Glenn Peoples: An Artist’s Voice + New Music = Clicks

glenn peoples columnist logo 300x300Glenn Peoples is Head of Music Insights and Analytics for Pandora. This guest column was originally published on Medium.

Americans, especially young people, want to find new music. Record labels and managers want listeners to find their music in particular. A number of digital marketing platforms, namely social and email, can be used to connect an artist with eager listeners. These common channels serve as good points of comparison for Pandora’s effort to promote its exclusive album premieres with audio messages from the participating artists.

First, some stats. Fifty-one percent of U.S. consumers 12 and over, and 69 percent for ages 12 to 24, say keeping up with music is important to them, according to Edison Research. Market research also says businesses want to harness social media’s ability to target potential buyers according to their locations, affinities or social circles. eMarketer forecasts U.S. spending on social marketing alone will hit $13.4 billion this year.

Digital marketing plays a vital role in discovery. Let’s say a label, manager or an artist has a new release to promote. What tools are implemented? First you have to know your fans. Email lists are are a good place to start, and artists and labels always have them. Social networks are an obvious step. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are standard tools throughout the music industry (and beyond). But the use of those marketing channels to create music discovery depends on these platforms’ effectiveness in creating engagement. A win occurs when a person click through to the music. No click is a lost opportunity.

So, CTRs are the important variable here. Facebook and Instagram (a blend of the two) provide a CTR anywhere from 0.45 percent to 4.0 percent depending a variety of factors. A CTR of 0.3 percent to 0.39 percent is typical at Twitter. Music and musicians get a 2.91-percent CTR at MailChimp, which claims to send “billions of emails a month for more than 12 million users” (MailChimp analyzed only campaigns sent to at least 1,000 subscribers.”)

An alternative, or at least a complimentary, option to these marketing platforms is Pandora’s Artist Audio Messages. Since last year, Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform has allowed artists to record audio messages that played to fans of a particular artist. When used in conjunction with a Pandora Premiere, a one-week exclusive album program launched three years ago, AAMs can achieve CTRs far exceeding other digital market options.

Across the dozens of AAMs for Premieres, campaigns have averaged a CTR of 9.37 percent. (This is a weighted value that takes into account the size of each AAM campaign.) That CTR is 2.3x best Facebook CTR, 24x to 31x times a Twitter CTR and 3.2 times the MailChimp email CTR for music and musicians. The artists’ messages succeed because they’re delivered in the artist’s voice when a listener is already engaged with their music. An additional factor is Pandora’s dynamic personalization, the ability to put the right message in front of the right person at scale.

Here’s an example from an AAM that ran late May to early June: “Hey, this is Michael Franti from Michael Franti and Spearhead. You can hear our entire new album, which is called Soulrocker, right here before it’s even released. It comes out on June 3rd, but if you click right now you can listen to it right here on Pandora Premiers. Check it out.”

Franti’s message was by-the-numbers simple yet effective enough to achieve a click-through rate of 25.9 percent. Such a high rate is a signal that new music — his new music — resonates strongly with listeners. The CTR also suggests the messages are effective because they reach listeners when they are engaging with music.

Other artists have performed as well or better than Franti. City and Colour had AAMs with CTRs of 20.8 percent and 27.9 percent. Superstar DJ/producer Steve Aoki’s AAM hit 17.6 percent. California band Dirty Heads achieved 11.8 percent. The English band Basement had a 47.9 percent CTR when announcing a premiere of its new album, Promise Everything, albeit to a smaller — and probably more fervent — audience that corresponded to its smaller listenership.

Anna Washenko