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Welcome to AmplifyYou’s very own A-Z music marketing glossary! Drive your career forward by learning what these terms mean and how you can apply them IRL!

A – Advertising

Advertising is a process whereby targeted audiences are informed/reminded of a product or a service. These targeted messages are usually paid for and intend to influence an audience to act on what’s being advertised. 

Traditional advertising platforms include TV, radio, newspapers, billboards, posters etc. Digital advertising is a bit more accessible than the traditional version as it usually takes place via social media platforms. Platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, Spotify and Twitter each have their own advertising channels. For a fee, your music video can reach audiences that would otherwise not have known about your band. 

B – Brand Identity

This refers to how you want your audience to perceive you. It’s the brand’s personality and what messages you are conveying to your pre-existing and potential audience. This is further aided by the Brand Image, which refers to the visual aspect of your brand and may include elements such as your logo, brand colours, brand font and so on. It’s important to discuss what your brand identity is before getting a graphic designer or creative director to flesh out your brand image.  

C – Content

You may have seen the term “content is king” floating around on the internet, but are not sure what it really means and how this applies to you as a musician. Simply put, content is the audio-visual or written material that is directed towards your audience. Content refers to the information that is conveyed to the audience through several different mediums such as articles, photos, music, videos etc. 

D – DSPs

This stands for Digital Service Providers. It refers to online music stores such as iTunes and Amazon Music as well as streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Tidal. These services feature albums, EPs, singles as well as podcasts. Royalties are usually paid on a per-stream/per-download basis. Users can subscribe to these services by paying a monthly fee or else by opting for a free version that’s inundated with ads. 

E – Engagement Marketing

Engagement marketing is all about building meaningful connections with your followers by using strategic content that piques people’s interest. This is also related to the engagement rate, which is the metric that’s used to gauge engagement. This is calculated using the following formula: the total number of interactions or likes divides by the number of followers, resulting in a percentage.

E.g.

100 likes on a photo divided by 2000 followers = an engagement rate of 0.05%

F – Followers & Fans

What’s the difference between a follower and a fan? Nowadays, brands are chasing followers and metrics. However, converting followers to fans is a bit more difficult. A fan is someone loyal to your brand. Their numbers may be smaller than the total follower count, but they are the individuals that matter since they are the ones that truly support you by purchasing your merch and concert tickets, and ultimately, drive your career forward. 

G – Growth

In the digital era, growth refers to social media growth. It alludes to those strategies and tactics that are used by brands to increase their followers and their clout on social media. This is, in turn, is related to the term “growth rate”, i.e. which refers to the percentage of growth over time. It can be calculated using the following formula:

Follower Growth Rate = 

(Present # of followers – Past # of followers/Past # of followers) x 100

H – Hashtag

On social media, a hashtag refers to the hashtag symbol (#) being used before a relevant keyword. Think of hashtags as a way to link the content that belongs to a specific group, theme or conversation. As a content creator, you should keep your ears to the ground when it comes to hashtag trends and important global conversations. Furthermore, you can use tools such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and SEMrush to track popular hashtags and check which hashtags you can “compete” for. 

I – Instagram Music

This refers to a feature on Instagram that was added to Instagram Stories back in 2018, which allows you to add music to your stories. Simply tap on the “Music” sticker to add your favourite tune to your stories. Additionally, Instagram Reels also has a music function that enables you to add music to your reel. It’s important to note that, with the introduction of Instagram Reels, music has continued to cement its position as one of the most important types of content on Instagram. 

J – Justify

As a music marketer, or even as a musician who’s trying to gain a following, make sure that you don’t make rash decisions, and that every marketing, content and career decision can be justified and backed by foolproof research. 

K – KPI

This stands for Key Performance Indicator. KPI is a measurable value that demonstrates whether a campaign’s goals are being reached. When it comes to music campaigns, core KPIs can include monthly listens, radio spins, follower growth, press coverage, pitch performance, playlist reach etc.

L – Live streaming

Live streaming refers to streaming media that’s being recorded and broadcast over the Internet in real-time. As opposed to recorded videos and sessions, where rehearsed and polished videos tend to be preferred over low-quality or casual content, live streaming is all about behind-the-scenes and backstage content that’s relatable, unfiltered and entertaining. 

In 2020, live streaming proved to be a lifeline for a lot of artists whose schedules were wiped clean due to the pandemic. Audiences were also receptive, as Twitch users watched a total of 18.41 billion hours of content on the platform, whose popularity in 2020 exploded beyond the gaming community.

M – Monthly Listeners

These refer to the listeners that have played your music over a 28-day period. This is an exceptionally popular metric on Spotify as it enables artists to track their growth. Two important elements need to be clarified when talking about monthly listeners: the individuals included as monthly listeners depend on whether they’ve listened to an artist within a rolling window of 28 days. Furthermore, only unique listeners are taken into consideration – meaning that if someone’s listening to your music on repeat, they still count as one unique listener. 

N – Newsworthy

Or, in other words, press coverage. Your material and brand have to be newsworthy to cut through the noise. Make sure that your brand identity and creative output is always consistent and innovative to increase your chances of being picked up by press outlets that can help you establish a solid reputation. 

O – Organic Content

As opposed to paid content or ads, organic content is free content – i.e. anything that you produce yourself, is liked by your followers and is reshared by your followers in an organic manner (i.e. without paying anyone). In the current digital landscape, social media platforms have restricted organic content so that it only reaches a small percentage of your followers. Therefore, it’s always wise to devise both paid and organic content strategies to ensure that your material reaches the maximum number of people possible. 

P – Playlisting

According to Cambridge Dictionary, “a playlist can either refer to “a list of pieces of music chosen by someone to listen to on their computer, phone, etc.” or “a list of all the pieces of music chosen to be broadcast on a radio show or radio station”. Getting playlisted on a radio station requires your tune to be supported by the station’s key DJs, who ultimately decide what to add to a station’s playlist. When it comes to DSP playlisting, major labels and their artists usually get preference over independent artists; however, Spotify editors have recently democratised their process by introducing a pitching feature on Spotify for Artists. 

Q – Quality over Quantity

Due to amounts of content being churned on the daily, audiences have become desensitised to low-quality content. Investing in quality content, such as quality music production and high-end visual content, pays off in the short term as well as the long term. Furthermore, quality content enhances your brand image and conveys your brand identity better. 

R – Reach

This refers to the total number of people who have seen your ad. This differs from impressions, as this tracks the number of times your ad has been seen. E.g. if your ad reach is that of 200, this means that 200 individuals have seen your ad. On the other hand, 200 impressions mean that your ad has been viewed 200 times, irrespective of whether or not it has been seen by the same individuals as a repeat ad. 

S – SmartLinks

A normal link directs your visitors to one webpage. Conversely, a SmartLink such as Amplify.link consists of a list of links, thereby routing your audience to various channels.

T – TikTok

Further reading: How to make your music blow up on TikTok.

TikTok is a social media platform that is quickly revolutionising the way A&Rs (What is an A&R) find new artists. This social media platform specialises in short-term video content and is driven by content creators and pop culture trends. TikTok has empowered musicians to share their music with audiences who might otherwise not have discovered their music. Furthermore, it’s currently a goldmine for labels that are looking to sign up-and-coming acts. 

U – USP

Stands for Unique Selling Point. It’s the X factor that makes an artist different from the rest. This relates to brand identity and is all part of the artist development process. Invest some time in exploring what your USP can be and develop it. 

V – Virality

According to Oxford Languages, virality is “the tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.” While going viral can indeed be a happy accident, virality is increasingly becoming an engineered and carefully thought out strategy. Tactics can include collaboration with more influential artists, ad placements, influencer marketing, syncs, stunts, memes, and so on.

W – Webinar

A webinar is an online seminar or conference. Music industry webinars have become commonplace in 2020, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. SXSW 2021’s astounding success was due to the fact that individuals and companies from all across the globe could participate in this Austin-based seminar without spending a tonne of money on flights and accommodation. It also enabled artists who might otherwise not have afforded the trip to participate in the legendary SXSW Music Festival and reach new audiences without leaving their home countries. 

X – X-post

Further reading: What can musicians and creators learn from Gary Vee?

Short for cross-posting. This refers to when the same piece of content is posted on different pages, channels or platforms. Cross-posting enables you as a content creator to re-purpose pillar content and keep your social media profiles active without having to come up with a tonne of unique content ideas for each platform. 

Y – YouTube Official Artist Channel

This is an artist-specific service offered by YouTube. The OAC serves as a one-stop-shop for artists on YouTube and empowers them to engage with fans and monetise their efforts. According to YouTube Help, the Official Artist Channel offers 

  • Organised content: By providing a sleek layout that organises your discography and music videos into separate sections. 
  • Promotional content: By providing a featured video slot that promotes a specific video.
  • Fan engagement: By enhancing the ability to interact and engage with fans on the platform itself. 

Z – Zero-Cost Strategy

Aka D.I.Y! Zero-cost strategies are those marketing strategies that use free activities to promote a service or product. In music, this can simply be a repost by a more popular artist, a live session that’s sponsored by a big brand but still promotes your music, earned media and of course, word of mouth!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

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