Last week, Snapchat and Universal Music Group signed a multi-year partnership to make the record label’s full catalog accessible to all users. Snapchat’s new partnership is a clear rival to TikTok, but it’s also a reminder of how fragmented the music landscape.
Music discovery is top of the funnel for streaming services
Social media is one of the best places to discover new music. Most digital streaming providers have a Discover Weekly or New Music Friday-style playlist, but it’s not the same.
We trust recommendations from friends over algorithms. This is where Snapchat shines in the music industry’s value chain. It’s also where TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, Peloton, Roblox, Fortnite, and many of the other platforms I mentioned in last week’s Trapital essay.
These platforms don’t compete directly with the DSPs. Music discovery is the ‘top of funnel’ for on-demand music listening on DSPs, which helps convert more paid streaming subscribers. But they do compete indirectly by helping the record labels diversify revenue streams and reduce reliance on the DSPs. I still doubt the revenue from music discovery tools can ever match the DSPs, but the labels would rather some of that revenue than none at all.
Where Snapchat can stand out
Snapchat’s popularity highlights our social media bubbles more than any other platform. Many people over 32 years old wonder whether Snapchat still exists. Meanwhile, people under 25 use the growing platform more than any other social media.
Snapchat’s user profile is different than TikTok and should therefore have different artists rising on the platform. Snapchat’s music team should study TikTok’s 2020 music report, identify the artists with potential who are not named in that report, target them to become Snapchat music superstars.
I’m not gonna act like I know who those artists are. I haven’t used Snapchat since the Obama administration. But my 17-year-old cousin, who uses Snapchat every day, believes that Polo G is a superstar. I’m not ready to agree with all that just yet, but Polo G has a growing and he’s just getting started.
The DJ Khaled Snapchat era is long gone. But there’s plenty of room for Gen Z artists to rise.
Read more about Snapchat and UMG’s partnership in The Verge.