians and labels know that to be successful, they must know how to navigate this technological landscape.
Technology has always wreaked as much havoc as innovation in the music profession. Some saw these changes as omens of doom. Musicians thought that the advent of recorded (or canned) music as the end for the careers of local talent. Radio pushed boundaries, causing many to say that music became too homogenized, and MTV saw an ever-increasing importance placed on image and looks. These things also gave more power than ever to the record labels and media moguls, essentially turning them into the king or queen makers.
Now we are at a crossroads in music history that has brought almost as much change within the last few years as all the previous century and then some combined. We saw what file sharing on the web, iTunes, and streaming did, and now we are seeing the power of the mobile app taking its turn at transforming the music industry. Like with all sudden changes, it is hard for some to adapt to the new way of doing things. It isn’t necessarily from fear, but often just not knowing what to do or the extent things have changed. Here are some reasons why mobiles are changing things, and how the music industry can profit.
Why Musicians Should Dance to the Tune of a Mobile App
Reason 1: Technology has Changed the Music Industry
Technology has changed things, but one thing that hasn’t changed is that a musician has to be found to be successful. What has changed is how one gets found. It used to be enough for a band to play in all the local bars, armed with a fed demo tapes ready to hand out in case they got noticed. Now, a musician or anyone involved in the music industry must have an active and developing web presence. They need to understand how to use the tools that will get them noticed and found on the internet.
Creating and optimizing a web presence is essential, whether you are a musician or working to promote one. Web optimization is probably more important than the actual talent level of many would be musicians. How else do you explain Billboard’s Top 40? This new reality needs to nuclear on a micro level. For example, band names and monikers need to be carefully chosen so that they don’t hinder marketability by being too similar to hackneyed phrases or words.
Mobile apps can help with web optimization and integrate it with brand awareness. The importance of mobile optimization is a key trend that is set to grow even more. Two years ago, 20% of music website visits came from mobile devices, and that number is steadily increasing as the use of smart phones and tablets continues to grow.
The visibility, relevance, and popularity of independent musicians have skyrocketed thanks to technology. It is now possible for independent musicians to have a career in music, without ever having to sign with a label. With the right social media management and marketing, musicians have a better chance of gaining a foothold and a fan following than ever before. YouTube alone is a platform that means no band can only be a local act.
Reason 2: Payment & Purchasing
Sure, the reason people get into the music business is that they love music. But it's still a business, and everyone involved in making music and getting it out to the audience needs to eat. Art may be pure and beautiful, but it doesn’t pay the rent by itself. When it looked like the internet was going to be nothing but a delivery system for free music to the masses, the industry panicked. Their worry wasn't without cause, and while some indie bands found success thanks to the free exposure, countless more lost money.
The trick is to give music lovers an option to buy before they get a chance to search alternate means to get their tunes. Mobile apps give millennial music listeners the tool to make purchases (whether music and merchandise) in the heat of the decision-making moment. This is a crucial juncture because it is here where a prospective customer either buys a song or chooses to illegally download it or stream it via a service like Spotify. Mobile apps make it easier to catch listeners during this vital time in a way that more traditional music marketing techniques simply can't.
Reason 3: Musicians Live and Die by Social Media
Musical acts have always sold more than just their music. They sold their image and personas as well. Things like a band’s mystique or singer’s flamboyance or cool factor are more important than ever and need to be marketed. The same goes for a genre since that one little term can define a band more than a thousand words. Style tells an audience what a music act is before they hear the first note. Musicians need to be recognizable within their particular genre and market themselves in a way that plays to that genre's fans. Each one has its unique approach that should be mastered.
All this has created a reliance on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and for participating in live streaming events and doing Podcasts. Success here means success in the e-commerce aspect of the music business. Mobile apps can help connect all these platforms and bring in an audience. It's all about delivering the listeners what they want to hear.
Getting the right content on your media channels should be one of your top priorities. A study by Venture Harbour, in conjunction with MIDEM, found that 64 music industry executives spent around 2.3 million dollars on content marketing. Mobile apps are developed with the idea of content marketing at the forefront. With this being said, more musicians should be learning how to create an app. With the right optimization and SEO, mobile apps enable musicians to reach their audience (customers) right at the point when the buying decision is made.
Reason 4: Engagement: Your Audience can be Anywhere, and So Should You
Long-term engagement with the public is part of the central strategy for musicians. This can be done via social media, leveraging blogs, making music to brand partnerships, but also by providing the tools to ‘hang-out' where listeners are. Mobile apps can provide another channel for your audience to hear an artist. It also boosts organic search visibility.
The audience is the customer, and technology had changed what the customer expects. The big bucks used to be made immediately after an album’s release. Profits are more spread out now, with the money being earned over time as the fans listen and buy at their leisure. This means that an audience has to be kept engaged over a longer span of time. It’s a one song at a time market, and the music industry has gone from a "buy me" to a "playlist me," model.
- Reputation Management
The music industry has long been strange bedfellows with the critics, but now every listener is a critic and their reviews matter. Managing the reputation of a musical ‘brand' is crucial. Mobile apps can prompt listeners to leave reviews where they have the most influence on your public profile and where your fan base lives online.
A mobile app and a podcast are natural best buds since they support each other regarding mutual benefit. By using podcasts, those in the music industry can gain control of their music and their brand, and potentially reach millions of would-be listeners.
Podcasts are also a great way for the musicians to reach out with and interact with the fans. Unlike traditional interviews and press kits, podcasts aren’t as heavily scripted, there are no time limits, and they are uncensored. They can also be interactive, with the artist fielding audience questions in real time.
- Locality, Genre, and Location Based Marketing
The big dream for musicians is to play packed stadiums and arenas all over the world and stay as attractive for as long as the Rolling Stones have. Even if a group or solo singer hits the big time, every concert is a ultimately a local event. Using location-based services via app allows for promoters to tailor marketing needs to hit the right audience at the right time. The app can also be used to highlight and promote local charities or other events partnered with the artist’s show. It’s a great way to build up goodwill and a reputation in a community.
Keep in mind that genres can be viewed as locations, in their way. Think of it as the geography of individual taste – a real place that exists in the hearts and minds of the fans. It’s crucial to market to the various local radio shows, music festivals, and even some YouTube channels by treating genre as a place.
Musicians and Mobile Apps: The Success Stories
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The Mobile Industry Benefits Musicians at All Levels in Their Careers
Mobile apps stand at the forefront of the continuing tech revolution in the music industry. That isn’t going to change anytime soon, and it doesn’t have to be negative. As Douglas Karr from the Marketing Tech Blog says: “To be honest, while many large bands and music stars cry about the sky falling on their industry, I believe online media has transformed the music industry for the better. Instead of a few moguls out there selecting the music that’s going to be heard or the next boy band that’s going to be stars, we now have the consumers of music deciding what they want to hear.”
Andrew Gazdecki is the founder and CEO of Bizness Apps — making mobile apps affordable and simple for small businesses. We’re a do-it-yourself iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 app platform that allows any small business to simultaneously create, edit, and manage mobile apps without any programming knowledge needed. Think of us as “WordPress for mobile app creation.”