INDEPENDENT MUSIC MARKETING: TRENDS AND INSIGHTS 2024

This World Music Day, our global report shows that while independent musicians greatly value marketing, 79% struggle with it — revealing a major industry challenge.
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It's no news that marketing is crucial for success in the music industry. While many tools are available to help, navigating and effectively using them remains a difficult task for independent musicians. To understand how they're handling these challenges, our team at Videobolt surveyed 209 independent musicians from 44 countries across all five continents — with the largest groups from Europe (47%) and North America (35%).

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This report delves into the insights gained from the survey and other relevant sources, highlighting the struggles, strategies, and successes of independent musicians. Here are the results.

The marketing challenge

A significant 79% of surveyed musicians reported finding it difficult or tiring to handle marketing tasks alongside their music work. Balancing the creative process with the demands of marketing can be overwhelming, leaving many artists feeling stretched thin. Despite these challenges, there is a strong recognition of the importance of brand identity among independent musicians.

89% recognize a strong brand is crucial for success

However, less than half (46%) feel that their own marketing efforts have significantly contributed to their success. Many musicians are aware of the need to improve their marketing strategies to fully capitalize on opportunities and reach their full potential. This gap highlights the ongoing struggle to effectively manage both the artistic and promotional aspects of their careers.

Limited investment and monetization

Financial constraints are a common hurdle. Forty-three percent of respondents do not have a marketing budget, while 34% invest less than 20% of their overall budget into marketing. This limited investment can be partly explained by the fact that 36% have not monetized their music at all.

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Our research has shown that for those who do earn from their music, streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music are the most popular income sources, with 73% reporting revenue from these channels. The second most popular monetization methods are ticket sales at live performances (34%) and ad revenue from platforms like YouTube (28%).

73% of artists that monetize music earn from streaming services

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While streaming platforms are the primary monetization method for independent musicians, many still need to optimize their use of these platforms. Streaming giant Spotify claims adding metadata like artist name or genre to a music track can seriously boost the chances of the song getting discovered. However — based on data from more than 20,000 musicians that uploaded their music to Videobolt — vast majority does not follow this practice.

Despite Spotify's guidance, 90% music tracks lack metadata

This suggests a significant opportunity for musicians to improve their metadata practices to enhance discoverability and maximize their streaming revenue.

Smart promotional strategies

We asked respondents to identify their promotional efforts using the owned, paid, earned media model. Owned media includes platforms the musicians control (such as social media profiles or official websites), paid media involves advertising, and earned media encompasses publicity gained through word-of-mouth or third-party mentions.

Owned media

Eighty-nine percent of respondents utilize some form of owned media, which they control and do not directly pay for. Among these, social media stands out as the most popular marketing channel, used by 76% of respondents for sharing organic content. Platforms like YouTube (73%) and Instagram (68%) are the go-to choices, while TikTok, despite its massive growth and potential for virality, is used by only 41% of musicians. This indicates a potential area for growth as TikTok's popularity continues to soar.

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When it comes to the type of content they publish on social media, the most popular are music vizualizers, regularly posted by 51% of respondents. Announcements and updates are regularly published by 42% of respondents. Lyric videos are regularly posted by 40% of survey takers.

Other owned media channels include profiles on streaming platforms (48%), community platforms like Discord servers and Facebook Groups (42%) and official websites (30%). However, blogs and email newsletters are less popular, with only 9% and 8% of musicians using them, respectively.

Paid promotion

While 42% of respondents do not have a marketing budget, 55% still invest in paid promotion, primarily through digital advertising channels. Social media advertising is the most common, with 75% using these platforms for paid ads.

83% of musicians who pay for promotion use only digital platforms

Having video ads on platforms like YouTube and TikTok is also significant, reported by 43% of respondents that invest into promotion. This strategic use of limited funds highlights the importance of targeted digital advertising in reaching broader audiences.

Earned media

Earned media plays a significant role in the promotional strategies of independent musicians, with two-thirds of respondents actively utilizing these channels.

67% earn free promotion

Playlist placements (53%) and features in mainstream media (48%) are the most common methods for those that do manage to secure free publicity for their work.

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This reliance on earned media makes sense, given that many musicians invest little to no money in marketing, making these cost-effective avenues essential for gaining exposure and credibility without a direct financial outlay.

The power of visual content

Visual content plays a pivotal role in music marketing, with 51% of the respondents finding video content highly effective for promotion. An additional 31% consider it somewhat effective. This strong endorsement underscores the value musicians place on visual elements in their marketing strategies.

76% see visuals as critical for success in music

More than 62% of independent musicians produce videos based on their music — with 83% of them creating music videos, 74% producing music visualizers, and 67% making lyric videos. Visualizers, in particular, are seen as key to their brand identity by 73% of those who use them. This trend reflects the growing importance of visual storytelling in building and maintaining a strong brand.

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Embracing AI in music marketing

While 78% of musicians acknowledge the widespread use of AI in music marketing, only 56% actively use AI tools themselves. This gap presents an opportunity for greater adoption of AI technologies to streamline marketing efforts and enhance efficiency. The underutilization of AI indicates a need for increased awareness and education on integrating these tools into marketing strategies to improve results and reduce the workload for independent musicians.

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Conclusion

The findings from our survey provide a comprehensive look at the current state of music marketing for independent musicians. They highlight the critical role of brand identity and visual content in successful promotion. Financial constraints and the complexity of marketing tasks remain significant hurdles, yet musicians continue to adapt by leveraging affordable channels like social media and exploring diverse income streams. As the industry evolves, embracing tools like AI and optimizing practices on streaming platforms will be essential for continued success.

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Published on Jun 21, 2024 by
Vuk Radovanović
Head of Marketing Operations at Videobolt
Key findings
Our sample
Challenge
Budgets and income
Promotion
Visual content
AI in marketing
Conclusion

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