Music streaming services are getting more popular. Because of this trend i wanted to interview somebody who works at a company who does promotion through music streaming. An interesting development which all musicians can use. I had an interview Daniel Sander of the company Feature.fm, which are based in New York.
I’m currently the Head of Market Development at feature.fm responsible for managing our marketing and sales efforts. I have a diverse music and business background. I’m a musician myself and gained a lot of industry knowledge through hands on experience. Music has always been my passion and I knew I always wanted to work with music. After college, I worked in finance managing cash and securities for large corporate multinational clients, but quickly realized that industry was not for me and left to follow my passion. Previously, I’ve ran my own businesses and have managed various web based projects. I have a B.Sc. in Entrepreneurship & Emerging Enterprises and Finance.
Feature.fm is an ad platform built exclusively for music that allows artists of any size to promote their music directly inside of streaming services. There are many reasons that we built feature.fm. Ultimately, 91% of artists are undiscovered and we want to help more artists find their fans in the most efficient way. The biggest challenge that artists have after creating music is actually getting it heard and we believe that the best way to promote a song is to play it to people.
Historically, radio was always the best place to break a song, but most artists don’t have access to meaningful radio airplay. We see that the power of radio hasn’t changed, but the way people listen to it has. Now that people are transitioning to on demand and streaming services, there is an opportunity to help more artists get meaningful exposure in these platforms. Although any artist can get their music into streaming services, they are forced to promote outside of streaming services in traditional ad platforms not built for music. If an artist is 1 of 30 million songs in a catalog, they still struggle with getting their music heard and standing out.
We are currently partnered with 8tracks, the 3rd largest radio streaming service in the US, and offer in stream sponsored songs that play natively. Artists can use our self-service platform to purchase sponsored song plays that listeners can interact with like any other song. It’s the full song play and the idea is that when a fan likes a song, he or she can add it to a playlist to listen to again later, helping artists grow organically within the music streaming eco-system. Each play includes a customizable artist spotlight that has more information about the artist links to further connect with the artist.
Eventually, the future of artist revenues in recorded music will come from streaming and we want to help more artists increase their market share here so they can make a living off of their music.
Spotting talents in USA
Thanks to the digital environment, the potential for discovery is greater than ever, but there is also more music than ever before. The biggest ways that artists get discovered are through passive listening such as radio and through friends & family recommendations. Penetrating this all starts with exposure. The more people that hear your music, the greater chance you have of being spotted and building your fan-base.
Playlisting is huge right now. When someone hears a song they like, the first thing they’ll do is save the track and add it to a playlist. It’s important to get into those playlists since they can be the go to places for people to listen and share their music.
Influencers and blogs are also important for discovery. It’s not easy to get blogs to write about you, but if you network and can show that people like your music, they will be more receptive to feature your tracks.
Labels are looking at online stats very heavily. The first indicators for labels are YouTube plays, Soundcloud plays, and social media followings. Are people engaging with your music online? Do a lot of people listen to your music? They also want to see growth and the speed at which you build your play counts and followings. Getting more plays at a faster rate is a good sign for labels.
However, the ultimate question that they want an answer to is whether you can make money from your music. Labels are a business. At the end of the day, the number 1 thing you can do is show them the money. If you can show a label that you can make money, whether it’s through streaming, traditional sales, merch, concert tickets, or anything else, then they’ll want to invest in you. My advice is to give your fans as many ways for them to support your as possible. There are a lot of monetization channels you can take advantage of.
In order to support yourself with your music, you need to build a real fan-base. Not just numbers on facebook, but actual fans who like your music and will support you so you can make more. Unfortunately, a lot of focus goes into the value of increasing numbers online rather than the quality of those numbers. If you get a lot of people to like your facebook page who have never heard your music, it may look nice, but it won’t translate to success. If you get people to engage with you because they’ve actually heard your music, it will pay off a lot more in the long run.
Added value a talent must have
Entrepreneurship and business sense. Artists need to be able to manage themselves as a business. If the definition of a successful career is to be able to support yourself from your music, then you must be able to manage it as a business. Many artists miss this step and think that just because they created an album, that they immediately should get paid for it. Every business needs to sell its product regardless of how much work they put into creating it. You can spend years creating a great product, but if no one knows about, then it won’t be successful. Artists need to be entrepreneurial in bringing their music to the market.
There is no secret recipe for success, although, many people are searching for it. Breaking an artist can come from a combination of a number of different things. The marketing of an artist focuses on finding new fans and then re-engaging with your current fans.
To find new fans, it’s all about exposure. Exposure is the basis for all growth. Your music needs to be experience by people for them to know that they like. Music isn’t like other products that you can explain the value and ask if they want to buy it. Music is art and the value of music is different for each person. Get people to listen to your music as much as possible. And remember, just because you aren’t immediately being paid for it right away, there is value in social engagement, interaction, and acquiring fans. Every business has what it calls an “acquisition cost” or the cost of getting customers in the door. Music is no different. First get fans, then continue to engage with them, which carries into the next point.
After fans initially engage with your music, you MUST continue to engage with them. In marketing, this term is called re-targeting or re-marketing. It’s important to reach new fans, but equally as important to reward your current and most loyal fans through continued interaction and communication. There are a number of ways to do this. Believe it or not, mailing lists are still huge here. Give fans a way to join your mailing list to get updates from you. Make sure you send out constant updates through email lists, facebook, twitter, etc. Once a fan is in your ecosystem, update them with shows, new releases, merchandise, and other opportunities. Fans want to be brought into your inner circle and want to be part of your experience.
My favorite music marketing book I can recommend is “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead.” One thing it highlights is that when you reward your most loyal fans, they will attract new fans for you. Use your current fans to attract new fans. Word of mouth is big.
As music production become more and more cheap and everything can be distributed digitally onto the music streaming services and music stores there is a huge amount of content available to the end user to consume. for example, Spotify has 30M song in their catalog. So the biggest challenge artists are facing today is the challenge of standing out in the crowded song marketplace. If my song is 1 out of 30M songs how do I get the users to hit “play” on my song. So once the song is recorded and shipped to the online stores the biggest challenge and the no.1 reason that so many artists are unsuccessful is because they couldn’t find a way to drive consumptions to their music and remained unknown to the most of the population.
Any questions regarding this interview can be asked through e-mail on email@example.com