Categories
Business Music Industry Insights

Terrestrial radio vs internet radio: A guide for the African independent artist and tips on how to manoeuvre in the respective radio avenues.

In technical terms, radio is the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves of radio frequency which carry audio messages — but too many radio is something that is beyond the technical description of the media platform. Radio has carved its way into the childhoods of many millennials as a platform where they got to hear the latest songs, discussions on topics that interested them and current affairs. As a traditional media platform, radio has been compartmentalized according to the different demographics that exist within the general population. The role of the radio DJ has always been important — in many cases people fall in love with the vast amount of personalities that exist in the radio space. Radio has, throughout history, formed and shaped cultures and created discussions that humanity needed to have to overcome its trials.

The way people think of radio in 2017 is drastically different from the way we people used to think about radio in the 1997. The year 1997 is possibly the most important in the digital age, as it was the web had seriously gained a lot of ground and more people had moved on from wrapping their heads around what the internet was to using it. It has been 20 years since then, but why is important that we include the web in the radio discussion. The answer to that question is simple — the internet was new and fresh and radio was a very flexible traditional media platform that could be integrated with the web. The concept of online radio existed in the heyday of the internet in the early 1990’s but successful implementation of online radio only came in 1997–1998.

Photo credit: Oliur Rahman

When internet radio stations started popping up in the late 1990’s, the radio space had to be segmented into terrestrial radio and internet radio — and these respective spaces were either complementing each other or going against each other. One thing is certain, the internet had opened up the flood gates for anyone to jump into the radio space and radio broadcasting was soon no longer a game which consisted of large corporate players.

Terrestrial radio still fares quite impressively as one can gain easy access to it — on cars, buses, cellphones, stereos and other digital devices that have radio functionality. You cannot separate terrestrial radio from the commutes of millions of people that head to work in the mornings. Morning radio slots have become vital for brands as the listenership numbers for radio shows are mind-boggling, this has led to a lot of money being paid for radio ads to be played in breakfast shows. Breakfast shows and afternoon drive shows are slots in a radio station programmes that bring in the most revenue.

Photo credit: Drew Patrick Miller

Internet radio has to compete with streaming platforms which house podcasts — which also draw large numbers of online listeners. The burning question with respect to internet radio is to understand how people generally behave online, what compels them to tune into internet radio stations and how long they listen to online radio shows.

The one way that terrestrial radio is adapting to the digital space, a space which essentially the predominant home of internet radio, is act of filming the radio shows and posting them on youtube. This strategy ensures that terrestrial radio stations extend the conversations created in the terrestrial space and also allows them to get a different type of engagement in the internet space. Internet radio has an upper-hand in having a platform which is highly measurably and one that can take advantage of the vast of amounts of listener data which they can easily mine from their web-based platforms. Terrestrial radio is difficult to measure and in most cases listenership research is often done by the a third-party and then the respective radio stations can use that data to curate the shows and come up with better radio programmes.

But how should independent artists think of radio? Both avenues of radio, terrestrial and internet, are important for artists but in the digital age they are not the only options for artists to get heard. Independent artists should always have the following on request:
1) Press release
2) Bio
3) Social media links

A proper public relations strategy which will ensure that the right person hears your work. In the internet radio space, it is important to target smaller internet radio stations and see if they have shows which fit your brand and the type of music you make. The artist has to make sure that they understand the differences of terrestrial and internet radio and how they work, particularly the means of contacting the right people.

A strong social media presence is key for artists and social media pages that are properly set up can assist with making sure that the right people within the radio structures get a feel of what you’re about and if you’re worth their time. It is also important to do more research on how to get on radio and the many alternatives to radio. A solid digital presence can go a long way.

While TV is dying, terrestrial radio is proving to adapt quite well to digital disruption and as a marketing tool for artists, it still holds a lot of value for promotion. In Africa, internet access is still an issue which makes it difficult for people to listen to internet radio and this is why terrestrial still has a strong grip in the continent. As an artist, you can get international radio spins if you get the right internet radio station to play list you. The key is to do your research and be relentless in your pursuit of brand recognition.

Categories
Business Music Industry Insights

Digital music forecasts for Africa: 6 things that are likely to happen in 2017

For the digital music ecosystem to grow in Africa, the continent needs a faster smartphone penetration rate and possibly a drop in data prices. Alternatively, data-providing companies can come up with models that have data plans that could allow music-lovers to access digital music from African artists for free. The African music industry is still relatively small if compared to the music industries in the West.

We have compiled a list of six-forecasts of what is likely to happen in digital music in Africa.

  1. More artists are going to see the need for being digital savvy. The internet opens up a world of information and further confirms the fact that we’re in the information age. With that being said, we predict a rise in the number independent artists and smarter artists that know how to leverage the power of the internet.
  2. Social media is going to be a driving force for the push in digital music in Africa. Africa has about 146 million Facebook users. Facebook is the biggest social network in Africa and it will play a vital role in assisting artists and record labels in distributing their music.
  3. A slow but necessary shift from digital downloads to streaming. There has been a global drop in digital downloads as the world moves towards streaming where the algorithm rules and curates playlists for music lovers online. The paid streaming space is currently dominated by Spotify, but there are African alternatives like Simfy Africa and Spinlet, just to name a few.
  4. African record labels are going to forced to be more lean. Let’s face it, the internet moves faster than us. Moments are created and shared online every minute and with the massive amounts of content being published online, how does one know when to publish content? For record labels to ensure that they don’t lose money and they actually make some money in the tough digital climate, they have to be lean. More African record labels are going to start realise that they need to be more organised, have processes and systems.
  5. More African artists are going to start using Bandcamp and iTunes to monetize their music. The need to monetize the content that artists create is growingly rapidly. With drop in physical copy sales, independent artists and record labels are looking for new ways to distribute their music.
  6. More artist-led movements which don’t have a middleman. These days, all you need to make music is a laptop and a few other pieces of equipment and you’re good to go. Building a decent website that is going to act as your digital showroom is not that expensive and quite fairly affordable for artists. We’re going to see more artists that know how to build teams that can handle PR, physical and digital music distribution and digital marketing. 2017 is going to be the year of artist-led movements.

Africa is developing at an incredibly fast pace with countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa leading some of these developments. When speaking of digital music, you can look forward to seeing the 6 forecasts listed above as 2017 progresses.

Categories
Featured Music Industry Insights

Music Industry Talk: 3 game changing advancements poised to take music to the next level

music industry talkLet’s face it, the music industry has completely changed and the way we consume music has significantly changed too. Digital music sits at the forefront in the culture and creative economic environments and with that being said, new metrics and standards of measuring success have been invented. We live in a data-driven world and music is not exempt from the impact and changes brought forth by big data. However, in some parts of the industry, these changes have not been welcomed by some big industry players.

Despite all the forces against the digital disruption, the music industry has lightened up and adapted to the digital environment — this was necessary for its survival. The fact that the music industry execs have adopted an approach that doesn’t include stubbornness, a lovely turn of events has occurred — revenue increases. After 20 years of consecutive losses in revenue, towards the end of 2015 and well into 2016, the music industry started seeing revenue increases. The increases are a result of the industry’s willingness, some may choose to use the word ‘pressure-influenced’ instead of willingness, to accept digital innovation. We now have situations where labels and artists have access to listener data that can prove useful in the development of better marketing strategies and campaigns.

The last few years have brought about innovation that completely flipped the music industry on its head. We have compiled a list of three game-changing advancements in music that are soon going to change how we are going music is made and consumed:

  1. Streaming platform exclusive album releases are not going to be common as more streaming platforms are moving away from the approach. Exclusive album releases leave consumers with only a few options and somewhat promote file-sharing and illegal downloading.
  2. AI is increasingly getting better at making music and in a few years, AI will in some ways beat out humans in making music. This could particularly be useful in the areas of the industry such as synching, creating elevator music, video game soundtracks and background music for stores. The rise in the use of AI does not in any way assert that machines will takeover the creation process, but will serve as a worthy alternative for certain sectors of the industry.
  3. The use of virtual reality and other forms of immersive content for better concert experiences is currently in the developmental stages and being tested in some parts of the world. The use of virtual reality can help curb file-sharing by allowing artists to draw revenue from creating VR-experiences. On the note of creating experiences which are beyond physical spaces, Boiler room has innovated in this regard with the live-streaming of their events which put underground music in front of many eyes and ears on the internet.

With major industry players lightening up and how digital adoption is being prioritised in the music industry, we can expect to see more innovation in how we consume music, how music is delivered to us and how artists and labels are going to make money.

Categories
Business Music Industry Insights

How technological advancements have changed the way we dig for music.

The process of finding music can be chaotic, planned or organized. We all are constantly on a journey to finding new music and the times that we find ourselves in dictate how we will be able to access music. With the recent rise in digital platforms which have significantly decreased physical album sales, we have also witnessed to how differently people behave online when finding music. The shift into the digital age has altered many aspects of our lives, connected the world beyond borders and has also ushered culture into a new realm. Record labels are caught having to play catch because of the technological advances. We are then pulled back to a particular defining moment in history, which is when the first iPod was released on the 23rd of October in 2001. The release of the iPod would soon change the way we listen to music.

As the population of the world continues to grow, we are confronted by an issue of space which calls for a drastic change in how we live and forms part of the reason why we should or are rather forced to let some of our lifestyle choices go. Gone are the days where the people who worked at music stores were the tastemakers and the guides in a journey of discovering music. Nowadays those music store tastemakers have been replaced by complex algorithms and machine learning systems which curate play lists for you on platforms like Spotify, iTunes and Google Play, just to name a few. People are increasingly becoming replaced by machine learning and artificial intelligence systems, or robots if you will.

Baby bloomers may still have vivid memories of how they used to find music, millennials are caught up in the unforgiving and fast digital age and generation Z probably doesn’t even know what a vinyl record is or have been in a physical music store. Generation Z is the first generation to fully have access to what baby bloomers and millennials had to have physical access to at their finger tips. The digital age comes with a lot of convenience-the thought one can 2000 songs on their phone is enough to prove the convenience. The physical equivalent of 2000 digital songs is possibly a room full of records or CDs. One is compelled to look at things from a cost perspective, digital albums are significantly cheaper than physical albums for obvious reasons. When speaking of physical copies of music, you are often forced to talk of the manufacturing that goes behind the production of physical copies of albums. For vinyl, this is possibly even more trickier because of the small numbers of pressing plants in the world. Physical distribution of music comes with a lot of costs because after the production of the copies they have to be transported to stores which creates the need for a logistical partner.

With the digital albums, you cut out many of the processes leading up to the music being consumed by the listener. There are obviously costs to getting your music sold on online stores, but those costs are significantly lower than those one would incur in physical distribution. Due to the rise in digital, we have seen an increase in digital music distribution companies and music aggregators which assist labels and independent artists plug their music on online stores.

Power has been given directly to the artist from a digital distribution point of view and if the artist understands the power of social media and uses social media as tool-the artist has the ability to push their music themselves. The digital age has seen the rise of online music tastemakers and these are normally DJs or people that curate their play lists online. Think of tastemaker Youtube platforms like Majestic, Nostalgic and Trap Nation who have grown to have fairly huge teams which consist of A&Rs and public relations teams which liaise with artists and labels so that they can take advantage of the possibility of gaining good online reach if the music is featured on such platforms. This also pushes one to think of how Universal Music Group opened a case against Google because of how their music was illegally being uploaded by users on the Google-owned platform Youtube.Google was forced to come up with a plan and strike a deal with Universal Music Group and this lead to the creation of Youtube platform, Vevo. Universal Music Group could now directly benefit financially from music being uploaded on their Youtube platform/channel.

Photo credit: Rolling Stone courtesy of www.rollingstone.com

Souncloud boasts huge numbers of daily users and the platform has its own community of tastemakers who are now taking advantage of their follower numbers and making money off the exposure they can give artists. The listener ends up being caught up in all the limbo that the digital age comes with. Questions of which streaming platform, for instance, will make the process of finding music much simpler and less confusing.

Recently vinyl has surpassed digital sales in UK which was something that hasn’t happened since 2007, but if one really assesses the situation, the fact the vinyl sales surpassed digital sales is not that special. It makes sense why in 2016, vinyl sales beat out digital sales and this can be attributed to the increased usage of streaming platforms and the fact that when one person buys a digital album then that person can easily distribute that album to friends or family without the artist or label directly benefiting from that in-circle distribution method. Streaming platforms offer slightly more protection to the artist in terms of cutting out the ‘in-circle distribution‘ and the only thing users can distribute is links.

Digital platforms have given the user the power to dig for music, but we cannot disregard the major influence of technology and how huge of a hand it gives us to selecting and finding music that fits within our interests. We live in exciting times and we have no choice but to adapt and if we find the process of having to go through thousands of songs to find what we like, we have access to online music tastemakers. There is obviously a market for tastemakers and this is seen in the rise of a lot of internet radio stations from all corners of the world. The listener cannot complain about not finding music because there are a lot of online platforms where the listener can access what matches their taste.

Technology is powerful and acts as much needed springboard which aids, in some cases simplifies, our discovery of music.