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CMU@TGE Top Ten Questions: How do you make money out of music media in 2017?

By | Published on Friday 5 May 2017

How do you make money out of music media in 2017?

In the run up to this year’s CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference, we are going through the top ten questions we will be answering during this year’s programme. Today: How do you make money out of music media in 2017?

If you think it’s a challenge making money out of music in the digital age, trying making money out of music journalism. Just like the music business, the media sector has also struggled to deal with the shift to digital, but unlike artists music journalists don’t generally have a live or merch side to fall back on, nor a rapidly growing online subscriptions business to replace lost legacy income streams.

You could argue that in the social media age, where everyone is a publisher – and in the streaming era where people can check out a new album for themselves for free without relying on a critic to describe it to them – do we even need so much music journalism?

Yet music-based editorial content – whether news, reviews, interviews or other features – is still hugely popular. Indeed, most music media and most music journalists are talking to much bigger audiences online than they ever did in print. And the music industry still recognises the role media platforms play in building an audience for their artists and music.

The challenge for music media owners is how to turn that online audience into revenue. Music magazines traditionally had two sources of income: cover price and advertising. However, publishers – especially of consumer-facing titles – have found it really hard to persuade people to pay to access content online. In the advertising space, media owners face two massive new competitors for the online ad spend of big brands: search engines and social networks. And Google and Facebook don’t have the cost of generating a steady stream of new content every day of the week.

So how do you make money out of music media in 2017? It’s probably all about brands: either providing services or partnership opportunities to consumer brands, or media owners exploiting their own brands and building products or events around them. But what does any of that mean for future of music journalism? Or the future of music PR, for that matter.

We’ll be debating all these issues in The Media Conference at The Great Escape later this month. We’ll look at how four successful media brands – DJ Mag, Vice, GRM Daily and DIY – are generating revenue, and will discuss how both music journalism and music PR are evolving.

There will be plenty of food for thought for anyone working in or with the music media, whether generating content or looking for coverage. And for those in the record industry, things might look quite rosy in your sector by comparison!