If you keep an eye out for the latest research on music consumption habits, you can use these statistics to help guide you in creating an effective sales and marketing plan for your music releases.
After all, that’s how the marketing department of a major record company would operate - basing their plans on the latest market research.
If you’re despairing at the idea of having to add market research to your “to do” list, don’t worry - there’s an easy way. Just google for Google Alerts, and set up a few alerts such as “music consumption research”, “music consumer survey”, or “music market research”. The latest research will just appear in your email inbox.
Then, all you have to do is choose the studies and surveys relevant to your own music market, and ask yourself how these statistics could shape your music sales and marketing plan.
You don’t have to go into too much detail here - taking note of the general trends will guide your strategy quite effectively.
Take the following example of worldwide music consumption statistics in 2010, courtesy of Midem.com:
A global survey of music consumers by Nielsen (Sept. 2010)
Nielsen (one of the most highly regarded market research firms) conducted a global survey of 26,644 people in September 2010 on their music purchasing and listening habits. It surveyed people’s music consumption for the previous 3 months.
What can we musicians learn from this research?
- We need multiple ways to reach music consumers worldwide: The survey found that there is considerable diversity in music consumption habits globally, and that no single channel dominates.
- We need to make videos: Watching music on video is the most popular way to consume music. 57% of those surveyed had watched music videos on computers in the preceding 3 months. 44% watch internet videos several times a week.
- Giving away some of our music as free downloads is likely to be a good promotional strategy: Downloading a song without paying for it was the second most popular form of music consumption. The survey did not distinguish between “legal” (free downloads - often promotional) or “illegal” downloads (pirate copies), so many of these free downloads could have been obtained legitimately. Obviously there is still a great deal of interest in downloading music, and people like to get it for free … legally or otherwise.
- People aged between 21 and 34 are the “core digital music audience”: People in this age range have a generally higher level of music-related activity. They watch the most music videos (on computer or TV), download more songs (both paid and free), and stream more music.
- It’s worth selling digital downloads; particularly if aimed at a younger audience: The survey found that just over 20% of people under the age of 34 had paid to download a music track to their computer in the preceding 3 months.
- We need our own artist website, with our music readily accessible for streaming and buying: About 18% of people surveyed had accessed music from an artist’s own website in the preceding 3 months.
- A Facebook fan page is worth having: 35% consume music via social networking sites. Check out the usual suspects - but also keep an eye out for niche social networks that relate to you and your music, for a more targeted audience.
- Streaming services are worth factoring into our promotional strategy: 36% stream music via a computer. The survey doesn’t go into details about this streaming figure, so it’s an amalgamation of all the different ways someone could stream music these days. However, it tells us that services such as Spotify, Pandora, Last fm, Jango, etc, are a viable option for getting our music heard.
- We should look into the sales and marketing potential of creating our own music apps: 30% listen to music via their mobile phone, and 20% of respondents had downloaded or used music apps on their mobile.
- We should promote our music on internet radio: Just over 30% of those surveyed say they listen to music on web radio several times a week. The vast array of genres and sub-genres catered for by specialist radio shows online means that, if we take the time to investigate, we are likely to find the perfect audience for our own music.
Creating a realistic music sales and marketing plan
You can see that, just through interpreting the statistics of this one study, we can lay out the basis of a sales and marketing plan that is rooted in the realities of the here and now.
It would be best to take note of a number of different studies, of course, for the greatest accuracy. And it is important to update your information regularly. But thanks to Google Alerts, this is not the time-consuming chore it used to be.
I hope this is helpful to those of you who are confused about which of the countless marketing strategies to adopt, and who have precious little time available for trying to figure it all out.
Nielsen white-paper for Midem.com: Digital music consumption and digital music access published January 12 2011. http://bit.ly/fhz3BO
MIDEM is “the most important event for the world’s music community” http://www.midem.com
Catherine Hol is a singersongwriter based in Cork, Ireland, currently working on her debut album.
Follow her on Twitter if you like, @Artistsownmusic.