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How To Make It In Music feat. Ben Patterson

In this episode Ben Patterson, president of Downtown Artist & Label Services, and I talk about music marketing, the industry, Spotify’s changes and more!

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Important Points:

Andrew and Ben talk about Spotify’s Discovery Mode which provides additional visibility for artists, but can reduce royalties. That’s why Downtown Music aggressively manages which songs go into Discovery Mode to maximize impact.

Andrew and Ben discuss how short-form video has become the primary marketing method for music over the past few years due to its ubiquity and ability to drive song familiarity through repeated exposure.

Ben shares that Downtown Music aims to help independent artists by filling gaps like digital retail presence, marketing, and visibility on streaming services. Their partnerships and expertise can provide additional value compared to DIY.

Andrew and Ben talk about that besides the extremely high volume of music released daily, artists can still find their niche audience by continuing to create quality music. There is no need to rush releasing songs just because others are doing so.

Podcast Outline:

[00:00:07] Spotify’s visibility of streaming metrics makes it easy to evaluate artists. – Ben

[00:00:46]  How Spotify’s one song pitch policy impacts artists’ creative and business decisions. – Ben  

[00:01:12]  Why established artists don’t need to rush releasing new music to existing fans. – Ben

[00:02:30]  Releasing a song a month, or 12 songs a year, is a good release cadence. – Ben & Andrew

[00:03:28]  Music formats and limitations of each era impact marketing and creative decisions. – Ben & Andrew

[00:04:00] Fans have a limited capacity for consuming content from any one artist. – Ben & Andrew

[00:05:05]  Short form video breeds song familiarity through repeated exposure. – Ben & Andrew

[00:06:48]  How Downtown fills the gap between DIY and major labels by handling business while artists focus on creativity. – Ben

[00:08:15]  Historically and today, singles get the most streams even from albums. – Ben & Andrew

[00:10:00]  The modern album format originated with The Beatles. – Ben

[00:10:53]  Some artists still believe in the album as a cohesive body of work. – Ben & Andrew

[00:12:58]  Spotify Release Radar change benefits collaborations by including co-primary artists’ fans. – Ben & Andrew

[00:19:18]  To be playlisted on Spotify, music must be pitched through Spotify for Artists. – Ben & Andrew

[00:27:30]  Research shows it takes around 40 listens before a song is familiar, which short form video provides. – Ben & Andrew

[00:38:48]  Music production and distribution is more affordable and accessible than ever before.  – Ben & Andrew

[00:56:30]  Downtown carefully analyzes data before putting songs in Spotify Discovery Mode. – Ben

[00:59:06]  The 1,000 stream threshold likely targets AI generated music uploaded solely for revenue. – Ben

Wise Words:  

[00:31:00]  “The fact that other music is released is not a detriment to your music. The Spotify today of having a single pitched song for an artist at a time  does a lot of other creative, you know, decisions for like, that impacts  way down the deal stream of the artist.” – Ben

[00:59:00]  “If you’re a new artist, you’re finding fans with that song for the first time, and if you’re an established artist, they’ve already got a preconception of you as an artist and your work, so you don’t need to bang them over the head with a new song just when you’ve delivered it. You can take the time to plan out the release of that work with your distribution partner, with your management team, whoever else is involved in the project.” – Ben

[00:03:28]  “And then there’s also the expectations of the artist, right? Like what level of audience do you want your song to reach? And if the goal of releasing a lot of songs is because you want to have a lot of songs out, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t just release a lot of songs. But if your goal of releasing a lot of songs is to have them heard by the most amount of people and make the most amount of impact with those people, then I think you need to think about the pacing of how those songs come out.” – Ben

[00:11:09]  “You can only have one song from a release go on release radar and you can only pitch one song from a release to Spotify editorial. I think that’s where some of the aggressive single game has come from because it’s like, well, I have 10 songs. I don’t want to only be able to pitch one editorial. Ideally, I’d like to pitch all 10, but the only way to do that is to release every single song as a single. – Andrew

[00:38:48]  “It’s a phenomenal time. The, like, the whole gamut of the music industry has become affordable for access to people, which is just insane. Like you can make your entire record on your phone, you know, right? Like you have like a studio mixing board probably in this thing that is equivalent to what, you know, you two used in the 80s and 90s to make their record, like in terms of like what you can do to record and engineer and create. Right? So that’s amazing. That’s available to just about everybody now.” – Ben

Resources Mentioned:

  • Downtown Artist & Label Services – link
  • Learn how to grow your Spotify – link

Learn More:

If you enjoyed this interview you might also like this one I did with Eric Copeland of Make Music Income, on how he makes six figures a year through music and sync licensing.