How we consume music, how we release music, and who has the power.

This week I released a new album. I put the album on Bandcamp here:

I also decided that I would use Routenote again to supply the album to all digital streaming services and stores.

I decided to self-release the album, since I didn’t wish to make physical copies and I guess I was a little sceptical of what a label might actually offer me besides physical production and distribution of the record.

I was convinced that this was the best model for the release and that it was ok to put the record on bandcamp on 30th January 2017, and allow the delayed release of 22nd February for Routenote to get the album to all stores and streaming services.

A few days after the release I started to reflect on the release and how I had approached this and began to realise that I have given no intensive for fans to buy the album in todays market.

Although I have not conducted any research, besides my observations of the music consumption behaviour of the students that I teach, i realise that bandcamp does not fit into the modern music consumption model. (At least not in the way I have used it). The reason for this is that releases can be fully streamed through the bandcamp browser without the upgrade to a Pro account which allows the owner to limit the amount of tracks which can be streamed.

I was reluctant to pay money just for this privileged and thought that a minimum of 3 streams per track per listen (the option if you don’t have bandcamp pro), was enough of a deterrent from listeners streaming (free) at their leisure before purchasing the album. When really, for some listeners, the ability to stream an album 3 times on a website they do not use is probably enough, or the lack of mobile accessibility deems the release forgettable.

It was this realisation which made me realise the power of streaming services. Having your music on Apple Music, Spotify or Tidal is actually more financially beneficial than a bandcamp release in the above format, for many reasons.

  1. You are paid, if only a small amount, for every stream
  2. Your album can easily be saved/stored/played offline on the go via a mobile app
  3. Your album can be added to playlists alongside other artists of a similar style
  4. Your album could be queued in stations on those streaming sites alongside other similar artists
  5. Your album is mobile and can be listened to on the go via mobile devices.

….and there are probably many others….please comment on this post if you know any i have missed.

It’s an interesting philosophy,…when the music industry collapsed it was due to new technology. Studios closed due to the improvements in technology meaning that music could be produced more easily and with better results by artists, more music was therefore produced than ever before, and could be distributed online faster and in greater quantities.

The problem is, that while more music can now be made than ever before, the average persons wage has not increased in line with this. Therefore the general public can still only afford to buy the same amount of music as ever before, therefore it is in their interest to pay £10 per month for all the music they desire rather than restrict themselves to, lets say, one album per month for the same cost.

I am a big fan of new technology, our lives made easier, and more accessibility. I stream music through a paid subscription to help make a 2 hour daily commute more comfortable, and can understand how many other people would too.

This is not a post about the revolution of changing music purchasing habits, since I believe that will never happen, and also for most people it is not in their interest. This is more a post highlighting the importance of the process of a release in 2017, and how affected and careful selection of the order of distribution and the process adopted is vital to maximum financial benefit (which is much lower than decades ago).

I know many people still like buying physical copies and this platform still exists with vinyl reportedly being increasingly purchased, however making physical copies is costly to both the artist/label and consume, and while it may make your music appear more valuable and increase the lifespan of each release. I think it is very important to move with the modern trends in music consumption, whether that is Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud etc.

The power is very much in the hands of the consumer in 2017, rather than the record labels.


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