How artists and bands can make the most of the pandemic recovery in 2021
If music is your livelihood or if performing is one of your greatest pleasures, then the last 18 months is bound to have been tough. Professional performers particularly have made difficult decisions. We’ve seen deeply talented colleagues at the top of their game forced into changing career and recording studios shut their doors.
In this article we look at some of the trends of 2020 that are here to stay, and especially ways that music artists can grow their revenues, alongside the return of live gigging in 2021.
Did you know last month UK Music published some wonderfully encouraging stats?
Firstly about how music has played a massive part in our national endurance and recovery from the pandemic. And secondly about the importance of live music and events to the nation:
- Despite Covid-19, 43% of the public are interested in going to a live concert, gig or festival this year
- Two-thirds (66%) said they planned to attend as many or even more gigs than before Covid-19 hit
- Among 18-24 year-olds, 38% say going to a music festival or gig is one of the things they are most looking forward to
- Almost half the public (45%) are worried about the financial viability of their local music venues due to the impact of Covid-19
This is such good news for performing musicians, knowing the people want to pay for live music again, so we can hope for the resurgence of live events as public confidence returns.
What else should music-makers focus on looking ahead?
Hope for the future of music is real. In fact, some commentators see that we are on the verge of a decade of growth. But where is this growth going to happen, and how can today’s music-makers focus their efforts to make the most of the recovery?
Let’s face it, the music business is not going to revert to 2019. Some changes from 2020 are here to stay. Online media is growing and traditional media disappearing at a faster pace than ever before. Consequently, artists and bands have got to continue growing their own online audiences; laying the commercial groundwork is essential in order to attract A&R interest, and to make your own direct sales or build fan-based subscriptions. A big part of this is making sure you have stand-out music in the first place. It is crucial to keep creating and releasing music each month and strategically planning how you’re going to do that, given the options available, e.g. putting out pre-recorded songs, Instagram clips, TikTok videos, and live streaming…
Lockdown enabled many artists to write new music and that can now come to fruition.
“The treadmill of having to play gigs all the time can become very deadening. Ultimately, it’s your writing and your recordings that will define you.”
Social video and live streaming…
In 2020 video became increasingly important to reach audiences, and this isn’t going to change. The more creative you can be with your video the better, all with the goals of growing awareness and shareability in mind, especially on platforms like TikTok and YouTube.
In addition to video, ticketed online live-streamed gigs are also here to stay.
This is what Martin Mills, CEO of Beggars Group (umbrella group of several indie record labels) says:
“Obviously, nobody’s suggesting real-life concerts will be replaced by technology. It’s complementary. But there’s plenty of benefits to watching shows in the comfort of your own home: Price, obviously. Paying a few pounds to see your favourite band play somewhere you’d never be able to get to in person can only be welcomed by fans. For older people too, mothers, job-seekers, anyone really. No tall guy blocking your view, no queues to the toilets, no taxi ranks in the rain. Plus, you’ve got the chat rooms. It’s untrue that live streaming is impersonal. There is a community aspect that ties in with social media. Ticketed live streaming is the future, or should I say, it’s part of the future.”
What’s not going to change… yet… Digital streaming royalties
Musicians and artists will also look with tentative hope at the prospect of streaming royalty models being reformed, given the focus they received during 2020.
National governments, including the UK’s, are analysing the big streaming platforms, acknowledging that royalties are currently miniscule and unevenly distributed, and insufficient for even critically acclaimed and award-winning artists to earn a living. It’s commonly known now that you need 357 Spotify streams to earn a pound. (PRS director Tom Gray shared a chart of the data.) Compute that and to earn £30k a year you would need over 10 million streams – and that’s before labels take their share. Frankly, if you’re getting that many streams you probably won’t need the £30k.
Positively, in July a committee of MPs recommended legislation to give performers the right to “equitable remuneration”, whereby labels and artists receive an equal share of streaming royalties. The big streaming platforms and media giants are aware of this tide of opinion against them, and one supposes that Spotify introduced the “artist tip” in May 2020 to take a tiny step of addressing it and moving in the right direction of enabling fans to directly support their favourite artists.
I think we can safely assume that until this legislation is made, and potentially even afterwards, streaming royalties will not be an income stream to rely on for the vast majority of musical artists.
Musicians are gearing up to showcase their new songs
One of the positives that came out of the ‘sabbatical’ of the lockdown was that artists have had time to write new material, as the focus on touring shifted away. Bands are regrouping and finding places to rehearse again and develop their new music to the next level.
One can assume that also the temporary shift away from touring and gigging will result in more interesting musical output because artists have had time to spend on the creative side of their work. As Martin Mills notes, “The treadmill of having to play gigs all the time can become very deadening. Ultimately, it’s your writing and your recordings that will define you.”
In summary, for musicians and performers, now is the time to refresh and prepare for the resurgence of live music. You need to recover your act, your band and your songs.
Now is the time to freshen up your audio and make quality demos ahead of live gigging. And now is when to create showreels, videos and execute creative campaigns that showcase your new music and get more gigs booked.
Keep going! Plan your recording sessions well, so that you can release something new every four to six weeks.
You need to
- grow your own audience online,
- build your mailing list and followers,
- keep them coming back to hear more
- and ultimately buy your music, merchandise, ticketed events and become a patron.
Come and recover with us
Like you, we’ve had our pandemic journey and have just completed our recording studio refresh so that our small studio can create the big studio sound! We’re looking for like-minded people who are ready to hit their 2021 recovery running by making new demos of songs and covers for promotion.
Recording in our studio is affordable with recording sessions led by a music producer who really cares about getting results. Our standards are high, so cutting a new demo with us will be that much more successful. Give us a call today, or drop a line to [email protected] and we’ll get back to you.