If you follow the Sage Audio mastering blog, you know we place quite a bit of emphasis on the new music news coming from social media platforms. The reason is simple: social media is obviously a great way for independent artists to get their music in front of listeners that would otherwise have little chance of hearing their music.
Of course, successfully leveraging the social networks for this purpose is easier said than done, and requires a carefully calculated and curated marketing plan to be make a dent in the crowded world of social media. So we certainly take note when the executives of the social networks talk about music on their respective services, which is exactly what happened at the recent San Francisco MusicTech Summit XIII.
The summit is held twice a year, and gathers over 1,000 musicians, technologists and others in the industry to discuss the current state of music in social media. Key items of interest to independent musicians include Facebook Strategic Partnerships manager Ime Archibong discussing how Facebook’s new Parse acquisition can be of use to developers and musicians, and a Twitter exec explaining why the network’s new #Music service will be relevant.
Archibong spent much of his speaking time discussing how developers working on new music apps can use the tools provided by the Parse ecosystem to develop apps that inspire higher user integration and better user experience. Parse is a service that runs apps across multiple platforms, and Facebook purchased the company in April.
And while hopefully this will result in some better options for musicians, most musicians are not developers and need ways to leverage the social network now. Fortunately, Archibong had some advice for independent musicians, as well.
“Have a presence, have your page, have your profile, have 'subscribe' turned on,” he said. “Figure out your publishing strategy.”
While this may seem like redundant knowledge, artists all too often avoid developing a strategy for Facebook, which results in a less than optimal impact.
Twitter’s Stephen Phillips acknowledged that the company’s first integrated music app, #Music, is not in its final form, and that those in the music industry should give it a year before it reaches its full potential.
"I just think it’s early," he said. "It’s just how software development works now. We ship product and we listen to what people like and dislike … I think in a year’s time we can look at Twitter #Music and say, ‘Has it been a success or not?’ I think that would be a fair time to judge it."
The service currently allows listeners attempting to discover new music on Twitter the opportunity to listen to 30-second samples of songs through iTunes, but they must be paid subscribers to Spotify or Rdio to stream the full song without purchasing it. Phillips also acknowledged that this may not be the best model.
“We would like to let everybody know we're just getting started. It's really a long-term commitment," he said. "I think listening experiences built purely on samples from Apple is probably not ideal … We thought it was useful enough as a sharing experience that it's worth it. The people who connect with Rdio and Spotify get a much better experience.”
He later added: “We're just hoping that everybody starts buying subscriptions.”
It may be that last comment that resonates most with all music artists attempting to use social media to market their music. Archibong also pointed out that Rdio is attempting to successfully leverage the Parse tools to create more integrated Facebook experiences for its subscribers, but all subscription services are having trouble attracting those subscribers. Those offering free, ad supported options (like Spotify does), are gaining tons of users, but the paid subscriptions are growing much slower.
It seems this subscription growth may have more to do with what products the social network offer rather than the other way around.
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