Kevin Breuner, CD Baby VP Of Marketing Looks Back On 2014
Kevin Breuner, Host of DIY Musician Podcast, and VP of Marketing, CD Baby joins us today on Hypebot.com's year end virtual panel. As an independent artist, Breuner responds to the current streaming debate saying, "You never know where your fans are going to come from. For that reason, I feel it’s important to have your music in all the places people go to enjoy music, including Spotify. I would hate to find out that someone who hadn’t heard us before, but happen to be at a show, opened their Spotify app in a moment of intrigue, couldn’t find us, and just moved on."
1) Do you see the current debate questioning the effect of ubiquitous free music online leading to real change, or is the Taylor Swift rift just a short term distraction?
I think it’s an important debate, but I think for independent artists it can be a bit of a distraction from the strategy that has proven most effective for the independent community over the years. I always tell artists that they should direct fans to the places that are most beneficial to building their career and making money. It’s important to note, that when I say "fans," I’m talking about the people that love an artist's music and want to support everything they do. So if you get an email from my band, you’ll be directed to buy music at cdbaby.com where we make far more money than if we sent everyone to other digital music retail sites.
That being said, as an independent artist, I’m aware that opportunity and new fans are lurking around every corner. You never know where your fans are going to come from. For that reason, I feel it’s important to have your music in all the places people go to enjoy music, including Spotify. I would hate to find out that someone who hadn’t heard us before, but happen to be at a show, opened their Spotify app in a moment of intrigue, couldn’t find us, and just moved on. It’s a missed opportunity to start drawing a casual listener into the realm of being a true fan. There will always be work to do to make sure that when new technologies emerge, the artist community is fairly represented and compensated. That being said, it’s also important to remember that music fans have their preferred listening method whether it’s CDs, vinyl, MP3s, or streaming.
I don’t think it’s wise for independent artists to alienate large groups of potential fans based on the service the fans like using to listen to music. I don’t want to look at people who are enjoying my music as the enemy (even if it would be more beneficial to me if they used another service). The formula is: Get people listening to your music, turn them into die-hard fans, and direct them to where they can best support your music and career.
2) How important is the entry of YouTube Music Key and the expansion of Beats Music within the Apple ecosystem? Will they lead to a much larger streaming audience by the end of 2015, or just fragment a steadily expanding user base?
Clearly, with the reach those companies have, there is serious potential to greatly expand the streaming ecosystem. However, to me, it all comes down to execution. Just because they have deep pockets and seemingly infinite resources doesn’t mean they’ll create an experience that users care about. There are plenty of examples of someone touting something as the “next big thing” only to receive a collective yawn from consumers. How will these services help me enjoy music more than I already do, so much that I would change my habits? Until they are actually available to everyone, I don’t know because I haven’t used them. It’s all just speculation at this point.
3) What big shift or story took place in 2014 that will have a major effect on your business/sector in 2015? How will you feel and field the effects?
In 2014, we’ve seen serious growth in revenues to artists from sources like publishing and YouTube. It’s exciting for us to help artists connect with revenue that previously wasn’t easily accessible to them. In 2015, we expect that trend to continue in a big way. Doing this work for artists is what get’s us excited to come to work every day at CD Baby. It’s going to be a good year!