Why ‘Spotify Is Not a Marketing Plan’ in Landing a Hit Song, Record Label Execs Explain (Video)

·3-min read

While there’s countless examples of burgeoning young pop stars who have found brief viral success through TikTok or have become Instagram famous, record label execs argue there’s more to marketing yourself as a musician than just getting noticed on Spotify.

Speaking as part of TheGrill 2021 on a panel “Record Labels Today: Powering The Modern Music Business,” presented by RIAA, record label executives made their case for why they’re still relevant in terms of crafting lasting fame and success in the music industry that goes beyond a viral moment.

“There’s a big difference between having a viral moment and turning it to a long term career,” Cris Lacy, EVP of A&R at Warner Music Nashville, told TheWrap at The Grill, adding that “Spotify is not a marketing plan.”

“There always has to be someone in that role,” Lacy said. “Artists need that team, because this is a tough business, and most folks who are releasing songs on TikTok are not ready for what it takes to reach to the next level.”

At Warner Music Nashville, Lacy works closely with country star Jessie James Decker, who argued that even though she’s found a platform through her social media channels, she always had a dream of being signed to a record label to become a country star. And working with Warner Music has done more for her than her Instagram could alone.

“I’m not only an artist, I’m a business woman. I know I want to have a partnership with a record company that believes me and understands me,” James Decker said. “I still think we need record companies, I do. And I think we do need those labels outside of the ways we have access to. But those outlets are a great to get your start. This has been very helpful to raise awareness of where I am as an artist, but I need them to go from here to here.”

Both Lacy and James Decker were joined on the panel by Michele Ballantyne, COO with RIAA, Michelle An, EVP & Head of Visual Content at Interscope Records, Phil Thornton, SVP & GM at RCA Inspiration, and the panel was moderated by Janine Rubenstein, editor-at-large at People.

During the discussion, Michelle An gave an example of how she’s worked closely with artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish on not just an artist’s sound but also their visuals, arguing that “a song is as much about the audio as it is about the visual.”

“The box has been opened in the new way that labels have structured themselves, and we’re really there to help bring visual to life,” An said. “The label gives us space to talk to each fo those platforms to make sure the branding of the artist shines through, whether it’s a TV show in Japan or an interview for Apple Music. We’re making sure the branding is really consistent, and that’s really, really getting to know your artist, and that starts with trust.”

Hear more from TheWrap’s panel discussion on modern record labels here.

For over a decade, TheWrap’s Grill event series has led the conversation on the convergence between entertainment, media and technology, bringing together newsmakers to debate the challenges and opportunities facing content in the digital age. Tailored to C-Suite and high-level attendees, TheGrill presented by WrapPRO, delivers a unique series of curated discussions, industry panels and virtual networking activations that explore the ever-changing media landscape. View the full panel and all Grill content here: www.thewrap.com/the-grill-2021-welcome/ 

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