The Motive Unknown Podcast is a monthly talk show around the latest developments in the music industry. Hosted by Darren Hemmings and David Emery, the show digs through the latest trends in music and tech and also answers questions from listeners relating to both the industry developments and music marketing in general.
Recently we've had one article claiming the growth of streaming services will be a bad thing for smaller indie artists in particular, whilst another (penned by co-host Mr Emery) countered this, claiming there has never been a better time to be an independent artist. We pick apart both sides of this argument and ask whether it is really as simple as blaming streaming services, and also discuss where many get it wrong with their approach to marketing.
In our latest episode we reflect on the very excellent Fast Forward conference that Darren managed to attend... and David did not - thanks to Storm Doris. Once we're done relating tales of excess and silliness, matters turn to the huge successes of Ed Sheeran, Rag N' Bone Man and Stormzy, when we ask whether the music business is getting like the movie industry - ie 5 or 6 massive releases per annum which swallow the bulk of the market share. In addition, we also talk about SoundCloud's new budget price tier and whether that will change its rather bleak outlook, and ask whether Snapchat's IPO bodes well for the likes of Spotify. Dive in!
Recently David wrote an article regarding well-being in the music industry, further highlighting how we as professionals in the music business get it wrong in the way we work, costing us our own health and well-being. I then followed that with my own article further expanding on the well-being side in particular, and both have since gone on to receive thousands of views. This also led to both myself and David receiving a load of email from people for whom both articles appear to have resonated greatly. With that in mind we felt this was a topic we should discuss in more detail. Fear not: this is NOT a "doom and gloom" fest. Far from it: we talk through the problems but also address ways in which we feel we can work smarter and ostensibly help create a working culture that is perhaps not so toxic. Equally though, we both feel this issue warrants more discussion and awareness. So please, take a listen and if you feel this affects you, spread word and stand up to something that desperately needs to change.
This month we sit down to discuss Amazon's entry into the streaming market around its new Echo & Dot products. Could this usher in newer competitive pricing? Do people really want to pay more than bare minimums for music? We also discuss Pandora's excellent new AMP platform and ask one awkward question: why aren't Spotify doing this too?
In this month's episode we discuss Apple Music exclusives and the ongoing streaming wars. We also discuss Spotify and how artists could be more empowered on the platform were they to get more means to undertake their own marketing on there. In addition we bring up the thorny topic of the music industry's endemic work/life balance problem, and ask why more focus isn't put to working smarter. Let's get that debate started!
This month we settle back with our standard G&T beverages to discuss whether the industry is right to complain about things like YouTube, or whether a counter-argument may be that the issue here is not YouTube's payouts, but the failure of the music business to adapt to and embrace the opportunities presented. The charts also come under the spotlight amid calls for a shake-up here in the UK, and elsewhere we discuss Deezer and - gulp - Brexit. Dive in!
Armed with gin and a rather questionable set of sound FX, we discuss the recent $70m investment into SoundCloud by Twitter and also ask whether YouTube could build an alternative music industry. In addition we discuss whether an ad agency can break an unsigned band, how one can troll other record labels (albeit in a friendly manner), and the curious world of 'Spotify bands' and how seemingly unknown acts can get more streams than chart-topping artists. Dive in!
In a rather tardy April episode we hand over the show to our listeners, answering all the questions you lovely people have sent in. Topics covered include windowing on streaming services, the feasibility of artist mobile apps, paying to be included on streaming playlists, the launch of SoundCloud Go and more. Couple that with the usual line of errant chatter and gin-swilling and it is certainly business as usual. Enjoy!
For our March show we sit down with a finely-made Sipsmith's G&T (or two) and discuss whether YouTube's growth sets it on a collision course with the music business over payouts. In addition we discuss the apparent rapid growth of both Apple Music and Tidal, and also talk about whether VC investment now represents more of a curse than a blessing. Also, Darren claims himself to be "the Trinny & Susannah of gin". No, really... Dive in!
For February's podcast we sit down with cans of M&S "paintstripper" gin & tonic to discuss the potential of Blockchain, the Fast Forward conference that Darren attended earlier this month, and the more positive mindset that seems to be coming over the business as a whole. We also talk about Spotify's new partnership with Google and the controversial Billboard Top 100 power list. And if that is all too business-heavy, Darren also reveals what went on in Amsterdam... Gird your loins!
In a belated episode six (trust me, we had a good excuse!), we dive into 2016 with a look at how things are changing both in the music industry but around the online sphere in general. Has social media peaked? Is messaging the future? Are prices on streaming audio services too high? Will SoundCloud survive? All this and more are addressed over a couple of glasses of Jensen's Old Tom gin, mixed (for the keen-eyed gin drinkers among you) with Fever Tree tonic and garnished with fresh rosemary. No messing about. Enjoy!
In the fifth installment, David and Darren sit down to discuss whether Google is ushering in streaming's second phase with its introduction of YouTube Red, in which music and non-music content will all be on tap, ad-free, for offline viewing. We also discuss whether the majors are making martyrs of new artists by boycotting SoundCloud and - wait, what? - we also discuss David's recent article around the work culture in the music industry being toxic. Or put another way: could we work smarter? Take a listen!
In a slightly overdue Episode 4, Darren & David sit down with the "builder's tea" of G&T (that's be Gordon's and own-brand tonic) to discuss YouTube's forthcoming combined subscription service and whether the future involves one single media service that could be a combined Netflix and Spotify. In addition, streaming payouts are revisited and the prospect of a streaming service owned by the indies debated. And, if all that sounds a little dry, you can also hear how Darren's Mum nearly joined the Scientologists by mistake recently, why The Incredible String Band are so bad, and the relative tourism merits of Suffolk. Get stuck in!
For episode #3, Darren and David sit down to discuss 'playola' - aka paying to secure a track's inclusion on an influential playlist. In addition, they talk about the much-discussed topic of streaming media payout models, and whether we would indeed be better off taking a subscriber's $10/£10/€10 and dividing it up among only the bands he/she has listened to. And that's just the opening 20 minutes - listen in for the rest!
For show #2 Darren & David sit down to discuss Apple's new music service... Beats1 radio... Xbox Music's transformation into Groove... the future of the industry as the streaming model grows and downloads die off... music genres and decades flattening out as playlists take hold and finally Facebook's new music service. We also answer the solitary question emailed in by presumably our one remaining listener. All power to you sir!
In the maiden episode, Darren and David Emery sit down to discuss the majors and the Spotify/Freemium debate, Vessel and premium services, YouTube, Facebook's video proposition, surprise (or short run-up) album releases and whether marketing is simply out of step with The Kids. They also answer queries mailed in by listeners. Got a question? Drop us a line!
Who am I listening to?
Darren Hemmings founded Motive Unknown in September 2011. The company's first client was Infectious Music and the first campaign was Alt-J's platinum-selling "An Awesome Wave". Since then, clients have included Sony RED, Domino Records, Brownswood, BMG Rights Management, Fabric, PIAS and more, across campaigns for the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Moby, Faith No More, Jack Savoretti, Superdiscount, Drenge and Villagers among others. In addition to artist campaigns the company also handles all partnerships and marketing for the AIM Independent Music Awards and teaches digital marketing practice for the likes of Generator, AIM and IMRO among others.
David is the UK Marketing Director for Kobalt Label Services overseeing the marketing strategy and product management for a range of different artists including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pet Shop Boys, Karen O, Nicolas Jaar, Lenny Kravitz, Deadmau5, Courtney Love and a whole bunch more (although he stresses that anything he says on the podcast are his own views, especially the sweary bits).
Previous to that he was the Head of marketing for the Beggars Group where amongst other things he worked on the marketing campaigns for artists like Adele, Radiohead, The xx, The National, Bon Iver, The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Sonic Youth and The White Stripes.