MMF Report Offers New Support to Help Artists Avoid Digital Burnout
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By Chris Cooke | Posted on Monday, May 30, 2022
The UK’s Music Managers Forum has released a new report based on two panel discussions with its members on the topic of digital burnout, making a number of proposals on how the music industry can better support artists to meet the demands of being an ever-active creator in the age of social media.
The roundtables were organized in response to a number of articles and conference discussions about the pressure artists are currently under to create ever more content to keep their social media feeds fresh. Creating this constant stream of content is often unrealistic and risks reducing the time the artist has to actually make music, while potentially having a detrimental impact on the mental health of the artist.
Then there’s the frustration that record labels and digital platforms sometimes try to impose a one-size-fits-all approach on artists, when in fact what kind of content works on what platforms and what constitutes success in terms of data will depend a lot on each artist and their fan base. But this flexibility is not always available.
This particular frustration has emerged recently with artists complaining about TikTok-based requests being made of them by their labels, based on the argument that – although we know that TikTok is now a key music marketing tool – it doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for every artist to just open the TikTok app and start posting something – anything – just to tick the TikTok box.
The MMF report states, “Roundtable leaders spoke of the enormous pressure labels put on artists to generate a steady stream of ‘content’, as well as the tendency for labels to judge the value of ‘an artist based on social media numbers rather than the integrity of their music’.
“There were also comments that some labels overlook the fact that every artist is different and therefore may not be suitable for all social media/digital platforms,” he continues, “while others prefer not to. engage on social media, and would prefer that responsibility was delegated instead.”
Of course, taking a more personalized approach to each artist’s digital marketing requires more resources at the label level, with many managers believing that the industry’s digital marketing teams are often “underfunded, overworked and in some cases juniors.” in experience”.
“Many managers felt that because digital content is a creative expression for artists, as well as a promotional marketing tool, relationships with digital teams should be considered as thoughtfully as an A&R or producer pairing” , continues the report. “Label digital teams need to be more responsive to ensure they are relevant to the artists they are working with.”
That said, while labels could potentially find better ways to work with artists on their digital content and marketing strategies, at least artists signed to labels benefit from this additional support. Self-liberating artists are even more likely to suffer from digital burnout.
“With less of a support network behind them, these entrepreneurial artists may experience an overwhelming amount of work with digital choices and obligations leading to burnout,” the report notes. “In addition to this workload, managers and artists are now expected to become social media experts, to generate content. Managers and artists must now master Photoshop, video editing, knowledge of algorithmic behaviors and other digital skills”.
Managers working with self-released artists also noted “the lack of education and industry-led digital resources for artists, a lack of funding to create impactful digital marketing campaigns, and limited staff support. Self-publishing artists also have the problem that brands that used to partner with them now want to see even bigger digital stats to consider financial support.”
When it came to digital services, many managers felt that streaming platforms sometimes placed too much emphasis on social media statistics when deciding which artists and tracks to champion and playlist. Additionally, building strong relationships with streaming services often adds to the social media workload.
“Managers are also exhausted by the constant requests to publicly thank [streaming services] each time a new streaming benchmark is reached,” the report said. “We also discussed authenticity, questions as to whether these [service] ‘cries’ were necessary, and if the [services] even recognize them and act accordingly”.
The report makes a number of recommendations on how labels, digital services, managers and the wider industry can help address the issues surrounding digital burnout. This includes more resources for digital marketing teams, a more personalized approach to each artist’s digital marketing plan, content storage to allow artists to take social media breaks, better access to information about what who works on social media, and more training and sanity. support for artists and managers.
The report also adds that “it was also suggested that an independent body be created” to spark discussions between “all stakeholders, which includes artists, managers, labels, social media platforms and [streaming services]looking at different perspectives and developing workable solutions/best practices, which need to be constantly reviewed/monitored”.
You can download the report here.