The A-Z Of New Music Marketing

July 13, 2019

The second iteration of the CHANGES Music Summit rolled into Melbourne last week, and it was incredible. The programming was refreshing, with thought-provoking sessions on offer. The APRA AMCOS networking brekkie was fun (tiny croissants filled with bananas!) and I bumped into lots of Bolster friends across the two-day event. And also never going to complain about learning and meeting new people in a location as beautiful as Abbotsford Convent.

Oliver Hall (Senior Campaign Manager at Bolster) and I were asked to do a talk about the A-Z of new music marketing on day 1 of the conference. It was the largest group of people I’ve ever talked to in my whole life 😱 but it was wonderful having a speaking buddy with Ollie and our presentation GIF game was on fire 🔥

Paige X. Cho & Ollie Hall at CHANGES. Picture by Eric Peng.

I’m not going to re-share the full A-Z in this post, but here are three of my faves:

ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS:

Might seem boring to highlight this in a list with fun tech advancements like AR or the rise of dark social, but insights are one of the most valuable things a marketer can possess.

A little context. The amount of data music marketers have is astounding. We have access to Facebook Page Insights, Facebook Audience Insights, Chartmetric, Next Big Sound, Spotify For Artists, Spotify For Brands, Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, YouTube Analytics and so much more at our fingertips. And you bet that every one of these platforms is also constantly making their metrics more and more nuanced by the day.

Having all of these numbers are great, but it can be totally overwhelming. It’s crucial to not only have the data, but use it to pull out key insights that mean something and take action based on that. As in:

data > insight > action

It’s sick if you know that most of your Facebook fans tend to be online at 10pm, but what use is it if you still post content at 2pm because you don’t work at night? Or knowing your most requested song on Triple J if you don’t turn it into an encore? Or figuring out Adelaide is your top Spotify city but not adding it to a tour because no one tours South Australia? Or having data that shows 90% of your ticket page traffic comes from mobiles, but the mobile experience sucks so mobile traffic only accounts for 30% of final ticket sales?

You get the picture. (If you want to get nerdy about the data > insight > action cycle this is a great read.)

MOBILE FIRST:

When I started working at Bolster in 2015, I noticed that desktop was the top device for most music festival sites. People just liked using their computers to connect with festivals. A year later in 2016, I could see the beginnings of mobile growth. Some festivals started to see more mobile traffic overall, but desktop usage spiked when tickets went on sale (because frankly, some ticketing companies were decidedly mobile unfriendly at the time).

Fast forward to 2019 and mobile takes the cake. Across our clients, the wider industry and just the plain old internet, lots of people browse (for leisure anyway) using a phone. Ticketing companies have improved their mobile UX massively, and we’re seeing mobile as the #1 device for festivals throughout every stage of the campaign.

Yet… I do hear of marketers/brands/businesses prioritising desktop (not clients, but just in my wider networks). The most common culprit is that someone higher up (ahem, a director perhaps) doesn’t understand mobile. Said person approves websites/designs based on what they look like on their 2011 Windows Dell computer using Internet Explorer. Mate. Seriously.

This doesn’t apply to just websites though. Future marketers need to mobile optimise everything a consumer will see online*, including video creative, photos, captions, links, everything.

* Exception to this is if your business/artist has more desktop use, but check your analytics. An example might be a job ad site where people tend to apply for roles on their computer, or maybe the blogging interface for users (not readers) to write long form. CHECK YOUR STATS.

OPTIMISATION: 

I occasionally get asked if I’m worried robots will steal my job… They already have, and I am so fine with it.

Back in 2014, digital advertisers had to pretty manually optimise everything. If I had five campaigns with three audiences in each, and each ad set had three ads… I would have to individually check out each campaign across all three levels and decide what to keep live, kill or tweak. This took up an enormous amount of time.

Facebook and Google have since used machine learning (read: AI) to optimise campaigns for marketers. The platforms can do anything from serving out an ad creative that’s better at selling tickets, or spend more of your campaign budget on the audience most likely to RSVP to a Facebook event. Bonkers.

I’ll let the robots do that happily so I can spend more time doing campaign strategy, channel planning and data analysis.

Here’s to CHANGES 2019, and see y’all at CHANGES 2020! Perhaps with another 26 buzz words rolling around my head at that time.

Pic by Eric Peng.

EMC Connect Melbourne

June 30, 2019

While Sydney is the Electronic Music Conference’s home, the event has also been hosting EMC Connect mini events in Brisbane and Melbourne. I’ve never been to EMC proper before but have heard incredible things. When they asked me to be involved with EMC Connect Melbourne, my answer was absolutely said hell yes.

The Growth Guides: Prioritising Community panel looked at how to build strong online and offline music communities, and what is key for generating support, real engagement and fandom (not just stats). The panel was facilitated by the excellent Arlo Enemark from Xelon Entertainment and Medium Rare Recordings. Joining me on the panel was Jerry Poon from The Operatives (actually a Bolster client), Xander Malual from The Listening Co and Juñor Ondaatje from AUDollars/R.E.A.L Music. Here are some of the conversations we had:

  • What’s your approach when Bolster clients want stats over prioritising a community or real fans? We actually get asked this fairly often. Some clients are hellbent on numbers like post reactions and Facebook fans, but we call these vanity metrics. We’ll always try to uncover the real life business outcomes behind these and focus on these for clients instead and find these vanity metrics follow anyway. (Real business outcomes might include people engaging with website content, clicking out of a Linkfire or purchasing a ticket.)
  • How do you find networks when you know no one? Go out to events, be nice, get to know people, offer to help and ask for help.
  • How do you keep your existing audience but find new people? We all had slightly different answers but my thoughts here… Look at it through two lenses: 1) what will existing fans like, and 2) what will appeal to new audiences? Put that in a Venn diagram. Aim for the middle so you aren’t alienating your current audience for the sake of growth.
  • What to do if you’re an artist and about to possibly get kicked out of Australia due to visa issues? If you’re a bedroom producer (especially if you’re a bedroom producer) you can literally create music from anywhere in the world.

Thanks to EMC Connect for the great conversation. Next panel appearance will be in Adelaide next month!

Indie-Con 2019

June 26, 2019

Returning to Adelaide next month for my yearly AIR Awards visit!

In addition to that the awards, I’ll also be in town for the Australian Independent Record Labels Association’s Indie-Con music conference. I’ll be speaking on the Tech Health for Indies panel on behalf of Bolster, along with my former Shock boss Mick Tarbuk (who know heads up Believe Digital in Australia), Bill Wilson (SVP of Operations and Innovation at Entertainment One) and Jacqui Louez Schoorl (Jaxsta).

Hit me up if you’ll be around for the AIR Awards or Indie-Con and want to be a canape buddy at the awards 🍸🍡 (I am always that person at events networking but actually just looking out for food trays coming by…)

Conference info and tickets here.

2019 F8

May 18, 2019

Facebook’s highly anticipated and closely watched F8 conference rolled around again this week, and it did not disappoint. Most of the updates were heavily focused around its hero products: Stories, Messenger and Groups.

Here’s what I thought.

Instagram shopping tags for creators: This looks like a win from all angles. The top thing here is reducing friction for purchasing, especially on a platform where you can only link organically from your bio. Currently if a consumer sees a sick outfit on an influencer, likely they’ll need to click on their profile, go to their bio link, hope they use something like Linktree or manually search in their blogs for their outfit deets, open a new browser and start looking for the garment based on some keywords. At which point I’ve already gotten bored and had a nap.

Shopping for Creators is a clear evolution of its current (closed beta) Instagram Checkout feature available for certain American brands, and plugs into the same system. The few creators selected for the trial can only tag Instagram Checkout enabled brands. This sadly means we’re a while away from using this as a way to discover cool new brands from our fave mircro-influencers. Only established brands (e.g. Kylie Cosmetics, Adidas, Nike) and top tier creators (e.g. Kim Kardashian West, Chriselle Lim, GQ, Vogue, Elle) have access. Makes sense though – they need to use high traffic brands and accounts to really see if it’s having an impact.

I can’t figure out if these creators are getting kick backs. No mention of affiliate links but it wouldn’t surprise me if this is an option when it’s rolled out globally. Have a squiz at the full breakdown from the Instagram Business blog.

Instagram Stories donation stickers: The Facebook ecosystem has always been a great space for cause awareness and fundraising, so it makes perfect sense for Facebook to roll out a solution for its hero product of the moment – Stories. Only available in the US for now… I wonder how they’ll curb fraud.

Camera Vs. Create mode for Stories: Exactly what it sounds like – a supercharged mode in Stories when you don’t actually want to share an image, and want to use a countdown or a lot of text. The current Instagram app’s text mode for Stories is pretty shithouse, so let’s see how this fares.

A better Messenger app, built from the ground up: Facebook is rebuilding the architecture of the Messenger app to be faster and lighter and I am ALL FOR THIS. The app has been getting super slow and with some weird bugs (like crazy lag time to add reactions to messages) so this makes perfect sense. Especially with Facebook now having WhatsApp technology on hand.

Lead generation template in Ads Manager: I’ve used lead gen at Bolster before to run competitions and for pre-sale sign ups, but they’ve always been super fiddly. Hoping this new update will make it easier for advertisers (for set up) and consumers (via easy automated questions in Messenger) will reduce friction and increase leads.

Spark AR: This is Facebook’s renamed Camera Effects Platform, which was first introduced at F8 2017. It’s been in closed beta to certain accounts like Gucci and Kylie Jenner, allowing them to easily create interactive, immersive AR filters for Instagram. It’s now open to all so it doesn’t matter if you weren’t born into the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty. Read about the 2019 updates here, or road test Spark AR Studio yourself. (Side note – here’s a great read about AR vs VR.)

Groups: There have been rumours and panicking about this for months now, and it’s true. Facebook is prioritising Groups, but they’re making some changes to the design of Groups to make them even better for users. Groups types will each get different features most relevant to how their communities interact online.

Most of the panic from my networks have been centred around where to shift their marketing attention. They’ve literally spent years growing their Facebook pages to get to over 100K fans and are understandably freaking out. Should they jump ship, set up a group and abandon their page? (No.) It’s still early days but I think the key things are:

  • Continue using a Facebook page as the main hub of direct info from your brand to your consumers.
  • If you have a community and it feels right, set up a Facebook Group and make sure you’re an admin. If your fans have a reason to talk and share, this makes perfect sense. For instance, a video game might have a Facebook page for updates, patches and new releases, but a Facebook Group would be for real users to share walkthroughs, tips and cheat codes. A camping music festival might run a Facebook page to share lineup, date, ticketing and PSA info but have a separate group where staff and diehard attendees are admins. The group could encourage discussion around ticket reselling, themed parties around campsites and cute missed connections posts after the festival. (Ask me about the time I tried to help a friend connect with a girl he met at Golden Plains via a Facebook Group. Like actually.)
  • If your audience doesn’t naturally want to talk about your product, think about other topics that are relevant, feel on-brand and not forced. For instance, consumers might not care enough about toilet paper to join a Facebook Group about TP only, but might be interested in a Group about household tips and tricks, sponsored by said brand. As much as people love stationery, it might make more sense for a fine liner brand to run a Group around art creation.
  • Recognise the role of the page vs. Group, and tailor content types and content schedules accordingly, but be on-brand wherever you go.
  • Don’t freak out about less-than-glossy content on your Group. Facebook Groups are real and authentic, and that’s actually what consumers want. (Look at how Google search terms like ‘BRAND reviews’ and ‘BRAND alternatives’ are on the rise. Consumers want to find out about your brand or product from other consumers.)

The more I think about it, the more it completely makes sense. Facebook is moving away from vanity metrics (e.g. Facebook fan numbers, simple like counts and overall engagement numbers) towards meaningful metrics that show real business outcomes (e.g. deep engagement with humans talking to other humans about things they care about, ecomm revenue).

I actually manage a job board for creative roles in Australia and New Zealand and have been prompted a few times to start using features specific to Groups about employment! If you’re curious – join us here. Lots of music, comedy, film and event roles popping up there.

New Events tab: Look, if you have no Facebook event is it really an event? The app is introducing a new tab to help people discover interesting local events happening near them. All about this.

Facebook Dating: Coooooooool.

Shipping on Marketplace: I love Facebook Marketplace. Gumtree is where I go if I want attention from weirdos, but Facebook Marketplace is my app of choice for actually selling things and making money.

(Also the launch of Facebook Marketplace was very conveniently timed with the rise of Konmari a.k.a. everyday people selling joyless shit. Good work, Facebook.)

The most common ‘no thanks’ reason I get from potential buyers is usually that I don’t offer shipping because payment is so awkward online, so the new shipping option is perfect.

Want to read more about F8? Check out Facebook’s official one-sheeter about their updates, and if you’d like the Bolster touch, the content team wrote about what these changes mean for our clients too.

VMDO Digital Masterclass

May 12, 2019

The Victorian Music Development Office (VMDO for short) has been absolutely killing it. The VMDO is tasked to help grow our local music industry with a special focus on small/medium businesses. I was lucky enough to attend and have my mind blown at their recent Unconscious Bias class, and have had their networking breakfasts on my to-do list for a while now.

So I was absolutely thrilled when Katie Stewart asked if I’d be interested in hosting a Bolster digital masterclass for the music industry, as part of their Experts In Residence program! Previous Experts In Residence include Andrew Fuller of Clearview Legal Council, Sally Christou of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (around HR) and Paul Luczak & Mark Rice of The Gild Group (covering finance for music businesses).

I haven’t fully finalised the curriculum for the 3-hour class yet, but it’ll be focused on paid advertising, specifically:

  • Channel planning, with a look at what each platform excels/sucks at, what your campaign needs and how the channels can work together (this is a key step to a successful campaign but most 101 digital classes seem to gloss over this like me during a Star Trek film)
  • Campaign structuring
  • How to get started across all these platforms (easy takeaways for class participants to use as a reference guide later)
  • Machine learning 101 (my fave)

The session will be on the morning of Tuesday May 28, and it’s free for Victorian music businesses. Places are strictly limited, and you can apply here.

P.S. there will be a lot of GIFs in my presentation in case that’s a problem for you 😂

Splendour #5

April 14, 2019

The #SITG2019 campaign marks my fifth year of working on Splendour In The Grass via Bolster, and this year was pretty epic. Not only did we sell out the festival at a record capacity, but this time round Bolster’s Creative team also got involved.

It was business as usual for me this year running the paid digital strategy and advertising, working closely with Secret Sounds’ internal team on organic social. The art concept was by ARIA-nominated Lee McConnell (you might recognise his work with Jack River and Dunies). The Bolster Creative team then designed and built the website from the concept to make a pretty 🔥 site.

Happy Splendour 2019! See you at front of stage for Warpaint.

So, what’s on for 2019?

February 7, 2019

February. It’s that time of the year: people forget their NY’s resolutions, everyone’s back in the swing of things and data reports from the past 12 months start sliding into my inbox.

Here are some of my top 2018 report picks:

  • Deloitte’s Media Consumer Survey 2018: The 7th edition of this report surveyed 2,000 Aussies on how they consume media. What did they find? Weirdly newspaper subscriptions in Australia went up last year – perhaps a sign of uncertain political times. 91% of surveyed Aussies admitted to multi-tasking while watching TV. Young or rich people were more likely to purchase a voice assistant. Music only accounted for 11% of the average Australian’s digital entertainment time. And people were more likely to be cool sharing data with companies if they can see and edit what is being collected (no shit, hey).
  • We Are Social & Hootsuite’s Digital 2019 Australia Report: Australia had 18M active social media users, with 16M of those accessing it from their mobile devices. Using GlobalWebIndex data, users spent only an average of 47 minutes a day listening to music (I’d say this would be way higher for the average Bolster consumer though). Facebook and YouTube are now head-to-head, with both scoring at 79% for daily platform use. Oh yeah, and Pornhub was the 7th most visited site in Australia, with people clocking 10 minutes and 42 seconds on the website. Just so you know.

And now looking to the future. A lot of predicted trends for 2019 revolve around technology (specifically seamlessly fitting into our lives), wellness (bread 2.0 came up a few times) and ethics (environmentalism, sustainability, data privacy, corporate and individual responsibility).

  • Shutterstock’s 2019 Creative Trends: a wrap of major trends right now (e.g. zine culture, which despite its very physical nature seems to be everywhere online), plus rising trends (like Kalamkari, a.k.a. Indian fabric painting). Also, elephants were the most searched stock photo in Australia? Go figure.
  • Eventbrite’s The Pulse Report: The ticketing platform surveyed 4K event promoters worldwide, including 600 on home soil here in Aus. Almost half the participants are planning on running more events this year, and 36% will increase their marketing budgets. Interestingly, just over half the peeps surveyed also claimed that marketing/promo was their top expense last year. Challenges for this year are finding new attendees (*cough cough* oversaturated markets), low budgets and increased competition (*cough* I repeat, oversaturated markets). Eventbrite’s hot tips for tech trends this year include – mobile event apps, cashless payments and live streaming events. Key things the ticketing giant wants its clients to start thinking are environmental sustainability and data privacy (including ticketing fraud).
  • 100 Pinterest trends for 2019: So what are people pinning this year? Oat milk, pegan diets (part paleo, part vegan), fashion bloggers in bike shorts, surprise destination holidays, sleep optimisation and body painting.
  • The 2019 Topics & Trends Report from Facebook IQ: In a similar vein, Facebook also had a look at the conversations happening on Facebook to predict which trends are on the cusp of breaking through. People are talkin’ about micro-plastics, snakeskin prints, K-beauty, eco-products, sustainable fashion, smart TVs, all things horror (eep), ASMR, soul food, turmeric, Wu Wei (a Taoist concept of effortless action), self care and glamping.
  • The Future 100: 2019 by JWT Intelligence: This one is juicy reading. It covers 100 trends and changes for the next year across categories like tech, travel, food & bev, beauty and lifestyle. Some of my faves include ‘woke luxury’, reframing masculinity, brand therapists, inclusive design, water connoisseurship, bread 2.0 and virtual influencers.

And lastly, let’s not forget The Simpsons. The true predictor of what’s to come.

Year In Numbers

December 24, 2018

Another year, another year in list form 😂 Here’s what my 2018 looked like:

  • Listened to 3,533 different songs on Spotify (down from 4,196 in 2015)
  • Celebrated my third year at Bolster in August
  • Read 8 fiction books (my favourite was The Vegetarian)
  • Went on my first ever solo holiday to Hobart in November
  • Moved desks three times at work to keep things fresh
  • Went to 8 music festivals
  • Went to Sydney five bloody times
  • Ate the exact same breakfast and lunch about 250+ times at work because decision fatigue (Special K for breakfast, brown rice, tofu and veg for lunch)
  • On a related note, got takeout exactly three times at work this entire year
  • Went to one wedding
  • Only rearranged the furniture in my bedroom twice this year which is fairly low
  • Had roughly 100 surprise visits from my favourite neighbour
  • Only posted on Facebook 14 times (but 268 Instagram Stories and counting because #bestpractice)
  • Played four gigs with Fever Land (more FL action in 2019 for sure)

On the first point, here are my top 100 tracks from the year. (Very glad that I ended up going to Meredith since The Breeders and Yaeji feature in this bad boy.) Happy 2018, and here’s to 2019 and people continuing to read this blog for reasons completely unknown to me 🍸🍹

Music Industry Pathways Program

November 30, 2018

Absolutely love the work that The Push does for youth in music, and was so honoured to take complete their Music Industry Pathways Program for 2018 as a mentor. Kate and Lou from The Push paired me with Johanna, a wonderful human being who also happens to be an incredible graphic designer working in the music space in Melbourne. Here’s us being cheesy:

P.S. info about how to apply for the 2019 program here!

Not All Streams Are Equal

October 31, 2018

Think of these three scenarios:

  1. A music aficionado with a Spotify premium account (of course) searches for ‘Scorpion’ on release day to hear what’s up,
  2. A person who kind of likes music enough to have Spotify but not enough to pay for an ad-free experience listens to Drake’s album because it’s on every playlist and you really can’t not listen to it,
  3. My uncle clicks on a Drake video on the YouTube home page thinking it’s the 60s hard rock band The Scorpions.

To be honest this is a bad example because Drake was always going to land the #1 ARIA spot and I don’t think any of my uncles like hard rock, but it highlights how not all streams on a song are generating the same revenue.

Half a year ago I posted about how Billboard in the States were changing their streaming rules to:

  1. Assign more points to streams from on-demand services vs. programmed platforms (e.g. Spotify vs. Pandora)
  2. Assign more points to streams from paid subscribers, then ad-supported, and then free users last.

Back home in Aus, the ARIA Charts introduced a similar rule last week to count streams from paid users higher than ‘free ad-supported’ streams higher. Here’s their official bit:

ARIA has confirmed that greater emphasis will now be given to paid subscription streams over free ad-supported streams on the ARIA Chart… The shift to a multi-level streaming approach to the ARIA Chart methodology is consistent with the global push to measure streams in a revenue-reflective and access-based manner. This new methodology replaces the current combined conversion rate, in which all streams are treated equally.

It doesn’t quite say if they are treating free streams without ads differently though (for instance, Bandcamp which is on its list of stores that count). Also Australia won’t be treating on-demand and programmed platforms differently, but I’ve always found that a bit contentious (because a lot of plays on Spotify come from playlists or radio so that’s still a lean-back listener, see Drake example 2).

It’s a weird time for trying to measure popularity for new music because how people consume music is constantly changing, but it’s a good move for ARIA (and other charting companies) to recognise that not all streams are equal. In fact, ARIA only started including counting streaming in its album charts in early 2017, with their streaming conversion factor to weight streaming appropriately with downloads and physical format.

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