Marketing Through Music Streaming: Part 4 of 4

Part 4: What the Future Holds The music streaming industry is marked by rapid change, heavy competition, and widespread consumership. While partnerships with streaming services can yield fruitful results, it can often be tricky for marketers to determine the best ways to bolster brand recognition and engage with their target audience. To help you out, we’ve put together a four-part guide to the music streaming industry and pinpointed a number of methods through which marketers can best achieve success. In part three, we examined the growing need for curation within the music streaming industry and the opportunities that this demand offered for marketers. In part four, we look at how the music streaming market is positioned to evolve in the foreseeable future and offer some suggestions for marketers to remain successful in the midst of such changes.

On July 25th, a few days after fellow rapper Meek Mill publicly accused him of using ghostwriters, hip-hop superstar Drake unveiled a diss titled “Charged Up” in which he targeted his former collaborator. The track set off a domino effect that would soon lead to another diss, a belated response, countless memes, and some great promotion for Whataburger. One aspect of the feud that has been regularly overlooked in the weeks since, however, is the platform via which Drake unveiled his lyrical degradation: his label OVO Sound’s show on Apple Music’s 24/7 global radio service Beats1. In many ways, Beats1 is an unprecedented addition to the music streaming market. As we mentioned earlier, the role of curation in music streaming is growing rapidly. While brands have found past success in creating specific playlists to tap into this demand, Beats1 offers them the ability to host and curate their own radio shows. In doing so, it expands brands’ roles as tastemakers and even goes as far as to position them as content creators. At the center of this transition is exclusivity; brands like OVO Sound are able to further their audience’s perception of them by premiering never-before-heard music. In addition to the two Meek Mill disses, for example, OVO Sound has already unveiled countless more tracks; just last week, the show offered an exclusive stream of Drake & Future’s new album What A Time To Be Alive hours before the project was released for sale. [caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”1280"]

Drake’s label OVO Sound has frequently used Apple Music’s global radio service Beats1 to unveil exclusive content.[/caption] At this point, most brands involved in creating and unveiling exclusive content already have explicit ties to the music industry. In addition to OVO Sound, for instance, Pharrell Williams’ i am OTHER and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation have both released content through streaming platforms (the former on Apple Music’s Beats1 and the latter via Tidal). Nevertheless, there is a clear opportunity for innovative marketers to find success by similarly creating original music. As a point of comparison, Adidas has an ongoing partnership with online music magazine Yours Truly called Songs From Scratch wherein they encourage artists to collaborate and make new tracks. It is not hard to imagine a brand entering into a similar partnership with a streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music — provided that they have the access and ability to create innovative content that consumers would be interested in. [caption id=”attachment_2035" align=”aligncenter” width=”1398"]

Partnerships like Adidas & Yours Truly’s ‘Songs From Scratch’ series could provide a model for future collaborations with streaming services.[/caption] Although exclusivity has primarily been centered around new and unreleased songs and music videos, both Apple Music and Tidal have recently upped the ante by incorporating full concerts into their promotional activity. In May, Tidal hosted a special Jay-Z concert which saw the rapper solely performing songs that he had never played onstage or that hadn’t been part of his live arsenal in more than a decade. The event was live-streamed on Tidal, and tickets were given out via a contest that required a subscription to the platform to enter. Similarly, Apple recently held the Apple Music Festival in London which featured major artists like Pharrell Williams, One Direction, Florence + the Machine, Disclosure, and more. Such events demonstrate just how important exclusivity has become in today’s market; while songs and videos can quickly be ripped off of services and dissipated throughout the Internet, concert tickets and live streams are far less accessible. [caption id=”attachment_2038" align=”aligncenter” width=”1531"]

Events like this month’s Apple Music Festival indicate the growing importance of exclusivity within today’s music streaming market.[/caption] Yet herein lies the problematic nature of such exclusivity: by nature, it undermines accessibility. In other words, while it presents a great opportunity for marketing, it ultimately takes away from the democratic nature of music streaming in the first place. An example of this can be seen in the release of Dr. Dre’s recent album Compton, which was solely available on Apple Music and notched 25 million streams in its first week. By contrast, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly got 39 million streams in its first week, and Drake’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late notched 48 million. Both of these albums were released via multiple streaming services, thus allowing more consumers the chance to listen legally. While exclusivity can help promote a brand’s recognition, the primary focus of music streaming is to appeal to fans and to offer them the ability to listen to and discover music that they enjoy. Indeed, it should come as no surprise Tidal — which has built its brand heavily around its exclusive nature — has had trouble securing users; there are even rumors that Jay-Z is looking to part ways with the company. [caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”1024"]

An over-reliance on exclusive content has led to a shaky start for TIDAL — and fresh speculation that Jay-Z is already looking to part ways with the company.[/caption] The music streaming market is in constant flux, and it can be hard to predict what exactly the future will hold. Nonetheless, brands must remember that whatever tactics they implement when partnering with such platforms must bolster the listening experience, not distract from or de-emphasize it. By keeping this in mind, savvy marketers will be able to ensure sustained success in the long run. For this week’s post on music streaming, our playlist is curated by Samantha Stump. “Some of my favorite songs to jam out to” — DJ Sammy Stump

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