The music industry is an ever-evolving entity. It has arguably changed more since the turn of the century than it did the previous four decades when The Beatles and The Rolling Stones jumpstarted the rock n’ roll revolution in the early to mid-1960s. An individual who knows a thing or two about navigating the leaps and bounds of the industry is James Lloyd, founder and head of Carry The 4. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary in 2021, Carry The 4 is a widely respected and regarded music PR company that has worked with a wide range of media across North America and the world, promoting a talented roster of primarily alternative rock artists. Since they began a decade ago, Carry The 4 has run campaigns for over 350 artists, management companies, and record labels in over 20 countries for anyone from artists just starting out, to the mainstream, chart-topping acts. The company’s current roster of talent includes artists such as Famous Last Words, pop-rockers Right On, Kid!, Cold Weather Kids, Major Moment and many others.
A tireless worker and a devoted fan of music, Lloyd has formed working relationships with many of the leading music magazines, websites, and blogs around the world, offering his roster of talent maximum exposure. With the music industry such a crowded and competitive space, Lloyd goes to great lengths to ensure his artists receive the most extensive and lucrative coverage, locally, nationally, and internationally. A real enthusiast who’s driven by ambition, Lloyd wants nothing more than to see his artists achieve their goals and find the success they desire.
As a veteran of the industry who has done well in maneuvering all of its twists and turns, Lloyd knows a thing or two about not just surviving but thriving in an everchanging landscape. Today, Lloyd has joined us to share, in his eyes, the Top 10 changes that have occurred in the music industry since the inception of Carry The 4.
“The rise of streaming has been the most significant change to the industry in the last ten years, if not the last 50. Spotify alone has over 350 million monthly users and the accessibility it allows a fan to any artist on the planet is incredible. In terms of fans finding new music, it’s also completely changed the game.”
2. The Rise of Social Media
“Social media was just beginning to take off when I set up Carry The 4. The feeling at the time was that it was just a fun add-on, a facilitator of what we did, but wouldn’t have predicted it took on the significance it has today in the music industry. The ability to build a fanbase digitally and organically (or not) and to seek out potential fans using targeted ads has helped artists in their quest to develop a following from the comfort of their own homes. Social media is, however, a very fickle place, first it was Facebook, then Twitter, then Instagram, and now TikTok is really taking off, so it’ll be interesting to see what the next decade holds.”
3. The Increased Presence of Women in the Industry
“It’s been great to see a significant step up in the amount of women in the music industry. People tend to note this in terms of the performers, which of course is the most visible to the public eye and to the music fan. In rock, so many of the exciting breakthrough acts, including Spiritbox, Meet Me at The Altar, and Yours Truly, are female led.
Beyond the stage, in the industry there has been positive strides as well. When I started out it would be a real surprise to receive an email from a female manager or label rep, but now it happens regularly. Alison Hagendorf at Spotify is one of the most celebrated, influential people in rock music and we have the pleasure of working with talented ladies such as Chelsea Coronin (Famined Records and Kontrolla Music Group) and Ashley Ventura (Mac Agency).”
4. Singles on the Rise
“People’s decreasing attention spans and the fact that we have access to so much art at the click of the button, immediately, has really propelled the single into a key format for emerging bands. This is great on a few levels, it allows a planned out, campaign cycle on a much more regular basis, developing an artist’s digital presence and enhancing their blueprint. This is obviously further catalyzed by streaming platforms, where algorithms respond to a more regular release pattern.”
5. Albums on the Wane
“The flip side of this is the decrease in albums. I won’t say the demise of albums because so many fans and artists alike still hold an album as the ultimate showcase of a band’s craft. There’s a lot about the streaming channels that discourages putting longer form releases out, but a big shout out to Adele for getting Spotify to remove shuffle on album pages!”
6. CDs Becoming Obsolete
“Ten years ago we were in a bit of a no man’s land transitional stage between the prevalence of CDs in the ‘90s and ‘00s, and the full throttle streaming environment we now find ourselves in. A lot of artists we worked with would put music out via Bandcamp, which gives both digital and physical purchasing options.
Now, of course with Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Pandora, Tidal, Deezer (did I miss any?), it’s a different ball game, and streaming is at the epicenter of everything in terms of our consumption and CDs are on the wane, with vinyl becoming the favoured go-to for those who want a physical album to complement their streaming accompaniment.”
7. Less Need for Record Labels
“Signing to a label was the end game of 95 percent of bands when I started out in the industry. Most of what we did was securing press to capture the attention of labels, perhaps even more so than to generate new fans. Now, with social media allowing for DIY fanbase building, and distribution becoming a significantly easier process on the streaming front, more and more new bands are looking to put music out independently and many are having success doing so.”
8. The Easier Path for New Artists to Get Their Music Out to New Ears
“For all the negative connotations of technology on the music industry, it’s hard to argue that it’s become exponentially easier for artists to self-promote and for emerging bands to get their music to thousands, if not millions of ears. With a smart release plan and some research into understanding growth development across social media and streaming platforms, this is very doable.”
9. Less Significance of Geographical Boundaries
“One of the good things about the move away from physical releases is that this has rendered geographical boundaries obsolete. All of the record labels we currently work with have international artists and this in no way holds back the relationship, or the potential of a release.
When I set up Carry The 4, I was surprised that so few companies offered the international approach that we do. With the nature of communication now, pitching your music to labels, press, curators or booking agents is the same process whether you live a 15 minute drive away or a 15 hour flight away.”
10. The Desire of Artists to Have More Control and Musical Independence
“Many of the aforementioned developments have meant that it’s easier for an artist to take much more control of their direction, both musically and in terms of the day-to-day decision making in the business of being a band. It’s great to see such a proactive approach and musicians now wanting to learn about digital marketing, production, understand distribution, and really generate a fully formed mastery of what it means to be an artist in 2021.”