As with any other industry, those in the music business earn money from transactions. In this piece we hear from Sara Dempsy, an expert and building and maintaining relationships with digital stores like Sony Music, The Orchard, and Interscope.
Guest post by Sara Dempsy for Indie Ninja
Relationships are a part of the indie.ninja value proposition. Sure, we earn money from transactions on the site, but those relationships need to be the right ones. So we feel it’s important for artists, bands, and managers to truly roadmap their career and figure out what they need, not what they might want, for the place they are in the world.This series outlines when and why you need (or don’t need) to start involving professionals at every point in your path.
Today’s guest post is by our good friend, Sara Dempsy, who’s built and maintained relationships with all the major digital stores in both music and film at ADA, Interscope, The Orchard, Sony Music, and Abkco. She’s gonna tell you exactly when you need someone with those crucial relationships to work with you.
After you create an album, single, or EP, you can work with various distributors of many sizes to get your music live on digital service providers - Itunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Soundcloud, and Amazon. Each of these stores and streaming services have a group of editors who help make choices about what content they will feature on their store or site. These editors usually oversee certain genres and playlists but often overlap working multiple genres or multiple playlists within a genre. They make decisions about what is featured on the main page of the digital store, what is featured across genres, and what is playlisted and where on a playlist a song is placed. There are many factors that go into these decisions - from release date, genre, social media support, digital marketing plans, press, touring, to current or upcoming syncs. Each editor is looking for something slightly different as they program their genres and playlists. These editors are the gatekeepers for the services they work with - think of them like the chief editors at a newspaper or programmers at a radio station. You may notice that there are lot of huge artists who get great support on these stores. While that’s true, it’s also worth noting that these editors love to discover and celebrate new music. They are always looking for new artists who are making music that will thrill listeners.
It’s important to have relationships with these editors, to understand what details they need in order to consider a track for placement, and to thoughtfully present this information in a timely way. What’s where Sara Dempsey and other digital sales strategists come in. She has direct relationships with these editors and can help craft the right pitch to help get your song or album featured. You would want to hire someone to pitch a song or album about two months in advance from release date. In the four to six weeks leading up to a song or album’s release, a digital strategist like Sara would also want to have private links of the tracks or album to be able to let editors here the music they will want to feature. In these weeks, Sara would take all of the details mentioned above - from touring, social media, press, and marketing plans and present a detailed case of why this song or album should be featured, and on what genres or playlists.
Since playlists are so important in today’s music industry, let’s focus on them. Say you have a song and congratulations, you either hired someone to help you pitch the song or did the legwork yourself and it’s been featured on a genre playlist on release date. At this point, you’re looking for your content to perform and you want to leverage your audience to help. By using social media, you can ask fans to listen to the song, save the song to their collections, to share the song or album on their own social media. A digital strategist like Sara can share ideas about using social media in creative ways. When an editor places your song in a playlist on a genre page, think of this as testing it at a radio station. If the song or album does not get enough traction in the form of streams, saves, or shares, the editors may not continue to feature the track. Ideally, a song gets added to one playlist, performs well, and is added to others. The biggest and most successful songs begin on smaller genre playlists with fewer followers and more niche genres and then slowly are added to other bigger playlists as their audience and fanbases grow. As other pieces come together for an artist or a release, say a big piece of press happens, a digital strategist can continue to share this information with editors, making the case for other and further placement.
A digital strategist can also help you review your current profiles on the streaming platforms to optimize them. For example, making sure your current Spotify profile has up to date photos and that you are using your own playlists and Artist Picks to feature content in a thoughtful way. Social media strategy around streaming and digital service providers is also worth considering. Some artists have been able to build following for their own playlists in tandem with seeking editorial support. If you can show editors that your band or artists already has a strong fanbase, you have a stronger case for bigger placement.