When you put strategy in place, “Streams Do Come True” is the mantra I proselytize to music artists who hope to make their mark in the current music industry. Conversely, streams most certainly won’t come true for those who don’t have a streaming strategy.
Major labels are hard at work building music streaming empires for their artists. Why? Because streams are the new super highway to the almighty dollar. Contrary to what some may think, streams can produce significant income and those who remain on the sidelines complaining are either in bad record deals or they are completely in the dark. The exciting thing is streaming is about to take an even bigger leap with Apple Music announcing their US paid subscriber base recently surpassing Spotify. What does the Apple news mean to the streaming economy? I’m expecting the streaming income for the artists we represent to double over the next year simply from Apple Music’s growth. And that’s fantastic news as some have already been generating robust streaming income primarily from Spotify.
Artist who are signed to labels have a team working daily building streams. However, many independent artists flounder at building streams as they lack a clear understanding of how to move the needle. We launched the>stream>strategist in 2017 as a resource for independent artists and labels to learn and grow their streaming business and we have helped clients find significant growth. The Gray Havens are one of our recent successes as we increased their monthly listeners from 10K to 200K+ in the last year and reached just shy of 300K+ monthly listeners during the month of August. Their most recent single “Storehouse” logged 450K listens in four weeks and the strategy we put in place exposed them to 4 million+ listeners out of the gate including landing them in Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist. We also recently grew streams for new indie artist, Cade Thompson, from 2K monthly listeners to 95K in 2 weeks. While pitching to playlisters is a key factor in our success, more importantly is the strategy we put in place to build a strong streaming foundation. Quick success can be found with one great playlist add but that new found success can disappear just as quickly with one great playlist drop. Our goal is to build sustainable streams which in turn creates a sustainable streaming income base for the artist.
If you don’t have a streaming strategy in place, I’d encourage you to change that quickly. Streaming income can be more significant than many on the sidelines would lead you to believe. Go chase those streams as “Streams Do Come True!”
Keith Stancil on set filming Vespa scene for Holly Starr “Umbrella” music video.
After reading an Apple Insider article about Steven Soderbergh filming his latest film, Unsane, with an iPhone, the desire was planted in me to learn how to film a music video with an iPhone. Soderbergh, known for his Best Film Director Academy Award for Traffic, Erin Brockovich, the Oceans trilogy and other groundbreaking films thrives on unconventional filming methods. Like Soderbergh, I am an early adopter of technology but unlike Soderbergh, I had never filmed a scene outside of birthday parties and family vacations. My video experience drastically changed in the last couple months as I ventured into directing two music videos using my iPhone 8.
All great music videos begin with an incredible song, and I knew I had the perfect song for my experiment. Holly Starr’s “Umbrella” knocked me out from my first listen of her original songwriting demo. “Umbrella” was birthed from one of Starr’s first writing sessions with artist/producer/writer, Matthew Parker. Starr & Parker’s writing/recording relationship has sense blossomed into a string of beautiful fresh pop songs found on Starr’s latest album titled HUMAN.
The second thing most great music videos possess is a compelling story. The story hit me immediately but capturing the story would take some creativity. I wanted the story to represent two people falling in love for life beginning at childhood and moving through their senior years as a married couple. The element that would give my story uniqueness would be an umbrella serving as the central character of the story knitting the three stages of life together. My wife and I purchased a Totes® umbrella with loads of character a few years back at the Marks and Spencer store on the Oxford University campus in the UK. That umbrella, without a doubt, was the perfect umbrella for the starring role.
As I began crafting the story board for “Umbrella,” I simultaneously ran across the SMOVE MOBILE gimbal which served as a great tool for capturing the story. Amazingly, the $159 SMOVE MOBILE purchase gave me the ability to capture “jib type” shots I never dreamed possible with an iPhone. For $25, I then purchased a monopod stick from Walmart and a small Joby GorillaPod ™ from Best Buy for $25 to round out my video director tool box. Google searches for filming with an iPhone led me to FilmicPro , an app most iPhone video enthusiasts recommend. Excluding the iPhone 8 which I already own, my new video filming kit cost a total of $225. Not a bad price to set up as a music video director!
Are you maximizing your music streaming income? A question that many artists fail to ask themselves which is unfortunate as streaming is quickly becoming one of the top revenue generators for artists.
We have all heard the horror stories from artists with label deals and from songwriters who complain about the minimal dollars they see rolling in from Spotify. And you know what, they are proclaiming truth. An artist with a label deal only sees 12-14% of actual Spotify revenue after they recoup. (which could be forever or never) Songwriters with publishing deals are also seeing a very small piece of revenue but there is promise for the future as streaming services are being pressured to increase publishing payouts. However, an independent artist, who owns their master and publishing, can see a significant amount of revenue from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.
I work with several independent artists and see their Tunecore statements which reveal how quickly streaming revenue is growing. Variety Magazine reported last week that Sony Music’s streaming revenue was up 32.1% representing 43% of their $1.14 Billion fiscal third quarter music income. If that doesn’t sound your alarm, you may want to find a new alarm! I encourage all artists to focus on maximizing music streaming income. There are music streaming strategists for hire who can help jumpstart your strategy including our favorite the>stream>strategist Below are 10 ways the>stream>strategist suggests to jump start your music streaming income potential.
Ten Ways To Maximize Music Streaming Income
- Ensure your Spotify profile looks as nice as your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles. Spotify provides artists with the freedom to choose profile photo, header photo and artist pick feature.
- Feature Spotify “follow me” links on your website, socials and eblasts. Spotify “follows” ensure direct notifications to listeners when you release new music.
- Send out emails to your email list on a regular basis asking your subscribers to “follow” you and “save” your music on Spotify
- Create Facebook and Instagram ads with a “follow me” link.
- Use Smarturl to create links direct to a Spotify “follow” button. Create & use links that show all digital service providers so consumers can choose their service to stream or download your music.
- Work Spotify, Apple, Amazon & 3rd Party playlist curators to add your music
- Create playlists to generate algorithms in your favor
- Implement a plan to generate “follows” at live shows
- Rethink your release strategy. The full album release no longer plays in your favor for maximizing streams.
- Use & familiarize yourself with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon & Pandora so you understand the user experience
Can I ask you a personal question? What is your music streaming strategy? If you can’t answer that question with confidence that you are set up to maximize your music streaming income, then don’t expect to find success with your music in 2018 and beyond. The music streaming switch has flipped “ON” quickly making other music listening methods obsolete. Yes, a small segment of music consumers are still buying vinyl, cds and downloads but the mass music consumers (even your parents) are now streaming their music via Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon and Pandora. So, I ask the question again. What is your music streaming strategy?
Most artists put their music up on Spotify, Apple, Amazon and Pandora by simply checking the “deliver to” box on their Tunecore or CD Baby account. While checking the box is a great start, that is about as far as some get. Many artists wish their listens would increase but find themselves at a loss as to how to make that happen. It can be a quite frustrating after putting so much into creating great music.
We are excited to introduce you to the>stream>strategist, a service that helps independent artists and labels set up their streaming strategy for success. the>stream>strategist has been marketing music for 25+ years and over the last couple of years has put a huge emphasis on studying the science behind building successful music streaming platforms. the>stream>strategist takes a look at your current streaming platform, analyzes it and helps you implement the necessary changes to get you on track for maximizing your streaming exposure and income.
Whether you visit the>stream>strategist or not, find someone to help you get your streaming strategy set up for success.
Husband/wife duo The Gray Havens just released a new Christmas song they recorded using an iPhone.
“City of David,” birthed as a surprise to the duo while working on their new studio album. David Radford explains “We really hadn’t planned on recording a Christmas song this year but inspiration kicked in one night and I started recording on my iPhone. When we showed the song to our producer, Ben Shive, he voted to keep the iPhone vocals, declaring them to be cool, so we did!”
The Gray Havens rush released “City of David” to digital outlets including Apple Music and Spotify and created a “making of” video, which can be viewed HERE.
In addition to the new Christmas song, The Gray Havens recently released “High Enough,” the first single from their forthcoming album scheduled to release in Spring 2018. The Gray Havens can be seen live on some of Andrew Peterson’s Behold The Lamb Tour dates including the sold out show at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
For further information, visit thegrayhavensmusic.com or contact Artist Garden Entertainment.
We find ourselves in October. A month where many seek to experience a ghostly encounter. Consumerism appears to have reached an all-time high with the spooky themed month as homeowners compete to create the scariest yards utilizing giant blow-up pumpkins, grim reapers and the ever-so-popular ghosts. While many focus on evil ghostly encounters, The Gray Havens offer an alternative with their remix of a Holy Ghost encounter.
The Ghost of A King Remix offers a different take on The Gray Havens’ most “listened to” song on Spotify. Enlisting Matthew Parker to remix, the alternative version adds a driving beat in a reminiscent style of Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham. While quite a departure from The Gray Havens’ folk pop past, the duo began exploring with more epic production on the Ghost of A King album in 2016. Both new and old fans will enjoy another opportunity to experience The Gray Havens’ musical epic story of a Holy Ghost encounter.
This week proves to be a big week for both the iPhone X and Holly Starr! While the iPhone X stole headlines earlier in the week as Apple unveiled their new ground breaking Face Recognition technology and Super Retina Screen, Holly Starr closes the week with the release of her new album HUMAN!
With the architecture of producers Matthew Parker, David Thulin and Bryan Fowler, Holly Starr delivers a new modern EDM sound which is arguably her best pop offering to date. The lead single “Run The Race” has already logged 1 million + Spotify listens and topped Runners World Magazine’s Playlist.
HUMAN explores personal experiences that many listeners will relate to and Holly’s writing reveals great maturity in her songwriting. While I’m enjoying the entire record, my favorite tracks are “Human” and “Umbrella.”
CLICK HERE To Experience HUMAN!
Marketing taglines are often overlooked in the fast paced music business. Driven by the haste of rushing to meet release deadlines, many marketers opt for letting the album artwork sell itself. While I see covers capable of selling themselves, those covers normally belong to major superstar artists. The Beatles White Album and Metallica’s Metallica needed absolutely nothing but a solid color and the band’s name, however, I would argue when releasing lesser known artists, a little more creativity is crucial to the marketing.
There is a reason most every consumer product outside of music is promoted with a tagline. A well crafted tagline plants a need in consumers’ minds by promising an experience that will make their life better in some way. Music creates more of an emotional experience than any other product so why not use that allure to draw them in for the sell? When I’m marketing new music, a tagline is the first thing I create after I’ve been given the title of the album. In my humble opinion, Tagline is key!
Below is an example of a tagline we are currently working on for C3 Live which is a live worship record recorded at C3 Church San Diego.
Liftr Playlists, creators of the successful Spotify playlist, THE VIBE, has transitioned into Loftr Playlists.
^Loftr Playlists, curators of POPSTER, FLOW, CHEMIX, CHRISTIAN CARDIO, CHILLAX, THE DEEP END and WORSHIP, has quickly become a preferred playlister among college students and young adults. ^Loftr founder, Keith Stancil, states “A loft is a gallery or upper level designed for a specific purpose. ^Loftr’s purpose is to curate playlists specifically for college students and young adults while introducing new music to a broader audience. With the plethora of Christian music playlists available, we make it our mission to create an elite selection of playlists set apart from the rest. Believers create some of the best music in the world and our curators are quite adept at finding that music often ignored by Christian radio and the major label/industry gate keepers. Our followers enjoy a mix of both Christian and mainstream music created by Believers”
Listeners who enjoy The Oh Hellos, Judah & The Lion, The Gray Havens, John Mark McMillan and Josh Garrels will certainly feel at home and enjoy discovering other similar artists with ^Loftr Playlists
Follow ^Loftr Playlists HERE.
Lets face it, in order to break artists in the new music landscape, one must learn how to pitch a song to playlists. There are thousands of playlists streaming thousands of songs and you must find your way onto influential playlists in order to jumpstart your music.
Like many others, I spend a great deal of time attempting to convince playlisters that the music I represent is worthy of consideration for their playlists. This requires some research as most playlisters don’t hang out a sign that screams “I have a big playlist, please send me music!” Hanging that sign would assure submissions from everyone who has ever recorded a demo. However, I’ve found that some of these folks can be located and are open to submissions if you do a little homework. The worst thing one can do is to pitch a playlister a song that makes absolutely no sense for their playlist and then continue to hound them to add it. I recently launched a playlist brand myself and the first pitch I received included two songs. I responded to the pitcher that I would listen to the songs. This person then sent me multiple messages hounding me about the songs he had pitched. Unfortunately, that person just shut the door on me accepting future song pitches from him. Below are a few tips that will hopefully help you secure playlist adds.
Effective Song Pitching
- ensure you have a great song with impeccable production
- research playlists that contain similar songs to the one you are looking to pitch
- send an email, text or message letting the playlister know you are enjoying their playlist and ask permission to send them a song for consideration
- only pitch 1 song at a time
- be targeted. make sure you know the DNA of the playlist you are pitching
- After your pitch, let it go. DO NOT hound the playlister for follow-up. If they like the song and think it makes sense for their playlist, you will see your song added. Some will let you know they are adding and some will not. If the playlister doesn’t add your song, you have your answer