Trigger Cities in the music business – that sounds like another virus is on its way. However, the concept isn’t really new anymore. And has luckily nothing to do with health. If you don’t count music as a health care factor.
Chartmetric did an excellent job of researching this in 2019. Important to realize, in times where most people are still in lockdown in their homes, streaming platforms are a bit in the spotlight of music consumption.
That is because all concerts and touring came to a halt when the mass lockdown was measured. And will for some time being.
The music industry has been around for a long time
For one thing, the music business is a historically grown industry that has been around for some time now. Many structures in place nowadays are still dating back from the beginning of the music industry.
One of those old fashioned concepts is the idea of ‘territories’. The market was and to a great deal is still today separated into different territories.
Like Europe, the USA or Japan. If you wanted to roll out a nice marketing campaign, you had a look at the territories and came up with a plan for each of them.
This had to do with the different cultural elements in each territory. Also the different languages and many more aspects.
In a modern world of 2020 however, many of those distinguishing factors are wiped away by the internet and its opportunities.
Silos of music consumption- formerly outlined by national economies, cultural/regional tastes, language and old-school media formats- are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.*source: Chartmetric
We are united in a digital infrastructure
We are much more united in a digital infrastructure then people ever have been before. That also means that the old way of thinking about music markets as bound to specific territories is not working that well anymore.
Surely, a Latin American song in Spanish won’t perform massively in Japan, for example.
However, there are many music genres that work worldwide. This leads us to the concept of trigger cities.
What are trigger cities?
In the Chartmetric report, Chaz Jenkins is having a close look at the most important cities when it comes to streaming. And many surprises are waiting for you!
Would you have thought that Mexico City is leading the ranking? Just to be followed by Santiago?
Mexico City is up on the ranking
Probably not, that is why the concept of trigger cities is so enticing. Is offers a new look onto streaming and even more important where people stream the most.
If you only have a limited ad budget to spend on social media you have to make it work. Those trigger cities may not bring the most value in terms of per person spend.
However, algorithms won’t value this as much as you will. That means, what is important for the algorithm on any social media platform is engagement and streaming numbers.
This origin of hype, or the ripple beginnings of a streaming wave, is what we’d like to call a “trigger”.*source: Chartmetric
Trigger Cities can power an international hype
The power of streaming engagement that comes from those trigger cities can be enough to start an international hype.
This may be due to the sheer mass of people living in Mexico City, for example. It is the most densely populated city worldwide. Once you have it going for you, then there are just a lot of people to push the same data metric in terms of algorithm performance.
“When you look at these trigger cities, two-thirds of them are over 5m people. So it’s a numbers game […] You are getting large volumes of people and are getting them to repeat listen.”*source: Christine Osazuwa
Also, many trigger cities in Asia benefit from a different form of fandom. In Europe and the US, many people want to distinguish themselves from others, even from their friends.
Being a unique and singular character is a big status symbol. On the contrary, in many Asian fan circles, being one with the group is more important.
Of course, this socio-cultural aspect of the trigger city concept needs more investigation. However, it would be very interesting to read more research about such metrics in terms of streaming.
What is the take away from trigger cities?
One thing is for sure if you have a budget to spend it will carry you further in a trigger city than in an established one. Let’s compare Bangkok (1.6M views on YouTube for their favourite artist) to NYC (258K) for example.
It becomes clear that you only need to spend 1/16 of the money from NYC to get the same results in Bangkok.
If the release you are working on lends itself for an international approach it could be very useful to look into this more.
Another key take away from the trigger city concept is to think outside the box. Just because something worked in one way in the music business doesn’t mean it can’t change.
Music consumption has become a very global business with fans from all over the world listening to the same artists. This simply lends itself to the exploration of new marketing concepts.