Classic songs offering comfort to fans (and an opportunity for labels) during the pandemic – Billboard


With much of the world providing shelter during the coronavirus pandemic, people are turning to music for comfort – especially older music. This is good news for the catalog divisions of record companies.

“Familiarity and comfort is what people are looking for now and there is a sense of security in what you know and were raised in,” says Bruce resnikoff, President and CEO of Universal Music Enterprises.

As the pandemic spread and touring came to a screeching halt last month, artists with current releases quickly took to social media to live-stream concerts at home in order to connect with fans and keep their hearts going. projects in mind. Meanwhile, labels were forced to make tough choices about whether to host frontline releases until artists could promote them outside of their homes.

The catalog is a different proposition with a promotion less dependent on the ability of the artists to visit the radio or to tour in support of a project. “Since we don’t rely on singles and touring artists, we not only had the opportunity to do what we were already doing, we started to get engagement from artists who felt they had the time and the desire to work with us and through social media to connect with fans, ”says Resnikoff.

For example, with the fireplace lit behind him, on March 23, Neil Diamond serenaded fans back home, humorously adapting the classic “Sweet Caroline” lyrics, Wash Your Hands, Reach Out, Don’t Touch Me. no, I won’t touch you. On March 27, Elvis Costello gave a home concert to benefit England’s National Health Service.

For BMG, who controls John Fogerty’s solo catalog, new content from rocker Creedence Clearwater Revival has given it a boost, says Thomas scherer, BMG executive vice president, directory and marketing, Los Angeles. Between Fogerty’s online appearances and the music he and his family recreated as “Fogerty’s Factory,” videos viewed topped 4 million with overall circulation up 17% in the past month. A new NPR Tiny Desk (Home) concert will go live on April 24 and it recorded a live performance for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

After initially dropping in March, over the past two weeks the overall number of streams has started to rise, according to Nielsen Music / MRC Data: Audio streams rose 1.5% to 15.03 billion for the week ending. ending April 2, then 1.7% to $ 15.3 billion for the week ending April 9.

Specifically, over the past four weeks, catalog feeds made up 62.5% of all feeds, according to Nielsen Music / MRC Data. The increase over the past month is minimal – catalog market share has increased 0.1%, while current market share has fallen 0.1% – but catalog officials say they are seeing an increase in activity around a number of niche genres including jazz, children’s music, classical music and even vacation.

BMG has seen a significant increase in streaming and downloading of children’s music since the schools closed. “Our Golden Records catalog previously had 25 titles available on streaming platforms. We have since added 20 more titles to the collection which are now available digitally, ”said Scherer. “We have worked directly with streaming platforms because they want to start showcasing the genre more through their promotions and we have created four new thematic compilations:“ Comic Book Heroes ”,“ Cartoon Classics ”,“ Classic Children’s Tales ” , ‘Classic Children’s Stories & Songs’ – all of which will be live by May 15.

Kevin Gore, president of Warner Music Group’s Global Catalog, has witnessed the peak of classical music around the world – traveling with the spread of the coronavirus. “We saw the engagement with classical music in Italy before we saw it in the United States,” he says. “We’re seeing strong performance on classically curated work-from-home playlists. “

Gore and his counterparts got creative in the midst of the pandemic. While catalog promotion has typically relied on mobility – with people listening in their cars on the way to work or in their gyms – the focus is now on how to capture the attention of people in their homes. For this, companies create and distribute their own playlists and seek additions to existing and popular playlists. That means creating playlists for home workouts, as well as playlists devoted to upbeat and relaxing music to lift people’s spirits and those meant to calm raw nerves. Some companies have even created playlists especially for lunch breaks.

The idea, regardless of genre, is to boost morale, says Gore, whose company has created playlists in six different languages.

BMG used data from Bandsintown to help promote the catalog of acts in markets where they would have occurred, ahead of tour postponements. “Artists were able to connect directly with localized fan bases and share unique, curated and handpicked playlists – until they could hit the road,” Scherer said. “We are all very active as a team in creative social marketing, live concert broadcasting and the development of new doc-style ‘making of’ and ‘behind the scenes’ providing intimate access and insights into the process. creative. “

With video consumption also increasing slightly, according to Nielsen Music / MRC Data, companies are investing in more music video content. The shutdown took place amid UMe’s one-year campaign Bob marley75th anniversary, forcing the company to adjust its plans to release a video every month. “We were supposed to be in Jamaica, but we had to change that,” says Resnikoff. “The content team creates computer generated and animated content to maintain a constant flow. We do this for a number of artists. It’s always about telling stories. We can do this safely and expand our presence on video channels. As proof of the campaign’s success and Marley’s universal global appeal, on-demand audio and video streams of Marley’s catalog actually increased 7.1% in the four weeks between March 13 and March 9. April, compared to the previous four-week period, according to Nielsen. Musical data / MRC.

Other companies have also released new visuals or made them available in a different way: Sony Music Entertainment has released Bruce Springsteen’s 2009 London call concert on Apple Music and YouTube in full for the first time. A number of acts rummage through the vault to provide videos because people have more time to watch: The National posts live shows and rare footage every Monday on YouTube as part of its’ One exciting community event ”; Radiohead uploads weekly vintage live broadcasts to its YouTube channel; and the Grateful Dead launched Shakedown Stream, a weekly series featuring past shows. BMG in talks for broadcast opportunities for The Clash co-founder Joe Strummer’s 2001 Living in Brixton concert after watching the streaming of Strummer’s solo works increase by over 25% over the past month.

Businesses are also looking for ways to amplify organic moments captured on social media. Gore cites the example of a father and daughter dancing happily to Jess Glynne’s 2015 hit, “Hold My Hand,” which was released on March 30 as they took refuge in their home. As the Facebook video went viral and downloads of the song increased, the catalog division and Atlantic Records, which originally released the song, “made sure people saw it,” Gore said. This involved promoting the video on its sites, as well as adding the song to streaming services.

“Our job as marketers, as catalog-conscious people, we want to make sure we build wider brand awareness in a tasteful way,” Gore said.

Warner Music Group did the same after a couple created a fun simulation of riding a horse with the woman’s hair as a ponytail on America’s “A Horse With No Name”. The video spawned more than 1,300 imitators, many of whom Warner’s Global Catalog team helped spread via social media.

Under normal circumstances, the company may suggest streaming or purchasing the song. Instead, Gore says the message is sweeter, “Like, ‘Here’s something to let you forget what’s going on.’ Let’s rediscover those moments of joy. Monetization happens by itself. You don’t have to hit people on the head.

Reacting to authentic moments instead of trying to create them is key, says Gore. When a Dutch DJ arranged for stations across Europe to simultaneously broadcast the 1963 Gerry and the Pacemakers remake Carousel“You’ll Never Walk Alone” from “You’ll Never Walk Alone” As a show of solidarity, Gore and his team have followed the song’s service to radio stations around the world. “We continue to encourage radio broadcast in many markets as a song of hope. We are also amplifying the song with a marketing medium where we see an increase in streams and downloads related to the radio broadcast, ”he says.

As his company and others seek to promote the catalog when appropriate, Gore emphasizes that right now, “It’s not about marketing our challenges. It is about bringing comfort, joy and solace.

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