Digital Marketing for Bands: Everyone’s Doing it Wrong

Digital marketing for bands isn't a cure-all when no one is buying music.There’s a little tiny mushroom industry of music marketers growing. A lot of them offer digital services to help “promote” you. Bands are falling for it. Musicians want to believe that, with enough clever marketing on this magical thing called “the Internet,” they’ll still become rockstars.

The fundamental problem with this belief is that people don’t pay for music anymore. Sure, you might get 10,000 Facebook likes. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be making any money. Literally… any… money.

Now, it’s not like every band was making millions before the Internet. However, almost all of them could at least depend on one thing for sure: album purchases from fans. Maybe the fans liked everything on an album, maybe they liked two or three songs.

Either way, there was no other way for fans to consistently listen to your music other than buying your album. 

Today, there are dozens, maybe hundreds of ways for fans to simply not give you any money and listen to your music. Digital music has been unchained from the chain of commerce. And bands have become the missing link. This isn’t debatable: album sales have consistently hit new lows almost every quarter.

Digital marketing and digital music have become a music lover’s paradise… except any band that doesn’t have the popular support of millions of people is going to be left behind, leaving us with boring, predictable, faux-controversial, vanilla music that is as accessible as possible.

Streaming platforms – via Pandora, Spotify, and YouTube – have created a culture where “listening to music” is as easy as turning on the faucet. Just like water, music has become a utility. But if we’re being taught that music is interchangeable, on tap and always available, how do bands make money? 

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YouTube’s Music Service Could Screw Indie Musicians – Here’s Why

Youtube's premium service means heartbreak for indie musicians.It’s been an uphill battle for indie musicians to make a living. Forever. Dwindling CD sales haven’t helped much, either, along with the pittances paid by streaming radio stations like Pandora and Spotify.

Well, as rumored, YouTube is planning a premium subscription music service now. And, as expected, indie artists are apparently getting way worse deals than the major labels. If they don’t sign onto the new service as it rolls out, they risk being dropped from YouTube “in a matter of days.”

That would be fine if YouTube wasn’t aggressively persuading (ahem, forcing) indies to join the music service.

From The Guardian:

[Trade organization] WIN claims that the company [YouTube] has signed lucrative licensing deals with major labels Universal, Warner and Sony, while demanding that independent labels sign up to inferior terms or face having their videos blocked from YouTube’s free service.

Seem a little harsh? Maybe, you might be thinking, the videos would just be blocked from YouTube’s new music service, not the whole site. According to WIN – and clarified by The Guardian:

“If labels don’t sign up for YouTube’s new paid music service at the (non-negotiable) terms, their entire catalogues will be blocked on YouTube – all of YouTube, not just the new premium bit.”

That means the rug has essentially been ripped out from underneath musicians’ feet. All of the music videos, albums, and songs independent artists have uploaded to YouTube, the things that have gotten thousands upon thousands of views for YouTube… might disappear. If you don’t sign something.

So how did we get here? And is there any escape?

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