Marketing Digital Pilipino Music

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Jose Marie Chan spoke before one of my songwriting classes saying his musical creations are his babies which demand special attention. The popularity of his work, Christmas In Our Hearts, made him one the Philippines’ icons of the season. 

The music market in the Philippines has always been exciting and vibrant. Creativity thrives and what used to be a pop-driven industry developed into diverse and segmented audiences where more art forms are growing toward prosperity. The local music industry flourishes with activities from bar gigs, concerts, musical theater productions, songwriting and singing contests, to the rising mobile/streaming music listeners. The buying and selling of music product or service spin the art form’s economic cycle. Advertising efforts sold out the tickets and the delivery of the varied music products kept people looking out for new and better ones. The target audiences react to slogans, brands, word of mouth endorsements and to traditional and new media.

The supply and demand cycle in this creative economy ensues when fresh music is released. There is a great supply of talents but turning these offerings into exciting, entertaining, and habitual customers or fans is rare because only a few endure meeting the challenges. The supply of musical skills would safely fill the customary musical demand and can only break the bigger market when the social and musical experience has transformed mere listeners to a loyal audience. The number of musical products or services remains to be basic supplies until someone listens to them and demand more. Marketing activities in the music scene resulted in the development of formal and informal organizations to supply or meet demands. These all come together when artists create songs, producers invest in recording it, people hear, love, and share it at a cost they are willing to pay.

Since music became a digital item, at any given time, a consumer can possibility repeat to enjoy an artist’s work on any number of platforms and/or devices. The accessibility and mobility of streaming music gave listeners more opportunities to judge a work as something desirable or not. As a digital commodity, recorded music has been reduced as a publicity item to provoke interest over an artist. But practically the creation of songs is the initial step to introduce musical artists who must keep their listeners engaged and establish personal rapport in order to convert them into loyal fans expecting their next musical release.

An intangible product and/or service

Music as a product is popularly known as the song. A unique and complicated product to sell. The musical creation which is normally sung or played with a musical instrument having distinctive melody and words called lyrics. Songwriters compose this kind of raw products and are produced professionally with singers and other musicians as sound and/or video recordings or live performances to the mass market to become popular. Music is a public good enjoyed as a commodity or service whose benefits are not depleted by its users alone but by other people who hear it also even if they don’t want to pay for it.

As a product, popular music was recorded as audio or video that was confined to configurations such as tapes, VHS, vinyl records, cassettes, CDs, LaserDiscs, and DVDs. As technology changed how recorded music is produced, it also changed its delivery and consumption but the enjoyment of music remained the listening experience. While musical contents became digital its delivery as a file to fill the memory of devices has turned music into a utility like electricity, water, or gas as it is now consumed via streaming.

The album artwork or cover is displayed when a digital music file like an MP3 plays on our devices. There are more interesting things other than this visual character that digitalization provides. This important and fascinating information is embedded in digital files is called metadata that describes its properties with specific values that the creator specified. The categories that must be filled are classified and further itemized as follows: Description includes the title and subtitle; Media identify the artist, year of release, genre, and playing time of the music; Audio states the file’s bit rate; Origin provides information about author’s URL, publishers, and copyright notices; Content disclose the composers, mood, and the song’s initial key.

The variable price

The digital revolution disrupted print media but drastically the music recording industry. Record companies had to reinvent themselves and explore other revenue streams with their music assets. Recorded music is a product that can still be purchased on vinyl and has become a status symbol. As an MP3 or other file downloads, music is priced generally at $.99 per song. Streaming prices vary according to the choice of streaming service duration with some premium offers bundled with it.

Two elements make up popular music as a product. First, with its melody and lyrics, a song is basically a composition. Secondly, this composition went through a professional production process to become a sound recording master that is reproduced, distributed, and consumed. These 2 distinct items give specific economic rights that keep the wheels of this creative industry rolling. While humans are souls with physical bodies, recorded songs are compositions with skillfully produced sounds. All these rights, participation, and performances blended together to feed our ears.

Music consumed as live performances or recordings that are played in public places is not free. Persons, establishments, or companies need public performance license by paying a blanket fee. In the Philippines, the Filipino Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (FILSCAP) and the Sound Recording Rights Society, Inc. (SOUNDSRIGHT) are Performing Right Societies (PRS) that license music for public consumption.

The customer’s place is everywhere

Popular music as a product used to be layered contents on physical configurations as we know so pricing was dictated. Digital musical products serve different needs and specific markets. The common music lover as a customer would purchase and download or subscribe for streaming service where the widest catalog of recorded music is available. Music producers get into business to business (B2B) negotiations with companies, aggregate operators, and other large-scale music consumers at a price determined by business objectives, legal requirements, and conventional practices. Recorded music may be licensed to set a place’s ambiance by paying a public performance fee; may synch with a movie or television scene through a synchronization fee; maybe a theme of a campaign, event, product, or show; or maybe exclusively retained to reinforce an identity or brand.

Actually, digital music needs an ISRC code or the ‘International Standard Recording Code’ which is a unique identification system that is permanently encoded into a product as a kind of digital fingerprint for tracking sales via download and streaming platforms. A piece of music will be instantly recognized anywhere in an instant.

Making one’s music available at Spotify is easy when such is released by a major record company for the song is surely properly licensed following all streaming requirements. A DIY artist should deal with an aggregator that Spotify recognizes. Aggregators will deliver the sound recording to Spotify and collect the royalties one has earned for a specified period. These aggregators include AWAL, CD Baby, Distrokid, EMU Bands, Record Union, Spinnup, and Tunecore. For an indie label, Fuga and INgrooves are the most trusted aggregators. A small fee or percentage cut involved in this service.

The consumption and enjoyment of recorded music have become mobile since the birth of the Walkman. However, events, concerts, parks, amusement places, and other business establishments are the places where music is expected to be heard and would not be complete without it. Its ubiquity has become easier and convenient to be enjoyed across several devices via wireless connections. A live musical performance can even be shared openly in social media with a smartphone at which public performance fees should be paid.

A promotional item that needs a strategy

Songs to become popular must be promoted. Traditionally a song is launched by an artist on television, gets aired over the radio, presented on the press for interviews, and played on gigs to attract a fan base. Now that engagement in society has been largely affected by social media, new promotional phenomena changed the music business landscape. People are now empowered to determine the hits based on their reactions to the songs released or uploaded on the internet. Their response is the barometer of a songs’ level of success. Media networks, talent managers, and record companies look for the rising and upcoming artists and music as people determine them. Digitalization dramatically changed the promotional marketing game. Record companies used to promote their products on radio and TV which entailed some considerations in terms of money and privileges. Unfavorably this practice was tagged as payola. Today, the table turned, record companies now demand payment for the public performance of their sound recording properties.

New media as a promotional tool provide the data that would guide business strategies after valued information is realized via analytics. With music as a digital asset, systems like blockchain [] and fintech [] would definitely disrupt the economic environment that we use to know. The digital song’s metadata in these systems serve as unique identity among millions of songs throughout the world.

The power and influence of songs is an admitted fact in marketing. A distinctive melody or a specific song aided companies in winning in the marketplace. Popular songs becoming jingles contributed not only to the bottom line but defined the brand as well.

Recorded popular songs prior to digitalization used to rake in large amounts of money for record companies. Back then concert tours were staged to promote album sales. This still sounds true as the music buyers resorted to the singles market again. Concerts would promote the album directly to fans as they experience each of the songs contained in it. Recorded music bent and befell as a promotional item, nonetheless, as product readdresses record companies to focus on indirect or related sources of revenues. As an artist with a popular song becomes a star, that star value can provide substitute incomes from concerts, endorsements, and other platforms like digital games.

Marketing musical products and services continue to serve and fulfill human needs specailly of the Filipino music lovers. To profit or just make a living out of it demands more from one’s imagination, creativity, and talent.


Related Readings:
Is Music A Commodity Or A Marketing Means To Profit An Artist’s Career? By Ian James Werner
Is Music a Commodity? By Walter Bitner

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