Water & Music

{{ show.title }}Trailer Bonus Episode {{ selectedEpisode.number }}
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
{{ selectedEpisode.title }}
By {{ selectedEpisode.author }}
Broadcast by

Music-marketing consultant Amber Horsburgh joins this episode to discuss why marketing music to strangers—i.e. to people who don't know who you are yet—is more profitable than catering only to existing fans. What are the limitations of Kevin Kelly's widely-cited "1,000 True Fans" theory in the context of artists trying to scale their brands? Why do record labels fall into the "content is king" trap and spend so little of their marketing budgets on reach and distribution, compared to other industries? How can artists engineer demand for their work and cater to lighter and more casual listeners without diluting the integrity of their core product and creative vision? After answering these and many other questions, we provide forward-looking as well as cynical takes on the recent news about Bandsintown acquiring media sites Hypebot and Music Think Tank.

Show Notes

"sleep" (instrumental) by min.a
Spotify | SoundCloud | YouTube

I'm speaking at the European DIY Musician Conference in Valencia, Spain on April 6 and 7!
If you'll still be around, you can purchase tickets here: https://diymusiciancon.com/eu/

Amber Horsburgh
Music marketing consultant; former SVP of Strategy of Downtown Records
Author of the Deep Cuts newsletter

Today's episode is inspired by Amber's blog post "Playing to Strangers":


[3:44] Interview with Amber Horsburgh begins

[5:32] Byron Sharp's book How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know:

[10:46] Music Ally's report on the "dry streams" problem and how labels and managers navigate it:

[15:18] Kevin Kelly's original blog post on "1,000 True Fans":

[19:02] The Coachella lineup in 2012 featured many more artists from the rock and pop world—e.g. Beirut, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys and M83—than from hip-hop, R&B and similar genres:

[20:41] As one example of a study on rising concert ticket prices, the U.K.'s National Arenas Association found that the average ticket cost for a big-arena gig in the country rose from £22.58 in 1999 to £45.49 in 2016. Adjusting for inflation, that's a 27% increase over that time period:

[22:02] Artist manager Jake Udell's newsletter about how record labels often spend 80% to 90% of their budget on content, rather than on reach:

[24:26] During Spotify's Investor Day presentation in March 2018, CEO Daniel Ek shared that the streaming service receives roughly 20,000 tracks every single day:

[29:49] According to a study by MusicWatch, 44% of Facebook users like an artist or band, while 56% of Instagram users follow, tag and/or share posts from artists

[39:12] Marshmello's groundbreaking Fortnite concert continues to be on the tips of everyone's tongues in the industry:

[40:33] Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile's critically-acclaimed collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice was released in October 2017:

[43:32] Overrated/Underrated segment begins

[43:47] Bandsintown acquired Hypebot and Music Think Tank:

[44:47] Throughout January and February 2019, both HuffPo and BuzzFeed laid off 7% and 15% of their workforce, respectively:

[45:23] I recently wrote a two-part essay for my newsletter Water & Music about how artist education is the new point of competition for music companies, especially for streaming services and third-party distributors:

[48:37] Warner Music acquired Songkick in July 2017:

Thank you so much for listening! :)

★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★

What is Water & Music?

The fine print of big ideas in music and technology, hosted by Cherie Hu and featuring a curated selection of leaders, innovators, artists and thinkers from across the music business. This is an ad-free audio companion to the eponymous email newsletter.