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How artist-friendly are music streaming platforms? Part 4: Fan marketing and e-commerce

October 30, 2023

In Part 3 of our “For Artists” series comparing features on major music streaming platforms, we argued that one of the most compelling reasons for artists to utilize these features is to receive rich, first-party data about audience consumption behaviors and demographics, directly from the DSPs themselves.

But can artists utilize these FA platforms to drive further consumption of their music and reach their fans directly? And if streaming is a loss leader for most artists, are there features with FA platforms to make DSPs part of the listener conversion funnel from a stream to a purchase in other, potentially more lucrative revenue streams, such as touring and merchandise?

The answer is yes to both of these questions — though today, the on-platform marketing options for independent artists remain somewhat limited. While many industry commentators continue to cite royalty payout rates as a primary concern with DSPs, few conversations address the issue of DSPs gating direct listener connections, leaving potentially massive monetization opportunities on the table for artists. The IFPI estimates that a music fan spends 51% of their listening time on streaming services (across audio/video and paid/ad-supported options), so artists would do well to be as close to those listeners as possible from a data perspective, to best interact with and sell to fans on those services.

To assign DSP-specific numerical rankings for fan marketing and ecommerce features, we compared platforms across three primary focus areas:

  1. Editorial features and paid advertising opportunities. FA features in this area range from the ability to submit tracks directly for inclusion in DSP-curated playlists, to the ability to set up ad campaigns directly within the DSP, with the aim of driving visibility and consumption of specific releases.

  1. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce. Features falling under D2C include the ability to display and link to concert ticket and merch offers directly from DSP artist profiles.

  1. Fan engagement and CRM. Features in this category include the ability for an artist to identify and keep track of specific listeners, as well as message their fans or interact with them directly through other means, such as comments on songs or posts.

Spotify has the most on-platform artist advertising tools of any DSP, and was also the first DSP to add features for editorial playlist submission and placement of tour dates and merch on artist profiles. All in all, Spotify clearly aspires to capture marketing budgets that artists and their teams would otherwise spend on external platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

Apple Music and Amazon Music have not yet added any way for artists to advertise within their platform. SoundCloud, meanwhile, is leading in fan engagement features, adding a new direct fan messaging tool (aptly named “Fans”) in summer 2023.

At large, it’s still early days in the area of fan marketing and commerce features within FA platforms, and we will continue to watch this area and track feature updates. —-

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