Reports Music

Kill the campaign Music marketing needs branding, not direct response

Report by Mark Mulligan and Tatiana Cirisano
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20,000 foot view:  The debate over a new streaming royalties regime is capturing attention, but economics will not fix the underlying paradigm shifts that are the true cause for streaming’s problems: there is not enough money to go around for the ballooning amount of music on streaming services, and passive consumption is the new norm. To win in this competitive environment, marketing teams must reframe music consumption itself. The way to do so is marketing artist brands, not songs, which may mean sacrificing immediate song success for long-term artist success.  

Key insights 

  • There is growing interest in new royalty frameworks to address some of these issues, but economics are the symptom, not the cause – consumption needs to be reframed
  • TikTok is the top of the funnel, but the process is more like panning for gold, with streaming being the water dripping out, and fandom and identity being the nuggets of gold left behind. Artists and labels are creating the gold, but monetising the water
  • In today’s hyper-competitive entertainment environment, a song alone is rarely enough for building fandom – it requires knowing the artist and their story
  • Music marketers have two principal opportunities:        play the song economy;        nurture scenes
  • Scenes are most often built on identity, and identity is what underpins fandom – fandom is the symptom, identity is the cause
  • It is time for music marketing to pivot, jumping off the direct-response song economy treadmill, with labels becoming artist branding agencies
  • Songs remain crucial, but for marketers, songs should be the outcome of the artist brand campaign, not the campaign itself
  • Go beyond what makes fans tick – understanding identity drivers is the secret sauce for fandom building and products

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Audiomack, BTS, Cactus Jack, Fred Again, Fortnite, Instagram, Hofstede, HYBE, Raye, SoundCloud, Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, Travis Scott, Twitch, Wikipedia

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