Has the bevy of bad news from SoundCloud as of late caused you some concern? Chances are it did, and you found yourself asking “What is going to happen to my music!?”
SoundCloud came minutes away from shutting down last Friday, so you were not alone. Approximately 12 hours of music is uploaded to SoundCloud every minute! Need further proof? There are over 10 million users across the platform who depend upon it to get their music in front of the 175 million monthly users on SoundCloud. The difference between you and them is that you’re reading this article.
The problem with social media and streaming services like SoundCloud, Spotify and Apple Music is that you, the creators, do not own or have access to the data outside of basic statistics like estimated/actual listeners and sales. In short, these are all private services with private owners, and if they should bankrupt and disappear tomorrow, your music and data will go with them.
Of course, these sites are great for exposure and are common practice to use within the music industry. Keep in mind moving forward that your aim with these sites and services should ALWAYS be to route traffic to your own platforms, so you can:
- Gain data (including contact information) from your fans.
- Keep your content online without downtime.
- Protect yourself from surprises like digital companies spontaneously going out of business due to reasons out of your control.
Vine, a successful video-driven social media service, closed its doors in 2016 after minting its own viral stars and celebrities. Many of these stars were able to monetize their accounts and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, when the doors closed, influencers lost income, and users had to archive their content, so they would not lose their work. Do you remember Myspace Music? Probably not, but these are examples of companies that many artists used at one point or another to build awareness. Here today and gone tomorrow applies to the music industry in so many ways, with this being just another example.
Where should you be diverting this traffic? Your own website is a prime example! You can be capturing their emails, phone numbers, social media handles and more. Having this data allows you greater ease to manipulate the data you want. Better, granular and more comprehensive data can be used for crafting more successful marketing campaigns — for example, with your fans’ phone numbers, you could send out highly targeted SMS texts to people in a specific area code promoting an exclusive tour stop.
The closest you come to strategically manipulating data on social media is by creating conversion pixels and custom audiences, where companies like Google and Facebook allow you to track web visitors and users who engage with your content online. While this option certainly helps increase your conversion rate, the data is coded and does not include contact information — which allows you direct access to your fans.
Other great examples of what happens when you don’t control your data are Facebook and Instagram’s infamous algorithms. Both sites have changed their sorting algorithms numerous times, and Instagram no longer even allows you to see posts in chronological order at all! How do your hundreds or thousands of organically gained fans find your music or see your latest post if Facebook decides it’s not important that day? If your fans are acclimated to going to your website, then you have probably avoided a crisis that plenty of other musicians haven’t.
A few ways that you can drive more traffic to your site and/or app where you have greater control over the data are surely some that you’ve done before — exclusive content, free tickets, pre-sales, news and more. The difference is, the content must be accessed exclusively through your own website, while still using social media and other portals to advertise and market your campaign.
You should never be too dependent upon one application or service for everything. If Facebook disappears tomorrow, do you have a large enough following elsewhere to get the word out about your next show? If YouTube goes down due to a cyber attack, does your website have the capability to stream your videos?
All important questions to consider now that even a beast like SoundCloud could be gone faster than you can click “Upload” on your next musical masterpiece. We’ve seen it over and over again as the Internet continues to dominate everything. It’s up to you to protect your music, your fans and as much fan data as possible.