The Future of Music Streaming – The Fan Experience
We have been in the digital revolution for the past 20 years and in this time the music industry has been redefined several times over. The reality today is the consumer has embraced streaming as a way to consume music, and in fact they no longer look at recorded music as a product to be purchased but more of a service that is available free! They have the ability to listen to pretty much anything that has been recorded in the past 100 years at the flick of a finger.
In addition to changing how music is consumed, it has changed how the consumer listens to music! They no longer take a single artist and listen to their release, Nor do they restrict their listening to a single genre, their playlists become soundtracks for activities or moods they want to create. The Music they choose can be as varied and eclectic and is determined on the listener reacts emotionally to the song. The Major Record companies are reporting the largest amount of cross genre hits in history which bears out the fact the genre is dying out. Quite frankly I for one will not be sorry to see it go.
As we moved towards this world of music streaming there have been advantages and disadvantages to the artist that have been result of this new technology. On the plus side, music streaming has leveled the playing field for the indie artists where they as much a chance to reach a wide fanbase, on the minus side artists are not being compensated at the level that would make recorded music profitable, especially for the indie artists.
The one thing about the consumer market is they are always looking for a new way to have their music/artist experience better. At one time Pandora was the king of live streaming, they lost their market share (now only 1% of the streaming market) as Spotify gave the consumer the ability to curate their own playlists from a large database of both indie artists and major label artists, for free or a low monthly fee. Now Spotify is experiencing a drop in market share for the first time. According to MIDiA Research, Spotify have moved from 34% to 32% Market share despite adding 27 Million new subscribers in the between the first quarter of 2020 and the first 3 months of 2021. MIDiA Research also reports this is the result of larger growth rates of You-Tube (60% Growth Rate*), Tencent Music (40% Growth Rate*) and Amazon Music (27% Growth Rate*).
The Fan Experiance
The one thing I have found that has come out of the shutdown of touring during the COVID pandemic, is there is a thirst for the fan-artist connection. Now, I know that nothing can replace the Live show, but artists learned quickly that they can give their fans a personal experience through social media. Fans want to feel connected to artists in a more personal way then just listen to their music. They want to see a glimpse of the artists world, almost like the reality show mentality. Indie Artists had to move toward social media to stay connected to their fanbase during this shutdown and have discovered that there is a huge potential for expanding their fanbase by creating content (See Content Creation) and moving their fans into their monetization funnel (See Funnel Marketing For the Musician And Filling your Music Marketing Funnel)
I have interviewed a wide variety of artists over the past year and a half about their experiences coping with the shutdown and discovered those that have remained successful have embraced the concept of content creation and expanding the fan experience. They started to use platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook to connect with their current fans and find new fans. They have given the fan access to their living rooms and private spaces exposing their world off the stage with pictures and videos and with live streaming created intermate performances that gave the fan direct interaction with the artist in real time,
This has carried over to huge potential market that really didn’t consider LIVE music in small intermate venues as an entertainment option. Many of the young music fans who spend a good amount of their time on social media, do not have this frame of reference of experiencing “Music in the Moment” where musicians interacting and creating music in that moment. They know the large shows where the music sounds like the recording, the excitement is created with lights, pyrotechnics, Custom changes and choreography. Bringing the fan experience to them through social media, coupled with this reality show celebrity mentality that social media platforms provide, could bring a new fanbase to LIVE venues when we come out of the pandemic. The fact has become clear that Social Media content creation is an effective way to market indie music.
Where we are Today
The business model of Spotify is based strictly on a delivery platform for the consumer. From the consumers perspective, Spotify gives them access to a large database of music which they can add to personal playlists or they can discover new music from the algorithm that helps them find music that is “Like” or “Related” to the artists and music they are currently listening to. There are optional tabs for artist information and data that some artists take advantage of, but for the most part this is very passive type of information that could quickly become outdated in this fast paced digital world. For the artists the “Spotify for Artists” gives the artists access to Analytic data on their fanbase as to what they are listening to and how many times their music is being accessed, etc. Unfortunately the Fan-Artists connection is limited and beyond the actual music for the consumer it is almost non existent.
Apple Music has created a lyric scroll for much of the music on their platform where the lyric of the song scrolls along with the song much like Karaoke to give the fan the ability to either sing along or to see the lyric to understand what the artist is really saying.
You-tube combines live performances, Lyric Videos, Production Music Videos as well as informative content from the artist. Artists use Instagram and Twitter to post pics and short videos about their daily lives that allows them to connect with their fans. And TikTok has been credited in breaking new artists like Megan Thee Stallion (Savage), Treavor Daniel (Falling), Doja Cat and Sony Music credits TikTok for the success of Riton and Regard. (See Indie Artist Guide to TikTok)
If you really take a look at it, it seems really clear that there is a trend happening that is going to redefine the music industry once again. The Consumer is looking for a direct fan to artist connection and want more than just a platform to listen to their music but one that gives them access to that artist. The problem for the consumer and the artist is this experience can only be accessed by utilizing a wide variety of platforms. There is no one place that you can listen to an artist work, explore that artist’s world and connect with that artist. In addition artists have time again complained that they have to learn a new platform every time a new one pops up, as well as spend inordinate amount of time posting and interacting across all these outlets.
The future platform for delivering music to the consumer is going to be one that combines all these attributes into a single easy to use interface for both the artist and the consumer. One that gives the artist access to the fans and the data they need to make effective marketing decisions and one that gives the fan access to the artists in such a way that they feel that personal connection to the artist.
Finally, the economics of the platform must walk that fine line between paying the artists their fair share of revenues from their music and providing the consumer with a cost effective means to access this type of service. But, if done right and the content that is delivered maintains a high standard quality there should be no reason why the consumer would not accept a price point that would effectively compensate the artists for their work.
Let’s take a hypothetical journey into this new platform which we will call “We are the Music or WAM”. A New Artist releases their new music on WAM. Once Released the artist creates a single instrument and vocal video that he releases for his fans that are musicians to create a TikTok type Duo. They can play along to the song and collaborate with other fans to play with the artist on the song. A voting page is created with all the collaborations on it where fans can vote on their favorite and the winner will get tickets to the artists next show or a special fan package of merch. Of Course the Merch store is available on the same interface where fans can purchase hats, t-shirts, downloads, etc. The artist can also puts up his production music video as well his schedule for LIVE and LIVE Stream shows. His fans can sign up for updates to the schedule and get notified either by email, notifications or text messages when the artist is performing near them or releases new content. They can watch a video of the artist working on that first song on the release both in the writing stage and in the studio. They Can see pictures behind the scenes of their latest tour, in the studio or sitting at home with their favorite pet. Ok, I think you are getting the idea. This is where we are heading, Like it or not the consumer wants this and they will want to become part of this kind of access.
If Spotify and the other streaming platforms don’t recognize the shift in what the market wants they risk the same fate as Pandora and Napster when it comes to market share. Spotify’s Stock prices have already fallen over the drop in it’s rate of expansion and drop in market share. This could be an indication there is writing on the wall. The question is who is going to step up and deliver the next big music/Content Platform!
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