There’s a disconnect in behaviors of artists who are reaching to music consumers and the way music consumers are actually behaving when searching for music.
Consumers are averse to using platforms such as SoundCloud or Reverbnation or reacting to direct marketing efforts by music artists, yet artists are directing consumers to these sites, often through direct marketing. The volume of overall interaction between music artists as a whole population and general music consumer population, is a seemingly one-sided relationship. Consumers feel overwhelmed by the volumes of requests to listen to music from bands they may have never heard of and have no affiliation with other than maybe sharing similar social media platforms.
In a study of mine, I sampled four days of twitter interaction with the key phrases “Free song download OR check out my new song include:retweets”. From those samples, on average I found that there are about 140 tweets in a 24 hour span in which various music artists had posted links to music consumers for download or to check out their music.
Keep in mind, these search terms are limited and music artists could use a wide variety of key phrase combinations that could severely increase tweets per day. Nonetheless, this sample of the total population of possible key phrases still demonstrates the volume of music artists tweeting available music to consumers. Quantifying these findings, we can say music artists are tweeting requests for consumers to check out their music 980 times p/week, 3,920 p/month and a staggering 47,040 times a year.
Songs are often hosted on free social music platforms or on 2nd or 3rd tier distribution sites that are not traditional places where consumers search or acquire music. Also, many music artists are engaging in follow-for-follow exchanges with other music artists, causing majority of their fan base on twitter to be other music-artists and not average music consumers. In the cases when they do add or follow music consumers, the follow is often not reciprocated as it was unsolicited and done in an unnatural way. Consumers are averse to listening to music being solicited to them if there is no relationship built or personal reason to do so.
Music artists are use SoundCloud and Reverbnation to direct consumers to these websites; however, upon another study of mine, I found that the top selling artists of 2012 are also struggling to connect their fans to SoundCloud pages. This difference is shown in the counted plays on Soundcloud vs. views on YouTube which have differences in the 100,000s (YouTube being the winner). The study was conducted on Carly Rae Jepsen and Gotye listed in the ifpi report for 2013 as the top selling artists of 2012.
In a smaller study of mine, I polled 10 of my friends on their music behavior and found that 80% of them actually do not download music to a high degree and it is mostly acquired through their mobile device. Their preferred way of listening to music is through YouTube. The music searches are usually driven by searching for content they already know of, either through past history, YouTube recommendations or friend endorsement and especially if they have seen or heard it on other media sources, such as TV, Film, Games or Advertisements.
The sample also reports using streaming services where they have some control of the genre of music being played, but no particular song, band is searched for – unless the song/artist is significantly important to them in an individual sense. Few still admit to illegal music downloading for the latest songs played on radio.
The solution I feel is that music artists should withhold releasing music unless it’s hosted on 1st tier websites such as iTunes or YouTube. This will leverage existing behavior of consumers instead of trying for adoption of a new behaviors. Music artists should not partake in the social noise of requesting consumers to check out their music or listen to their songs, thereby devaluing their music even before it’s heard. Music artists are better off focusing efforts on performing through YouTube or having music strategically placed in media, creating value by having it endorsed by a recognized authority on music. In other words, artists should look to have music endorsed by a recognized source that is visible by consumers so they are knowledgeable that it exists. This causes consumers to search for the music in their preferred music platform.
I also recommend that music artists should not directly market music to the consumer, as they are averse to this behavior. This is because the relationship of consumer and music artist is usually an individual experience for the consumer. The consumer wants to support the music artist as the music reflects the consumer’s internal beliefs. When music artists focus efforts on increasing visibility to the consumer, music artists will be naturally sought for on these social media sites, and the consumer will actually enjoy the experience of searching and finding the music artist on their social media platform, so long as the artist is visible enough through a medium of the consumer’s choice prior to their social media experience.