As part of our partnership with AustralianSuper, Music Feeds is bringing you insight and advice from behind the scenes of the music industry, so you can get cracking on that glorious career as Australia’s next big industry figure!
In today’s entry, head of publicity at Cooking Vinyl Australia, Janine Morcos, walks us through exactly how she’s seen the music industry evolve over her years in the scene, and how she’s learned to deal with the new media landscape.
Over my years working as everything from a receptionist at a music label all the way through several PR and marketing jobs to my role in publicity now, I’ve seen first-hand the way in which the global and local music industry has been forced to evolve. Here are the major shifts I’ve seen and how I’ve learnt to always be on top of a constantly shifting industry.
Indie Labels being acquired by major labels
In April 2012, Warner Music Group acquired the majority stake of leading hard rock and metal label, Roadrunner Records. Founded in 1980 in the Netherlands, Roadrunner Music Group is one of the industry’s leading Hard Rock label groups breaking acts such as Nickelback, Slipknot and Machine Head to name a few. It was a first of many independent labels being acquired and integrated into the major label systems which has since included the likes of BMG fully acquiring metal and hard rock label Rise Records and indies Infectious and Vagrant Records.
As you can see this is happening a lot more frequently, even now. I was still working at Roadrunner Records when I witnessed a few major impacts during the Roadrunner Records and Warner Music acquisition and learnt that although there is negative fallout surrounding acquisitions, it’s all part and parcel of the industry in the current landscape.
I personally witnessed roles get changed as the company was absorbed. People lost their jobs, whereas daily duties and responsibilities entirely shifted for others. In my case, my role changed from overseeing national campaigns and outlets to only looking at a handful of media. I went from looking after hard rock and metal acts to working with artists across all genres and frankly, it was something I just had to deal with and learn from.
I learnt that adapting to change was the only way of securing my position long term. This is one of the many ways the music industry has evolved and it won’t be the last. Being able to go with the flow in the face of large structural changes is an ability you’ll need, if you wish to have a long and successful career. Next time you apply for a job in the music world, know that in 12 months you may be doing something entirely different, but make sure you’re prepared to embrace it.
Rise of digital vs physical
It’s no secret digital is on the rise as physical albums decline, however we need to recognise that globally, physical sales still make up over half of the market.
Physical sales have been long in decline, however the sheer scale that this market once had, and its legacy to consumers (e.g. collectors of special editions or vinyl) means that it is still a revenue stream, which some detractors of the new landscape often overlook.
In Japan, 78 percent of the music industry’s revenue comes from CDs and the like; in Germany the figure is 70 percent, and in France it’s 57 percent. By comparison, some countries have overwhelmingly moved from downloading music to streaming it, with nations like Sweden (the birthplace of Spotify) generating 92 percent of its digital revenue from subscriptions.
Expenditure on subscription services is growing rapidly (45% year on year growth) and forecast to become the largest of all channels in the coming years and it’s not only fans who are finding out about new music via Spotify recommendation lists, and playlists, it’s industry folk as well.
At the end of the day learning to adapt with the changing trends of the way music is being consumed, promoted and marketed is vital, but don’t enter the music industry under the guise that physical is dead. Whilst you yourself may not be someone who appreciates or interacts with physical music releases, an understanding of its current role and its relationship with digital will ensure you don’t get left behind.
Social Media Marketing
Social media and mobile technology has changed how we market and promote releases in the last few years alongside the growth of how music is consumed. Social media gives you the ability to target and reach out directly to your fans and engage to the core fans and beyond. It has also increased the level of interaction across the board and if done well, can be the difference between a critical and commercial hit, and a flop that no one listens to.
Advertising on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram receive very successful results and is as simple as clicking a few buttons. But I’m hesitant, and so should you be, about relying solely on social media marketing to do the job.
Obviously we see the change of print media and the shift of publications moving to digital platforms happening week in and week out. Publications rely on our support and we rely on their coverage, so as they continue to evolve across the digital landscape, so should we.
One of many reasons for the shift is that consumers rely on fast content. They want to read what’s happening now and digital allows for the speedy turn around. I’ve seen this change a lot over the last 10 years and I’m seeing more and more that we need to encourage that unique digital content and online advertising placements co-exist alongside more old-school strategic marketing rollouts.
A particularly new approach which the next generation of music PR and marketers need to properly grasp is the blurring between the lines of these two. Whilst putting a hashtag or a QR code on a physical billboard or bus stop ad may seem naff at the moment, as technology advances there will very soon be opportunities for marketing approaches that defy what would even be considered “advertising” only five years ago.
If you’re getting into the music industry as a fresh-faced go-getter now, this is 100% something that will impact your career, sooner than you think.
In the past few years we’ve seen the rise and fall of festivals with the market in particular shifting quite dramatically in the past 12 months.
I worked at Soundwave Festival in the peak of what some may consider the golden era of Australian music festivals. The dollar was strong and the consumers were spoilt for choice. We had a niche festival for every genre of music and Soundwave, in my eyes, was always a festival for the fans. For awhile the line up was bigger and better every year and the ride looked like it was never going to end.
Gallery: Soundwave Memorable Moments 2008 – 2015
4 Major Ways The Music Industry Has Evolved Over The Past Decade (And How To Deal With It) - Music Feeds
Obviously, as we have now come to understand, the scene soon became over saturated with too much choice and too many similar festivals competing for the comparatively small Australian market. January 2016 was the first time in over 10 years with no touring festival. Is this is the end? Of course not.
Like labels, the touring market is forever evolving. Australian festivals will make a come back, and until then there’s a wonderfully vibrant collection of “boutique” and small to medium sized festivals keeping the music flowing around the country.
Whereas it was once great for a band to have “as seen at Soundwave 2015” on their promotional material, “Appeared at Unify, Groovin The Moo, Mountain Sounds, Secret Garden” and so forth is the new standard approach. The more the merrier, am I right?
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