To Drop or Not?
The big debate between artists, managers, and tech entrepreneurs right now is whether it’s a good time to drop a new project. Blockbuster artists like Lady Gaga are pulling the plug while others, like PARTYNEXTDOOR and Jessie Reyez, push on with their release plans.
In the record biz heyday, you’d go on tour to support an album. But in the phygital era, the reverse has taken place. Artists have been putting out albums to coincide with their tours.
Now, in a COVID-19 world, all of the rules are out the window and new systems are being developed that may last well beyond this crisis.
On Monday, I sat in a Zoom with a bunch of artist managers who broke down their release schedules. Each of their artists has been putting out songs, albums, and content during this time and, believe it or not, gaining traction!
Sure, it’s more complicated than ever to promote a project. No album release party. No tour. No promo run. No radio run. A massive slowdown in brand spending. Everything being done digitally. But honestly, some artists are enjoying aspects of the shift. Music is “of the moment” and not meant to sit on a hard drive waiting for decades-old ideas about “lead time.”
With no sports, no live events, and limited production capability, people are starving for new content. It’s obvious why back catalogs and older content is such a hot trend right now.
A Breakout New Platform
On the tech side, innovation is clearly bubbling at Amazon, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Netflix. The big platforms are getting a lot of data from the streams and doing their best to innovate at the speed of culture. I’m also seeing some great new apps and live stream platforms jumping in. But how do they break through the noise? We have ideas!
The biggest breakout in media is Jefferey Katezenberg’s new company, Quibi. Quibi is a mobile-first media network that has been eagerly anticipated. Katzenberg brought in a team of overconfident curators (his words) to find amazing ideas. He also pulled in friends from his 50 years of hustling hard at the top of the entertainment business.
Quibi is offering a 90-day free trial with ads. I’ve been taking it in. The content is geared toward 18-44 year-olds in bite sizes. It’s episodic and only for the phone. Can Katz reinvent watercooler culture? Will he infiltrate the masses and become the new streaming platform de jour with truly a mobile-first sensibility? It will come down to hits. But with $2 billion in investment, a $470,000 first-year marketing budget, and a world of experience making movies, TV and digital content, I wouldn’t bet against him. It will be exciting to watch as he iterates based on data and adapting to a new normal, one he didn’t set out to take on but is in many ways perfectly positioned to capitalize on.
It’s a very tough time right now. We have so much gratitude for everyone on the front lines of the crisis. We’re all in this together and, hopefully, all playing our part. Nue is staying safe, finger on the pulse, wrapping our arms around this new world order. Let’s work!