There is more information on this page and in its links than you can devour and comprehend in one sitting, but you should dive in.
All the conversation re Spotify has been about payouts. That ship has sailed, now it’s about building your audience so that it will speed up and enhance the flywheel of your career. In other words, recorded music streaming is only one income stream, please view it that way.
So the story is always about the Spotify Top 50 and the major labels who parade their wares there. But the truth is never have the major labels had less control over the music landscape, furthermore never have hit artists had less purchase in the landscape, the data shows us this, and you might want to ignore the data re your personal beliefs on political issues, but do you really want to sacrifice the insights when it comes to your own career?
If you’re an artist you need to digest this information, you must read it and know it, because now you are your own record label. Don’t dream of getting signed, chances are that’s the worst thing that can happen to your career. If you make pop or hip-hop that populates the aforementioned Spotify Top 50, go for it, try to get the big deal, but if you don’t, don’t even bother, as Fleetwood Mac sings, it’s time to go your own way.
Sure, you can hand the responsibility to a third party. But chances are they can’t deliver more than you can yourself, and they’re going to take a huge slice, for probably no results, don’t get sucked into the indie label game. But do get sucked into the indie mind-set.
Yesterday Lollapalooza revealed its lineup. There aren’t many superstars and the truth is there are other festivals that are genre specific that do extremely well. The nineties paradigm is kaput. You know, the one in which you try to get exposure to become world dominant, where you need a deep pocket for videos and getting on MTV is everything. There is no center in music, no glue, except for maybe the streaming platforms themselves, and the truth is Spotify dominates and it skews young, it’s where careers are built and expanded. Sure, be on all of the outlets, but Apple skews old and the subscribers listen less and…Amazon is a black hole proffering little information, but don’t count it out, the pricing is just too intriguing, everybody’s got a Prime account, so music is burgeoning there.
But Spotify is a music only company (well, podcasts too…let’s just call it an audio-only company) and therefore it has to double-down and superserve. And if you follow the link above you will find out what works with your fanbase. When to release new music, how it affects catalog, what kind of merch they prefer…and how to make a canvas and how to pitch your music and the truth is if you’re complaining, you’re missing the point, this is how Soundcloud built hip-hop into the juggernaut it is. Turned out giving it away for free was good business. And now, knowing how to use the Spotify tools is good business.
Really, it’s best if the artist him or herself dives deep and comprehends all this information. Once you hand off responsibility something is lost in the process. There’s no phone help on the internet, you’ve got to figure out solutions to your problems yourself, why do you expect it to be any different in music? Sure, if you have a best friend or a manager empower them. But Spotify’s fan/artist information is the complement to Don Passman’s book. Sure, you know the law, you know how not to get screwed, but do you know how to build your career?
Don’t look at it from top down, but bottom up. Don’t compare yourself to Billie Eilish or the Weeknd, don’t get frustrated that your numbers are so low, instead focus on the build…are your numbers going up and what can you do to make them increase? And the truth is spamming everybody does not work, you’ve got to superserve the fans you’ve got, they are the best spreaders of your music, you’ve got to keep them interested, you’ve got to empower them.
Music is in the doldrums.
It was revolutionized in 1964 by the Beatles and the ensuing British Invasion.
Then in the late sixties and early seventies we had FM radio which engendered album rock.
And then in 1981 we had MTV.
And in 1999/2000, we had Napster.
Spotify is over a decade old now, we learned that those who embrace new tools win. But we haven’t yet had the artist who demands those not paying attention do.
Yes, we had the Beatles and British Invasion.
FM brought Jimi Hendrix and Cream and…
MTV brought Culture Club and Duran Duran…
We’ve yet to have the Spotify hit, the breakthrough that is completely different from what came before, which gets everybody interested.
It happens in all media.
In television, it was “The Sopranos” in 1999. A series rejected by network that was better than any movie. And thereafter we got more and more innovative cable shows, Sunday night was for HBO, and then Reed Hastings came along and took Netflix streaming and funded “House of Cards” and we truly hit the golden age of television, it’s the entertainment medium everybody wants to talk about, people will ask you what shows you’ve been watching before they’ll ask what music you’ve been listening to.
So we’re waiting for that new sound.
And you might have it. But now there are no barriers to entry. Sure, you could get lost in the morass of the 60,000 tracks added every day to Spotify, but almost all of them are marginal, made by hobbyists, maybe delusional hobbyists, but they will get no traction. The truth is almost nothing will get traction, but we are looking for the new and different and excellent and…
You can make it cheaply with digital tools.
You can promote it for free via social media.
And now Spotify is helping you build your career and track the engagement!
And the truth is it’s the least verbal artist who is questioning whether they can make it who blazes the trail, usually someone who has paid dues, been kicking around, with minefields in their past. They’ve taken time to see what works and what does not, they’ve honed their craft, and they know it’s about the individual statement.
No one will be as dominant as the Beatles, or even Madonna, ever again, can’t ever happen. But there is room for acts that have big impact, that start a movement. If you’re in it for the money, stop right away, right away, there is just not that much money in music, and odds are you’ll never make it. If you want money, work for the corporation, get a steady paycheck. If you want to go down the road less taken, if you are willing to starve, if you’re unwilling to complain, if you must do the work believing in yourself…maybe you’re what we need. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that just because you have self-confidence you can make it. No, you must look at the data, see if the trend is upward, if not, the problem is you. Yes, the truth is if you’re great there will be action, there’s so little great out there. And then you have to build on that action.
You’ve got all the tools, we’re dying for you to change our world…please change our world!