What Has Digitization Changed for Musicians?
Digitalisation has intensified the trend for artists to retain ownership of a self-financed recording – and thus become “labels” themselves, i.e. small music companies. The reason for this is the digitalisation of music, which has become much cheaper. The same goes for the digitisation of marketing.
Instead of large budgets for advertising via mass media, expensive videos for MTV & VIVA, and a lot of personnel for public relations processing of the mass media radio, TV & press, in order to gain market access and reach potential listeners, market access is possible for everyone through the Internet. This has given rise to a comparatively inexpensive way of directly marketing music, the relevance and effectiveness of which is increasing daily.
The Musician Becomes Their Own Marketing Manager
Instead of capital and the bottleneck “market access”, where in pre-digital times the A&R was the closest barrier to the market access, in principle any artist who is well organized can now be their own music company with the “right” distribution – but consequently they must also be their own marketer. Through the personalization of marketing – away from “one-to-many” via mass media to “one-to-one” via the Internet – capital + exclusive market access is no longer necessary, as the so-called “big” music companies, the “majors”, represent. Today time + imaginative, entertaining communication that leads to a veritable dialogue with the interested parties are the key.
And this continuously very personal “entertainment” cannot be led by a product manager of a large music company, because they have only a relatively short time window in the “release phase” per artist, since they have to look after tens of other artists. In addition, the fan immediately notices when marketing agents act here. The structure, working method + the resulting possible timing is the reason why marketing via marketing “intermediaries”, as they represent the great music firms, no longer works.
Thereby Direct Communication Now Replaces Capital!
Incidentally, the same thing happened on the business meta-level: Marketing is changing from “advertising” to “communication” – also at the economics faculties of the universities. For the artist, this also means that the change in marketing – away from “one-to-many” via mass media to “one-to-one” via the Internet – places a additional workload on them.
They do not only have to create above average great music and compositions, write good lyrics, make great music recordings and make inspiring appearances. They now have to have an interesting, lasting conversation with the people who are interested in them. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. In addition, a day only has 24 hours. The answer to this problem will define what the music industry of the future will look like.
The Future of the Music Industry…
My answer: At the beginning of a career every artist will also have to be a communicator with an authentic “face”, live and via the Internet, and generate a certain critical mass of first contacts themselves. In an advanced stage, for example when they already have many appearances – and first music recordings are successfully placed on the global platforms – they will need a representative at some point due to lack of time.
Due to the need for very authentic, personal “entertainment”, such a representative cannot be an “off-the-shelf mediator”, a classic “product manager” (see above). But at most a permanent representative directly next to them, a kind of personal assistant, who is permanently able to take part in this conversation close to the artist. My prediction is that this will lead to the resurgence of the music manager, who, however, must be a manager with excellent digital expertise. They will have to be able to manage the artist’s digital account with a distributor and master the full range of online marketing tools that have become indispensable for marketing today. Ideally, they will use a digital distributor that integrates distribution with online marketing at the technical level into a single dashboard. A digital distribution 2.0, or digital distribution plus, as it is feiyr.com, simply to keep track and save time.
However, the artist will still have to be at the interface of direct communication with the fans in order to give their marketing entertainment the indispensable personal touch and authenticity. Since such a One-Artist-Label will become the rule in the future, it is therefore the task of the A&Rs to find exactly this kind of artist.