There’s a lot that goes into helping an artist achieve success beyond streams and view counts. I cannot take credit for the success of any artist, because the most important aspect of their success is how people respond to their art. My job as a consultant is to help find ways to drive awareness and fully exploit that art. This is a breakdown of my contribution to the Billie Bodega brand.
What it comes down to is impact. Numbers mean nothing without impact. Fans are what sustain an artist’s career so, with everything you do, the goal is driving fandom, nurturing fandom, and ultimately monetizing fandom. Billie Bodega being a featured actor in a major television series and headlining in promos is the result of fandom.
First, the most important thing is the quality of the music and whether it’s music that touches a nerve with people. If the music doesn’t move anyone it’s going to be an uphill battle. Secondly, it’s the branding. The visuals should look like you belong. If your photos look amateur, people will see you as an amateur and not allow themselves to become fans. Billie, had all those things. The first single dived into a really sensitive topic which was suicide. People have really profound experiences surrounding that topic so it connected with people deeply on an emotional level.
Seeing her social media presence was strong, we started off with a Pre-save campaign running ads targeting her Instagram followers. The goal was to trigger Spotify’s algorithm which looks at things like the percentage of listeners of a song that Save. The Pre-save had us with a save rate that was through the roof but there wasn’t an immediate impact. We got about 399 streams on the first day then it tapered off and settled in at around 100 streams per day.
By March 30th we triggered the algorithm and hit Release Radar in a major way. This was back when Spotify wasn’t putting all Releases on Release Radar. We got a boost of over 1,000 streams on the first day on the playlist, then it settled in at around 600 per day. By April 7th we hit Discover Weekly in a major way and were getting over 3,000 streams per day through the playlist. What mattered most was that people weren’t getting the music through ads, they were getting it in the way they’d get the music of popular artists, through playlists!
Someone hearing your music on a random playlist they didn’t create that features established artists hits a lot different than an ad. That’s why triggering the algorithm for organic reach was the goal and not streams. What stream counts can do is provide insight into the stickiness of a song when you combine it with listener data.
Familiarity breeds comfort. The more people see something, the more comfortable they are with it. Knowing this, I knew that it wasn’t about just getting people to listen to the song once but many times. It wasn’t about getting people to see the artist once, but many times. Rather than simply relying on Facebook ads to continue to drive activity from new listeners, I created banner ads to Remarket to current listeners. The goal was to deepen the connection through repetition. Banner ads allowed us to reach people wherever they were. It made us look like we were everywhere. If they were on their favorite website, they saw us. If they were using their favorite app, they saw us.
Taking it further, I reached out and asked if she had anything we could use for a giveaway. Everybody loves free stuff! It provides a reason to re-engage fans and makes them feel rewarded. I organized a giveaway, we ran some remarketing ads for it, and that got people talking a bit on social media.
Next came the Pre-save for the album which we ran Remarketing ads for and then the EP, which we also ran Remarketing ads for. Again, we ran expansive advertising from Facebook, to Google Display, to Youtube. Our goal was to reach new audiences but also drill the artist’s name and music into the minds of listeners. With the EP I had the idea to create an ad for each track on the EP with unique artwork that spoke to each song. In a way, it was kind of like storytelling through the images.
Once the EP dropped, I checked Twitter and ran searches for her name and song titles to see if we were inspiring chatter. Again, streams don’t matter much, you need people to talk about you and your music. Once I saw chatter, I knew we had something bigger and began trying to convince her to do a live show.
I had already registered her with the top event tracking platforms. These platforms are for concertgoers to track when their favorite acts are performing and get tickets. I was able to see that people were tracking her. It wasn’t large numbers but these platforms provide a microcosm. If you’ve got a hundred people tracking you, there might be hundreds of people that want to see you perform.
Once a performance was organized with a venue, I created the ticketing, sent messages to trackers on a couple of the platforms, and had the event listed on her Spotify page. The result was that we sold 96 tickets online alone. The show sold out at the door. This was accomplished for a new artist, performing for the first time, with no other acts on the bill through organic reach.
We followed up the performance with the release of a new single. Rather than simply pushing another song through Spotify, I recommended we window the release where we allow people to buy it in advance. To organize the advance sale, I set up a drop on an eCommerce platform called Gumroad, mainly because it was really simple and required no design work. We were able to generate a few hundred dollars from direct sales for a song that no one had heard, which was going to be available for free only two days later.
Unfortunately, Billie made the decision to remove all her music but the impact was so strong it didn’t go unnoticed.
When she resurfaced, it was a lead acting role in American Horror Story so clearly, she knows what she’s doing. I’m just happy I played a role in it.