Reports Media & Marketing

Music Marketing Niche is the New Mainstream

Report by Mark Mulligan
Cover image for Music Marketing
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The 20,000 Foot View:  Streaming personalisation and falling radio audiences are combining to rewrite the music marketing rulebook, ushering in a whole new marketing paradigm. Hits used to be cultural moments; artist brands built by traditional mass media. This fire-hydrant approach to marketing lacked both accountability and effective targeting. Now, hyper targeting, both in marketing campaigns and streaming recommendations, is creating a new type of hit and a new type of artist. Global fanbases are being built via the accumulation of local niches, while a few global hits are being replaced by many, smaller hits for individuals.

Key Findings

  • Digital targeting, linear decline and streaming curation have reshaped how music marketing works
  • Just        of        year olds listen to music, compared to        that watch music videos on YouTube
  • However, radio is the only large-scale tool that brands have for reaching audiences at a shared time and place
  • Record labels are becoming increasingly resigned to radio fading, but they could be sleepwalking into a post-radio marketing crisis
  • Hearing new music is not shorthand for discovery. Music stripped of the context and repetition of radio can fail to be cut through
  • Big record label influence over the scarce commodity of radio airtime is being replaced with democratised access to self-serve digital campaign tools
  • The cultural moments of broadcast-based marketing are being replaced by cultural movements – super-engaged fanbases that thrive under the mainstream radar
  • Fandom is fragmenting but the cumulative effect of many local niches is global-scale fanbases
  • Mass media generates macro hits for large audiences. Streaming creates micro hits, songs that feel like hits to individuals but that may never have a large audience
  • Post-album economics are already challenging record label return on investment (ROI) but if hits get smaller, then the economics become even more extreme
  • The number of streams and social actions per fan matter more than total streams
  • On-demand audiences have low tolerance for being pushed music they do not like. Their attention must be sought, not bought

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Acast, Audio Boom, Billie Eilish, BTS, Drake, Facebook, Google, Kobalt, Lauv, MySpace, Rex Orange County, Snapchat, Soundcloud, Spotify, Wondery, YouTube

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