One of the interesting things about being a digital marketer that specialises in a certain niche is that you get to understand your niche from many different angles.

Over the past 12 months I’ve talked to hundreds of music companies; understanding what works, what doesn’t, and where they think their corner of the industry is going.

Here’s my summary of what I think will matter when it comes to digital marketing in the music industry in 2014.

1. Content marketing: less is more, and relationships are everything

It’s no surprise to say that 2014 will be the year of content marketing. However, I think there will be a few interesting consequences arising from this shift.

The first is that the deluge of content will cause so much noise that the bar for successful content will be raised extremely high. As a result, we’ll see savvy music companies trying to do more with less i.e. working on a small number of very creative campaigns. 

In a study that Venture Harbour conducted with MIDEM, we found that our sample of 64 music industry executives collectively spent in the region of £1.9m on content marketing.

As the ability to measure content effectiveness improves, I think budgets will increase around content marketing, and companies will allocate their budgets more wisely to what works for them. 


2. More music / brand partnerships

In 2013, brands injected £104.8m into the UK music industry, a 6% increase from 2011.

Given the increasing number of success stories and research around how music affects consumer behaviour, I think we’ll see more brands jumping on the opportunity of using associations with artists to develop their brands in 2014. 

3. A serious adoption of mobile & user experience

Across all of the music website we have access to, approximately 20% of website visits come from a mobile device.

This number varies quite a lot between streaming platforms, artist websites, B2B services, and other types of website, but one thing is true of all of them: the proportion of visits from mobile or tablet devices is increasing. 

In twelve months time, I imagine this number increasing to 30-35%. On top of this, I think there’ll be an increase in mobile commerce conversion rates, as more people get accustomed to making purchases from a mobile device.

The combination of these factors will make it practically essential for music companies to take their mobile strategy seriously.   

The increasing proportion of mobile (green) and tablet (orange) traffic to a typical music industry website in 2013 vs. 2012. 

4. The year that Google gets a grip on music

Google has been under a lot of pressure from the UK government regarding the prominence of illegal download sites in their search results.  

Earlier this year I speculated that Google Play Music All Access was not about competing with other music streaming platforms (as much of the press suggested), but more or less a move to improve their search results. 

Here’s the situation: more than 25m searches for music are made in Google every single month. None of the streaming platforms capitalised on this opportunity (from my conversations, many weren’t aware of it, or were limited by their technology / licensing deals).  

As such, Google had a problem: with a mission statement of “delivering the best result to the user as quickly as possible”, and the best result being illegal, behind a pay wall, or covered in ads, it had to respond with a solution.  

A few days ago, Google rolled out a few changes to the music-term search results, proving my theory (that Google would prominently serve up Google-owned music listings) to be true.

From a digital marketing perspective, this will likely have some consequences for labels, artists and streaming platforms.

On a macro-level, Google’s influence on the music industry will creep rapidly, making other Google-owned properties (Google+, YouTube, Google Play) more important to the overall marketing strategy of artists and labels.

5. More tools, more skepticism, better results 

Over the past two years, the music industry has been flooded with tech startups trying to helps artists and labels get a better understanding of data, save time, and increase the loyalty / size of their fan base.

Because of all of the noise in this space (and the presence of a few less ethical companies), the amount of skepticism around new tools seems to have heightened.

I think the industry as a whole is becoming smarter at separating the shiny toys from the valuable tools. The tools that offer a genuinely valuable service to artists, such as Pledge Music, Next Big Sound, BandPage, and EmuBands will flourish throughout the industry.

Those who can’t prove their value, or pivot quickly enough, will phase out. 

I am hoping that something will also emerge this year helping artists and labels differentiate the wheat from the chaff e.g. a ‘Trip Advisor for musicians’.

6. Visual media will become more important

We already know that infographics are, on average, the most shareable form of content in the music industry. In general, shorter attention spans are making ‘quick content’, such as infographics, Vine videos, and tweets more appealing.

I think this consumer trend will shift more music companies to consider the visual aspects of their digital marketing strategy.

At the artist level, I think their will be more adoption of platforms like Instagram and Vine to share updates from the band.  

From the tech and B2B space, I think infographics and image-based social posts will continue to increase in prominence. At a brand level, I think the solution will focus around video and crowd-sourced visual content.

Marcus Taylor

Published 2 January, 2014 by Marcus Taylor

Marcus Taylor is Director at Venture Harbour and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Marcus on Twitter or Google Plus

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Comments (10)

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Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad, Founder & CEO at GMR WEB TEAM

Digital marketing for the music companies is some challenge. Its all about building trust for the audience. Specially the recently launched music companies has to go hard for digital/online presence. They need to understand the taste of each demographic as music loved by people of all ages. The music company need to market music differently for each gender, sex, country differently.

They can't build one process and carries on. Everyday will be like a challenge.

over 4 years ago

Jay North

Jay North, Spokesperson at My Factoring Network

Well researched and a nice article. For the music companies,digital marketing is a hard nut to crack. Who would like to pay for music while they can download it for free from illegal websites? If Google is not gonna show results for free music sites,then some other search engine will do. Hence,Google will loose its own business. Suppose ,somehow illegal sites are banned,but its extremely tough to stop bit torrent sharing of music.

over 4 years ago

Guy Hatton

Guy Hatton, Director at Clinic

Music content marketing is always going to be difficult when 64 music executives are only spending £1.9m between them.
That's a budget of £2,500 a month each to achieve standout in a entertainment market that is very saturated.
The ROI expectations have always been high within the music industry which is why innovative approaches are the way to go - or perhaps realise that sometimes a bit more budget really is worth the investment.

over 4 years ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Marcus,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

As a keen watcher of the crowdfunding space, it's interesting to see niche crowdfunding sites like Pledge Music providing news ways for fans to engage with artists and invest in music.

Crowdfunding is experiencing huge growth globally, both in reward and equity based funding, so i'd expect to see the music industry further exploit this revenue channel. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo already put a lot of revenue through the books but i'm wondering what potential there is for a niche player like Pledge to dominate in 2014 and beyond?


over 4 years ago



Hi, Marcus Taylor. I really love this post. Love the way you write your posts. The information in this article is really unique and useful for me. After reading this article, I think I have some ideas for myself. I do follow your articles recently. Thanks for sharing this post. Hope to read more interesting information from you. Have a nice day.

over 4 years ago


Frank Biederer

Mr North,

think google is pretty entrenched, have a hard time seeing masses of upcoming 12 year olds going somewhere else when google does not feed them the bit torrenting sites. Have to start somewhere or bad things are going to happen to google with respect to enabling crime and making money off it. But really it's not so simple to pull the rug out from under the bit torrent business model. Attack the companies who are providing the add revenue in a very public way and watch what happens. ATT, Progressive, and all those other companies enabling the business model are not going to hang in the face of public humiliation and scorn, and I suspect it's coming soon.

At some point, artists with clout will publicly call out the top companies advertising on the top Pirating sites. This is not going to stop until you shame the companies providing the income for the sites publicly.

In a related development the mob has inked a deal with a fortune 500 beverage company whereby the insurance company will pay the mob for advertising on to be printed on the packaging of free samples of cocaine it will distribute. The mob will claim that it is not illegally selling drugs since they now can give them away and just live off the advertising revenue, and the beverage company will claim they have no control of where their advertising spend is distributed, and both will explain drug users will benefit. The US Government will sit back and watch. Also announced just today, a major condom brand has inked a deal with a consortium of pimps to tattoo their logo on the ass of prostitutes. While the condom manufacturer acknowledges that the pimps are engaging in exploitative illegal behavior, they clearly state that all they are doing is extending the reach of their brand and targeting a demographic most likely to use their product. They admit to no illegal activity.

over 4 years ago



Interesting points here, streamlined and informative. Thanks for the

over 4 years ago


Sven Georgiev, dfgdfh at 81673

Hi, what exactly does that mean "Google-owned music listings" ?

over 4 years ago


SmashYo Records Music, CEO at

This guy does a really good job - he is offering a free week of Social Media Management for anyone to see how an expert can improve their sales and leads without expensive advertising..

It is true that the idea is to get a campaign from him as a freelancer or hire him - but that's fine - he's actually really good and he's looking for a job..

I recommend getting it for your business

almost 4 years ago

Jared H.

Jared H., Web Design at Ledger Note

I can't imagine content marketing being worthwhile for musicians unless they include infographics about the band and their history, discography, etc. Video, media buys, and PPC traffic is going to be and remain critical, I believe.

about 3 years ago

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