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✘ Attention economy basics: pin this to your Instagram profile
Also: Hey - it's Bas and this is my first time writing after a long hiatus :-)
It’s Bas here. A lot has happened since I last sent out my regular Tuesday edition. Let’s quickly catch up and then dive in. Before I start, I want to say props to Maarten for holding it down so well throughout the year. One of my favourite things about working in music is that you get to work with people you’re a fan of and in this case that’s no different.
So what have I been up to in this past year?
I taught at NYU / Clive Davis Institute’s Berlin campus for a semester, taking over from Mat Dryhurst (big f—ing shoes to fill - still feel honoured to have been asked).
Led COLORS’ web3 efforts together with Jeremy Grinberg, which saw us partner with ZORA and launching a project called COLLECT to bring the unique A COLORS SHOW format onchain.
It was a busy period, but I’ve been busy before and that’s not why I stopped writing. Frankly, around 1 year ago, my mental health was at an all-time low. I’ve only shared this with some people close to me so far, but find it important to write it down here, as it’s (still) an underdiscussed topic in the music business. If you find yourself in such a position, just know that it’s okay to step away for a while and take a break from some things. Your health is the most important thing.
Meanwhile, I’m doing great (!) and I have been enjoying seeing some of the things we’ve been writing about play out in front of our eyes. Particularly the 2020 piece “Your own personal AI music star” feels especially relevant now. I don’t want to take up space in people’s inboxes just to ‘chime in’ though - that’s what Twitter is for. I cannot write, unless I feel I have something important to add, so I like to take my time and think about my angles before I start publishing again after a hiatus.
Now I’m writing from Sofia where I attended the SoAlive Music Conference. This was meaningful to me, because I’ve lived here for two years and this is where I made my start in music. The small scale of the conference allowed me to have great conversations with so many artists and business folk. All of it has given me a renewed sense of urgency.
So here I am. And here I will be. In your inbox. On a Tuesday.
P.S. I’m sitting on a few pieces that dive deep into current trends and developments, but today I want to kick off with a basic thing I want to see more artists get right.
Attention economy basics: pin this to your Instagram profile
If you have someone’s attention, don’t waste it. Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to make an immediate impression. Let’s imagine a scenario:
Someone heard about you. They go to your Instagram profile to get a better idea. They want to know what your sound is. They don’t want to listen to your music: they want to understand if it’s worth listening to.
This is where many profiles don’t achieve the basics of converting that intention into something valuable.
You need to ping a clip of your music to the top of your profile.
It has to be tall, so that it properly uses the dimensions of someone’s phone screen. It has to be tall so that if people share it in their stories, it doesn’t look tiny.
It has to be a single video as a post. When it’s a carousel post, people can’t tell if it’s going to be a video or a photo until they open it. Attention spans are short and you need people to know where to go immediately. And speaking of short attention spans…
Your clip needs to start right in the peak of your music. If you have vocals, start it at the vocals. Not 1 second before, not at the start of a build up, but start exactly where the peak is, e.g. the start of a chorus or verse. Again, people are not there to listen to your music, they want to understand if it’s worth listening to. You may like long intros, as do I, so it may feel uncomfortable to cut a clip this way, but harsh truth: your intros don’t matter if you’re not bringing in people to listen to your music. Get them to give a sh-t about you on Instagram; then get them to listen to your music on streaming services.
It’s worth investing in the basics. It puts you ahead so far. Your art deserves it.
💬 Why artists should comment on other artists’ posts (Carlo Kiksen)
“Merely posting content and waiting for magic to happen won't cut it. To gain traction, the content has to reach the target audience first. A very easy method to reach people within the target audience organically - and thus potential fans - is by commenting on related artists’ social media posts.”
✘ Carlo’s newsletter is great for helping artists with the basics (and not-so-basics). This post is a great example of it and frames a component of a basic social strategy in a clear and useful way.
⌛ Techstars Music shuts down with MD citing ‘outdated model’ (Stuart Dredge)
“Moczydlowsky said that the accelerator model’s heyday was in 2008, but that it is no longer as relevant for startups.”
✘ What’s interesting here is that it’s a sign of the end of an era. The era of modern social media, of music platforms, of the smartphone, of better online payments… We’re now heading into something else, the landscape has shifted and the rules have changed.
🍔 Spotify is eating the entire music business (John Herrman)
“Spotify’s success as a basic streaming service eventually entitled it to a central role in how music is made and distributed. Why shouldn’t its success in music promotion make it the main platform for touring, merchandising, and fandom in general?”
✘ Interesting perspective that really drives home the maturity of Spotify as a company and the immense influence it has. It’s come a long way since the start of the era that spawned both itself and Bandcamp.
👾 Designing F2P music with a focus on "fun" (Dan Fowler)
“In [this essay], we create an iteration of the “4 keys to fun” framework, designed around the music ecosystem, and then highlight example profiles of potential users within a creator’s world.”
✘ Just had to quote the intro, since the whole piece is so strong and dense that no part of it can really be separated frmo the rest really well. Dan’s been on a phenomenal run with his thoughtpieces lately and describes models for music that can extend beyond the streaming era we’ve been living through. I have a soft spot for these topics: when I landed my first product job in music in 2012 at a streaming service, I spent a lot of time researching virtual economies and game design, because I believed we needed to build economic models on top of the basic music streaming economic layer. A decade later and we’re still not there… but the time has finally come.