Indie Music

Hospital Records’ Romy Harber On Industry Trends [INTERVIEW]

1In this interview, Romy Harber, Manager and Head of Digital at Hospital Records weighs in the importance of direct-to-customer marketing for labels, his experience with the music industry and where he sees it headed moving forward.


Guest post by David Riley of Midemblog

midemblog: What are the best things about your job, and what have been your career highlights to date?

Romy Harber: I enjoy that we get to work with such a wide range of artists; from new producers who have just sent in their first demo, all the way through to artists who have been with the label for 15 years and are touring the world. Therefore each campaign is different which is refreshing. It’s great to see new artists coming through and establishing themselves a career within the industry.

A highlight for me would be our first festival ‘Hospitality In The Park‘ in Finsbury Park last summer. It was amazing to see 10,000 ravers come together on a sunny day – the first time we’d pulled off an event of that scale.

> What advice would you give to people looking to start working in the music industry today?

Get yourself out there. Attend shows, contact artists & labels you like, go to talks, do internships. It can be hard financially – but internships are a great way to build your knowledge, and importantly make good contacts. Even if it’s only a day or two a week. It’s a cliche but it definitely helps to be in the ‘right place at the right time’ – so put yourself in those places!

Also be a fan – listen to as much music as you can.

> What do you predict will be the key trends for music consumption and marketing in 2017?

The power of playlists is continuing to grow, and they are now vital to getting great exposure for a new track. Lots of ‘lean-back’ listeners are now coming across to streaming, and therefore want music they like to be served to them by a reliable source. Developing relationships with these services is vital and an essential part of a marketing team. It can be hard to do so but is even more important for smaller labels.

Unfortunately services are consolidating a lot of that power in house, so it may end up like radio – that a handful of people hold the keys to mass exposure. Lots of labels have crafted their own playlists, however it’s getting harder to grow them as the services favour their own.

In terms of marketing – campaigns are continuing to grow in length, and you need to hold a fan’s attention for far longer. It’s no longer enough to get that sale and then move onto the next potential customer. As has been mentioned a lot recently – labels are having to create more and more ‘content’, as opposed to just music. This requires different skills & ideas from within the team. We now have a full time member of staff creating & editing videos, which are an essential part of a campaign now.

2> What is the one innovation that we should be the most excited about?

I think VR has the potential to really impact on the live music scene. I don’t feel it will have a detrimental effect on ticket sales – there will still be nothing like attending the gig in person. However it means that fans in the US/Australia can witness & experience the big shows we put on in London each year. Or I can watch a gig in Rio that I’d never be able to attend. That’s a very interesting development which can massively expand an ‘audience’. It’s still got a long way to go, but I think it’ll be very interesting over the next few years.

> And what do you think are the biggest challenges facing the music industry this year?

I think something we need to be very wary of is the consolidation of music services into the massive tech companies. Google/Apple/Amazon being the gatekeepers for access to listeners is a worrying prospect, and their ability to squeeze rates for the entire industry. Therefore developing strong D2C channels is very important for labels.

Also we need to be careful of the influence the majors have on renegotiations with the big streaming services. It’s important for the independent community, with much smaller catalogues, to get a fair deal – so they can continue to nurture and develop the next generation of world-class artists.

This is the latest in a series of posts from key industry influencers from the world over, whom you’ll be able to meet at Midem 2017. Our UK ambassador posts are coordinated by Plan It Music‘s David Riley, in association with Motive Unknown.

David Riley is a Digital Marketing Consultant, and owner of Plan It Music. Formerly head of digital at Cooking Vinyl, he is currently working at JCF Management for The Prodigy and consulting on album release campaigns.

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