Boring Bognor to Become Sussex Sweet Spot: New Visions
I’m no longer bored…
Bognor, judging on the feedback you gave me on my previous publication, you’re more bored of this town than me. And worst still, you’ve become so bored you’ve been swallowed by your sofas and become complacent. There is much closed-mindedness and opposition to any form of development, out of fear it will burst the mundane status-quo bubble and cause unwanted disruption.
The town has formed a reputation, its previous attractions have been destroyed and the general aesthetic has become ugly and boring, and it is now associated with rest and respite (by many circles). It’s often heard being referred to as a ‘place people go to die’.
Many of the resident older generation(s) are clearly very uncomfortable and unopen to change, most of the younger generation(s) do not participate in community debates. No wonder we’re plateaued.
Therefore, many lack any air of enthusiasm for more being offered from the town, they are either ‘happy’ with it the way it is or content in travelling elsewhere for their kicks. They’re apathetic even at the expense of others who still want some class and excitement in the town and believe there is potential to provide an exciting environment where they reside.
What is very irking about this situation is that many of these people who state that they want no change in Bognor are those that have moved here from elsewhere, with no prior knowledge of Bognor’s history or interest in the future of the town because their offspring live elsewhere in the country anyway. It’s a shame that the voices of these people shout loudest.
If there is to be change, it seems that it has to be led by both the younger generations and local businesses who have to shake up, get involved properly and drive themselves to be different to how they’re currently performing. For these businesses, this will open a whole new and lucrative audience and bring job satisfaction in the fact they’re giving back to their community.
The audience who travels outside of Bognor for social venues, networking, dancing, music & art events need to take a stand and realise that any of this is available on their doorstep if they make the effort to form the communities to support it. This will be ugly and DIY for a while, but stick with it as the town grows around your passion and it will change into whatever it needs to in order to support the community it hosts.
Too long have we placed the responsibility of development and provision of excitement in the hands of the council. If we want Bognor to be different, we have to do it ourselves however we can. And when we face adversity we just carry on, as it were.
Meanwhile, social entrepreneurs need to unite and show interest in the development and regeneration of the town and use their innovative skills to help build and manage platforms that support their businesses and grow the town economy through clever businesses and partnerships that work alongside community growth.
Call to Action
Would you not rather go into your home town and be proud of it as innovative, artistic, diverse in culture, fun, forward-thinking, sustainable, empathetic and accommodating for those in need, busy, aesthetically appealing and interesting? The council aren’t going to change anything quickly enough alone. Stop relying on politics to make change. It’s time to take action.
We need you in our town and you need our town to build a scene. Stop looking for Chichester bookings or elsewhere, and suss out where you can play in Bognor that will have an audience (or at least a venue that will support you in building one). Admittedly, this audience may not look as attractive as Chichester does at first. But if the right community is built around your presence then it will pay off.
It’s going to take some grit and pushing harder than usual, using social media and guerrilla on-the-floor marketing, and it’s also going to take some work from those of us who are passionate about developing your exposure, but it will be worth it.
All of your favourite bands that ‘came up’ through a scene in an area? Camden… Brighton… Sheffield… They led the scene, not the geographic location. You have to lead that scene by congregating where you are, not following trends to places that artists have risen out of before or where the people seem to be. That scene has already died before you got there.
It’s time to make an effort to make things look more aesthetically pleasing both inside and out. I don’t care if you’ve recently invested in some uninspired attempt at a renovation. You’ve either added a few licks of paint or used a box-shipped wooden effect. Where’s the character? What makes your bar unique? Not just in Bognor, in the world. That’s what generates interest. Have some imagination. Get quirky. Implement more plants — indoors and out! Invest into a good PA system and get some outdoor speakers for your garden.
Now, book some bands and DJ’s. All different kinds, but mainly interesting ones who are doing things a bit differently. Try and outdo your competition by getting a name for yourself for introducing people to music they’d not usually be able to hear in the area. Don’t have any experience with booking good music? Get a good partner. Email firstname.lastname@example.org telling us that you read this, we can help.
Finally, sort out your drinks selection. Be more inventive and import foreign beers, get decent wines and have a really good coffee machine. You may think that Fosters is your best seller now; but get a good partnership with some really good independent suppliers and people will be happy to pay a bit more per drink. Your margin may initially seem smaller, but once you get known for class and you can start charging £3 for a bowl of sweet potato fries you’ll soon see where you can really make a killing on margin. People will happily pay for the experience and atmosphere. I’m ridiculous for it — if you’re serving me a drink in a plastic cup I’ll buy 1 drink and then go find a venue that is serving glass. Then, I’ll happily pay more for the drink because I prefer my drinking experience from glass.
Get involved in letting us know what you need from the town to consider staying here rather than going elsewhere. Really invest into your town to help make it something special.
Ever been to Hastings? — They utilise their local pubs, they get involved in their community and they’re proud of it. It’s good for you too — you never know who you may meet out that you can speak with about job opportunities, interesting goings-on, events, quizzes, new hobbies. If we get our venues right you’ll be able to enjoy local musicians, eat food cooked by local chefs with local produce, enjoy local ale, the fun is endless.
Television sets and the internet have turned us into recluses! Let’s get out and enjoy our surroundings and community again.
And as a side note, let’s not complain about people of other nationalities ‘taking over’, they’re just filling a space that we’ve left blank whilst we eat our TV meals and complain about parking issues on our Facebook groups.
For those who are interested in making this town more entertaining, this does not need to be a case of us vs them. There only needs to be an initial area of town where like-minded people can gather to begin creating attraction. What I’d like to see achieved, collaboratively, is at least a corner of the town (at least initially) where people can congregate for sophisticated eating, drinking and networking. The town will always have areas more suitable for respite.
What I don’t think is reasonable is people living in the prime areas of town and their residency damaging the progress and nightlife of the town. If you live in the centre of town, you should be prepared for it to be noisy and busy late into the night, or you should be prepared to make way and move.
A lot of people have mentioned my comment about ‘loud music’ and they get worried that the town is going to become a noisy mess as a result. This mentality is killing the entire town. We have a great area around the Theatre facing the beach that would be perfect for sea-viewing dining, for example. But what do we have? Fucking mounds of fenced-off grass. Too much of this town is wasted on catering to the needs of those who complain that other people exist in the world besides themselves.
The more those that believe the town should have more entertainment in and around the centre and areas of the promenade, and act towards achieving this, the more businesses (and eventually the council) will invest. It will become more about the council considering how they can buy awkward people out of their current location for the sake of the growth of the town, and less about succumbing to the complaining residents and penalising the people who correctly believe that a town should be the provision of services and entertainment both daytime and night. This is how Bognor has the potential to grow like Brighton did.
Originally found on Medium
Small Town Sentiments: Boring Bognor Attempting a ‘Bitty’ Emulation of Brighton
I’m in the mood for brutal honesty. I’m bored. Genuinely bored of my life. Highly passionate and optimistic about my future and my everyday life, but highly bored of my present location and the opportunities it presents. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey — but my current strategy to a better environment is to leg it.
Bognor Regis is incredibly boring. The picture above is supposed to be the saviour of that bore. Exciting huh?
I’m 27 years old and my life revolves around music and technology. I love live band music, I love electronic music — and I love it loud with a few bevvies to really get into it. I also really enjoy going out and meeting like-minded people and being surrounded by a ‘vibe’ of culture and something happening. The busyness, the volume, the selection, the freedom and the feeling that a good night doesn’t have to end until I’m ready to go to bed. Bognor has none of this.If I want to go out, these are my options:
Nope, that’s not what I need…
Going out to have fun is a logistical nightmare for me. I have to plan expensive travel and often accommodation just to go somewhere that provides what I seek.
What I seek is networking with like-minded people who are into tech, culture, business and music. I want to be around artists & entrepreneurs.
Is there a lack of those people in the area? I don’t think that there is! What there is, is a lack of platform and environment to support development of congregation and investment into the culture from these people.
Enter the Bognor Regis Creative Digital Hub
I’m going to take a little dig at these guys here. But I’m not trying to hinder their progress, the rest of this publication will be optimistic.
I would just like them to take off the rose-tinted’s for a second and consider there is a sociological change management required to achieve what is being fantasised. They won’t achieve any improvements to this town as a whole by putting web developers, social media marketers, a few local businesses and representatives from a council (who have done more damage than good to this town) together in a room to talk about how students will fill, and bolster the economy, of the town with the new uni campus and a digital business hub and this will make the town innovative. It won’t, students will just leave town to find the environments they need to grow — like I did and do.
Some open constructive questions to the hub:
- To work hard is good and having somewhere to do that is great also. But to grow a culture to develop a town, play hard is equally important. Where are users of the hub going to go to ‘play’ and develop their relationships outside of a working environment? Currently, Bognor will not provide.
- How does music play into the hub’s plans? Will there be music licenses? Alcohol licenses? Or is this just a place to go to sit in front of a laptop and attend networking events and seminars hosted by the same old Bognor hosts? Boring.
- What are you doing to create a more inspiring town for musicians and artists who are constantly pushed out of town by licensing issues, venues being closed down and a lack of audience due to residents going to other towns to spend their money?
And don’t ask me to come to your events to get these answers. If you are truly trying to change this town, your efforts need to be public. Very public, not contained in little ‘elite’ groups who try and control the development.
Why Brighton is the Role Model
Brighton openly invites diverse culture, it invites open-mindedness, it invites art and quirkiness, it says “fuck you” to the people who complain about music and says “well done” to the venues that grow a good band.
Why am I banging on about music? Because it’s music that brings people together best.
Brighton has a strong independent foundation and elevates anything which is homegrown or anti-establishment. Brighton has no time for being told what to do, Brighton will elect what it thinks it needed to make the world a better place. Will Bognor?
‘Local’ does not just mean the town itself. If we succeed in what we’re trying to achieve, local will mean everything in between Portsmouth and Brighton. We will be the exciting mid-point of the coast. The magic? We’ve got a lot of venues for a small town. We don’t need more. What we need to do is change what we have:
- Rox Festival — needs to be more regular, more central, more advertised, with more features, better managed with more direct outreach to local artists rather than waiting for applicants, better division throughout town and better enforcement to prevent anything that will hinder the success of the project. There are plenty of amazing and experienced event managers around — the council should make the investment.
- Shutting down of music venues needs to stop. A different approach needs to be taken to encourage and support music but prevent illegal activity. Arun District Council should change their stance on enforcement and shutdown and change that to guidance and consultancy to ensure venues stay open.
- Where music licenses can be provided — they should be frequently offered to venues. If venues choose to waste the opportunity they are presented with, this should be exposed so that other owners can offer to buy them out of their premise.
- Outside drinking and dining needs to increase.
- The town centre needs bars and restaurants.
- Local pubs need to up their game DRAMATICALLY.
Aesthetics & Selection
Places don’t just become ‘hip and trendy’. Local venue owners have to make the effort to make things quirky and attractive. Just keep it clean, put some fairy lights up, get some Brewdog in the fridge, make sure there’s always some unusual/forgotten gem music on at a decent volume and make partnerships with some other local business people and craftsman. Look what Brighton venues look like compared with ours:
They make an effort to make things look cool and they realise that busy but sophisticated street drinking and dining is massively beneficial for the town’s economy.
Is everybody aware that David Bowie played in Bognor in his early career?
Bognor is technically well-situated to be a central coast hub to bolster art, technology, business and UK culture. But first, serious investment and commitment needs to go into the attraction of the town, because right now it is dead-end.
4 years ago this video was shot in Bognor, it says a lot about the way people think around here…
The best times I remember having in Bognor were when you could go to Oceans Bar and grab a decent cocktail, walk out of the open face into the warm summer evening and there being loads of people outside the bar and The Hardwicke opposite. The Thursdays bus used to pick up from here so there’d always be people outside these two bars with an eagle eye, but having fun and dancing to the music coming out of Oceans. Oxfords Bar (what is now what Oceans was) have actually done a really decent job with the interior of the place and has great potential:
I went to the Mud club rather than Thursdays. That place is so missed, the music there was great, absolutely on-point bookings — there was a great club culture and the variety of things on meant that there were general reasons to venture into town at the weekend.
That is nowhere near enough compared to what’s needed, but it was a start. It got people out spending their money in town instead of ‘pre-drinking’ or going to another town.
I want to make Bognor a great place to live in and I have some ideas of how B-DEM Records can support this. But, it’s got to start with a realistic viewpoint of the current situation.
Using the good things about Bognor and putting a bit more effort into making the town and the venues look more attractive will make more of an impact than is being considered. The street paving is not as important as what that path leads, or what businesses sit on it. This town will go nowhere without drastic change, and this Digital Hub will be a waste of time.
Leisure-time facilities tie in directly with the business and growth offerings of the town, if there is nowhere to go get comfortable and have a good time away from the working environment then people won’t stick around. Good leisure-time is fuelled by good food and good music.
If we want to be anything like Brighton, let’s make more of an effort to bring independent music into a focus as Bognor on a large scale.
Alexa May Kill Indepedent Music
The idea of a new operating system coming along and completely disrupting the way we operate computers is completely exciting. How cool that artificial intelligence has reached a stage where we can now successfully and efficiently control not only allowing medias, but also tangible real-life objects by our voice! And whilst on the subject of those 'allowing medias', I guess it won't be long before stand-by projectors come along that can be operated by Alexa, so that we only see things when we need to (great potential for saving energy wasted by doing tasks on a screen that can now be done by voice, great for helping human eyesight by staring at screens less and great for arthritic RSI injuries caused by keyboards as Alexa will just take you straight to the destination!)
But, I'm spotting that Alexa poses some real potential issues for the independent music industry.
In a previous personal blog I wrote of music going back to 'just play', rather than on-demand and discovery browsing, and how people will go back to loving music with less of an ambition to own it, instead using it to support experiences. Alexa has taken this theory of mine quite a bit further.
If the widely-used OS moves to become voice-led, I anticipate that there will be less use of Discover Weekly, social playlists etc.
There will be less of an inkling to say "I wonder what Chris is listening to", or "play me something I don't know" - because people will often already have considered some idea of what to ask for before asking, that's part of the novelty of Alexa. It'll be more about "Alexa, play something I can dance to", which will 9/10 be mainstream commercial music, big hits that the streaming platform will know people would want to expect to hear in such a playlist. So that means that music will have to be very popular before it even reaches the 'c list' levels of streaming. Spotify try and tackle the 'mainstream overpowers all' problem by using something that looks like the following system (taken from this report from BPI):
That alone, in the current streaming climate, is really tough on independent artists and labels when it comes to not being overshadowed by major-label-backed material, but now we're moving into voice-led OS (and speculatively people will add things to their playlist less) that system just won't work very well for getting new music heard.
At BDEM, we will be on board with implementing these new disruptive technologies into our strategies to help push artists in the direction listeners are based. But as promoters of independent music; what noise can we make to get independent music heard? What platforms can we lead that ensure people naturally sway towards dedicating time to new music discovery? How can we bring the marketing of this outside of the voice control system and into phsyical, tangible or visual prompts?
So far we're toying with the idea that this will inspire a new boom of radio, or radio-like platforms which will push new music in and around the mainstream stuff. We might invest some resource into going down this route...
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music Series: 1
At BDEM, we’re (mostly) all tech babies. Computers have been in our lives for most, if not all, of our lives and have greatly influenced how we listen to music. I’m just about the age whereby I still had a tape Walkman and recorded the radio to build mixtapes in my childhood, but that experience quickly whizzed through to annoying skipping unreliable portable CD players and then the cheap Ebay MP3 players and the misunderstood P2P platforms that powered them.
P2P was a game-changer for the music industry. This was the point that music not only became free, but became ON DEMAND. Music became a communist’s dream and naturally that’s a capitalist profit-driven businesses nightmare.
The major labels responded in a way that damaged the future of the music industry all round. The shutdown on P2P sharing had a similar result to the war on drugs, so as with the changing of chemicals to mask the type of drug being sold with that, illegal digital music distribution just kept changing to suit the needs of the consumer whilst the labels ended up losing more and more control trying to oppress and deny the listeners.
It wasn’t the loyalty of the listener that changed though and for most it wasn’t even about the fact the music was free. It was about the new easy way that had been widely discovered to access any music they wanted (from chart albums to super-rare bedroom recordings from new up-and-coming artists). Digital changed the way music could be enjoyed and listeners caught onto it quickly, trying to stop them doing that is like forcing people to walk 30 miles when they have a car. It can be pleasurable, but most of the time it’s just not ideal.
What I always found interesting was the way Grime artists used P2P. They used it far more wisely than the majors because they saw it as an assistance to business, not a problem. For the Grime artists it was about getting music into the ownership of as many people as possible and they exploited this with their ‘demo style’ freestyles, battles and chats which helped them elevate their careers into commercial territory by leverage of mass sharing with niche markets.
We get this, we’re part of this latter movement of the music industry and one of our core drives as a business is to find harmony between digital consumers and the artists that they actually truly want to support but don’t know how to with the tools they’re given.
We’re sure that part of the answer lies in digital streaming platforms. The accessibility of stored archives of music in data centres accessible via the cloud seems like the answer, and having that wealth at a single point platform (with self-management abilities) on both your computer and portable device is clearly pretty unbeatable when compared to self-owned MP3 libraries that you have to order, backup, purchase separately and search for from multiple sources.
In our next post we’ll look at the major players in the streaming platform market and assess some strengths and weaknesses of each.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 2: Soundcloud, Good for Inner Circle and Bad for Business
In early 2010 BDEM started its journey as a net label. We used the tools available to us at the time to build a roster and guide our music to the right listeners. The two primary examples of these tools were a popular niche forum called Dubstep Forum (or DSF for short) and Soundcloud.
I believe that Soundcloud deserves the 2nd part of this series, not just because of its excellent assistance in developing the digital music marketplace, but also as an example of how it failed to adapt to a quickly moving online world and eventually crashed as a preference for music fans.
When Soundcloud was released to the world, it was gold for us that were producing music and had our little communities of music makers (such as the DSF users). We’d build our ‘WIP’s’ (works in progress, for those who didn’t figure it out) and then share the music in a semi-private fashion with other producers for feedback on the sound. Soundcloud, being the clever little platform it is, allowed us to view a waveform on a timeline and place comments exactly where we were referencing in our feedback. Amazing. We’d then correct our music and republish it more publicly for a wider audience. When the music was highly favoured it would be pushed for digital release and us as the uploaders on Soundcloud were able to place links where our listeners could go off and download our music so we’d get paid for them enjoying the work.
So where did this all go wrong? Simply, in the last sentence of my previous paragraph. Our listeners were already able to listen to our music on Soundcloud, it was there and it was convenient, so why would they need to go off to another site, with another sign in, enter bank details and buy it?
That’s taking a very simple idea of on-demand listening and making it difficult for the sake of giving back to the artist. The listener shouldn’t be punished for listening to music without paying, the platform should be questioned and adapted so that listeners already contribute monetarily before enjoying the work; like a live gig, or an art gallery where they choose to charge for entry - or visitors guarantee a purchase.
What happened next? Artists started chopping down their tracks into previews, listeners scattered to listen to music in different places (meaning that steady 100 followers a week the artist was previously getting started to dwindle) and Soundcloud starting spazzing out and changing its platform in desperation to sustain their growth.
We’re now still in a limbo where the music platforms are missing the great functionality of ‘WIP’ sharing and comments within a paid environment. Kanye West took an ever-maverick shot at this reality when he controversially released unfinished music and kept changing the goalposts on the status of the release.
In the following parts of the series we will look at how the music industry has continued to grow in the digital domain. We’ll run through the options available and outline pros and cons. Then we’ll finish the series up by discussing what we believe will be the way forward for the industry so that it satisfied both the producers and consumers.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 3: Spotify The Conqueror
Along came Spotify… Honestly, along it came and what a relief. This one stuck – and I think it will for a long time now.
It works. Almost… (It still has its drawbacks in the fact it still supports the old industry (and the ‘cartel’), but that’s for another post.)
So why do I say that Spotify works? - Firstly, artists get paid.
There are OF COURSE on-going arguments about per play returns being so minimal that it’s daylight robbery compared with MP3 purchases - but we’re in the age of Insta-culture now, and MP3 is losing relevance. Things happen on demand, things happen ‘in the cloud’ and things happen with viral response. MP3 has no place in the short-term future.
Even with such a small return per stream, a quick look at The Spotify Charts is enough to inspire you to believe in the future of streaming. 4,000,000 plays DAILY at $0.006 is no laughing matter. Earning $24,000 a day (even with the amount which is stripped away in administrative fees) is no laughing matter. That makes you a millionaire every 41 days. So every year you earn $8,000,000 from a single track, in theory.
But yes, that 4,000,000 mark is artists like Drake and they are massively manufactured, globally marketed and highly advertised on the Spotify platform itself.
But I don’t believe the outlook is bleak for independent artists either. To earn a wage of $500 a day, you only need plays from 0.084% of the market. 500 / 0.006 = 84,000 plays. With 100,000,000 users (40M paid) there’s an increasing chance that high plays are possible.
Although this is the bulk of what we’ll be covering in the artist management areas of BDEM content, let’s briefly run over Spotify strategies that will assist with achieving reaching 0.084% of the potential market:
- Big-data intelligence – ‘Discover Weekly’: Spotify’s algorithms will naturally assist an artist’s growing presence by sharing music with listeners who frequently listen to music like yours.
- User Playlists – including those of popular and high-profile users: The more playlists you’re on, the more you get played. Whether that’s through people following those of high-profile users, or if it’s as simple as a listener who likes you so has added your music to a playlist which will have your song cycling again and again. This is a power of streaming music payments. They may be low, but they’re everlasting.
- Market preference – Spotify has 10M users for a reason, because it’s fast becoming the music consumption platform of choice for listeners. To not utilise Spotify properly is making it more difficult for your audience to reach your music.
Spotify is our place, for now. If you’re interested in learning more about how we help artists with their Spotify presence and growth strategies be sure to email us at email@example.com to request a non-obligatory chat with one of our artist development team.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 4: Tidal & Streaming Flaws
When Kanye first released Pablo on Tidal and told people it’d be exclusive there (for a while at least), I jumped at the chance of the free trial.
At first, I really liked Tidal. It was simple, it worked, the mobile app was faster than Spotify (at the time) and it was releasing music from my favourite artists that weren’t landing elsewhere.
The innovative business strategies bought forward by Tidal also pushed my buttons. It has unearthed a new issue for the industry in the face of platform exclusivity. Up until Tidal, mainstream artists were going as far as refusing to release music on select streaming platforms (i.e. Swift on Spotify in favour of Apple, or Adele refusing to stream) to strategically block out competition to their high-profile deals with their partners; but they were still keeping with the traditional model philosophy of ‘release as many places as possible to reach a wider market’.
This was new, an abundance mentality implying that artists are in control and fans should buy into their platform in order to enjoy the art and entertainment they provide. Scarcity sells.
A small ripple happened here in the media surrounding the platform. A theory that this splitting of platforms (and the respective separate subscription costs associated with them) would cause a relapse of pirating, because consumers would be expected to pay for multiple platforms to get music from different artists. Although that scenario is bad for artist, listener and business alike, it's also very exciting because it's shown another problem that needs solving, moving closer to an equilibrium in the digital industry that finally works for all involved.
Then I heard that Daft Punk and Deadmau5 were shareholders. WOW, this was clearly going to be a platform that will elevate electronic music, right? Nah. By the time my 3-month trial had ended I had heard nothing about their involvement and I was so bored of mumbling new-age made-up-word urban music about titillation that I couldn’t wait to get back to Spotify and ‘just press play’.
As far as I'm concerned, streaming is the answer. There is no longer a need to own music digitally now that technology has allowed for high levels of internet connectivity and large data storage in the public cloud (although I still think it's always going to be a necessity to have a tangible copy of your favourites). With BDEM, our current solution to the low Spotify returns problem is on ensuring that all traffic is pushed through the single funnel rather than allowing the music to be listened to in multiple places (such as platforms that don't pay at all). This has the intention of ensuring that plays aren't missed so that revenue is built and slowly encourages the industry to move further towards streaming from a paying platform rather than illegally downloading or streaming on sites that don’t pay anything. Let's remember that theft is still more of an issue than Spotify paying little. As consumers get used to paying £10 a month for unlimited music rather than nothing at all, the pay-out to artists will increase - and if Spotify don't raise that return, then a competitor will!
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 5: Take Apple Music Down
When my free Tidal trial ran out, I thought “I’ve done my ‘due diligence’ and checked this new kiddy on the block with an unbiased mind, and it’s proved not to be as good as what I was using. It’s time to return home to what was working, Spotify”. Then, I got offered a trial with Apple Music.
As far as I’m concerned, Apple Music was an absolute mess. Honestly, what is the point of this being on the market? It’s trying to do everything that’s already on offer but is doing it a lot worse at the same price.
I didn’t feel this way initially. When I first got Apple Music I had a nostalgic feeling, like when I first got my iPod Nano way back when I was at uni. I was chuffed because commercially and aesthetically, Apple make really appealing products that make you feel proud being sucked into the materialistic culture.
But I quickly felt differently about this product and instead felt that it was, by far, the most awful thing that Apple had ever released.
I first used Apple Music on my Android phone. Spotify had been a bit laggy in its previous patch that I was using prior to Tidal, so Apple Music felt quite rapid on first use. I began searching around for new music to listen to and building my playlists up as if Apple Music was set to be my new musical home. The user interface wasn’t quite as slick as Spotify’s and I found navigating around it a bit off-putting. A few tracks that I wanted I’d had on Spotify playlists were missing, “no biggy” I thought.
A bit of time went on with Apple Music usage and when I felt like listening to music I added it to playlists, associating with the vibe of the track. After a while I felt like I was hearing a lot of the same tracks. - That’s when I realised that Apple Music was missing the function that Spotify has that alerts me when I am trying to add a duplicate to my playlist. Apple was happy to let me crack on and do that as if it was a good thing to have more than one instance of a track in a playlist – honestly, when is that ever viable?
In the evenings, I jumped on my Mac and cracked on with the BDEM v2 strategies. I chucked music on to pull me through. Although I’m more of a playlist guy now, I still do love an album sometimes and throw one on. I was always a great collector of CD’s and when I switched to Spotify I naturally saved all of the albums I loved onto ‘My Music’. It was so simple and so easy to navigate to when I wanted to find it. Apple Music on the other hand - what is all that jumbled shit?! Can’t you just show me my albums where they’re supposed to be, why do I have to keep changing things from list to tile view? Why do I have to switch between iTunes purchases and streaming music? Oh cool, music I upload onto iTunes goes into the cloud and I can listen to it roaming. Nope, that doesn’t work either. For fuck sake, where is that album that I starred? Why has the star disappeared? What is this buggy shite?
Then there was finding new music to listen to. How much I missed ‘Discover Weekly’ and ‘Recommended for you’. Then there was the one thing that the media was indicating was supposed to make it good and a contender, Beats Radio… Didn’t even work – kept cutting out. Absolute shambles.
My simple conclusion is that I believe that companies should not enter into a market and immediately claim themselves a leader off the backs of a completely different product (being a leader in downloadable music doesn’t instantly make you a contender in streaming). Sometimes you’re just too late to the party and you’re never going to be the life of it because the partiers hadn’t had time to warm to you, and you hadn’t had time to choose the right music to play for your audience.
Personally, I feel that with Spotify’s big data analytics and AI, Apple Music will never be able to catch them. Hang up the gloves, it’s not your fight.
Written by Josh Smith
Steaming Music 6: YouTube
YouTube is for videos. Music (without supporting music videos) has found itself on YouTube by people either using it wrong or illegally.
I have a feeling that the phenomenon of uploading music to YouTube happened around the same time that MySpace went down and there was a weird void between artists (and pseudo-curators who want to share other people’s music, but in a non-creative way) being able to upload music online for people to listen to pre-release.
YouTube is a huge opportunity for exposure for artists, there’s no denying it. It’s a place that very few internet users don’t travel to at least once a day and it’s almost built to play music, except that it’s supposed to play videos.
Do I have biased gripes with YouTube? I guess I do. I don’t like the way that in order to get this previously mentioned exposure it has to come through a channel that exists to curate, upload and share music under their glory and their subscription model. Yes, a number of the listens an artist gets from a music-sharing channel will convert to a visit from an intrigued listener, or if you’re really lucky maybe even an MP3 purchase, but that doesn’t compare to the alternative which is micro-payments for every play made.
I guess that my real issue with YouTube only surfaces when I compare it with Spotify. I think Spotify is great as a growing social platform. If we look at how the ‘music sharing channels’ would operate on Spotify, it looks a lot better for artists.
The artist, or their label, have submitted their music to the distributor (Spotify), which means that they can reclaim money on every play that’s made. Now imagine that the music channels that exist on YouTube, with all their followers who trial all of their uploads to see if it’s good music, were on Spotify instead. Artists would be getting (Albeit tiny, but accumulating) payments for people enjoying their music. Then, listeners could simply add that music to their own playlists and the amount of plays they give to an artist would just grow and grow.
Things get deeper when we then think about Spotify’s recommendation algorithms. Consider if one of those tracks managed to get 5,000,000 plays as a result of it becoming popular on an uploaders playlist – Spotify, unlike music sharing channels, have the resources to share that track to a more extended audience who will appreciate it (based on their listening history). – More exposure, more plays, more fans, more money, [more problems – maybe? Doubt it…]
Although it’s convenient to some listeners who have gotten used to using YouTube as their choice of music provider, it’s not built for it. Think about those times music videos have been taken down and you’ve lost it from your library? Not cool right. YouTube may continue to try and invest into making YouTube a better platform for music, but it’s never going to keep up with the services that are music-centric and it’s never going to be able to give back to artists like the alternatives do either.
If you value the art you’re consuming, consider how you might be helping or harming the artist who’s provided it for you. All art is unique and even though there’s an abundance of it available, one piece may change your life through subtle ways. Think of an artwork that has changed your life in some way, or that you associate with a big experience in your life, then imagine it gone because “oh well, if I can’t have that song there’s always another one to listen to”. Art doesn’t work like that, art will change your destiny in little ways you don’t even know.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 7: Bandcamp
Bandcamp is a likeable brand. They seem like nice people and they were likely the best option for artists through the transition from physical to digital medium. Artists could set their own prices in order to have control over the perceived value of their product, royalties to artists were the highest offered for MP3 sales with a distribution partner without selling to listeners directly, they quickly became respected as a company who put artists first and the links to sales pages integrated nicely with Soundcloud.
The problem with Bandcamp? They represent the problem with the music industry.
They represent the transitional period between physical music mediums and true digital accessible music (i.e. streaming).
In May 2016, Bandcamp took the liberty to post an article boasting about their business growth and insulting the streaming industry movement, indirectly implying that their model is a better solution.
The article starts by throwing around its metrics, a 35% growth over a year. But just what exactly do they mean by growth? Profit? - A good effort, and at least they’re not exploiting the tax loopholes associated with some of the big players in the streaming industry (as hinted to in their ‘now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense’ comment).
In reality, all their metrics only indicates a good brand and marketing presence rather than a new industry model. People buy from Bandcamp because artists have been sold the idea that Bandcamp is a solution that gives more back to artists, then artists sell that idea onto consumers.
Their ‘subscription-based music streaming is an unproven business model’ argument is only as relevant as Bandcamp being an ‘uncontested artist-centric support plea model’. In this respect, streaming music can be looked at like electric cars. It’s something that everybody knows is required for a better world, it’s something that actually performs better than its classic competition and it’s something growing rapidly but not yet the leading option. Also, like electric cars, what holds it back is those making capital from the old ways.
Eventually consumers move along and they find easier ways to consume music as indicated by the pirating crisis that gave birth to all of these new industry solutions. What’s clear is that streaming music is the easiest way to both store and play music on demand. The only things stopping people having unlimited access to any music they like are internet connectivity, subscription costs and release legalities – all things which are increasingly being assessed and improved for listeners.
Bandcamp do focus all of their energy on being the best solution for artists. Their metrics reflect that they provide a service that consumers respond to, but what it doesn’t do is offer the buyers a better solution – something that will work better for them on the long term.
Streaming offers for consumers (at minimum):
- An on-demand option of music.
- Simple to use platforms.
- Personalised recommendations based on user data analysis.
- Marketing and music exposure through listening automation and automated playlist curation.
Bandcamp as a platform relies on artists and small labels to make their own marketing efforts. Whilst I’m sure a lot of them are capable of this, I personally would far rather see these artists and labels putting the time it takes to accomplish strategizing and running good marketing & sales campaigns, into making music instead.
The fact is, we’re talking about a future. This digital music age is more than just a choice for consumers between whether they want to buy CD or MP3, this movement is completely aligned with technological advances across the board as we move deeper into a highly connected digital reality. We’re talking about self-driving cars with Spotify built in, so a potential for taxis that you can control what music you want to listen to on your journey.
We’re talking about a further decrease of wiring and an increase in space-saving in an ever-overpopulated world. It’s not just the way consumers are choosing to listen to music, it’s why they are. These are the factors that matter.
The truth is, I think that Bandcamp feels threatened by the growth of the streaming model. That both makes me sad to see a company that means well falling into irrelevance and pleased to see the industry as a whole moving towards a new solution that suits both the consumer and the artist.
Bandcamp lives in a world where they want to let consumers continue in the status quo, regardless of the fact that it will become increasing difficult to do so. BDEM lives in a world where we embrace the future and want to see us move towards a technologically-advanced world that assists us on our day-to-day, makes things that should be easy, even easier, and gives us that feeling of freedom to be creative.
Written by Josh Smith
Streaming Music 8: So, What’s the Answer?
To understand how the music industry is developing, it would pay to consider the philosophy of the growing IoT (Internet of Things) movement. IoT is the merging and blurring of lines between the digital internet and physical realm. It’s about connectivity of devices and using analytics of data to drive efficiency from things in the real world.
Streaming music could be considered a form of IoT in the entertainment industry. We’ve gone the full cycle – from live music around a campfire where music was on demand in the form of Traditional Folk Music, to the recording of music and the rise of the commercial artist and pop star, to the collapse of the first music industry, to the rise of on-demand digital music and now we’re entering into a realm where that ‘on-demand’ premise extends into maximum accessibility.
We have multiple competitors in the field of digital music streaming, but the ones who survive and will become our go-to choices will be the ones who innovate, provide the best revenue streams for artists, provide the most accessibility for listeners and the ones who understand the ‘sharing economy’ and find and exploit ways to profit in it.
As the border between what is internet and what is reality continues to merge, it is unlikely that the way we use the internet (such as a browser, or even a computer) will be the same. We’re going to be more device-led, and with the development of voice-controlled devices such as Amazon’s Echo, or Google’s Home, non-evolving platforms like Soundcloud or Bandcamp will become less easy to use and will continue to fade.
Therefore, technology leaders will continue to grow as music providers and music industry strategies will increasingly need to revolve around developing technologies and leading distributing platforms. Independent artists will either need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to marketing their products, or they’ll be lost in the depths of data.
As part of our artist development and label services, we’ll be sticking to the strategies outlined in this series and ensuring that we always take a forward-thinking approach to the music industry. We’re driven by the sharing economy, efficiency and giving freedom to artists for them to create their art.
If you’re interested in learning more about how BDEM can help you develop as an artist in the new industry, or if you’re a business in the developing new music industry, then be sure to get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org We’re always keen to discuss ideas or run through how we might be able to help you achieve goals.
Written by Josh Smith
B-DEM Records has focus on signing electronic music with a timeless feel.
We are believers in the future of streaming. We sign talent and music that brings innovation, class & high musicality, and share it with the world.
A one-stop solution for artists, a brand platform that covers all of their business requirements whilst they focus on what they do best, making the music.
We release music that can still be loved in years to come.
In order to achieve this, we set out to sign talent and music that brings innovation, class & high musicality, and then share it with the world. We follow a strict vetting process to ensure that our music is released in the highest quality industry-standard commercial formats. We have an extremely effective and innovative promotion team that ensure music is delivered to the ears of the right people.
Our emotional scope ranges from soul & emotion through ecstasy & euphoria, to bump & groove; conveyed through electronic music genres. Our signature sounds thus far have been variants of Garage, House, Dubstep, Trip Hop, Hip Hop and Grime, but we are frequently looking to expand this list and move into more varieties of exciting areas of electronic music.
We are believers in the future of streaming.
BDEM is centred on basing our marketing efforts around our Spotify releases at every stage of promotion. Cutting out other listening platforms encourages not only pay per listen (increasing revenue), but also encourages tracks to reach more listeners through popular playlists and charts. In the downloading world, listening stops when marketing efforts do. In streaming, an interactive and evolving world, music is always available and alive to be unearthed and resurfaced.
We act as a one-stop solution for artists, a brand platform that covers all of their business requirements whilst they focus on what they do best, making the music. We will also always make sure that our consumers are able to obtain high quality music in the easiest manner possible with a minimum expenditure. We’re a solution, not just a label in terms of releasing music.
BDEM was founded in 2010. As a lover of music and business, the founder had a vision to create a label that exceeded the expectations of the many ‘net labels’ in existence and create a company established enough to challenge that of the leading Indies and eventually sit up with the majors. - A strongly engrained philosophy of our label is that business is not something to be feared, it is something to help artists prosper and allow them the freedom to do what they love. We don’t believe in limiting our potential.
In the first few years of BDEM we created a great little following within the Future Garage scene. But it was clear that more needed to be done to meet the ambitions of the founder to expand to become something very special and a power to be reckoned with.
The initial label years saw an increase in revenue, but it was evident that there was something wrong between signing the music from our artists and delivering it to the consumers. We found that a lot of our issues with increasing business growth were due to the industry-expected release procedure, which was clearly out of date.
In 2014 we decided to freeze operations to take time to strategise a more cohesive plan to ensure that the label was to be growing, profiting and promoting to a level that makes genuine impact on the industry and not just a niche scene, this lead to the process of implementing new operations and went on to become BDEM v2.
BDEM is no longer the sole proprietorship that it was for the first few years, we now have a team of people working for the company, moving it out of startup phase and into becoming something great. We can already feel the tides of momentum pulling us forward. The more support we receive as a label, the more we can give back to our artists.
Josh Smith – Managing Director, Founder
Josh started as an electronic music producer in high school and continued his academic studies up until graduation of his BA Hons Music Production degree at the University of Brighton in 2011. For around 9 ½ years he produced under his first alias 'Whyrez' (which transitioned through two different spellings), this introduced him to the industry at a professional level. In his time within this role he had multiple BBC Radio plays and various releases on labels such as L2S Recordings, which was the most influential and successful UK Garage label of the period. He also had music with Olivia Louise featured in a Universal Pictures movie directed by Noel Clarke called 'Legacy'.
Although he followed in the path of his inspiration to become a music producer, in learning and studying the methods of making money through music he began to discover that music was not his only love and he also had a keen taste for business itself.
In 2010 he founded B-DEM Records with the purpose of creating a forward-thinking record label releasing electronic music with a timeless feel. The edge in the marketplace was to have an up-to-date model that reflected the technology and methods of consumption by listeners and provided above-average services for their artists from quality control to marketing strategy. BDEM was created with the vision of being a complete solution for artists to make music to a commercial standard and release it for consumption of the relevant market.
Dave Brock – A&R Manager
Dave has spent the last 6 years cutting his teeth in the electronic music scene and is now an established Producer, DJ and Event Promoter.
Dave, formerly producing under the Alias ‘Lojt’, has released music on Basslight Records, L2S Recordings and BDEM. Within this role he developed his networking skills by liaising with other artists in the scene and pushing music to blogs such as Girl8bit, OnlyVibes and a slew of other channels and webzines.
As a DJ, curating music is one of Dave’s strongest points, relentlessly networking and constantly searching for fresh new artists and pushing them through his Sub.FM show. Out in the club field, he has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Todd Edwards, El-B, Altern-8 and has become renowned for high energy sets and vast music knowledge.
Dave has joined BDEM management as Chief A&R Manager with the intention of planting the label not only at the forefront of the Electronic Music scene, but also into the history books.
Outside of music, Dave enjoys long walks on Runcorn beach and drinking craft beers.
Tudor Watson – Web Development Consultant
Tudor & Sally of Tangent Web Design have been key members of the BDEM team since it’s founding. They have assisted the Managing Director not only with the development of the website, brand image and our online presence, they have also been pivotal in mentoring and directing the MD in general business advice and also art, tech and music-related advances.
Lewis Yates – Visual Artist Consultant
Lewis has also been a key member of the BDEM team since founding. He is solely responsible for the coherent image and style across our release artwork. Lewis is the man who turns crazy ideas and concepts only translatable through imagery into a tangible existence.
Lewis Brown - Brand, Marketing & Aesthetics Consultant
Mark Dobson – Mastering Engineer
Mark is the newly appointed mastering engineer for the label. Mark & Josh met at university where they both studied the same course. Mark has been chosen to be the designated engineer for the label due to his crystal clear audible sensibility and ability to make tracks sound how they’re supposed to. As an artist he is both a highly talented ‘organic’ musician and master of electronic manipulation, it is this dual understanding that gives him a sonic edge in the mastering realm.
As a producer, Mark works under the alias Ambassadeurs, of which he is highly successful releasing albums with highly reputable labels and seems to be touring the world constantly! Mark also runs his own record label called ‘Lost Tribe’.
Christopher Garcia - Commercial Manager
Christopher is the latest in additions to the BDEM management team and with an established background in Financial Services and Business Development he brings a different skillset to BDEM. Along with actively managing new business formations and business structure his duties include; the oversight of contractual and commercial agreements, risk assessment and the adherence of financial KPI’s while of course, working very closely with founder Josh on the strategic development of BDEM.