For right now, let’s not get bogged down in discussing the dry facts from a consumer point of view. If you want to read the facts on Streaming vs Owning music, it’s an easy find. I’d rather talk about how Spotify, Pandora and the likes are really more than just the $.004 per play statistic that is often the only aspect discussed. Instead, let’s take a look at how they act as discovery platforms, as well as helpful data providers, for the up-and-coming artists within the music world.
As an out-of-the-gate, freshly pressed band, finding a new audience can be like trying to find a smooth stone outside of running water. Outside your group of friends who come support you in the early days, to venture out into new cities and connect with music fans who, not only have been exposed to your music, but dig your style is not an easy thing to do.
By taking advantage of what is being offered, reaching an audience beyond your home crowd can be like letting that rough stone find you.
The skip-as-you-go platform, Pandora, recently released an Artist Marketing Platform, which acts like an analytics platform for bands to discover information about who is listening to their songs. “AMP provides a direct view into who and where these audiences are and what resonates with them,” said Pandora’s founder, Tim Westergren in a press release.
Imagine you suddenly had a spike in plays in Fargo, North Dakota, and you happened to be looking for another city for your upcoming Midwest tour. Having knowledge of who and where your fans are at your disposal not only allows you to gain some added exposure, but if you play your chords right, you can set up the merch table and sell some koozies, stickers and 3-song EP’s to the Fargo scene. This information was never as easy to obtain prior to these streaming services.
Spotify has also kept up with the trend to provide value to bands who use their platform. With the November ’14 acquisition of music data platform The Echo Nest, they will attempt to improve their music discovery engine for music fans around the world. Through this acquisition Spotify looks to enhance not only their ability for song and artist understanding, which is aimed at improving the experience of the listener/consumer, but also fan understanding and playlist APIs. This information could be used by musicians to understand who is enjoying their music and where they are. It could also potentially lead to other insightful information, like what other bands your fans are into – potentially helping one make decisions as to what other acts to tour with.
Spotify has also recently partnered with Snapchat, and one must wonder if they plan to integrate Snapchat into their platform down the road. There are two possibilities I could imagine:
1) Your band will have a Snapchat profile and it will be linked to your Spotify band profile so you can send fans Snaps of, say, your practice, your pre-show/pre-game, etc.
2) Your fans will be capable of posting clips from your concerts to Spotify, or tag you while they listen to you in the car, so anybody that searches your tunes on Spotify will be able to see clips of fans with a similar taste in tunes.
What up-and-coming artist or band wouldn’t want that kind of exposure? Exposure that could lead to organic marketing for your music. Would you be willing to be paid $0.004 a song play when that type of discovery mechanism for the general public is in place, along with resulting data that could bolster your musical reach? It seems that it is unfair to view these streaming services simply as a way of selling ones recorded music (and comparing it to other services that do, such as iTunes) as they provide a novel way for listeners to painlessly be exposed to, and listen to, your music – while also potentially providing useful information to musicians of any size about their fans.
As these platforms grow, and bands become more and more comfortable with their offerings, the capabilities to build and grow a fan base will be easier than it ever was in the past. And really, we’re just getting started and it’s probably safe to assume these musician services offered by streaming platforms will only grow. So while they may offer a piper’s wage for every listen, it’s really about more than the petty monetary gains of each listen makes it seem.
It’s the ability for fans to discover your songs from their computers or phones, and the ability for you to discover a Reggae scene in Anchorage, or a bluegrass scene in Miami.
It’s the kid who happens to stumble upon that smooth, flat stone, and that brief contemplation as he walks towards the river and decides whether to skip it upstream, or down.
Written by Brendan Dimitri
OurVinyl | Contributor