Business News Media The Great Escape 2017

CMU@TGE 2017: Making money from music media in the digital age

By | Published on Monday 5 June 2017


Our reports from all the key sessions at the CMU Insights conferences at last month’s The Great Escape return this week, kicking off today with the first of a number of CMU Trends articles based on the CMU Insights presentations that took place during the proceedings. Today, making money from music media in the digital age.

While the challenges faced by the music industry – and especially the record industry – since the mainstream adoption of the internet in the early 2000s have been widely documented, the music media – and especially the music press – has faced many of the same challenges too. While the web means music media are now routinely talking to more people than ever before, it remains challenging to generate income around that audience.

As the CMU Trends article explains, as mainstream consumers started to go online fifteen years ago, most media owners adopted this logic. “If we put our content online for free we should be able to build a massive audience. At some point internet advertising has to take off. And if we have a massive audience when that happens, we’ll be quids in. Plus, if we ultimately shift to an online-only business model, we’ll no longer have the costs of printing and distributing physical publications”.

The article goes on: “Most of the titles that did make decent quantities of content available for free online did start to see a good uptake for their output. And internet advertising did explode. However, what few media owners foresaw was just how much of the internet advertising dollar would go to search engines and social media, and especially the likes of Google and Facebook”.

That means that banner advertising alone rarely generates enough money to fund a music media business. Which means media owners must explore other possible revenue streams, including subscriptions, sponsorship, branded content, donations, affiliate commissions, spin-off products and events, brand licensing and becoming a marketing agency. Most media will need to succeed at more than one of those to have a viable business.

Premium CMU subscribers can access the full CMU Trends article here, which reviews those various revenue streams in more detail. It is the first of three CMU Trends articles based on the CMU Insights Media Conference at The Great Escape last month. Parts two and three will summarise the recent survey of UK music journalists under-taken by CMU Insights. To become a premium subscriber for just £5 a month click here.