A new era in the music industry is coming. We’ve been tracking the direction of all the new developments in the industry and the way musicians make money and build their following, and would love to share our observations with you to help you succeed in the changing world of the music business, now sped up by the need to digitize more in the time of social distancing and limited (or none at all) opportunities to play live shows.
Let’s start with the comparison of the now slowly fading megastar system, take a look at the indie artist world, and then move to discussing what the future holds and where the industry is inching closer every day.
The megastar system
The music industry has been built on the model of large investors, mostly labels and studios, investing into the development of sets of artists some of whom became successful and the profits covered the cost of investing in all of the acts on the entity’s roster.
These entities specialized in both spotting the talent and then developing it, which often meant helping refine the artists’ image and music to meet the market demand. The labels did market research, knew what the top paying target audiences wanted and what music had the potential to reach the top positions in the charts. The labels or other sponsors also paid for production and marketing costs to help push a new artist onto the market – recording music, paying for photo and video shoots, costumes, instruments, ads and paid promotions.
The larger these corporate players became, the bigger cuts they took to finance their operations, which meant only acts that became big stars were worth the time and effort invested for such big machines. This perpetuated the megastar system, with labels prioritizing finding the next big thing over developing niche talent. This left a large gap in the industry that slowly filled with smaller labels developing talent in their designated niche.
The indie way
Musicians who decided to stay indie had to take care of all the costs leading up to any sales and profit. They also were responsible for building their own professional networks and finding clients for gigs like clubs, private parties, festivals, etc. As more online tools for music monetization started emerging, more hobbyist musicians were able to come onto the scene.
YouTube was one of the first ways for musicians to monetize their creations, then came the online music distribution and sales services. One of the most recent technological advancements that’s been taking over the music industry as the lockdowns and quarantines spread across the globe was ticketed online concerts.
The advancements in technology, new generation of bedroom musicians recording in their homes with high-quality, affordable equipment, learning artist branding and music marketing online, and amassing online followings among their peers, and echoing expert insights are indicating that the start of a new era in the music industry is upon us.
Let’s try and put together some of the key characteristics of the new era coming to the music industry.
One of the biggest names in the industry, talent manager Troy Carter has shared in his recent interview with Musically that there’s been a disconnect between technology and the music industry and he’s been searching for a way to connect music and technology in a meaningful way. He insists that emerging technology has to be built specifically for the business of music and cater to those needs. In fact, his own holding Q&A is planning to launch a software product for the music industry soon.
Technology solutions to help create, refine, and monetize music and shows are popping up every month. And evolving fast. Tools to help create the music and shows, expand your fanbase, and monetize your music, shows, and merch are just a thorough google search away (and you can do a lot of the above in your Show4me Artist club, like sell music, interact with fans, sell Artist club memberships, concert tickets, stream ticketed online events, and offer tickets with perks like merch, meet-and-greets, or pre-show hangouts).
The 2020 global pandemic nudged the industry to turn a gradual shift to technology-first into a quick adjustment. With little to no ways to earn on music in person, musicians and their teams turned to digital tools and technology more than ever before. Live concert streaming has seen a particularly impressive spike as live shows have become all but impossible in the reality of social distancing and the need to stop the spread of the virus.
Indie musicians will have a leg up over everyone else in the new era of a self-managed musician. With all the tools now becoming readily available either for free or at increasingly affordable cost, musicians are able to run more and more aspects of their careers and businesses.
Musicians leaning into entrepreneurship has been one of the leading topics of conversation at this year’s Midem Digital Edition. DIY artists have been taking the stage for a few years now. The new era in music will mean more musicians will be able to take the stage and make a living off their music as technology is making the entry threshold for the music business lower.
Direct fan-to-artist sales
With tools for music and show monetization becoming more and more advanced, artists can now run their businesses by marketing and selling directly to consumers. Social media have become the new marketing tools and a lot of indie musicians have figured out they can invest a little in running ads on Facebook and Instagram to find their future fans, and that they can do that on their own as the cost is much cheaper than print and TV advertisement.
Plus, many talented and charismatic musicians are able to leverage social media tools to grow their following organically, involve and engage fans and future fans in conversations, interactions, and their creative journey. This way, musicians are able to build their own audience and secure the potential to monetize their music via music, ticket, and merch sales.
AI and VR take the competition to the next level
While tools to effectively market, produce high-quality music, and monetize music are being democratized by digital solutions and tools (including us here at Show4me), new types of competition will come onto the stage that have the potential to limit the growth of a self-made music entrepreneur – it’s VR experiences and AI-generated songs.
Travis Scott Fortnite VR concert, cross-reality show by The Weeknd are exciting, yet expensive VR experiments that provide shows that might not be financially viable for smaller artists for some time yet.
AI-generated music emerged as a tool to help musicians create, but have evolved to become a competitor as the technology will soon match and surpass what many musicians can do on their own, making the demand for soundtrack music and music licensing drop as companies will have access to cheap, automatically generated music they can use in ads and other marketing materials, documentaries, films, and on the radio.
The new era in the music business is upon us, and here at Show4me we come prepared. We offer musicians a range of tools they can use to remain competitive in the time of an all-encompassing move to digital, the need to self-manage and cut costs on marketing while keeping fan retention rates high.
On Show4me, artists are playing ticketed online shows, which we help them put together, selling music, offering free and premium Artist club subscriptions, creating ticket tiers to add merch and other perks for fans to purchase. By providing all these tools in a single hub, Show4me helps musicians build their music portfolio and retain fans without moving them between platforms and growing their loyal fanbase from event to event.
The industry is changing and it’s vital for musicians and their team to assess the impending change and adjust to be able to keep creating and remain profitable.