You are absolutely right.
@Tunediver you make some pretty spot on points from a music perspective, it’s interesting to note that these are not too dissimilar to the things that our AJ content folks are looking for within the review process.
To your question about product managers, what I believe is closest to what you’re describing is our quality media specialists. If I was to describe their role to an outsider, I would probably compare them to an Artistic Director of a museum, theatre company or an orchestra. They set the broad standards for review within the different marketplaces and are experts from within their specific industry. They are all of them, amazing human beings who play an enormous role in shaping the success of each of the different marketplaces.
I think i’m more or less with @SpaceStockFootage and yourself here. You note:
The most important question when defining what makes a ‘high-quality track on AJ’ will always be ‘Can I imagine this track being used by a client?’
The people often best placed to determine that are the clients themselves. However I will acknowledge that a snow-ball gets larger as it roles downhill. Sales often lead to more sales.
Where I want our team to work with our community is in hero-ing the lesser known amazing items within our libraries and the awesome stories behind them. The more authors we can start the snow-ball rolling down hill for, the better the entire marketplace will be long term.
I love this thread! I can’t believe I haven’t seen it until now. Must be drowned in all the “listen to my track” threads
This topic has always been of titanic interest to me. (Let’s hope it doesn’t go down like the ship). Some of you who may have read my posts in later years (or my more recent blog post) will know I am quite prone to advocate quality over quantity. I would advise against any other means of “measuring” quality than simply looking at the conversion rate of a track. Now, the problem at hand is that some tracks do not really have a conversion rate, because there was never any exposure in the first place. Secondly, given that AJ caters to a wide and diversified market, a track that would convert a certain buyer group would fail in others - this means that universal exposure is inefficient. “Featured Items” prove this point year after year, only the items directed at a large buyer group succeeds.
Based on these standpoints, marketing by bulk email or random features on the web isn’t going to be effective. What we need to acknowledge is that “quality” is objective, but “conversion” is subjective. No one hungry for a pizza will care much about a tofu commercial, and vice versa, if you excuse the analogy.
I think AJ staff is doing a great job looking out for both buyers and authors in general, so this is not so much about the market as a whole but more about how to create “nodes” where certain buyer groups can connect with “needle” items buried in the “haystack”. This is something that shouldn’t necessarily fall on the authors alone to solve, IMO. Mostly because it’s practically impossible. Buried in search, no sales, game over. External marketing to the point authors are competing with AJ on search terms and web traffic is counterproductive. With a little imagination, I can picture a staff meeting where these topics come up but are easily dismissed, due to the fact that it would seem irrelevant to discuss niche markets in a place where all the numbers point to the mainstream. Well, like more and more prominent authors are pointing out, the “mainstream” of AJ may not be the mainstream of the world, let alone the mainstream of the future. AJ music has suffered from inertia ever since search and marketing became dominated by sales numbers. It’s a model that serves its purpose well, to guide buyers towards tracks that are already converting. Snowball effects are not a bad thing in the grand scheme of things, the problem is that the “winner takes all” structure eliminates incentives of both authors and staff to be creative, to take risks, and to reap hidden rewards.
I don’t have the numbers, but let’s say 80% of submissions are aiming to repeat the success of the recent top seller. These submissions create the “face” of AJ, what customers see when they browse the search results. Potential buyers who were looking for other musical styles may quickly frown and shy away, confronted with this impenetrable mass of similarly sounding music. Even those who are lucky to find one item featuring the niche music they were looking for, will have great trouble finding more like it. Even if they do, they may not approve of the general “objective” quality. These are the buyers AJ is leaving in the dark. I actually think we need to care more about these buyers, than about the authors trying to meet their demands. Make it easy for them to find something fresh and relevant, rather than stuff the “latest best seller” down their throats. Settling for a top selling item should be their fallback strategy, not their only strategy.
Just to be clear, this is not a discussion of “dinosaur items” hogging the search results. The dinosaur effect has actually diminished considerably, I’d like to think mostly thanks to different search weightings and the all-important “top new files” page that highlight recent tracks. Snowballs are great, but they shouldn’t be “too great”, as that would freeze up the market for years and eternity. Any author getting a few thousand sales on a track deserves a medal and some cash, but not a free ride to the top year after year. However I feel the “dinosaur item” issue has now been adequately sorted and it’s time to move on. This discussion is rather about “dinosaur genres” and the lack of targeted exposure for niche (read AJ niche) music.
Some obvious suggestions for solutions have been mentioned. “Albums”, or collections serving a specified niche, genre, or “end product”, is a good start. Like with “Unstock”, these would need to be hand picked “with a vengeance”, meaning leaving all fodder behind and just highlighting the selected few. This is what many libraries do, because they know it makes it easier for clients to navigate into “relevance land”. If I were holding the magic wand, I’d get rid of the 40 random items in the “New” section on the AJ front page in an instant, and replace that valuable space with 40 periodically released “Albums”, each being a collection featuring 10-20 hand picked tracks catered to the specific buyer needs. As Tunediver touched upon, these albums could be “Edgy”, “Psychedelic”, or “Documentary”, not necessarily limited to a musical genre but rather to a specific cause or end product, like for instance “Action Sports Cues”, or “Tutorial Video Backgrounds”. Selection of album concepts could come from market insight, from observation of blockbuster movies or world wide advertising, or simply from informed buyer or author requests. Ideally, curation should be an ongoing process and tracks that do not convert should briskly be replaced with new ones - remember that ongoing exposure should be earned and not handed out lightly.
An obvious complication of creating an attractive album series is the man hour costs and inherent skill sets required to executing it. Perhaps this is where a selection of authors should be given the opportunity to contribute. I’m quite sure there are many interesting ways of managing a “community driven” album creation process, without it becoming overly corrupt. A small selection of “curators”, buyers and/or authors, may form their own networks and compile albums as a team effort or individually. Tracks may be selected from older uploads, or may be new and tailor made to suit album specifications. Staff, or another group of moderators, may then select albums for publishing from this “album pool”.
Again, it’s imperative to guide and connect relevant exposure to web traffic, not simply splashing buyers with random albums. Envato should have a wealth of buyer data, stemming from search queries and conversion behaviour, that would aid to select relevant album displays in search listings and on the front page. For example, a buyer searching for “edgy” would have the latest “edgy” album popping up in the search result list. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that. The main purpose is to distribute a bit of search engine exposure towards these subjective selections.
Fantastic post, @Stockwaves !!!
Wish I could triple-like it…
@matthewcoxy … What are your thoughts on these ideas? Are there any discussions in the team around marketing curated collections in any way?
Nice Post Stockwaves. Changing the approach to curation and promotion of music on this site is desperately needed. Albums are a great start but in fairness to those who do make it to the feature items page, they all are entitled to their 30 weeks of promotion love. When Envato rewards a track with a “feature” that is what they have been promising. You will be on that page for 30 weeks. Curated Playlists or albums in various genres is a great idea. To a certain extent, this was executed recently with the so called “best corporate tracks”…many folks spoke up and listed their 5 or 6 favorites and a playlist was born. Ironically, the playlist just served to perpetuate “top sellers”. Every market on Envato does need a “brand manager” so to speak and then 3 or 4 assistant brand managers working under that individual as a team. Their entire goal every day should be to find new ways to increase revenue for their brand. In the context of this discussion we are talking about “Audio Jungle”. Marketing something different to buyers other than last weeks top sellers may just be the strategy to consider. I would not lose the new release page. That gives every item 2 hours of front page exposure and that should not go away. I would say creating curated playlists by genre on a new page would be a great start. I have seen in other threads people commenting “yeah film makers and documentary video producers do think AJ is a good place for corporate/ commercial music, but when it comes to unique cinematic music they’'ll look elsewhere” .
That’s too bad, the brand managers of audio jungle should have a solution for any and every music buyer. I know there is some really cool movie music and documentary music burried in this market, but if audio jungle does not want to bring it forward and sell it, well …“dinosaur items” they shall remain.