This article provides insights on the role and areas of focus required by a content management lead, in the music industry.

Digitally Connected, Engaged Audiences, Empowered Artists reflect an interesting Culture developing in the Music Business. Since the last decade we are witnessing a sea of change in the entire value chain and importantly in the early stages of the business cycles – incubation, production, registration, storage, licensing, distribution, marketing, and engagement.

With the changing copyright framework across the globe and in India, business rules are being re-written for a new music industry. Rules of the new industry are going to be very different from the traditional music business which was primarily driven by physical assets, retail-focused distribution and over the counter transaction economics.

Undercurrents of the newly emerging business will surround around the theme of ‘integrated objectives and consolidation of human skills’. This will lead to a unified approach to different functions (Marketing, Sales, Business Development, PR and knowledge of legal rights, social media, monetization, and consumers ) and driven by single communication strategy. The unified approach is very different from the traditional business approach where every business functions were in verticals.

The unified approach in the content business is primarily skewing towards engaging technology, digital audiences, cryptocurrency and bringing new dimensions to the social interactions. Professors David Craig & Stuart Cunningham have coined a new term for this emerging eco-system and call it ‘Communitainment’, meaning integration of communication & entertainment industries.

Some time ago, E&Y and CISAC published a study mapping global landscape of Culture and Creative Industries. The study reflects that the Creative Industries in the world contribute to 3% of World GDP and 1% of World’s Active Population, providing +30 Million Jobs.   

EY and CISAC Report

The new music business landscape which is driven by the use of technology illustrates that both audiences and commerce are global in nature. This aspect of globalization works very well with the universal appeal of the musical works, hence it is important to keep in consideration an 80:20 engagement rule (80% domestic audiences and 20% overseas audiences). The new landscape improvises on distribution by way of unbundling of musical assets, pre/postpaid monetization methods, collaborative creative works and development of new business models.

In its recent report, Dentsu Aegis Network pegs the Digital Advertising Industry in India at INR 18,986 Cr. (Y2020). The report highlights – Mobile Engagements as the key driver and large cluster of consumers coming via OTT services, clocking higher of 1Hour content consumption. Streaming of Media through data networks will bring large connected digital consumers, luring the digital advertisers to advertise mode on digital advertising. An interesting aspect of the report is that the consumers watching premium digital video ads are completing 98% of the advertisement served. This means new mechanism will develop through premium & interactive advertising, storytelling process, besides new sectors of audio-video integrations such as automobiles, connected homes, wearable gadgets, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cryptocurrency, voice search etc.  

In a world which is always connected, digital first and data-driven, the human skills/experience/intelligence required to perform a task as content lead will have to be either as a specialist in one field or holistic in approach.

Below topics touch upon certain aspects of the content management tasks that a content professional must possess in order to perform their job and reach goals, create success.

The below segments are created and aligned with the Music Market in India.

a) Genres, Geography and Genetics:

An important aspect of the Indian Music Business lies in its diversity which requires deep understanding of the available catalogue. The commercially accessible catalog including international music comprises of +15MN musical works, +35 core genres and +50 languages bringing in a deep lineage in the genetics of this content. The lineage brings focus on 4-5 large categories of music (Commercial, Hindusthani & Classical, Spiritual & Religious, Spoken Words and Independent & Instructional).

At this point the Marketers and Distributors focus on the commercially successful musical works. With the adoption of technology  by masses this rise of independent and regional catalogs have started to grow and we are witnessing niches being created across content, audiences and micro-level commerce.

b) Content Development, Programming & Curation:

This task focuses on interactive packaging to optimize engagement of consumers with musical works and recurring use of the platform. Widespread adoption of social engagement driven by social media networks, two skills at work in this segment, technology, and human emotions.

Every expression of a creative work is derived from a first-hand human experience/s. The rendering of human experience/s become creativity by way of sound, visual or lyric/text, which is packaged in a digital format that can be played by consumers through various applications/devices.

Thus, focusing on content development, it is essential to develop an underlying information tool along with the content, which the consumer can interact with and brings deeper consumer engagement. The information tolls can be via a Blog, Website, Campaign, Promo, Artist IDs, Teaser, Playlists, Charts, Branded Campaigns, CSR, Festivals, Language, Style, Genres etc.

The most important Goal for this function/skills is to increase ‘repeat usage of music’ which can long-tail content usage and create recurring royalties for the copyright owners. Technology and applications due to widespread use bring ease and automation for the desired tasks be it loyalty & redemption or DIY Playlisting or Virality

c) Content Management / Operations:

Multi-screen eco-system, distributed audiences and digital first require project management skills. The digital business brings lots of challenges for content compatibility with operating software, devices, formats, media players and digital rights management. The distributors are investing in building unique consumer propositions through format ownership, media file compression, progressive streaming, patents etc. This means staying on top of the uneven digital distribution eco-system.

Basic understanding in tech becomes a focus area to perform this responsibility as it entails usage of 3rd party developed Content Management Tools, generating XML feeds to track reporting and usage of content, ingestion processes & technical documentation understanding and management of release schedules.   

This aspect is human intensive as well and involves recreation of original works through the process of digitization and management of digital libraries in a hack free/virus free secure environment.

The human resource management as a Team Lead requires optimization of resources on an hourly/daily/weekly/monthly basis. Working through different time zones, reducing time-lag between music creation, ingestion, distribution and consumer engagement become important parameters to track. In some cases where the products simultaneously reach a global audience, the content teams work round the clock with 2-3 shift designs eg. a large scale music production company can go higher of 100 hours of content processing & ingestion on a daily basis. Therefore, ability to work in a fast paced environment, handling large scale of data, troubleshooting and problem-solving skills become necessary ingredients.

 d) Metadata:

Digital Music Business has a new segment in Data Science and Data Scientists have already stepped in to bring value through big data analytics. This specific segment focuses on how to create digital conversations, matchmaking of music assets with music fans profile such as user tastes x playlist x recommendation. Data science is also optimizing metadata by enhancing information in the backend database of music.

From basic CD-Inlay style metadata, new applications are being created to enhance information via extraction tools. This additional information is extracted from the digitized music file eg. Beat, Tempo, Mood, Date/Time Stamp and weaved in next to Song Name, Album Name, Artist, Genre, Country of Origin, Release Year etc.

Another aspect of metadata is in Tracking of music usage. The traditional music business effectively used ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) for all types of usage, reporting, analytics and royalty compensations.

In the digital economy, ISRC is now combining with distributors unique IDs, social interactions, publishers data, artist-fans engagement, live streaming. This means the Artist & Music universe has become bigger and different aspects of music exploitation need to be in consideration, which can lead to building unique products.

If the metadata is not proper, there can be a significant financial loss to the copyright owners, aggregators, and distributors. The financial loss can come from the inability to track usage or allocation of royalties to a different party. The second large issue is a mismatch or multiple names of the same Artists. Such errors do not show comprehensive search results of the music and artist, again loss in revenue and usage.

Since the last decade there is a global effort to make metadata error free and this includes finger printing technologies or building in-house patents. Apple, Google, Spotify, Echonest, Gracenote, Shazam, YouTube, Vodafone, Orchard, Believe Digital etc. are examples of heavy investment going in R&D for Music Tech.  

There are some innovations as well in building predictive analytics through the source of metadata. When it is combined with usage and social media, we are witnessing predictions of music awards such as Grammy’s becoming 80% accurate.

e) Licensing & Monetization:

This segment of the work focuses on ROI (Return on Investment). Content Managers now need to have a very clear understanding of the copyright framework and the technology eco-system.

The job function is to become a conduit between content investment and revenue through licensing. Revenue creation aspect needs insights to develop new business models or intelligence to weave in licensing strategies in a multi-layered distribution ecosystem.  

In Theory, we can break licensing & monetization strategy into thee parts:

– Tactical

– Strategic

– Value Creation.

Tactical would mean short-term/limited time frame licensing strategy eg. Sync Licensing, which can bring in quick revenue through limited usage grant of rights.

Strategic would mean long-term licensing deals with recurring royalties & usage of musical works eg. Licensing digital/physical distributors or publishing or public performance.

Tactical and Strategic Licensing models are similar to the traditional music business.

However, the newly emerging area is Value Creation. This explores financial value creation through equity as an instrument and is designed around the VC/PE segment. Globally and Locally in India Fan Funding and Crowd Sourcing are rapidly growing in the independent music segment.

f) Strategy:

Global Content Strategist Pam Didner in her bookGlobal Content Marketing’ emphasizes on the fact that the Strategy Role for content is now an independent job function. Earlier, this was a subset of integrated marketing but with a big spike in content creation and integration of music assets in a diverse eco-system, the strategy aspect is not limited to licensing & communication alone. It is driven by special focus towards amplification of content investments, ROI and audience engagement. Pam’s 4 P Global Content Cycle illustrates – Plan, Produce, Promote, Perfect as a structure to follow.

The role of a Music Content Strategist operates at the intersection of [Business Goals x Revenue x Audience Engagement x Content Investment x Licensing Landscape]. Music Content Strategist is becoming a very critical part of the overall business strategy across the industry sectors of the music industry.

g) Marketing & Communication:

As the industry shifts its gears towards deeper digital interactions & connections with an ‘always connected users’, the conventional Marcomm role goes through a change. Marcomm’s new focus is on – Low or No Cost of Marketing, Virality, Creation of Influencers, developing Growth Hackers and unveiling Hyperloop Music Experience/s.

Emphasis on the User Interface for marketing is moving towards interactive engagement with a call to action instructions integrated into the communication. Marketing engagements are focused on turning communication to purchase, instant redemptions/gratifications and continuous use of data to predict consumer engagement & interaction, psychographic & demographic aspects etc.

At this moment, a very large problem area for marketers is skewing towards the shrinking lifespan of messaging due to social media amplification. Limited space, instant virality and a large amount of new content ingestion on an hourly basis eliminate the possibility of long drawn communication.

Hence, Mobile and Social are two default parameters with new content definitions coming in-fold eg. PSID (Personalized, Short-lived, Immersive and Disruptive Content).

h) Innovations & Product Development:

Content Marketers need to spend critical time in building focus towards innovations & product development. This aspect helps in increasing the lifespan of music usage, building direct music fans & database and creation of new revenue streams besides conventional royalty system.

Music Innovations in the Tech-driven business environment are expanding content to new markets, recycling of existing assets, artist-fan/artist-artist collaborations, pricing/discounting models.

To go beyond the regular licensing & aggregation business models, it is important that the content management looks at new industry sectors for music partnerships eg. E-Commerce, Payment Gateways & Digital Wallets, Automobiles, Wearable Gadgets, OEM’s & Sound Compression, SAAS etc. Such associations will be new products in the marketplace, which will help in creating new revenue streams.

An important aspect of the digital market is that the conventional digital market which was driven by platform & focus products is now morphing into Open API’s, Market Place and DIY. This brings a great opportunity for the content investors to create their own unique product opportunities and capitalize on Artist-Fan relationships.  

i) Start-ups:

Startups are the lifeline for the music distribution and commerce. Music Marketers and Copyright owners have started putting their special attention to grow & groom new ideas via incubators, accelerator programs, and financial investments.

Music has a universal appeal and every song comes with a unique vision, story & audiences. It is thus important that a substantial part of content management role works in the development of new startups. These startups will become the future distribution and revenue models for the copyright investments.  

Startup eco-system has the ability to blend content objectives with marketers objectives. Music Content is a business of emotions, emotions that reflect different aspects of human life which become a best engagement/communication vehicle for the marketers. Hence, a great opportunity exists in the process of  Story Telling through musical works.

Influencers, Millennials and Gen Z are the form factors of the emerging start-up eco-system. They are growing with technology adoption and are engaged in diverse and distinct products.

Content Owners Strategic Investment approach towards the start-up ecosystem combining capital, content, and intellect will yield success ahead.

The music business in this paradigm of digital transformation happening with consumer engagement is the perfect personalized interaction tool.

Credits: This Knowledge Sharing is created for the music industry professionals and collaborated with Vivek Paul [Content Innovator and Founding Partner of ]


Managing Partner at Gatsvy Consulting “my entire career devoted to evolving businesses and ensuring that they ethically fulfilled their customer and consumer promise”

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