Music Industry | Coronavirus Information and Advice for UK Music Industry

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional. This post is compiled from thorough research and the conclusions I reached based on that research.

Information on SARS-CoV-2 virus / COVID-19 disease

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has exploded into a global pandemic. Many countries around the world are now in a state of emergency and trying to prepare themselves for the rough road ahead.

Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2“Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2” by NIAID is licensed under CC BY 2.0

COVID-19 is not “just the flu”, a closer comparison can be made to the 2003 SARS epidemic. Current projections show that the virus is many times more likely to result in severe illness requiring hospitalization and potentially death when compared to regular seasonal flu, and it’s significantly more catching than a common cold.

While the majority of cases show those who are in general good health will be unlikely to require medical intervention, the elderly and those with underlying medical issues will have a significantly elevated risk of suffering severely or death.

Containment measures have not stopped the spread of the virus and healthcare systems around the world (including our own) are under-prepared for the potential effects of this outbreak at scale.

Behaviours need to change across the entire population in order to slow the spread of the virus to a manageable level, this will reduce the strain on our already stretched healthcare system.

UK Approach

The UK government guidance on this outbreak has been weak at best, at worst, dangerous. Anyone who has been paying attention to the unfolding situation is already implementing social distancing measures despite government resistance saying that “it’s too early”.

Though now the term “peacetime” is being used – as if to prepare us all for the upcoming “wartime” measures that will be rolled out following an emergency bill being pushed through parliament to give the government additional powers in an attempt to control the speed of the outbreak.

The main priority should be to avoid infecting those most at risk of severe illness, to save the lives of the vulnerable.

If you’re an employee with pre-existing health risks or getting on in age, you should strongly consider asking your employer if you are able to work remotely and self isolate.

In the upcoming weeks anyone over the age of 70 will likely be asked to self-isolate for months to prevent them catching the virus. If you have elderly friends and relatives, use social media or call them in order to check up on them regularly and make sure they have everything they need.

Live Events, Conferences and Travel

Live events and conferences both locally and internationally will be affected by the spread of this virus. As behaviours change, more people will opt to heed the warnings of experts and implement social distancing.

Metallica 13-07-2007 22.49.50“Metallica 13-07-2007 22.49.50” by Heini Samuelsen is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Turnout to events will likely be lower if the events are to go ahead. Mass gatherings where there are a high density of people will need to have a thorough risk assessment done and chances are they should be cancelled.

International touring will become increasingly difficult, and potentially impossible as more travel restrictions are enforced.

This is not to say that there is no demand for music performances – quite the contrary. Music will be a great motivator through the turbulent times ahead, and will help many get through the ongoing isolation worldwide.

With current streaming technology it is possible to live stream video from anywhere with an internet connection. This can be used to connect and engage with audiences without coming into direct physical contact.

VR“VR” by gordonplant is licensed under CC BY 2.0

While traditional video stream is no true replacement to the experience of being at a live event, virtual reality (VR) technology is coming along in leaps and bounds. Currently, home VR is in the same price range as console gaming. It has become significantly more accessible as developments have been made in the field.

If you’re wondering how this relates to music, VR concerts are now a reality. As e-commerce integrates with VR, we will see merch stands at these virtual concerts that may take orders to ship to customers, or sell digital goods.

Working Collaboratively

The music industry involves a significant amount of working closely with others. Travel restrictions mean that it may become impossible to even get a few people together for a group jam session in the worse case scenario.

The internet will keep us all connected despite social distancing and potentially physical isolation, and there are many innovative creators that are developing solutions for problems faced by the music industry moving into a digital age.

Jammr is software in beta that enables musicians to jam together online in real time.

BandLab is a platform that allows musicians to work in a web-based DAW environment and make songs from each others recordings and projects.

Offices

Office spaces are up there with schools and conferences for population density. If your work environment has no set desk policies, then even more caution should be taken.

There may come a time where offices will need to be shut down. Businesses using office space should consider how to make remote working possible for any roles that could be completed remotely.

This may mean setting up VPN access to your network and providing laptops and headsets for employees who need them so they can work from home.

How to help

You can spread good hand washing practice using Wash Your Lyrics to generate an infographic poster with your lyrics on it!

Lyrics from “Keep On” by Another Enigma

Don’t stockpile excessively, other people need essentials too.

Please think before you buy“Please think before you buy” by duncan is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

If you start to feel ill, you should self-isolate to prevent further spread of the infection.

Engage with people around you and keep morale up, as stress and depression will weaken your immune system.

Music Promotion | How to Get Your Music on to Major Platforms

You’ve invested months or maybe even years into writing your songs, perfecting the composition and arrangement, getting the track produced and carving out the sounds. You’ve finally got the final master(s), no pun intended, and at long last you have a song or collection of songs that are ready to share with the world. Great!

The problem is, not all of your audience likes to listen to music in the same place, and if you want to grow your audience, you want to make sure your music is available on the platform they would normally use to listen to music.

Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify, Amazon Music and TIDAL are just a few of the ever increasing number of streaming platforms you can reach with a distribution partner.

Even if all platforms did accept uploads directly from artists (which most do not), there are so many that it would be incredibly time consuming to have to send all your music to each one individually. This presents a frustrating obstacle for artists, but their reasoning is fair and there is a range of companies that provide a solution to artists and labels.

Operating services like Spotify or iTunes and making sure the money goes to the right places heavily relies on metadata. They also want to present a professional and uniform visual for their users – that generally means no strange formatting in song titles, good resolution artwork, all contributors credited appropriately and all the data they need in the right place.

Stores may achieve this by screening who is able to directly submit works for sale/streaming in their stores through an application process, which means it is possible to submit directly to some outlets, however it is suggested that you start out by using a distribution partner.

Some great reasons to go down the distribution partner route include:

  • They have already jumped through all of the hoops required to distribute music directly to outlets.
  • They will be able to advise you on anything you are uncertain on relating to the distribution of your music and how to correct any issues with the release of your music.
  • They have already invested in the infrastructure required to effectively do this activity at scale and distribute to many stores.

There are a fair amount of companies that offer music distribution services but the top three that come to mind for me are Distrokid, CD Baby and Amuse.

1) Distrokid

Distrokid is the company I personally use to release music to stores.

For an annual fee, Distrokid allows completely unlimited digital distribution with a quick delivery to stores. You can choose to set a release date further in the future (this is generally advisable to allow for playlist consideration and pre-release promotion opportunities), but if you want it to go live as soon as stores process it, then you can release to stores “immediately”.

There are lots of optional add-on services priced on a per-release basis which can increase the renewal cost of the subscription.

I’ve had no issues, everything works as intended and although support through their ticketing system can be a little slow at times depending on their volume of queries, they can be reached for general advice queries on social media channels. If they can’t fix it there for you, chances are you’ll need to still raise a support ticket but they will tell you which one to raise, so it’s going to the right place.

If you want to sign up with Distrokid, my referral link will get you 7% off your chosen plan and get me $5.

2) CD Baby

CD Baby offer a pretty comprehensive range of services allowing artists to distribute both physical copies of their albums as well as digital distribution. They know their way around the publishing world and are happy to get involved on behalf of their artists.

Operating a pay-per-release pricing model along with taking 9% of all revenue collected, they also succeed when their artists do. This means it directly benefits CD Baby to promote the artists using their service, which may be an influencing factor when deciding which company to work with.

3) Amuse

Amuse is a great development in the music industry over recent years. They offer completely free music distribution to major outlets because they get to use the insight from the sales data delivered to them as the artists distributor to cherry-pick and invest in artists they see potential in, which puts them in a uniquely powerful position as a record label.

Summary

You should now know how to get your music on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, Facebook and Instagram, TikTok and potentially hundreds of other outlets – pick a distribution partner, upload your tracks and artwork, make sure your data is correct, pick a release date and you’re done.

If you already released a song to stores, don’t then try and get another distributor to re-release the same version. This can and will cause you frustration that is easily avoidable.

When your music is available everywhere, you should probably start keeping track of all of these links somehow… That’s a problem for another post, but spreadsheets and databases are your friend here.

What’s New? | March 2020

Music Updates

Last month was very busy and that theme will be continuing into the next couple of months with the upcoming release of “Ear Candy” on 31st March 2020.

The masters were sent for digital distribution in the middle of last month and I’m focused on pre-release promotion activity and getting everything ready for release day. All support and feedback received so far is greatly appreciated!

I’ve also just finished making a remix for a SKIO competition. The song is a really catchy new track from KINGD├śMS called “Senses”. Listen to the original track and my remix below, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!