In this article we challenge the traditional approach to music marketing that solely focuses on the newest release. Why has the music industry has been so slow to catch on to the bonfires and fireworks model, which supports on-going back catalogue promotion?
Traditional music promotion has focused on launches, singles, videos, EPs and albums. All of your marketing efforts are geared up to focus on launch. Often an 8 week period at best, frequently far less. Then once the launch has passed everything goes quiet and your return to writing your next batch of songs. Think of this approach as a Firework. Your marketing burns brightly for a short period of time and then disappears. People loved it when they could see it, but now it's gone.
How social media ruined the firework display
The Firework model is the traditional way the music industry and in fact most industries approached their marketing, and generally speaking it worked pretty well until the arrival of social media, and the YouTuber. A few years ago, I had a meeting at YouTube, they told me the major record labels were tearing their hair out wondering how they had missed out on the YouTuber movement.
The labels wanted to know why viewers were more likely to watch Zoella than their priority pop artist talent. YouTube explained to the labels, it was all due to daily momentum. Zoella was building engagement posting relatable, engaging, daily, short-form content. Meanwhile, major label pop artists were uploading one full length music video and then disappearing for 3 months until the release of their next single.
The gap between albums was even greater. In the time taken for the artist to upload two videos, Zoella had uploaded dozens and spent hours engaging with her fans. It was clear at this point there was a new world order, and if you didn't adapt you would be left behind or forgotten. The brand world was the first to respond, and their marketing campaigns began to switch from fireworks to bonfires, or bonfire and fireworks, for a full display!
Bonfires burn bright for longer
Suddenly every marketing agency in the land was being asked to create an 'always on campaign' or a bonfire. Brands didn't want to be forgotten or just disappear for months at a time. Previously the cost of traditional advertising on TV, radio, print or outdoor prevented them from using a bonfire approach, but social media provided them with a simple and cost effective way to always be active, talking, share and engaging. Now companies use Fireworks for big launches and Bonfires for daily brand building and consumer engagement.
The music industry has lost touch with consumers
This is where the music industry and traditional music promotion has lost touch with the way people consume music. Nobody cares when a track was released, If you hear a song for the first time, it's new music. Spotify playlists don't just contain music that was released last week, they just contain music, and if you enjoy it, you share it. Nobody is Googling 'when was that song released' and then deciding to ignore old music.
Remember as a new artist, the vast majority of people have never heard your music. If it's new to you, it's new music! Think of it this way, shops don't just sell one thing. The new things might be pushed to the front, but when you walk in, you can still discover a wider range of products. The shop makes money from their range not just the new products.