Every year, Mary Meeker publishes an Internet Trends report that tracks the most important shifts in the uses of the Internet globally. The information in the report is used by those spearheading technological innovation in Silicon Valley to best advertise their products throughout the world. Similarly, Meeker’s report can be used to project where the music industry is headed in terms of music production, advertising, and streaming. The report was summarized by three people deep in the music industry by the names of Amber Horsburgh, a marketing consultant in LA, Cherie Hu, a freelance journalist who focuses on how technology transforms music and entertainment, and Joshua Choase, a freelance music journalist from the UK. Their summary, from which I will be citing, is focused on how artists can take advantage of the changes in the uses of the Internet so that they can best market their music.
Read in-depth interviews about Amber and Cherie in the book How to Land a Job in the Music Industry by Stereotheque’s CEO, Tomas Uribe.
One of the most drastic changes in the way people use the Internet, the Report cites, is that people throughout the world are using their mobile devices, as opposed to laptops or desktops, to access the Internet. According to the Report, “mobile usage grew 9% year-over-year in 2018, whereas that of desktop and connected devices fell.” This is worldwide. In fact, in China, short videos, as accessed on mobile devices, emerge as “the second-largest draw for screen time,” meaning that of all the time spent on mobile devices, people in China spent the second largest about of time looking at short-form videos, almost 600 million hours. These can take the form of Vines, videos on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or on apps like TikTok and Triller. Because of this, 62% of marketers used short-form videos as a way of advertising to and targeting their audience, according to PHD Media China. What does this mean for artists trying to make their name known? In an increasingly mobile device-using world, artists should create content that can be easily discoverable on phones and other mobile devices. This means that artists need to optimize and make their websites easily accessible, ensure that their work can be viewed on small screens, and create content on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube.
Another way to optimize viewership is to create advertising that allows their audience to participate. With the rise of social media and meme culture, users have quickly become producers, meaning that the masses can now make their own content whether they’re an artist or not. So, for an artist, advertising their work in a way that not only makes their audience pay attention to them, but gives them platform to create can be incomparably helpful. For example, the boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, for the release of their 2018 album entitled Youngblood, uploaded pictures of themselves as babies with the name of the album over the photo all over their social media accounts. This encouraged their fans to post their own baby pictures with the album name over the top which not only created greater visibility and promotion for the album, but they did so at very little cost to themselves. They had their fans do a lot of the work for them. As an effect, Youngblood was #1 on US Radio for five consecutive weeks.
Another effect of the rise of social media is that the type of content people most interact with is visually stimulating. In 2018, over 1 billion images were shared on Instagram, and more than half of Tweet impressions were from “images, videos, and other visual media,” according to the report. This makes sense because, according to visioncritical.com, the largest group of users of social media are Generation Z and Millennials, both of whom are significantly influenced to buy a product if they see other people engaging with it online; through comments on Instagram and Twitter, reviews on YouTube, or from promotion by an influencer. It also helps that both Generation Z and Millennials are swayed much more by short videos and aesthetically pleasing images when purchasing a product because they are visually stimulating.
In order to take full advantage of this new type of marketing, artists need to create images and videos that incorporate their music. Take pictures of everything you’re doing, film the creation of your album, film a behind-the-scenes of your photoshoots, put links to your website and other social media platforms in the bios of all your social media websites, and hire photographers and graphic designers to help create a story around the music, images, and videos you’re creating.
A great way to gain a massive amount of views is to create a #challenge associated with your song. Blanco Brown employed this strategy for his song “The Git Up,” when viewers on TikTok used the hashtag #thegitupchallenge to post on their own dance routines to the song. Because of the networking, web-weaving nature of hashtags, #thegitupchallenge garnered Blanco Brown over 20 million streams on Spotify, proving that not only do young people love a challenge, but that the challenge itself can reach people it may no have reached otherwise.
Despite all these strategies to gain followers and exposure, what is most important to remember is to market in the way you as the creator want to marker. Do so with authenticity, and not an affectation of what you think your audience wants to see because Gen Z and Millennials are notorious for seeing through inauthentic, grabby marketing. Be you and create.