August 26, 2016

Will Amazon Break The $5 Streaming Music Barrier?

Amazon EchoThere’s been speculation for some time that Amazon was going to launch it’s own streaming music service to rival that of Apple Music and Spotify. While such a service could be formidable indeed, another me-too platform might not shake up the streaming landscape much. That could change if Amazon is able to launch a lower-priced service, which could be a game changer based on price alone.

Reports are that the company is considering a streaming service priced at either $4 or $5 per month, but it would only be available on Amazon’s Echo player, and not on phones or other devices. The service would have features much like its competition in that it would be fully ad-free and on-demand. Reports are that the company would also launch a $10 per month full-line service as well that would be available on all devices.

While an Echo-only service seems like a serious limitation given that Amazon has only sold a few million units so far (predictions say that there will be 4 million in use by the end of the year), it’s the precedent of breaking the $5 per month barrier that’s more important than the service itself.

Many industry analysts have railed against the standard $10 per month price point, with the premise being that the price is too high for the industry to reach the tipping point it needs to fully replace physical product. It’s long been predicted that $5 per month was the point that would reach consumers who were reluctant to subscribe at a higher price and finally have them sign on.

The $5 price point has been resisted by the major labels as being too low, and they have fought with the streaming services to keep it at $10. While that might have been a wise decision when streaming was ramping up, in order to truly grow to the heights that most in the industry believe can happen, an adjustment downward is necessary to overcome current consumer objections based primarily on price. The adoption of the proposed $5 per month of the Echo-only service would make music execs more comfortable with the idea that a lower price means more customers, enough so to make up for any perceived money being left on the table. [Read more on Forbes]

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 8/25/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of August 25th, 2016. It’s a little more diverse this week, but there are a few blockbuster topics (Spotify never fails to excite). Let’s get into it.

Spotify’s label deals are now out of contract. The company is going month to month, and trying to negotiate a lower royalty rate, meaning that it wants to pay even less to artists and labels. Spotify already has a “soft” deal, but the labels are now pushing for something better. Not a good strategy for Spotify when its IPO is looming, in my opinion.

London’s looking for a “night czar.” The city is looking for a person to help rebuild it’s fading nightlife. It pays about $46,000 for 2 1/2 days work per week. This is a government gig, but there’s probably not a lot of power to change much, as the reason why clubs are dying has more to do with finances than regulation.

A former Apple Music exec defends exclusives. This is a hot topic, as some say it’s really hurting the music business while others think it’s saving it. Sean Glass makes some good points about why it’s a positive.

AM radio doesn’t seem to have much future. This radio consultant sees there’s a need for it and a few stations are thriving, but more and more AM stations are closing all over the world and the trend will probably continue.

Samsung’s free Milk Music service will close in September. It seemed like a good idea in 2014 when it was launched, but never caught on with Galaxy users. The company is urging users to switch to Slacker instead.

Forbes highest paid DJs. EDM has peaked, especially in the US, but the top DJs are still raking it in.

Tencent is the biggest company in China, and wants to be everywhere else too. The digital entertainment company has the financial backing of the Chinese government, and content deals with all the big players in the world.

Want to invest in music, there’s a fund for that. 10 years ago everyone wanted to be in the recorded music business, now it’s touring and and merch, which is booming. This investment fund specializes in that area.

Is sleep a musical genre? It is to some people that specialize in sleep music creation and sleep enhancement products. Don’t be surprised to start seeing this show up in playlists.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Japan Has Way More Music Stores Than The US

Japan Music StoresJapan is a pretty small country compared to the United States, but when it comes to the music business in has a big lead in at least one category – retail music stores. In what may be a startling revelation to some, Japan currently has around 6,000 music stores while the US only has 1900, with that number falling every week.

The fact of the matter is that Japan has a CD based economy, as 78% of sales come from the round shiny discs. The US, on the other hand, is down to around 39% of its total music revenue coming from the CD, which is still larger than most of us think, but it’s a figure that continues to fall fast.

So why does Japan still love the CD so much? For one thing, even though Japan has a big digital economy in general, record labels and consumers have resisted digital music to this point (it’s only 8% of total revenue). This has more to do with the culture of Japan than anything else, as most Japanese prefer the tangible aspect of the CD and view it more as a piece of artist merchandise than a music delivery system. It’s more about helping the artists they love than listening to the music.

Another thing is that in Japan, CDs sell for between $23 and $28 and aren’t discounted, thanks to a long-standing law that sets the minimum retail price. The country also has a thriving CD rental business, something that never caught on in the US and was fought vigorously by the major labels. Japanese labels look at rentals as an opportunity to get consumers into the buying mindset, which has proved to be a strategy that has worked. That said, the rental business, why still large, is decreasing.

All this has lead to Japan becoming the second largest music economy in the world behind the US. This does seem rather artificial however, and one has to wonder what will happen should streaming actually catch on there.

One thing’s for sure, for everyone who longs for the way it was in the old days of music, Japan’s the one place on earth where it’s still like that.

Mastering Engineer Colin Leonard On Episode #123 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Inner Circle PodcastColin Leonard is one of the hottest mastering engineers going, and he’s so busy that he can’t get to all the work he’s offered. So he’s created a new online automated mastering process called Aria that uses his analog signal path to the do the job. That’s right, it’s online automated analog mastering!

On podcast Episode #123 Colin discusses how he came up with the process and the differences between other online mastering sites.

In the intro we’ll take a look at the music business in Japan and how it’s really still like the US was about 15 years ago in terms of CD sales (and even rentals), and I’ll look at a study that shows how only the right kind of music can help us concentrate. You won’t believe the genre that’s the best.

You can listen to it at bobbyoinnercircle.com, or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

Enjoy the show!

New Twitter Features May Make Promotion More Difficult

New Twitter FeaturesMany artists and bands have found Twitter a great place to promote themselves and their music, but that just got a lot more difficult with the implementation of some new features. New Twitter features include Notifications settings and especially a Quality Filter, which will mean that an artist’s strategy for using Twitter will have to change in order to be successful.

The new Notifications settings will give users the ability to limit notifications to only people they follow on mobile and on twitter.com. The individual Twitter experience will continue unchanged if it’s not selected. Managing notifications is now also easier in that you can now access them directly from your notifications tab.

The real change comes with the Quality Filter though. When turned on, the filter looks at a variety of post data, including account origin and behavior, to select the types of posts that you see. Lower-quality content like duplicate tweets or content that appears to be automated from your notifications and other parts of your Twitter experience will no longer be seen. It does not filter content from people you follow or accounts you’ve recently interacted with, depending on your preferences. This can turned on or off in your notifications settings. The feature is also designed to learn and improve over time in updates in the future.

What this means is that if you duplicate a morning post in the afternoon to hit a different audience, it might not be seen by the people that you’re targeting. Likewise, if you are set to automatically tweet from a blog or Facebook post, that may also be filtered out. It’s unknown whether a 3rd party scheduled post from a service like Hootsuite is affected.

We’re still not sure what the algorithm of the Quality Filter actually takes into account, so there may be other types of posts that may be affected as well. The best thing to do at this point is to continue to post custom tweets, and keep the automation to a minimum.

As with other social networks, user experience is the prime directive, and that’s what these new Twitter features aim to improve.

Maybe YouTube Isn’t That Big For Music After All

YouTube FactsThe music industry has always operated under the premise that music content made up about 40% of YouTube’s traffic, a figure that has bothered everyone considering how little revenue it’s generated as a result. No comes data from Pexeso showing that figure may be way off.

The company found that music-related content on YouTube amount to just 4.3% of the the service’s total traffic. In contrast, gaming-related content accounts for 33.4% of the total, entertainment-focused content has an 18.9% chunk, and bloggers, and YouTube personalities have a 14.3% of the pie. .

What’s more, YouTube itself says that music is only worth 2.5% of its traffic and users spend only an hour a month watching music videos!

That said, there’s a lot of new YouTube data that’s both interesting and a little scary as well.

  • YouTube receives roughly 300,000 individual video uploads each day, amounting to 80k hours of video and 24TB of data.
  • 8am PST is the busiest time of day for video uploads, whereas 12:36am is the least busy. Approximately 10x more videos are uploaded during the busiest time comparing to the least busy.
  • The average video uploaded to YouTube is 15 minutes long and 86MB in size.
  • 93.5% of videos uploaded to YouTube are in English.
  • The People & Blogs category receives the highest volume of uploads, accounting for a whopping 41% of videos uploaded everyday, followed by Gaming (14%), Film & Action (10%) and Entertainment (8%).
  • Although the People & Blogs category accounts for the most video uploads each day, Gaming is king, receiving the most attention.
  • Static videos — typically spammy videos containing just a static image whose purpose is to lure people outside of YouTube — account for unbelievable 7.5% of all uploaded videos.

What happens to videos after they’re uploaded? That’s even more interesting.

  • Only 35% of all videos uploaded will be claimed by rights holders. 26% will be monitored or monetized by the copyright holder; the remainder will be taken down.
  • A whopping 32% of all videos will end up removed within the first 24 hours.
  • 5% of videos will be deleted by users.
  • 18% will be removed because the user had their account terminated.
  • 9% will be taken down due to copyright infringement.
  • 0.4% of all videos are made private by the users in the first 24 hours.
  • 5% accounts that uploads videos in any given day get terminated for violating YouTube’s TOS.
  • Terminated accounts upload around 20% of all videos every day, 6x more than a typical account.

I’m still a little leery of this data because of the big disparity from what we’ve used in the past. Although it’s enough to change my mind, I’m still looking for confirmation from another source just to be sure that music isn’t a big part of YouTube anymore.

 

Music Industry News Roundup #8

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the last week. As always, streaming and streaming services are in the news, but so are a number of huge artists, as well as some cool speculation on the future. Let’s get into it.

Apple Music is seriously getting into song lyrics. Reports are that it’s hired a new team to curate lyrics rather than use a third party to do it. The feature is supposed to be part of iOS 10, which hasn’t been released yet.

The Ed Sheeran plagiarism lawsuit is causing a bit of a dustup. Billboard rants a bit about the bad journalism surrounding the suit (that “Thinking Out Loud” is too close to Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On”), and on the surface, this one feels frivolous, but we’ve been surprised by the results before. This could be a bombshell for songwriters and music publishers alike if it goes against Sheeran.

Chance The Rapper turned down all the major labels and signed an exclusive with Apple instead. That’s the way the new music business works, although I’d bet that he ends up on a major sometime in the future.

Speaking of exclusives, Frank Ocean also went with Apple Music. Starting to see a trend here? First it was Tidal, then Spotify, now it looks like Apple is putting on the serious push for exclusives. It will be interesting to see its latest subscriber numbers.

In the meantime, Spotify is diversifying into gaming. It launched a new portal dedicated to game soundtracks, which is a great idea, given that gaming is a far larger business than music.

Pandora’s doing the same thing. Diversifying, that is. The company has added more comedy and podcast content, in a move that might be too little too late. Notice how little press the company is getting lately?

People can’t tell what fidelity they’re listening to. That’s what an informal study by CNBC says. Only 1 in 3 could identify the hi-res stream in a test that included streams from Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music. I’m not sure if that means the codecs have all gotten better or the basic quality of the tracks have gotten worse (probably a little of both).

Will Google suffer Yahoo’s fate? It wasn’t all that long ago when Yahoo was the search engine of choice, and this article shows how it could also happen to the current king of the mountain.

How Drake conquered streaming. First you conquer social media, then the streaming comes with that, according to this article. Yeah, it also helps when you’ve had success before a great team to work with.

That’s the News Roundup of what went on in the music industry last week. Let’s see what next week brings.

Vinyl Buyers In The UK Are Different From The US

UK vinyl buyersAlthough vinyl doesn’t contribute all that much to the bottom line of the music business, it’s still a hot trend and growing at a pretty good rate. That said, a new study in the UK has found that vinyl buyers there are distinctly different from those in the US.

The study by YouGov found that most buyers in the UK are men between the ages of 45 to 54, while in the US, most buyers were under 34. In fact, in the UK Millennial buyers weren’t able to afford vinyl even if they wanted to, while in the US, many of the same age bought the vinyl even if they didn’t own a turntable.

That said, there are buyers like that in the UK as well, as 50% who purchased an album had yet to listen to it a month later, while 41% own a turntable yet never use it, and 7% don’t own turntable.

It turns out that many vinyl buyers are reconstructing their music collections, having sold off their CDs in favor of downloads in 1998 or 99. Obviously, that format isn’t nearly as satisfying as many thought it would be at the time, so the the move to vinyl shouldn’t come as a surprise, if you can afford it.

Most vinyl buyers are avid concert goers and make it a point to support their favorite acts, according to the study. Most also condemn music piracy, although that’s less of an issue these days than in the past.

Perhaps the most depressing part of the study found that most UK vinyl record buyers are lonely, and I guess staying at home listening to your record collection attributes to that. After all, it’s not the most social of daily events, which could be why the album is in dire straights these days as more and more people gravitate to single song consumption.

Game Audio Specialist Alex Benyon On Episode #122 Of My Latest Inner Circle Podcast

Alex BenyonVideo games have huge budgets these days and much of that is dedicated to audio. This week on Episode #122 of my Inner Circle Podcast we’ll talk to Alex Benyon, who’s worked in a variety of audio jobs on huge game titles like Guitar Hero Live, DJ Hero and Call of Duty.

In the intro I’ll discuss a new study that looks at vinyl buyers in the UK, who seem to be a lot different from the U.S., and what I like to call “Fix it before you mix it,” which is all the things that should be fixed before mixing begins.

You can listen to it at bobbyoinnercircle.com, or via iTunesStitcher, Mixcloud or Google Play.

August 15, 2016

The New Hashtags Do’s And Don’ts

Hashtags Do's and Don'tsSocial media constantly evolves along with how we use it, especially for promotion. That means that the way something was used a few years ago might be different today, and that’s certainly the case with hashtags. Here are a few hashtag do’s and don’ts as they apply to promotional use today.

Do: Use hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. These networks are built for hashtags and postings and users depend on them, especially when it comes to search.

Don’t: Use them on Facebook. Most users don’t like them in this context, and they can actually do more harm than good.

Do: Choose your hashtags carefully. Just because you create one doesn’t mean that anyone will use it. If it’s not relevant to you, your music, or your brand, it’s probably not worth using.

Don’t: Over-emphasize your brand name. Not everything has to be about your brand, music, etc.

Do: Use them in your marketing materials. If you have strong hashtags associated with your brand, be sure to include them in all your marketing materials.

Don’t: Include them past their useful time. Many hashtags don’t age well, so be prepared to change them as needed.

Do: Expect them to spark online conversation. That’s what they’re there for, to improve engagement, then be able to track it.

Don’t: Expect them to do all the work. Without great content, hashtags are useless.

Do: Use the right amount in your post. 1 or 2 on Twitter and 11 (yes, that’s right) on Instagram.

Don’t: Use numbers alone or punctuation within a hashtag. A combination of numbers and letters are okay, but numbers by themselves don’t work.

Do: Check for trends or alternatives. Hashtagify.me is a good choice.

It’s been proven that hashtags work, with posts with the correct number and kinds of tags getting up to 5 times the engagement of one without. Use them and use them well.

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