The greatest challenge for marketers in the music industry is breaking songs rather than artists in a “playlist-dominated culture” sparked by Spotify, warned One Direction’s manager Will Bloomfield.
There’s a huge shift in how people are engaging with the music they love now playlists are emerging as the frontrunner. Consequently, streaming is fast-becoming the revenue spinner for record label execs as seen by its dominance of the recent financial updates from Universal and Sony Music’s.
But that opportunity comes with its own challenges, many of which Bloomfield believes stem from how he and his peers break artists when people are more likely listen to them on a playlist against a myriad of others rather than the focused experience of an album.
He likens the paradigm shift to the one the advertising industry is wrestling with around understanding media, calling it a “move from sales to consumption”.
“Our greatest challenge is breaking artists,” he explained at an event hosted by media consultancy ID Comms. “We’re currently breaking songs in our business world and that’s much harder and it takes much longer [for a potential fan] to buy into the artists proposition, which means we have to look at the trajectory of an artist. It used to be two to three years, whereas now it’s more like four to five years.”
It’s great for “discovery and chatter”, he continued but people are no longer “consuming artists in their own eco-system”. For, Bloomfield, its paved the way for “Spotify to become the next Apple” in terms of how its iTunes service irreversibly changed the way people consume music when it arrived in 2001.
“If you think back to 2002 when iTunes unbundled the album you were in the artist’s eco-system; you were in their page; at least you were there,” he explained in contrast to how artists do not have that luxury anymore. “The industry said it was doom and gloom and how it is was bad for business but now you’re hearing those favourite songs in a playlists. You’re not even in the artist’s eco-systems anymore. You’re in ‘Fresh Hits’ or ‘Spotify Dance’ for example or whatever other playlist you’re listening to. We have to think about how we convert a song in a playlist into the next arena or stadium act.”