✖️ Why artists should appeal to selfishness
And: Hijacking Spotify playlists; NFT monopolies; TikTok gets into music distribution; Ukrainian club community talks war; Record industry x NFTs
I believe most people are altruistic, but depending on altruism is a lousy business strategy. Despite deserving support, artists are better served appealing to people’s inner selfishness.
What prompted me to write today’s article was this tweet by Yuri Beats - someone I’ve known for a while through the Songcamp & FWB collectives.
Many years ago, I wrote a thesis about marketing music through non-linear networks. In other words: how could musicians leverage the network dynamics of the internet to serve their needs? One ingredient to this meant that artists had to stop thinking about music as the product. “From a business point of view, as long as [fans] are not willing to pay for it, it doesn’t matter how many people love your music.”
Music is not the product. The product is how you use your music to appeal to the selfish consumer inside your fans. That shouldn’t mean that you have to overpromise.
In the context of NFTs, what many tend to do is overpromise on utility. ‘Utility’ refers to whatever else the NFT gets you beside its shiny self. For example, you may buy a music NFT and get access to events, a monthly 1:1 with the artist, exclusive NFT holder-only merch, etc. Those are big commitments to make and distract from what an artist’s primary focus should most often be: their music.
Whenever designing something to put into the (virtual) hands of fans, the question should be how that one experience can be as delightful as possible. People get delight from unpacking a well-crafted candle, putting together an IKEA chair, taking a vinyl record out of its sleeve for the first time and diving into the sleeve notes as the first notes fill up the room.
Music is the magic connecting tissue that lets you sell ‘stuff’. Put craft in the item you sell. If it’s an NFT, make sure it sits in its own collection, that the artwork is top notch, that the narrative & context is clear, that the music is absolutely the best you can make it. Instead of adding utility, consider focusing on the surrounding experience instead: how do people find out about this? What does the bidding or minting experience look like? What do I want people to feel after they’ve collected it? How might we accomplish that?
Two sides to a coin
Art is an internal, outward process. It’s about self-expression. Bringing things, from within, into the world. Things that are sometimes much larger than oneself. The creative process is one of self: it’s you, your creativity, your emotions, your thoughts, your beliefs, and those of the environments & social circles that you participate in.
Once you have the music, to create meaningful value for other people, you have to consider all those things for them. Again, people can consider your music meaningful and valuable, but you still need to figure out a way to get them to pay for it. We like to look back to pre-internet days and say “just buy my music”, but the fact is that the record as a commercial format also had to be invented. Furthermore, people are not buying your music when they buy your record: they pay for the whole experience of adding this music to their collection and being able to add this record into their music listening rituals.
So I leave you with this one question:
What do you want people to experience & feel?
Dive deep, and if you can, think small.
[Despite the somewhat cynical approach above, I believe in selflessness. The above should be considered a thought experiment. If you can appeal to the selfish inside a person, you should have no problem appealing to the selfless, which is something many artists are so talented at.]
🚨 How an Obscure Finnish EDM Artist Hijacked Countless Spotify Playlists (Tamlin Magee)
Annoying, but glad to see something positive is coming from it too:
“One user even took matters into their own hands, coding a Python script so only approved accounts can add songs.”
💸 The Record Industry Needs You to Love NFTs (Part 1) (David Turner)
“None of these address the core means of how listeners connect with artists; everything asks for your wallet first, and passion second.”
🎩 The first NFT monopoly (Will Gottsegen)
“Andreessen Horowitz has a stake in many of the valuable companies in crypto; OpenSea, an Andreessen Horowitz investment, controls most of the volume in the NFT market; and Yuga Labs, also reportedly an Andreessen Horowitz investment, now controls some of the market’s most valuable intellectual property.”
👀 TikTok gets into music distribution with SoundOn launch (Stuart Dredge)
The article covers TikTok’s move into distribution, but also includes this interesting US stat: “YouTube’s penetration is reaching a ceiling, while TikTok’s is still rising fast; YouTube will rise just 1.5 percentage points this year compared with 2020, while TikTok will be up more than 13 points (from 51.7%).”
🪖 'But I am not a soldier': Ukrainian clubbing community shares experience of war (Anu Shukla)
“Before all this, I thought that war is for the army, for the military. But it turned out that this applies to absolutely everyone. Each person is finding how to be useful and help achieve a common goal.”
The sun is out in Berlin, so I’m listening to the energetic afrobreats of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou from Benin.
Good stuff, as always! (PS-The tweet that inspired you is a great rule of thumb for marketing, in general. #Bookmarked)