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Why Musicians Need Personalisation in 2023

With the industry oversaturated, standing out is an ever more essential component of music marketing. We look into the potential impact of ‘personalised’ music.

(Credit: PxHere Public Domain)

We stream our favourite artists’ music, we go to their concerts, we share their songs on social media. Meanwhile, sales of physical music are dwindling. Is creating a unique, personalised experience the key to encouraging fans to put their money where their mouth is?

There is a lot of scepticism as to whether personalised music products, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), personalised vinyl and artist messages, are worth paying for.

With the cost-of-living crisis, and the seemingly ever-increasing use of streaming platforms for music listening, are they a waste of time and money, or do they have an impact on sales?

(Credit: Warner Music Sweden via Wikimedia Commons)
Muse became the first act to top the UK charts with NFT album

A Distinct Experience

In September 2022, Muse’s Will of the People became the first act to top the UK charts with an NFT album. Music NFTs are albums which contain links to images, audio, or both. One may question the reason behind purchasing an NFT when you can simply buy an album, but arguably, NFTS attempt to provide the novelty of the vinyl and combat the 8.2 percent decrease in album sales since 2021.

Additionally, if NFTs are resold, artists are still able to take a cut thanks to smart contracts. With streaming services allowing more artists to have a platform, making your content more exclusive can be a benefit in such a competitive market.

In 2023, the fate of NFTs is unclear, but Hyperallergic Magazine, in interview with Christiane Paul, a media studies professor at the New School, and adjunct curator of New Media Arts, wrote: “NFTs can be used as a space for experimentation and crypto enthusiasts argue that the crash mirrors any normal economic cycle and prices will eventually bounce back.”

Scottish singer-songwriter Lewis Capaldi has dabbled in personalised music (Credit: Scott Garfitt/PinPep)

Setting Artists Apart

Creating a distinct profile also helps boost musicians’ exposure. In December of last year, Lewis Capaldi gave his phone number out to his followers by sharing an image of his iPhone with his contact information. When fans phoned him, they received a message from Capaldi introducing himself and saying: “When you get off this call, you’ll have a text to give my new song a download or to buy the CD. Downloading on iTunes and Amazon really helps, as does getting one of the signed CDs.”

This technique of sending an automatic personalised message and link suggests that fans have a desire to feel connected to artists. This month, Capaldi’s single, Pointless, went to number 1 in the UK singles chart.

English artist Gabriella Alpin provided her fans with an eco-friendly record (Credit: Justin Higuchi)

Helping Independent Artists

English singer-songwriter, Gabrielle Aplin, released her eco-friendly album Phosphorescent this year. Gabrielle's vinyl album is made entirely from leftover wax found in a factory, providing each buyer with their own unique coloured record.

Alongside the personal vinyl, Gabrielle is also selling album sleeves signed by her, containing whatever message you like. Gabrielle has since gained highest new entry in the independent album charts as well as the sales (and this includes album purchases).

Andy Musgrave, manager of self-releasing star AJ Tracey, notes that it is important to cultivate a fanbase to make money as an independent artist, and such personalised content helps to make individual fans remain loyal to their independent artist.

Whilst modes of personalisation may be regarded as inconsequential in the grand scheme of music consumption, it should be remembered that personalisation helps musicians maintain relevance in an ever-growing industry.


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