February 21, 2024

These Are The Challenges That Professional Music Creators Worry About Most

Last week I wrote about a new study that actually quantified how difficult it is to make it in the music business, and this post is an extension of that. The entertainment research company MIDiA did an extensive study on the state of the music business today, and outlined a number of common challenges that professional music creators face today. Given how we think online music delivery and marketing currently works, the results are pretty surprising.

Top challenge professional music creators face

It’s Noisy Out There

By far, the biggest problem that professional music creators feel they’re up against is breaking through the noise. According to MIDiA:

 70% of professional music creators chose “breaking through the noise” among their top three challenges. It is a steep drop to the second-most-common obstacle, at 40% penetration. For most artists across history, achieving their first breakthrough moment has always been the biggest hurdle. But two important things have changed: not only has breaking through become that much harder; it is difficult for artists across all career stages. Even established artists are finding it harder to make a splash with their new releases, and harder still to retain consumers’ attention.

The competition is fierce these days, everyone seems to use the same social marketing playbook, and the game constantly changes. Today we have audiences that have much shorter attention spans than ever before and there’s always something new to consume, and most of the time you don’t have to look to hard to find it.

It’s funny how we have better tools and opportunities for marketing online than ever before, especially if you’re DIY and not signed to a label, yet they grow less effective as we go along.

Going Viral Isn’t What It Used To Be

MIDiA’s study also found that virality doesn’t have the same effect as it once did either, and they use TikTok as an example. Going back to 2020, record labels were actually able to manufacture viral moments via a macro influencer campaign. This is no longer possible because of 3 reasons – the platform has become saturated, audiences have fractured, and the rapid release of new content.

Plus, this over-reliance on social campaigns brought about another problem – getting people to jump to a streaming service if they liked your song. 40% of music professional cite this as a main problem.

All this means that the digital playbook has to change because what once worked well, does not any longer. As usual, whenever something new comes along where creators find initial success, the platform gets crowded very quickly with imitators.

I remember having a conversation with the late Keith Barr, the founder of Alesis, after the ADAT digital recorder became a big hit and spawned home studio recording everywhere. Although a financial success, Keith felt it was a failure because a new Beatles didn’t spring from the newly found music democratization. Some 30 years later we have exactly the same problem. Easy access to online streaming and marketing tools perhaps has had the opposite of the desired effect. It’s actually made it more difficult for anyone and everyone to succeed.

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