Why Only Obsessing About Music Sales is Holding You Back

Why Only Obsessing About Music Sales is Holding You Back

When it comes to measuring success in any industry, there’s no better indicator than sales. The music business is no exception, as companies continue to worry about the sales cycles associated with specific music singles for their artists. When companies focus solely on sales, however, they may miss other opportunities to engage with music fans, build awareness, drive discovery and ultimately affect sales. And that means they should be looking at radio audience, on-demand streaming and Web/social activity when they plan their marketing strategies.

A recent study from Nielsen, presented at SXSW*, highlights how driving success in today’s digital world has evolved as music has become more multi-dimensional. For example, 68 percent of U.S. consumers said they streamed music in 2013, and music on mobile devices has become as ubiquitous as the car radio.

To get a sense of what makes a song successful in today’s music industry, Nielsen looked at some of the most commercially successful songs of 2013. The study found that, in many cases, it’s important for music marketers to build a strong Web/social presence for a new music single before the song’s official release date.

The eight-12 weeks after a song is released often present opportunities for more traditional outreach efforts, such as artist appearances on TV appearances. This time period is when consumption for the song escalates, before eventually peaking around week 12. Once consumption begins to decline, artists should look for crossover opportunities to engage new audiences and reignite overall consumption.

Radio is still vital in the overall success of a song, and often drives sales and on-demand streaming activity. Meanwhile streaming can extend revenue opportunities in the long term. Nielsen revealed two case studies that generated different outcomes. For Lorde’s “Royals,” streaming drove both awareness and consumption. For Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” featuring Pharrell, Web and social activity drove awareness, while radio drove consumption.

“Understanding how touchpoints work both independently and interdependently to drive commercial success for artists is the cornerstone of commercial growth for the industry,” said Julanne Schiffer, SVP Insights & Analytics for Nielsen Entertainment. “The journey may be unique for different songs, artists and genres, but maximizing consumer engagement across various channels from pre-release through to commercial peak in week 12 is the common denominator.”

*Nielsen’s music panel was entitled “The Insights Evolution: Why Only Obsessing About Music Sales is Holding You Back.”