How To Best Make Use Of Your Spotify, YouTube and Deezer Platforms
Missed the SGMUSO Open House last Saturday? No worries, as we have captured the tips dished out by the panel on Digital Distribution
Panel (from left): Tan Chee Meng (Spotify), Arica Ng (YouTube), Sylvain Delange (Believe Digital) - Moderator, Dana Inthaxoum (Deezer)
How can an artist best make use of digital platforms such as Deezer, Spotify and YouTube?
On Deezer, if you work with a digital distributor, you can use Deezer4Artists, so that you are able to see where your audience is from and which country listens to your music. Then you are able to create a promotional campaign targeting those countries. You are also able to customize your artist page on Deezer, and you can upload a banner or status or share exclusive content, and this content is also monetized. You are also able to link your social media platforms easily to your Deezer artist page, so that you are able to connect to your fans easily.
Nowadays you have a lot of power and control over your channels, but with that comes responsibility. It is extremely critical to control the metadata that you tag onto your content. It goes back to how you are positioning yourself and who your target audience is going to be. Think about the entire process, if you are including neighboring markets like Malaysia, Indonesia or even the Chinese market, what do you then tag on your metadata, because it will affect how your content comes out on the platform. For example, if you are an indie rock artist, and you tag #indierock, then are you going to compete with all the indierock bands out there? Or are you going to tag #Singapore and be seen with all the Singapore musicians and bands out there? Think about how to tag the information that goes with your music, not just on Spotify but across all digital channels. It is not glamorous or fun, but extremely critical in order to get your content filtered up.
Tip number 1: Go to your YouTube channel, click on Analytics, three key buttons that you should be familiar with. The first is “Audience” which means which country do they come from. If you are writing in Mandarin, figure it out whether you should be tagging in traditional or simplified Chinese. Secondly, think about whether you need hanyu pinyin. And for those who are writing in English, I would still encourage you to think about where your audience is coming from, because that would determine how your voice would be. Look at who is viewing your content, as that will determine your language set, and go figure out their age. That would determine whether your banner should look gothic or like something from Disneyland.
Tip number 2: Look at “Sources”, which refers to where did your audience come from before they found your content. It could be from a website, Facebook, or anywhere. And if it was from a YouTube search, you can click on the button and view what are the key words that they had input to find you. If you have money, then you can buy Adwords to advertise yourself. If not you can add this information into your metadata or description, because that is where people find you from.
Tip number 3: Annotations. This button is highly important for you to use, because sometimes your songs are a bit long, and you have a prelude of about half a minute, and it has to be that way because it could be an OST (original sound track). So there’s a button that says “Skip right straight into the music”. Just Google “creative use of annotations”.
These tips may not get you to your 10,000, but as the Chinese saying goes, “Opportunities are given to those who are ready”. You need to do all that I said to qualify as ready. Right now, even if I spent a lot of money to have 1 million people to look at your channel, they might not stay, so you will need to beef up your content first.
How often should artists put up new content to ensure that the audience stays and subscribes to the channel? On YouTube, we could put up more videos. But on Deezer and Spotify, what could we do?
To keep the user engaged on your artist profile page, you could start by creating playlists, of songs that inspire you to create new works, songs that you listen to when you are on the road. This helps the audience understand who you are and your inspirations and where your creative moments come from. We have tools such as the Spotify play button that you can embed onto your own websites, Facebook pages to reach out to your fans. Depending on which stage of your music career that you are at: for new artists, you will need to create a lot of followers on your profile page, as they are your online fan base. Go to Spotify.com and find out more about how you can use widgets to reach out to different platforms so that you can build your profile and retain your audience.
You should use Deezer4Artists to post any exclusive tracks for your fans only. You could also create playlists. You can also email Deezer to inform us about your exclusive content on your homepage. Outside of Deezer, you could also share your links on other platforms, just like Spotify.
A lot of our users are searching for playlists, so the name of the playlist is very important, because it would reflect what kind of content you can find in the playlist. The playlist can also be used as part of the buzz around a new album as the audience will get a sense of what the new album is about.
Does building other content such as playlists or behind the scenes videos have any impact in the number of streams or digital downloads of the album to be launched one month later?
Yes it will work, but this strategy will be more suitable if you already have a following. So we have to get down to the basics. You have to treat your users not like your fans, but your friends. I learnt this from a DJ with ten years experience. He said, “When you go on air, do not say 你们好 (hi everyone). You should say 你好 (hi, you).” It’s all about creating a one-to-one relationship and dialogue, because digital distribution is about one-to-one multiply by a million. Digital platforms allow you to talk to one million viewers at the same time, but it does not give you the privilege to say “Hi Everyone” because you are (probably) not at that status yet. That is the voice of traditional media and how major labels operate - Three months before you launch the album, you do a shout out, but the caveat is that when you do a shout out, there’s people listening to you. So you need to first always be there. You do not have the luxury of hiding for three months doing a pre-launch, launch and post launch. You need to be on your YouTube page every single day.
How often should we update our platforms?
We encourage our partners to create programming for their channels. There’s a few things you can do: you can comment, add to the playlist, publish new content, or do a hangout, which is like holding a live concert. Creating a new playlist should be done once a week. Releasing new content should be done once a week or every two weeks. Commenting and keeping a dialogue should be a daily affair. As for a Google+ hangout, do that once a month. Adhere to your programming. If I were an artist, I would place a banner that commits, “This channel will release original Chinese music and we will have a concert the first Friday of every month. We will do a collaboration for you which will be released every Tuesday.” This is my consumer promise to you when you subscribe to my channel. That would be the frequency, but first you need to make it into a promise.
Does exclusive content increase the number of streams?
20% of Deezer’s team recommends music every week. The fact that we have music editors all over the world, they talk to each other and it makes it very easy to spread the word about the new release.
The psyche of the music lover has not changed over the years. The thrill of discovering a new sound or artist that you like, and also the opportunity to be an opinion leader to show off what you have discovered. The landscape will be constantly shifting but the psyche of the music consumer remains the same. Think about it from that point of view: the technology is here to help you, but fundamentally we are all human and this is where the real connection will be. Treat them as your friend, as a fellow music lover, think of what they would like to find out from you. On Spotify we have what we call Commentries, which is like a director’s cut on a DVD. As a music lover, I want to understand what goes into the creation process. Such content may not drive a huge volume of streams, but if you knew the story behind how the collaboration was made, this would engage them beyond the music.
Would you only work with artists with say, a minimum of 10,000 subscribers or 1000 likes on their Facebook page?
No, in fact, we work with a lot of emerging artists. Through our music editor’s recommendations and CRM, there has been successful cases of emerging artists to become number 1 in another country. We do not look at how many fans you have currently, we are really into music and would be happy to promote good music. If you want to share your music with us, just send us an email or tweet, or talk to our music editors.
If I were a musician to get my music out there, is it possible to do it without video?
YouTube first started as a video company, but today over 65% of the content being consumed is actually music. Video is a very important element. It goes back to the question of how do you define fame. Without the video, would Psy’s Gangnam Style be what it is today? My guess is probably not. So I would say, we have moved on, and video is an important component, simply because of the way we consume music now. We do have producers who only want to put their music out there, but what they have chosen to do is to execute it through collaboration. Because if you want your music to be consumed, it is not about self gratification, it’s about delivering your music in a format that people will find easiest to consume. If it’s video, it’s video. If it’s with vocals, it’s with vocals. If it’s with lyrics, then let be it with lyrics. So there are producers, but usually they will need to collaborate with others. So it depends on who you are and what you lack.
You can actually talk to a label or a distributor. You can also access DIY websites to upload your music and have them distributed on digital channels.
Streaming is complementary to other forms of music consumption. You cannot forget that you have to create playlists, and you have to do some merchandising, you have to make vinyls. Use digital channels such as Deezer as a tool to discover music, but engage them at every other level with your 360 degree marketing.
It goes back to what kind of music you are making and what kind of musician you are, and whether a visual would really help. And what do you think your audience would like. There is a full suite of tools, but it does not mean that if you were to use video it would make you a superstar.
It could be as simple as using your artwork on the video. Keep focusing on what you do best, and if it’s music, let it be music. But if you want to put all your chance together, if you want to make the most out of your content, you will need to make a collaboration, try to find a friend who can shoot a video of you doing an acoustic and try to be everywhere and make use of these platforms.
Be part of the ecosystem. Reach out to every channel out there. Deezer users will probably remain as Deezer users. Same for Spotify and YouTube. There is also the group of people who love to discover sounds on Soundcloud, and you may want to reach out to them as well. It’s all about knowing your audience. Obviously you would be more successful on some platforms than others, so understand the analytics, know where they come from, and what brought them to your page and build your own strategy after understanding your fans.
As an independent unsigned artist or band who has just recorded my album or single, how do I get my content out there on these channels (especially Spotify and Deezer)?
We will have to look at your entire strategy. It’s easy to sign a deal for a single or an album, but after that, what’s next? Do you already have a team of people who are helping you make your name famous, build your audience and your image? Are you working with a label, with a budget to do a little bit of promotion, or do you want to hire people to do that? Do you want to do everything directly, and if you can do everything directly, it’s a good start. But if you just want to focus on your music, and need some help to ensure that it’s going to be viewed and listened to, you could even consider going to a small record company to help you. No matter what you do, don’t be isolated.
Any interesting demographics that you can share about your platforms?
We have a catalogue of about 20 million songs, out of which about 70% are being consumed. There is content for everybody, for every age group and demographics. We are very new to this part of the world, so it’s only the early tech adopters who will use it a bit longer, but there isn’t any specific demographic that jumps out.
People listen to different types of music in different countries. In Thailand, people listen to a lot of local music. In Indonesia, people listen to a lot of music in Bahasa, including religious music and a lot of rock music. In Singapore, people listen to a lot of foreign pop, although we are trying very hard to push for a lot of indie artists. It’s interesting to see that for many countries, they are quite supportive of their own local music, except for Singapore.
Do you foresee in the future that musicians will move away from releasing full length albums or even EPs and market themselves solely through singles?
This has been a question that has been discussed and debated over and over again for about eight years. The fact is, we do have statistics that the sales of singles are higher than albums, but going back to the story of the music itself, there is a reason why the sounds flow from track one to track two and so on. There is a completion, and eventually, your goal is not only to have one single, but is to have a full album or story. But a single can be an easier way for you to go to the market to test things out, rather than testing with 10 songs, perhaps you could test with one and combine later. It is part of the marketing strategy.
It depends on your artistic vision. If you have a full story to tell, then you will need to have that LP. But for a pop artist, you may go for the two singles, followed up by a ballad or whatever is suitable. So know yourself, what you want to exchange with the world. Are you a live band? If you are, then obviously you need more than a single to have a concert.