In late 2022 Linkfire, the music industry’s leading smart-linking platform, released their 2022 Music Marketing Report. Analyzing and comparing Linkfire traffic and referral events from 2020, 2021 and 2022, it highlights the key music marketing trends in 2022, as well as regional insights and social media trends.
Here, Co-Founder and CCO Jeppe Faurfelt digs deeper into their findings, while casting an eye over what 2023 holds in store…
What were the key trends in 2022 when it came to marketing releases or tours?
In terms of channels, TikTok has been on the rise. It's been happening for a few years now. I think the key change in ’22 has been the fact that the audiences that connect with music [on TikTok] are more engaged. Not compared necessarily to other social channels, but just comparing TikTok year over year.
The traffic seems to have improved in quality. In the past when we [saw] people coming into Linkfires from TikTok, they would be clicking a lot of links but they wouldn't necessarily go and engage with the artist in the streaming services afterwards.
So we’ve definitely seen an improved funnel with the traffic that we're seeing from TikTok.
And I think that's down to the fact the labels and the management and artists themselves really take that platform very seriously and really connect with audiences.
We're also seeing increased volumes [of TikTok referrals], especially in certain areas of the world like North America, South America, Europe as well, though perhaps not as much as we had anticipated in Asia.
"We’ve definitely seen an improved funnel with the traffic that we're seeing from TikTok."
Do you have any insights into what content is really working on TikTok in terms of marketing releases or tours?
We don't so much on a quantitative level, but qualitatively we can go in and take a look at what an artist is doing. And obviously, yes, a lot of short form video performs really well.
Even the paid ads that you can run on TikTok, the quality of the traffic that's coming from there is also increasing year over year. I think that's down to the fact that targeting has just improved a lot on TikTok, the algorithm has improved a lot.
In your report Facebook was still the top referrer of social media traffic to Linkfire landing pages in 2022. Did that surprise you?
Honestly, yes. I would expect a lot of the traffic to come from Instagram. Typically, in the beginning of a release, like within the first three days to seven days, almost 14 days, we tend to see very high visitor rates, very high click through rates, and then it starts to become a little bit…It’s like comparing it with an onion. You're targeting the core in the beginning, and then you're kind of going layer by layer.
And I think Facebook really has relevance to capture the ‘maybes’, the ‘this-might-be-interesting-to-me’ [audience]. And obviously that means that you would be targeting more broadly. So, I definitely think that Facebook is super relevant when it comes to paid advertising. It's proven to be very, very effective.
And obviously there has been this privacy conundrum on Facebook, where in the past you were able to track everything and optimize for conversions, and since Apple rolled out iOS 14.5 I think that has become a little bit more difficult to really hyper focus your targeting.
So, I think you then have to target a little bit broader, which just results in perhaps a lot of visitors, a lot of people that are checking it out. So I think that's the explanation about Facebook – it's still very effective when it comes to advertising.
More so than for organic posting, for example…
Yes. Organically, obviously something like Instagram Stories is very, very popular. Always have great visitors.
"Facebook really has relevance to capture the ‘maybes’, the ‘this-might-be-interesting-to-me’ [audience]."
Is there a difference between live music marketing and recorded music marketing in terms of which platforms you're seeing people engage with?
Obviously, something like YouTube exists more on the recorded side – we don't see that much activity [around] live [music] coming in from YouTube.
I would say Instagram continues to be very strong. Because if you're going on the road, you want to connect with your fans to let them know. I think that always connects really well.
But in general, I think it's the same channels.
We've seen an increase in demand for our customers and users to be able to collect people's email addresses so they can market to them – your first party audiences. You [then] have access to the audience because they have given their consent for you to do that.
And then you have the third-party audiences, and that would be your followers on Twitter [for example]. And who knows what's going to happen there. And I think the risk around third-party audiences is that they are essentially owned by someone else. And you cannot rely on the fact that you will always have a way to communicate to these people that follow you on Instagram, follow you on Facebook or on Twitter.
One of the interesting trends was the rise of album pre-release links in 2022. Can you explain what you saw?
We saw a 164% increase in pre-release links created via the Linkfire platform. It's just very effective. Because at the end of the day, you want the releases to perform well from the get go. And that's what pre-release does for you. It engages your audience ahead of time.
Do you expect another significant jump in 2023?
I wouldn't necessarily expect a big jump like the 164%. But I think what we'll be seeing more of is, while you're pre-saving, why don't you check out my merch, or why don't you check out my tour? I think we will be seeing a lot more of those primary and secondary calls to action more mixed in with each other, which I ultimately think is probably a good thing.
Because if you are always linking people into one objective in one call to action, then you can also expect that some people aren't ready to make that action right now. But maybe they would be ready to make another action, like signing up to a newsletter or buying that T-shirt and going to the show. So I think we will probably see a lot more of those primary and secondary calls to action mixed in in ’23.
"I think we will be seeing a lot more of those primary and secondary calls to action more mixed in with each other..."
Does that help explain the rise in bio links you saw in 2022?
Yeah. And it's exactly for that purpose. Because in the past it's been very split by, okay, this is the merch department, this is their recorded side, and this is the touring side, and this is the sales side.
There's a need to mix it all in. When you're trying to build awareness around an artist, it's good to present the entire portfolio – to present the full catalog of music, the full catalog of merch, where the tour’s headed, stuff like that. I think that's what we will be seeing much more of: cross pollination.
We also expect that a lot of our release links will be turned into bio links, because once the release has been out for, let's say two weeks, in the post-release window you can add more stuff into it, such as merchandise and ticketing. So, artists will be able to, in their entire online presence, update all of their properties – could be the website, could be the bio link, could be all their release links – to kind of look the same.
Is that what you're seeing the smart operators already doing?
Absolutely. And I think the first data coming in is that the click through rates are very, very strong. When you're putting more stuff in front of people, there's a likelihood that they will go to the secondary call to action, and maybe not the primary. But then it’s our job to also have features that nudge people into a specific item of the campaign right now. And then two weeks later, that can change.
So you're always updating it to what's going on right now. And I think that's what people are reacting positively to, [and] they are seeing very high click through rates coming off these bio links.
Do you have any predictions about marketing trends we might see in 2023?
Yeah, I think the shared objective will be [important], where you have the shared objectives between driving to streaming, driving to physical, driving to merch, driving to tours. I think we'll see a lot of that blended in with each other, where in the past it's been very much, we're doing this for two weeks, and then we're doing that for three months, and then we're doing this for another four weeks, and so on. I would expect that it's much more blended in ’23.
I definitely think YouTube is gonna come in pretty hot with YouTube Shorts. And that might not be good news for TikTok. But I would expect that to take some time to pick up so I do expect TikTok to have a really strong start to the year as well.
But I think we will see a continued rise in artists using bio links, for sure.