Harsh words right? Nobody wants to be told they will fail in anything let alone your dream. We already hear the typical “You know there’s no money in music right?” or the “What’s your back up plan?” spoken frequently by our family members but what if we’re now hearing this from social media giants and retailers?
First came MySpace, MySpace was essentially a hub for artists. You can listen to their music, read the band’s blog, see photos, view upcoming tour dates, and even see posts from other MySpacers all on one convenient place. It was a completely customized profile. It was like having your own free website on a platform that had millions of users. It was the perfect online marriage between artists and fans.
When MySpace was around that was the hottest thing in the world for artists. MySpace even had it’s own record label. Because of MySpace some of the biggest acts on the service went on to becoming even bigger touring bands with massive followings.
Bands left and right were being discovered by labels and offered record deals, new record labels were popping up all over, and bands had a plethora of shows because of the ability to network with other bands or promoters directly via inbox. All was good in the world until one social media network came and changed everything.
The downfall of MySpace
Then came along Facebook, a newly introduce social networking platform that once was specifically exclusive to college students became public and started offering the ability for bands to have pages on their platform. Once bands saw this was another avenue, they started adding whatever content they had to Facebook which meant doubling up their efforts.
Soon artists were starting to make the jump completely to Facebook as it was constantly updating their back end for more mobile functionality, adding more features, and with the ability to offer integrations bands decided that MySpace was behind in the times.
Over the years MySpace’s user base dwindled while Facebook’s flourished which allowed for Facebook to have total control. Because of this bands lost thousands or sometimes millions of fans that they had accumulated on MySpace only to reset back to zero. Every artist, company, and fan had to completely start over. Fans didn’t go out of their way to re-add the band pages they already friended on Facebook so bands suffered tremendously.
The dominance of Facebook
Which leads me to now. Facebook has a stranglehold on social media. Sure there’s other options like Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram but even Instagram is owned by Facebook. Because Facebook knows they have majority stake over social media they know they can control how artists are able to use their platform.
In the early stages when an artist posted a status on their Facebook page whoever followed that page would see the post. Recent updates to Facebook algorithm now only allows 1% or less of the content posted on the artist’s page to be seen by their fans. The same people that purposely went and followed the band to stay up to date is now barely shown any posts from the artist’s page if not at all.
For instance if an artist has 1,000 fans they’re lucky if 10 people will see that post. Because of Facebook’s algorithm artists now need to advertise their posts in order to reach the majority of the fans who already followed the page to begin with. Most artists don’t have the necessary funds to be advertising posts on a regular basis so Facebook has set them up to fail and it’s only going to get worse.
Facebook is now testing a feature that doesn’t even allow people the option to share a post from the artist’s page to a personal profile, only to direct message that post to friends via the messenger app. Similar to how Snapchat uses photos or video on their service where you need to select who to send the post to, Facebook is now testing this feature stating that it will help bands with boosting reach because you’re reaching people directly.
The problem with this approach is that people don’t want to be messaged by bands directly to share a post they just doctored up. This will lead to a people unfollowing pages due to this being considered a form of spamming.
Along the lines of spamming is networking. If you’re a DIY band trying to book your own tour through Facebook unless you know promoters or know bands that know promoters then good luck. The search bar at the top of Facebook doesn’t allow for you to find promoters profiles or relative bands in certain states so you’re stuck. Other than searching for possible groups or maybe asking your fans who like your page if they know any promoters who want to book you, your options are limited.
YouTube doesn’t even want you, unless they can make money off you
For a site that sure is littered with cat videos you think they would be more accepting of content especially from brands. Recently YouTube closed down any brand accounts that had less than 10,000 views in favor of accounts with more views and subscribers. This was a move made from Google to appeal to advertisers. No sense in having monetized brand accounts using Google advertising to make some money if they’re not getting as many streams as some of your YouTube heavy hitters like Logan Paul.
In Google’s eyes you’re just not big enough to deserve a piece of the pie. You give them free content and they make money off you. All you get in return is your video hosted on a website.
Luckily that is the worst part about YouTube. YouTube has always been big on creators so they’re not having you pay to promote your video or anything like that. They want you to use the service. The only issue is that if you’re giving content to a company and they’re using your content for their monetary gain you should get a larger cut.
That’s the equivalent of band playing a show for free, the promoter takes all the proceeds from the door, and proceeds to tell the band he’s keeping the money because he allowed you to play the club and you don’t deserve to be paid yet because you’re not big enough.
The death of CD Sales
Recently big chains have gone about removing CD’s from being sold in their stores. Most notoriously on the list is Best Buy. Recently Best Buy announced that as of July 1st they will no longer be selling CD’s in their 1,008 stores. That’s 1,008 chances for someone to buy a CD for a band that they love or decide to buy randomly because the artwork looked awesome and that it’s in the metal section, I know I have.
Best Buy isn’t the only store removing CD’s from being sold. Recently I walked into an FYE which was always known for their overpriced CD sales but none the less the majority of the store was CD’s. Now the store is just a hodge-podge of whatever is popular in pop-culture at the moment between the gigantic wall of Funko Pop figures or all the Dead Pool merchandise you can possibly think of.
I can understand the reasoning for stopping the sale of CD’s. It’s an older media, eventually all older media dies out and is replaced with something new like MP3’s which is what happened but that doesn’t mean it has to go away completely. There’s a whole demographic of people who buy CD’s because they sound better or they aren’t exactly technically inclined to throw MP3’s on a phone or even want to pay for a streaming service.
This demographic still goes to music stores because they want something physical in hand. This is why records were on the rise, it was something tangible that people can hold onto and experience the music in a different way. Luckily I did see records at FYE so that’s at least something.
The death of MP3’s
Now you’re probably thinking “what the hell are you talking about?” but just like CD’s, MP3’s have gone by the wayside in favor of streaming services. Apple was at the forefront when it came to Digital Music with iTunes. If you wanted an album but didn’t want to buy a CD you bought it on iTunes and threw it on your sweet iPod Classic.
Recently Apple announced that as of early 2019 you will no longer be able to download digital albums off of iTunes, you will need to use their subscription service instead.
If there’s nowhere to buy CD’s or even a digital download we’re now forced to sign-up for a service just so we can get the music we want. Most people don’t have the luxury or being able to budget an extra $9.99 a month between their bills and food just to listen to music so with no options, people will just be forced to listen to what they have already.
What are our options?
This means they won’t find out about any new artist and the artists selling their music on these services will receive and even smaller payout than the initial minuscule cut of each stream.
Because services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora know they’re essentially your only option for listening to music they control how much of a cut bands are making per stream. The average amount earned per stream on Spotify is $0.006 and $0.0084 while Apple Music is $0.00783.
These amounts unless you’re a massive artist like Taylor Swift rarely equal out to anything that could resemble a royalty check. See Bette Midler’s Tweet on how much she made for 4,175,149 streams between Spotify and Pandora. Spoiler alert, it’s not pretty.
Between Facebook’s advertising nightmares, Instagrams posts out of order algorithm, Twitter’s feed bogged down, CDs dying out, MP3’s dying out, YouTube shutting down brand accounts that have less than 10,000 plays, and Snapchat’s lack of brand support profiles, and streaming services paying bands close to nothing what are we supposed to do? Where do we go from here and how do we fix this? Below are some recommendations on how you can break the cycle, take charge of your branding, and get your piece of the pie.
Create your own website:
When creating your own website you dictate where traffic is directed, how it’s designed, and how long it will stay active. The website will stay active for all of eternity as long as you’re willing to pay for the hosting and domain. Also ensure there’s a way for people to interact with the site whether it be a way to comment on news posts or a forum to keep people active on your site which is helpful for website stats and how to target your marketing, especially if you’re using Google Analytics.
If you still want to guide users to your social networks you can customize the site to ensure those links are added. You can have your central hub but be able to direct people to social media in case they’re not ready to break off from social media and start utilizing your website. Recommended hosting companies: GoDaddy, BlueHost, HostGator, BandZoogle, or WordPress.com.
Use your own web store:
A lot of website providers have the ability to create your own e-commerce platform right in your website. If your website is a WordPress based website you can use a plug-in called “WooCommerce” which is completely free, integrates with your current website, allows for you to add various product, and won’t take a cut of the cost.
The only time you’ll lose money on a transaction is if you’re using PayPal as your payment gateway and in that case each transaction is 2.9% + 30¢ per. So if you sell a CD for $10.00 on your site you’ll lose 59¢. Still beats selling through CDBaby which you will lose a cut of $4.00 per CD to them. Recommended e-commerce platforms: WooCommerce and using Printful Integration for merchandise. Third Party Platforms: Bandcamp, Shopify, Bigcommerce, BigCartel, and Printful.
Set up an email newsletter:
Setting up an email newsletter is a great way to reach your fans directly. Typical open rates for Artists/Musicians is 21.80% while click through rates are 2.68%. It doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of things but if you have a mailing lists of 4,000 fans that get’s an average open rate of 21.80% you’ll reach roughly 872 people compared to Facebook’s reach of 1% which would yield you 40 people.
Most email providers range from $10.00 and up depending on the amount of contacts. Even if say 2.68% out of the 872 contacts buy a $10.00 CD then you may have already paid for your email marketing. However be sure to try and get as many fans as you can at your shows to subscribe to your mailing list and ensure there’s a sign-up form on your website. Recommended E-Mail Marketing platforms: Constant Contact, MailChimp, and AWeber.
Promote, promote, promote:
Try to promote your website as much as possible. When you’re on stage mention to the crowd “visit our website for a free download” and use a sign-up form as a way to entice people to sign-up for your newsletter for a free download. Hand out business cards with your website and to make things easier have a QR code on the business card that guides people either right to the website or to the sign-up form for a free download.
We need the artists need to take the power back. Social media and retailers want you to fail to maintain control, so you will have to rely on them to sell your music or promote your brand. Bands are starting to leave their record labels for a DIY approach. Why? Because these bands are losing too much money to other sources when the same can be done on their own accord.
Why continue to spend countless amounts of dollars to have our posts be seen when they should be already? It’s the equivalent of paying to play but for social media. So why aren’t we dropping social media already?
What else do you think we can do? Be sure to leave a comment.