Things We Learned at EMC and ADE

Tuesday, 20 Nov 2018


John Watson In Conversation

EMC is the leading electronic music industry event in the Asia Pacific region. It’s an annual event held in Sydney in November, and the week-long program includes a two-day conference covering all facets of the electronic music biz, EMC Play (parties, club nights, film screenings and pop-up showcases), and Global Cities After Dark (a forum focused on the night time culture and economy from a global perspective). APRA AMCOS team members took in a few of the 40 panels and keynotes presented as part of the conference, and learnt a few things:

1)  The art of inclusive programming
The excellent question posed by moderator Mirik Milan of VibeLab that gave the room pause: “How does someone get access to a programmer when it’s all about networks?” He also elaborated that “change comes from awareness but also from acknowledgment.” It’s about programmers taking time to go through all online submissions to a festival, a station, a curator.

Loren Granich from A Club Called Rhonda discussed self-confidence and risk-taking. He said to have a “beautiful diverse crowd, you need a beautiful diverse line-up…and don’t announce your quotas, just do it.  Don’t make announcements, just put your head down and the do the work.” It will be reflected in what you promote.

Uda Widanapatharina from Mellum/Inertia Music talked about how the queer/people of colour that they work with in management don’t always have the strength to say “I want this” about something in the industry. If it doesn’t feel safe or open, it’s hard to speak up. And when brand opportunities come up, which they don’t as often for queer and artists of colour, it’s important to try to make the most of it.

Final takeaway: people with disabilities aren’t being considered enough – access at venues, facilities, and lights and sound. It’s important to put on the agenda.

2) Beyond Playlisting: marketing to Digital Service Providers (DSPs)
When pitching to DSPs include your marketing points; make the pitch personal and authentic; and recommend to the DSP where you think you fit – suggest 3 or 4 playlists that you believe your music fits on.

Hot tip for Spotify’s direct pitching process: ensure you submit your track AT LEAST 7 days prior to release date because it’s an effective way of your track landing on fans’ Release Radar lists, which can also result in an email to your fans notifying them of a new track.

When considering special content (special doesn’t have to mean ‘exclusive’), electronic artists should consider recording an acoustic version. It might get your music on different playlists and connect with new fans.

Talk to your digital aggregator about Youtube Multi Channel Network (MCN). MCN services can pitch your tracks to Google Play and Youtube.

Filtr and Digster have playlist submission forms – you can pitch directly to them.

Build an audience with remixes, and artist controlled playlists on Spotify. Update regularly; have a clear theme and style; and update the artwork too. Best practice example – The Martin Garrix Show.

Always say ‘thank you’ when you land on a playlist for any of the DSPs. Give them a shout out on social media. It doesn’t go unnoticed.

Remember that playlisting is not a marketing plan! You need to round out your plan with social media, PR, club servicing, email newsletters, DM’ing your tracks to influencers (fitness influencers are big in electronic music). And remember to include streaming and buy links.

3) Media & native advertising Charlotte Lucy Cuffers of DJ Mag spoke of the balance between editorial integrity and commercial needs of a publication – she noted that their audiences hate being marketed to…when it comes to native advertising, they have a set of non-negotiables, and always remain authentic to their audience.

Storytelling is important. You need to match up the right content with an audience to tell the story of an artist - not marketing messages, but stories. You can put as much media spend as you want behind a campaign but people need to love the content – you have to create great content to entice an audience to read/watch it once you get their eyeballs. Plan out your advertising campaign – first stage is awareness (tell the story of the artist) and getting people engaged in the content; then bring in the sales message later in the campaign. Smart digital marketing will allow you to reach those who first engaged with your content with a sales message later on.

In the old days everyone gave a track or video to a blog/site to premiere. Digital streaming changed that approach. Artists now need to get involved in the space to be content generators themselves – insta stories, writing blog posts, podcasting.

4) Seeking growth, sustainability and resilience – in conversation with artist manager John Watson.

You need to approach data as a new Start-Up would: have a tinkering mindset. Be clear on what you are using data for – use it to amplify what you are doing, don’t let it dictate what you are doing. Don’t fall into the trap of being addicted to data and using data alone to influence decisions.

Keep front of mind the inherent nature of WHAT you communicate, not just the CHANNEL you choose. Focus on stories – people love stories.

Use the creative mindset it takes to create a song, and use it in other areas of your career – communications, social media strategy, business and analysis.

Challenges to consider in your career: How do you sustain interest? How do you get attention without being tacky? How do you keep being fascinating? The key is to create longevity and preserve fascination.

The Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is a five-day electronic music conference and festival held annually in mid-October. It’s the biggest electronic music conference in the world, with approx 600 speakers, 1,000 events and over 100 nationalities representing. Our Innovation & Electronic Music Specialist, Frank Rodi, furiously took notes and shared these insights:

1)  Expand your Chinese fanbase
The Chinese music streaming market is still in early development stage. Social engagement is a key factor in Chinese streaming services, in the form of comments and gifting. Almost all playlists on Chinese streaming services are user generated. To break into China, be sure to work with people who understand how to navigate the market; work with local heroes and grassroots local artists; and collaborate with artists from other genres to expand your fanbase. Having a presence on Chinese social media platforms is key, as traditional western social media sites are blocked in China.

2)  Getting paid in full 
Have a lawyer check your contract before signing it. Understand the different rights (mechanical, performance, communication, sound recording).In the US, make sure your contract includes a letter of direction for Sound Exchange (who collect and distribute digital performance royalties for sound recordings) to pay you directly as a Feature Artist on a recording.

Performance royalties are waiting for you – register your works (and upload the corresponding recordings to DJ Monitor); provide as much metadata as possible; make sure you get an ISRC code for every recording, and include and ISWC code whenever possible.

3)  Music Recognition Technology (MRT) is the future
Representatives from DJ Monitor, Paradise Distribution and the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) led a Rights & Bytes panel on the use of MRT by APRA AMCOS and other societies around the world to ensure more accurate distributions. Many key societies (ours being a frontrunner) are now using DJ Monitor technology to monitor music played in clubs, and at festivals. There’s still work to be done in helping licensees (venue and festival owners) understand that the only purpose of this music recognition technology is to enable fairer distribution of fees collected to music creators. It’s also integral that songwriters, DJs and artists register their works and use the DJ Monitor uploader!  

4) Australia’s own Jane Slingo presented a mini keynote ‘Focus on Australia’
Jane gave a snapshot of the electronic music landscape in Australia including the recording and publishing industries; the radio landscape; Digital Service Providers performing well in our market; the forthcoming OneMusic joint initiative between APRA AMCOS and PPCA; the buoyant creative economy of electronic and dance songwriters and producers and why Australia punches well above its weight in electronic music. The session then honed in on the Australian government landscape including local, state and federal government, how Australia's government agencies are supporting contemporary music (or not!) and how critical the collaboration of the festival industry has been in addressing the recent NSW state government response to safety at music festivals.

5)  Music x Tech = Innovation
New tech start-ups are being fueled by music, and driving music innovation. Some of those highlighted include:

  • Dialect AI– chatbot technology;
  • Tone Den- an automated social media marketing platform;
  • Amuse- an app-based music distribution service, that also offers deals to sign and promote the best artists that use it;
  • MXX Audition Pro– which sources, selects and edits music for video;
  • Pacemaker- AI-assisted portable DJ mixing tools; and
  • Seeqnc– which provides real-time track usage insights of live gigs and music broadcasts, allowing artists to accurately target labels and producers.

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