Streaming and “engaging with your fans”

pledgemusicI’m convinced that soon for at least the music I’m interested in selling people will be divided into two camps. Those who simply listen to music and use streaming and those wish to own “stuff” and will continue to buy physical product. There are of course two markets Avalanche doesn’t really touch upon now which is the huge chart seller such as Ed Sheeran and the collector who buys everything by an artist. We do have customers who fit the latter category but not in the numbers other shops seem to have. We have three David Bowie fans ! 

Anyway I simply don’t see Spotify as a threat to sales. Some listen and then buy and those who just listen were not going to buy anyway. Virtually all artists seem to make their album available to be heard before the release date which I’m still not sure works. People listen and either think it is OK but not worth their hard earned cash or mean to buy but having heard the album either don’t get round to it or think they will wait for it to be cheaper. Certainly if we get a new shop I would install Spotify for customers if that were possible.

As for the “engaging with your fans” model it is clearly one that works if done properly but can have several flaws. If a band has a deal and are big enough that they can sell to hardcore fans and through HMV and Amazon to casual fans then all is well except they have cut out the indies completely. However most sell to dedicated fans and any casual fans they have will be happy with Spotify. It really limits their sales and quickly the album dies.

It is early days yet but if shops could be included in the process somehow much could be gained by both sides. Often I’m not sure bands are the best people to be organising their campaigns anyway. They tend to follow the same formula and really only get away with what is often a poor pitch because they are preaching to the converted.

Whatever route artists are taking they nearly always now use a site that will mean their sales are counted chart wise so when the figures are so low this is not because sales have been lost somewhere it is because they have sold very little even after including fan sales. That is what amazes me when I see figures. While sales of music would undoubtedly be falling anyway the highly organised and aggressive targeting of fans does not seem to have arrested the decline at all. Some might even say it has accelerated it.

One major Scottish band had a 7″ single out recently. Ironically the sort of thing that would sell 500 on Record Store Day no problem at all. Now their label is registered for the charts and you can be sure all sales logged. The total sales for the 7″ was 35. That is for ALL sales outlets. Now undoubtedly more were sold abroad but that is a label emailing what I’m sure is a considerable fan base and yet selling very few in the UK indeed. When I moaned at one big indie setting up a monthly album club that again could only take away sales from shops they admitted only 11 people had signed up.  

What is needed is some balance between the frenzied madness that is Record Store Day and the complete apathy that accompanies most releases the rest of the year. Of course I am biased but I think nobody handles selling music online better than shops and yet now labels and artists take the easy pickings and still expect shops to show support. There is no argument more annoying than the one that labels need to cater for those without shops as that is exactly what the shops’ online presence is for.

It will surprise none of you who read the blog regularly to know I have familiarised myself with PledgeMusic, Kickstarter, Indiegogo etc etc. I follow on twitter and I’m amazed at the industry that surrounds them. There is no doubt these are powerful tools currently being massively underutilised. I intend to remedy that !

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