The Orchard recently held The Orchard Presents: IndustryEd, a three-day virtual summit for emerging independent label owners, managers, and artists, alike. The Orchard’s music industry professionals and distribution experts held panels that covered topics from release cycles, to marketing strategies, to the globalization of music distribution.
Though every path to success in the music industry looks different, IndustryEd provided emerging artists and teams with the insight and tools to continue developing their craft with the ultimate goal of expanding their audience and global reach. The event was deemed a success, with hundreds of participants from over 60 countries in attendance. Continue reading for a recap, key takeaways, and FAQs from each panel.
The Label Manager’s Guide to Releasing Music
Experts from The Orchard’s label management team shared some do’s/don’ts for setting up releases for distribution. The panelists described how to interface with a distributor, while breaking down the key players of the distribution pipeline––from the artist to the label manager.
Abundant lead time is a must––The sooner The Orchard has the music in its system, the sooner it can deliver to accounts. The timelines are filtered around DSP requirements, so it is important to deliver everything at least 4 weeks in advance, putting the record on a good path right out of the gate.
Metadata is the DNA for your music––Metadata is like the bones of a release that holds it together. You may have a recording ready to go, but will not be able to release it without the complete metadata available. External Metadata includes the simple information that feeds to stores such as the artist name and track title, while Internal Metadata is the details needed to properly credit those who worked on a release as well as UPCs and ISRCs.
Stick to the Apple Style Guide for product delivery specs––The Apple Music Style Guide is one of the best tools to help you format music, art, and metadata to enhance the listener’s experience and increase your discoverability
How do I contact my label manager at The Orchard?
When you first are onboarded, you will be contacted by your label manager in an introduction email. Additionally, you can find the contact information of your assigned label manager at the very bottom of your Workstation page next to ‘Support Contact.’
How do you determine whether or not to release physically?
This answer is on a case-by-case basis. The physical business continues to boom and it is clear that consumers want to support artists who are currently unable to tour due to the pandemic, in whatever capacity they can, and that includes physical. Additionally, there is an expectation from consumers that lead times are longer when it comes to physical rollouts.
What’s the best way to keep content flowing post-release? (remixes, deluxe, videos, merch, social)
The marketing does not end once the music has been released. Post-release is the time to ramp up communication and promotion––from releasing content, to videos, lifestyle pieces, press, behind-the-scenes, and lyric videos. “There’s a lot of noise out there–ring the alarm,” says Mitch Dudley, Senior Director, Label Management.
Playlisting Is Not A Release Strategy…. But What Is?
In this panel, labels and artist teams gained a better understanding of opportunities beyond DSP playlisting to help move the needle on their releases. Specifically, panelists listed several account priority objectives, such as Amazon’s 3D Audio, Apple Music’s Spatial Audio, and Spotify’s Canvas videos.
Appeal to DSP priority objectives––A crucial part of release strategy is to participate with elements at each specific account––such as Amazon, Spotify, and Apple Music––that are regarded as a platform-wide priority. For example, Apple Music is currently prioritizing their Spatial Audio component, while Amazon is focusing on their Artist Follow feature that generates new release notifications.
Drive to platforms––It is crucial to drive audiences to each respective platform via the artist or the label’s social media profiles. Focusing on platforms allows artists and labels to control their release’s narrative and direct listeners to the platform to listen.
Create a detailed marketing plan with all audience engagement strategies––A marketing plan is designed to provide context to your release, grow your artist fanbase, think about each account uniquely, and drive traffic on platforms. Some important aspects to consider for crafting a release plan include, the timing of upcoming releases, the kind of artist press photos, and the integration of account engagement throughout the campaign.
Relating to marketing drivers, what point in the release timeline do accounts like to be notified of marketing drivers?
As soon as possible! The longer lead that we have during a release, the better you are to be set up for success. Accounts are looking months ahead, so we can be a better part of that conversation when we have lead time for an artist’s releases.
You’ve Released Your Music, Now What?
Making it to release day, albeit integral, is just one stop on your journey for developing artists. This session uncovered advertising and marketing opportunities that labels/artist teams can tap into to extend momentum of the rollout beyond release day.
Meet your fans where they are and utilize platforms in a way that feels natural to you––You put so much time and effort into your music, and your social media should be an extension of the hard work dedicated to your art and music. Your social media content should be telling the stories that lead people to invest in you.
Implement unique content across each platform––Every platform is an opportunity to connect with fans and to find new audiences. Because social media can be overwhelming, it can help to sense out which platforms feel the most comfortable for the artist. However, being present on every platform will avoid putting all of your eggs into one basket. The conversations you have on each platform should be different, so that your entire social media presence creates a full image of your identity as an artist.
How do artists remain authentic on platforms?
Remaining authentic on socials has an easy solution — be yourself. The music you write or create is an extension of you, your values, and who you are, and that’s what your socials should be — a tailored version of you. Just like when you speak with casual friends in person, there are things you choose to share about yourself. Try reflecting on the messages in your music and what inspires you to come up with topics you feel comfortable sharing with your audience – example – if you’re heavily inspired by nature share pictures and videos from your outdoor adventures. Lastly, balance out your personal and promotional posts – promotional posts are like asking your friends for favors. No one wants to hang out with someone who is only asking things of them.
How do smaller artists break through the noise?
The music industry is a very congested ecosystem with a dense volume of newly released content. The best practice is to engage with social media platforms, give The Orchard your music in advance, and update your artist profiles. Controlling the narrative and pushing audiences to your music on each platform and creating a story around your releases will help you get noticed on various platforms. However, every artist and each fanbase is different. The more you can drive traffic to accounts, the better. Keep in mind that while following trends can be helpful, be sure to try new things that may make you stand out and become the trend.
Leveraging Data To Build Your Audience
This session covered basic insights that label and artist managers should be tracking, and highlighted how to leverage data to help their artist(s) build engaged fanbases.
Find your data on Insights, or using retailer Artist products or Chartmetric––There are a lot of different tools available that gather relevant data available through Apple Music, Spotify for Artists, and Chartmetric. At The Orchard, you can utilize our application Insights, which aggregates the data for the artist, providing a place to analyze video and music performance data, streams, downloads, and views from all of the world’s biggest services.
Use that data to leverage conversations across platforms, radio, advertising and more––Analyzing your data will help you take stock at where you currently stand and set realistic growth goals. From this data insight, you may better understand where to focus your advertising, social media presence, release timing, playlist pitching, press, and other significant release strategies.
Build upon the audience you have organically to build a story for your artist––Look at the platforms you are currently using and understand what data is available for each. Key demographic breakouts can help you understand the identity of your fanbase, which will in turn help you make more informed decisions about the different components of your upcoming release platforms.
What do retailers look for data-wise?
Growth is the most important metric. Though it is possible to benchmark some metrics, general growth is the most important measurement. Did you gain new fans? Are stations playing this song more than your last song? Do you have more publicity and do you have more media coverage? It is important to keep posting consistently, but growth is the most important as it can be used as leverage.
How do you get the conversation started for smaller artists that may not have a lot of data yet?
Tools such as Insights allow you to break down the demographics of your audiences on Spotify, YouTube, and other platforms on a global level. This helps dictate where you spend money and where your focus may be. You can also log into each store’s tool for artists and aggregate the data yourself. Make sure your artist is posting online, which naturally has a global reach, while also deciding where you should pick your focus markets.
Beyond Boundaries – Music Distribution On A Global Scale
Leaders from The Orchard’s international offices discussed the boundary-less opportunities of digital music distribution and shared insights about global release strategies.
The music landscape varies drastically from region to region––Diversity of markets is drastic. If you are looking to engage with audiences in different markets, you must have an understanding of how to best approach those markets. Understanding the dynamics of the market will help you hone in on those particular drivers.
Marketing should be localized for best results––Analyze the territories where you are currently working, establish drivers in various markets, and further invest in those markets.
Look at the data to find your audience and strategy––Use data metrics to gain insight into where your artist currently stands, and establish where you would like to see growth. Work on drivers for those territories and make sure you have the relevant drivers. What are you doing to work in those territory centric areas?
How do you know where/when to market beyond your region?
It’s all in the data. See where your music is resonating beyond your local market and build upon your success in those markets. Continue to follow the patterns. As one market picks up more traction you’ll likely see others naturally follow suit.
How To Revive (& Maximize) Your Music Catalog
This session covered distribution strategies that can breathe new life into legacy and catalog artists/projects. Yesterday’s hits don’t just have to be a memory or an artifact of the past–they do have a place on today’s charts. How do we make your catalog relevant in 2021? What if your next hit has already been written?
Capitalize on tentpole & milestone moments––Holidays are a good example of tentpoles. With Holidays and music being so intertwined, it is important to know your audience and know when and where they are listening. With this insight, it becomes easier to cater to audiences and increase promotion when fans will already be searching for your music. Milestones are another great opportunity to engage with catalogue content. Milestones are important to celebrate how far you’ve come as an artist and a team, as well as appreciate the fans that have come along for the journey.
Reimagine older content by first understanding your audience then, and now––Think about the identity of your artists, as well as your audience’s demographic information. Then think about why people are listening to your music. It is important to consider whether or not there is an untapped market that might resonate with your music that has not yet been exposed to it.
Tap into nostalgia––Who was your audience when they first discovered your music? Think about listening to your old favorite songs in a different way. It is important to consider when planning your own catalogue that how fans used to listen may have now changed. Because of how our screens and technology have developed, it’s helpful to make that music new again and modernize the music––from high-res music videos to Tik Tok sounds.
Can older music work on new platforms like Tik Tok?
The success of a song on Tik Tok has everything to do with the algorithm and trends, and less to do with how recently the song was released. Your song may resonate with a different audience than it did during its initial release, may tap into nostalgia, or may relate to a situation that resonates with Tik Tok users. There are plenty of examples of catalogue music re-entering Billboard charts after trending on Tik Tok, such as Dr. Dog’s “Where’d All The Time Go?” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
How do I make content feel new again?
Try approaching the content from a new, modern lens. Getting music re-mastered, or updating music videos, adapting content for new platforms such as TikTok or retailers with commentary etc can all help breathe new life into your content. Start by thinking about your audience: Where are they now? How are they listening? Is there a new, untapped audience you could target?