Time to Pass that Mic, Lady Gaga! Indie Artists are Coming, and They’re Here to Stay
by Jon Niermann | The Hype Magazine
“I don’t recognize a single name on that roster”—a phrase I quickly grew accustomed to from sponsors when arranging a virtual music festival during this pandemic. While it might seem discouraging, there couldn’t have been a more perfect response I was looking for.
All of the big brands and networks are working with the big stars performing at home during COVID-19, and cheers to them. Lady Gaga, One World At Home and a myriad of huge participants are raising a tremendous amount of money for all kinds of COVID-19 related causes when it’s needed most.
On the other hand, why can’t now also be the moment to give artists who don’t yet have the profile a platform to shine on? Here’s why COVID-19 is the perfect moment for all the amazing rising artists out there, especially while audiences are tuned in and constantly looking for consumable, streamable content.
An Emerging Time for Music Discovery
While the days of Billboard top 50 are far from over, the age of the rising artist is emerging all around us. Last year in Sweden, nearly half of the domestic hits were from independent artists, and while a majority of listeners are stuck at home in the U.S., COVID-19 offers entirely new possibilities for music discovery. Listeners want new, never-heard material now more than ever before, yet major album releases from Lady Gaga to The 1975 to Luke Bryan have all been delayed.
Now, rising artists can swoop in and take the attention of audiences. Indie artists have been given this unique opportunity to showcase what they’ve been working on this whole time, yet, for the most part, hasn’t been heard by the masses. Why not give listeners what they want, while giving upcoming artists a much-needed break?
The “Micro-Influencer” Becoming the “Micro-Musician”
It’s time the music industry takes a tip from the influencer world. In the beginning of YouTube, Instagram and all things influencer, it was thought by marketers that you had to be a Kardashian or a Hilton to reach the much-desired millennial/gen Z audience.
However, as micro-influencers came on the scene, that was soon found to not be the case. Emerging gen Z and millennial buyers began paying the most attention to individuals who built brands around themselves, giving audiences something they could relate to. Out went Kardashian, in came DJ Khaled.
While some musicians like Justin Bieber were lucky enough to become noticed by famous musicians in the early days of YouTube, that isn’t always the case and is far from easy anymore with all the content out there. If rising musicians are given a recognized platform to show millions of listeners their work, not only will audiences show up, but great artists will finally be able to come to the forefront in a largely oversaturated and ratings-based environment.
Giving Independent Artists their Needed, and Deserved, Virtual Stage
I’ve been in the entertainment business for over 30 years. I’m apparently what they call a “domain expert” these days after that tenure (aka “old”). What I’ve consistently noticed over those decades is that everyone with a dream and ambition needs a break. Everyone is unknown at one point. Everyone needs a sponsor, champion or platform.
As professionals in a tough, highly competitive entertainment space, we as industry leaders need to develop platforms that care. Yes, at the end of the day, music businesses are businesses, and shareholders matter too. However, a core part of the people I work with every day are artists. These are very talented, gifted musicians who, if they perhaps had the right break, sponsor, champion or platform earlier, would have been performing on One World At Home.
So thank you to the potential sponsor who said they didn’t know anyone on our list, because it shows we’re doing something right. But please keep that list, my friend. We’ll give you another call in a year when you undoubtedly will recognize most of the bands on that list.
Jon Niermann is the CEO and Co-Founder of Loop Media, an innovative streaming media company focused on premium short-form video for businesses and consumers.