In the uncertain environment of economic downturns, certain industries shine as beacons of resilience. Topping that list is the music industry. The question then arises for artists and labels: In the face of economic turmoil, should promotional spending be dialed up or down? Here's a deep dive into the subject.

The Music Industry: An Oasis in the Desert

Even as economic clouds gather, the music industry remains a persistent bright spot. A notable trend is the consistent growth of global concert ticket sales. From $950 million in 1995, it rose to an astounding $8 billion by 2017. While the Great Recession of 2008 did result in a slight hiccup, it merely slowed down the upward trajectory, rather than reversing it, underscoring the live music market's robustness.

Concert ticket sales revenue in North America from 1990 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars)
Source: Statista

Deciphering the Numbers

Contrary to the downward economic tides, the music industry has consistently surged forward. This resilient nature of the industry is evident not just in live concert sales but also in recorded sales. Although U.S. recorded sales witnessed a decline from 2000 onwards, the post-2008 period saw a reversal in this trend. This countercyclical nature of the music industry was evident as recorded sales began recovering right in the midst of the recession.

Couple this with the 5.8% surge in American experience-based spending and the impressive revenue numbers from RIAA and global sources, and a picture emerges: People are willing, even eager, to invest in musical experiences in tough times.

Promotion in Times of Economic Strain

Given these insights, it's evident that music, as an experience, has an almost therapeutic allure for consumers, especially during challenging economic periods. This makes a compelling case for artists and labels to maintain, or even amplify, their promotional activities. By investing in promotions, they stand to tap into a market that's actively seeking solace in music.

However, a word of caution remains vital. Despite the resilience of music as an experience, certain segments, like international tours, come with vulnerabilities. The pandemic underscored this aspect. So, while ramping up promotions, artists and labels should pivot towards strategies that account for these vulnerabilities. Localized appearances, digital promotions, virtual concerts, and innovative merchandising should be at the forefront.

What can artists do to stand out in a harsh economy? 

Bad economic environments have never stopped artists. If you are a new artist, you also shouldn’t be discouraged. Start by taking advantage of free offerings for your music. For example: at SongTools we offer a whole suite of promotion tools for free including our Landing Page & Blog Builder, and more. 

By tapping into free opportunities like these, you can test the waters for digital promotions and learn which songs you should start to promote more deeply with the limited budgets you do have. 

Remember: the fans you are targeting might also be struggling economically, so you should lead with free offerings to engage them at first.For instance, hosting live-streamed concerts, free stickers with your logo on them, personalized 30 sec performance videos or exclusive behind-the-scenes content can help keep fans connected and invested in your work – during a downturn, free offerings for fans are always welcome. 

Wrapping Up

The music industry, with its countercyclical tendencies and proven resilience, offers a silver lining in the storm clouds of economic downturns. For artists and labels, this period presents not just challenges but also unique opportunities. The demand for musical experiences remains unquenched, and smart, adaptable promotional strategies can ensure that music continues to play on, offering solace to many. 

And when it comes to flexible and adaptable strategies, Songtools offers unparalleled tools and data that allow you to quickly scale up and scale down your spend while getting tangible results. This is why we exist– this is our mission. 


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