Expert Advice: Music Strategist Amber Horsburgh’s 3 tips on how to keep building your audience during Covid-19
Guest post by music strategist Amber Horsburgh
Since Covid-19 broke out, there have been plenty of analyses on the state of the music industry, much of which focuses on lost artist revenues and the demise of live shows. It all brings me to this question of, “Well, if this is the new normal for the foreseeable future, how can artists currently trying to grow their careers forge ahead?”
Based on my research, there are three key recurring trends that could provide opportunities for artists looking to build their audience during this difficult time. (I’ve also collected many pandemic-related music business reports and organized them into a handy spreadsheet and into a Google Drive that anyone can access, read and contribute to.) Ahead, try incorporating some of these tactics into your music-making process while live shows are still on hold.
Tap into nostalgia
One MRC Data study found that 55% of listeners opted for older or familiar music during Covid-19. It makes sense considering people often want to escape their realities by tapping back into comfort-seeking music during times of stress.
What does this mean for artists?
Dig through your personal archive. Search for things like old tour footage, B-roll from music videos, throwback press photos, behind-the-scenes pics and never-released early demos. Upload these demos or unreleased B-sides to SoundCloud and post images/videos to your socials to maintain audience engagement.
Go live on socials
A survey of 4,000 internet users in the US and UK found that 51% of Gen Z’ers are generally consuming more online video content during the pandemic. This may be the result of many TV/film productions being delayed or canceled, and theaters being shut down. Facebook additionally reported that their users are spending 70% more time across their apps (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), and messaging has increased more than 50% in March 2020. Utilizing social media has proved well for many artists. For instance, analytics platform Chartmetric found that H.E.R. and SZA’s Instagram following grew in the eight weeks following their IG Live sessions.
What does this mean for artists?
Jump on the video bandwagon to further build your audience. It could be as involved as creating your own YouTube channel or as casual as sporadically going live on Instagram. Think about what livestream programming you could launch to gain followers — for example, you could be putting on your own bedroom concert series to engage with your fans virtually. (Bonus: I wrote about best livestreaming practices here, which includes relevant Covid-19 case studies.)
Get on Twitch
(SoundCloud also has a Twitch channel, too)
This advice is likely most beneficial for DJs and electronic artists because Twitch already has a huge built-in audience who are electronic music listeners. In fact, some of the most watched music streamers on Twitch in May 2020 were of the electronic genre, totaling six million viewer hours. (This may be because lots of gamers are active fans of electronic artists, or maybe because these gamers respond well to electronic artists who are willing to experiment with Twitch as a platform. Or maybe it’s a combo of both.) Regardless, there’s an opportunity for electronic artists to use Twitch to drive deeper audience engagement. Additionally, IMS Business Report 2020 found that DJs who performed on Fortnite increased their Instagram follower growth by 10x after the event.
What does this mean, specifically DJs and electronic artists?
It’s worth becoming a creator on Twitch and utilizing the platform to further gain followers and to maintain your current fan engagement. For inspiration, I recommend looking to electronic artists like HANA, Porter Robinson, SOFI TUKKER and Diplo to see what they’ve been doing on Twitch.
Amber Horsburgh is a music strategist based in Brooklyn. As former SVP Strategy at Downtown Records she has helped artists like Mura Masa, Smino, Tommy Genesis, Chet Faker/Nick Murphy and Cold War Kids build their brand. On the consulting side, she’s worked with companies like YouTube Music, Sonos, Samsung and Google Play to help strengthen their connection to audiences. Amber also runs Deep Cuts, a semi-regular music strategy newsletter for artists and marketers that goes deep into effective artist marketing strategies (which you should subscribe to) and an online course, The School of Deep Cuts, that teaches creators how to build a release plan for their music from scratch.