9 Apr 2020

We’ll weather the storm, innovate and create. Nothing will stop the music.

The coronavirus outbreak has been felt worldwide, across every facet of everyday life. People are having to self isolate, distancing themselves from friends and loved ones. Many people’s livelihoods are affected, not to mention concerns for health; both their own and the people who they care about.

There’s hope and joy to be experienced in these difficult times though. My heart has been warmed by the incredible acts of kindness and community we’ve all witnessed through the lens of social media recently; one of my favourites is of course the beautiful story of the neighborhoods across Italy who played music together on their balconies to lift their spirits amid the lockdown. And there’s the joy that music brings to people, in the good times as well as the bad. Nothing will stop the music, or humankind's deep affinity for it.

Our label Frtyfve have been so inspired by these acts, they’ve even started a fundraising campaign, the #keepon movement, to help raise vital funds for The World Health Organisation.

But what does this epidemic mean for the music industry?

Globally we’ve seen pretty much every single live event, from the tiniest, grittiest pub basement DIY gigs, right up to arena tours cancelled for the foreseeable future. Whilst both incredibly sad for music fans and performers alike, there is an opportunity for creativity in there. People can’t come to shows, so artists are bringing their live shows to the people. All through the power of the internet.

Already we’re seeing artists live streaming shows to their online audiences. Yungblud even got a 4 star review in the NME for his youtube show on March 16.

The obvious short-term losers here are the live entertainment businesses; festival promoters, tour bookers and managers. This Forbes article reckons that in order to make up for lost profits, post-lockdown tours will have smaller and less elaborate productions. Audiences probably won’t mind that, as they’ll be happy enough to be able to enjoy live music again, in whatever form it takes.

There’s a double-hit here for the live entertainment industry though; as cash-strapped music fans coming out of isolation will still be put off by high ticket and service charge rates. This will have to change to get the bums on seats!

And what about streaming?

As we become more established in this new “age of the artist”, with creators not necessarily needing the backing of a record label to reach worldwide audiences (at least, not in the traditional sense), there’s a real challenge for labels to pivot their models in order to firstly, identify the gems amongst the 40,000 tracks uploaded to leading music stream services every day, and secondly, once they’ve found them, offer attractive propositions to the independent artists with commercial promise. The coronavirus outbreak looks to accelerate this, Ditto Music CEO Lee Parsons recently posted that music uploads to their platform had increased by 50% in the last two weeks of March!

The leading edge of this industry-wide pivot is the growing Artist Tools marketplace. Recent Midia research has concluded that the companies that “establish relationships with artists and songwriters as they are creating music have the first connection, a platform for bigger, longer-term relationships. In fact, this may be the starting point for the label of the future.”

So how do labels compete in this new world?

We think the real trick is in the data; in particular, the streaming and engagement data of independent artists who are on the up. Finding these artists early on, building those early-stage relationships and helping them to achieve those successes early on in their careers is central to doing business in this new age. These high growth, independent artists offer a significant commercial opportunity; there’s less artist development work required, which leads to a higher return on investment for a start. But how do you find them in the first place?

Whilst many labels have a very clear brief of the type of artists that they want to sign, there’s never been more music in the ether, so there’s still loads to sort through even if you’re starting with a very specific brief.

That’s why we’ve spent years developing a suite of different products to help labels of all kinds to discover emerging artists who are on the up. These products are designed to help A&R teams cut through the noise, making it much easier to find those hidden gems.

Firstly, our Label Watchlists: a bespoke, dynamic pool of qualified artists ranked daily by Instrumental’s unique index to provide a real time overview of artist momentum and deliver alerts to changes in growth.

Our Genre or Country Watchlists are populated by the Instrumental team for specific genre-focussed or location-focussed clients.We’ve got a Country Music one, a UK Hip Hop one, with many more being built and released each week. You can sign up to receive alerts whenever we launch a new one here.

Finally, our brand new Hot Artist Alerts; the early warning system for record labels, managers and publishers. Our data science team have spent the last 2 years developing the hot score, which gives a real time measure of an artist's current commercial momentum.

We deliver this to you via daily email alerts, which pick out just the unsigned, emerging artists that have turned 'hot' for the first time in their career. Why not try it out for yourself? We’re offering a two week free trial to get everyone started!