If I had a pound for every time I got asked what format a band should release music, I would easily have enough money to pay my monthly Spotify subscription! But it’s a legitimate question which every band and artist needs to ask – and by ask I don’t mean in a rhetorical Shakespearian way, but actually take to social media to start asking your audience.
Every band is different, with different skills and different priorities, which will mean your demographic will differ from the next band. Even 2 pop punk bands will differ because one might have better artwork or faster turn around of content/songs etc. The key to this question lies in consumption. It doesn’t matter what you want to do – it matters what your audience buys into.
Come with me on a journey….
Let’s talk about our dads! My dad called me the other day after buying a new car. He has a strong Welsh Accent (think Uncle Bryn from the TV show Gavin & Stacey and you will be pretty bang on the money). ‘It’s a Nissan Qashqai,’ he told me. While he was excited about the car, he had a problem…
‘It hasn’t got a CD player,’ he said. Now, my dad has had the same 5 CDs since I was 10 years old. Dire Straits, The Eagles, Queen’s Greatest Hits I & II and Fleetwood Mac. You have to admit – he does have good taste!
‘How do I plug my phone into my car?’ he asked. You see, my dad went through the vinyl stage and the cassette phase, but his music consumption journey ended with CDs. He would happily support a band he saw live, as long as they had CDs to play in his car – but his new car accepts CDs the same way that no UK shops accept my America Express credit card.
“Dad, you don’t plug in your phone anymore, you connect it via bluetooth.”
Fast forward to last week while I was with my son who is obsessed with business and marketing. While we were listening to the new album from The Xcerts (he has great taste too), he asked me, ‘Why is music free?’
This is the best bit: when I told him that people don’t buy music because they get it free on Spotify, I asked him, “When was last time you bought an album on iTunes?” and his answer floored me!
“iTunes sells music?” he said, “I thought it was an app store…”
So here is the punchline: every genre, demographic and even area of the world makes a difference to how an audience consumes music. Personally I do buy music, but it’s all on vinyl and even though I am given CDs every week, I don’t own a CD player. So if you want me to consume your music, you need to make it accessible for me. It’s up to you to give me a format I will enjoy and it’s not my responsibility to buy a CD player to make it easier for bands.
We are getting to a point where distribution is getting easier. Books and t-shirts can be printed one at a time instead of 1000 run bulk order which will help bands, however it’s up to you to put the work in to find out how your audience will consume your music and not cancel out sales by uploading to both Spotify and iTunes.
Today, why not start some conversations with your audience and find out how they are consuming music. This isn’t one size fits all and I see too many bands with an ego trying to force their audience into their way of thinking.
Lastly, don’t forget that the music doesn’t need to be monetised. It’s there to look after the audience and if you can build and look after your audience, there are plenty of ways of monetising around the music. So if your audience is 16 years old then forget CDs and maybe concentrate on sponsorship and live gigs. However if you are in the classic rock genre, why not try attaching your music to CD/vinyl and only uploading certain tracks online.
This is about the consumption of your audience so go and learn more about them!
Food for thought…