October 24, 2016

11 Popular Artists Still Not Streaming

Bob Seger 2013Billboard recently posted a very interesting article about 11 artists, some major, that still can’t be be found on a streaming network. While you have to admire that they stand for their principles, it does seem to be a somewhat dated view, since streaming has not only become a major source of income for previous holdouts like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, but has also helped with their visibility and physical sales as well. Another major holdout in Garth Brooks just came in from the cold last week, with his exclusive deal with Amazon Music Unlimited.

So who are the holdouts? They may surprise you as they not all in the rock genre, who’s artists seem to make up the bulk of the pushback against streaming.


Bikini Kill

De La Soul

Def Leopard

King Crimson


Yoko Ono

Bob Seger



Thome York

Of course, if you want to find bootleg copies of any of these artists, they’re certainly there, as is the user generated uploads on YouTube (although some of the above do have official videos on that platform). It’s also interesting to note that, with the exception of York, all of these artists have seen their best days behind them. Almost all current artists have grown up in a streaming environment and have no connection to the physical music business of the past, so they don’t know what they’re missing nor do they care.

Still, if these holdouts expect the music industry to return to the way it was, they’re sadly mistaken. The business constantly evolves and moves forward, and these artists should too.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 10/21/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 21th, 2016. It’s some pretty good news for the recorded music industry, more on music subscriptions and some interesting lawsuits. Let’s get to it.

The music business has seen a lot of growth this year. Up 3.2% globally and more than 8% in the U.S.. That’s great news for an industry that’s had quite a few bad years lately.

Garth Brooks becomes Amazon Music Unlimited’s first exclusive. Good for Amazon but will it work for Garth in the end?

Grooveshark’s creator has a new platform. And this time it just might be endorsed by the major labels.

Radio is giving live streaming a try. Finally, radio’s doing something to try to increase its relevancy.

Spinal Tap sues Universal. Harry Shearer sues the media giant for $125 million, stating that he’s received less than $100 for record sales in 30 years. Merchandise income only a little better.

Will there be more device restricted music subscriptions in our future? The low-priced Amazon Music Unlimited tier with Echo and Dot may be just the first of many.

Kanye West thinks the feud between Jay-Z and Apple has hurt his latest release. I think he just backed the wrong horse when he went all in with Tidal exclusives.

You won’t believe the music service that has half the teens in America signed up. Musical.ly may the industry’s secret weapon.

A brief look at the history of Pop music. You probably could guess what’s the most popular pop song of all time.

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

How Fan’s Video Copies Sold Adele’s “Hello”

Hello video copiesWe all know how powerful video can be when it comes to having a hit, but a recent analysis of Adele’s “Hello” by Pexeso really drives the point home that video copies play a huge part in fan awareness. The site tracked the hit song over a period of 101 days, starting on its October 22nd release date on YouTube, and found out a lot about the popularity of video on various social platforms.

  • First of all, more than 60,000 copies of “Hello” were found across eight popular social media platforms. 45% were published on YouTube, while Facebook accounted for 29% of copies, followed by Vine, which accounted for 12.9%.
  • Even though Facebook had far fewer copies published than YouTube, Facebook still garnered over 2x more video views than YouTube. According to the site, Facebook racked up an average of 73,083 views per video, whereas each YouTube video of the song amassed an average of 23,095 views per video . Vine actually ranked higher than YouTube, with an average of 49,904 views per video. Of course, as you’ve seen by my recent article on the subject, all platforms measure what a view is differently, with Facebook being particularly generous in that regard.
  • Facebook was the leader in terms of engagement though, with 41,436,124 cumulative likes and shares on all video copies, and 15,634,315 on the original. Believe it or not, Google+ came in at second place with 1,715,636 engagements on video copies and 1,496,299 on the original. While it may seem a little lopsided that copies of the song beat out the official uploaded song, remember that there were far more user-generated copies available. One thing here that was surprising is that copies of the music video received over 2.5x more engagement than the source video over the course of the survey.
  • Speaking of copies, the official video was copied and uploaded extremely fast. It took just 2 minutes and 7 seconds after “Hello’s” music video was published to Adele’s VEVO channel on YouTube for the first copy to appear on Facebook. It took slightly longer  for YouTube, at 3 minutes and 12 seconds later. 18 minutes and 48 seconds after its initial release, the first Vine clip of “Hello” surfaced.
  • Despite all you hear about YouTube and the record labels being tough on piracy, only 16.9%  of the 60,055 copies of “Hello” that were located were removed via takedown request. 36% of those takedowns came via YouTube, but they accounted for only 13% of the 27,033 total copies published to the site.

This is indeed a strange new video world we live in that’s asymmetrical in nature. It can’t be assumed that the results on one platform will be matched by another, or that one is better than another. One thing’s for sure, if the fans like your song or music video, it will for sure make it’s way onto every available social platform available.

[photograph: Egghead06 via Wikipedia]

Amazon’s Actually Losing Money From It’s New Music Service

amazon-losing-moneyThe major record labels are adamant about keeping the price of a music streaming subscription at $9.99 per month, regardless of the platform, so it was a great surprise last week when Amazon announced that its new Amazon Music Unlimited service was priced at $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime members. It turns out that the labels haven’t softened their pricing stance at all, as Music Business Worldwide reported that Amazon will actually end up subsidizing the other 2 bucks when all is said and done.

It turns out that Amazon is expected to be paying out from between $5.50 to $6 each month to record labels and artists for each $7.99 Prime subscriber, and an additional $1.50 a month to publishers and songwriters. When you figure in administration, marketing, staff and infrastructure costs, that means that most if not all of that monthly fee has pretty much been eaten up.

So what’s the company’s end game?Amazon might be pulling an Apple here, losing money on software in order to sell more hardware and make a much higher profit. While Echo and Dot seem to be hits and are the leading products in this new category, there very well may be more hardware devices from the company on the way . Using music streaming as a loss-leader to make it’s hardware more attractive has been tried by many companies though, particularly in the mobile space, and only Apple has been wildly successful with the strategy.

The price subsidy could also be another way to increase Prime memberships. While Amazon doesn’t publish the actual number of subscriptions, insiders have reported it to be around 60 million, and when you consider that each one is paying $99 a year for the privilege, you can see why anything that might increase that number could be valuable. Still, it seems like a stretch to think that the average music user will say to himself, “I really want to subscribe to this music service because of this great price. Let me pay just $99 more so I can buy in.” [Read more on Forbes]

October 18, 2016

Mike Dias From Ultimate Ears On Episode #131 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Mike DiasIf you’re like me, you don’t have a huge amount of experience with in-ear monitors. I’d just gotten fitted for a set, and thought it would be a great idea to find out as much as I could about them, so I asked Ultimate Ears sales director Mike Dias to come on this week’s podcast to fill us in.

In this episode we’ll talk about all the nuances of in-ears, as well as the laser scanning process for the ear molds, and the fact that these tiny earpieces hold as many as 18 drivers!

On the intro we’ll look at Amazon’s new Music Unlimited streaming service and it’s deceptive low prices, and some out-of-the-box thinking of putting music venue sound systems in the ceiling instead of on the stage.

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

How Video Views On Various Platforms Are Counted

video viewsVideo views are an important measurement for not only artists and bands, but record labels, advertisers and sponsors. A high number of views can lead to not only to label and sponsor interest, but also has a snowball effect of more viewers wanting to watch as well. When it comes to monetizing video views though, the problem is that most services like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat all measure what they consider a “view” differently.

According to an article on Business Insider, there are 4 factors that determine a view:

1. Whether the video autoplays or was user initiated

2. The required amount of time spent watching the video

3. The amount of video that’s on the screen

4. Whether the video is played in the app or embedded in another site

Let’s look at what the qualifications for a view are on some popular platforms:

  • Facebook is the most liberal with what it considers a view. If a video is autoplayed for just 3 seconds, and it’s 100% on the screen for desktop or 50% for mobile, it’s considered a view.
  • For Snapchat, as soon as a video is played, even with autoplay, it’s considered a view if it’s 100% in view and played in the app.
  • With Instagram, if the video is played for 3 seconds either in the feed or upon opening a story, and it’s 100% in view in the app only, it’s considered a view.
  • For Twitter, the video can be autoplayed, and as long as it’s watched for 3 seconds and is 100% in view either on mobile or desktop, it’s considered a view. This counts across all platforms and embedded posts as well.
  • For Vine, autoplayed Vines that are watched all the way through are considered a view, but only user-initated are counted for longer videos as long as a certain % of the total video is spent watching. The videos must be 50% in view for Vine, and 100% on Twitter.
  • YouTube is much tougher than any of the above. The video has to be user initiated, and it has to be viewed an indeterminate % of the total video length. For advertisers, it has to be 50% in view, but that includes all devices, all platforms, and embedded posts.

As you can see, not all views are equal and some of the view numbers you see can be taken with a grain of salt as a result.

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 10/14/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the Music Industry News Roundup from the week of October 14th, 2016. Streaming is back in the news this week as Amazon and Pandora both launched new services. There’s so much more though that you could easily have missed. Let’s get to it.

Amazon finally launched its stand-alone streaming service. But is the company taking after Apple and using it to sell hardware?

Pandora launches it’s new service too. Not to be outdone, Pandora finally launched its interactive service as well as a total rebranding. It was curious that it launched on the same day as Amazon though. It was pushed down the list of news as a result.

Apple Music’s Jimmy Iovine hints at things to come. He’s claiming that we’re going to love the upcoming features and upgrades to Apple Music, but then again, he’s always been a salesman.

Doing an artist deal with Apple may not be what’s it’s cracked up to be. It seemed like a good deal at first, and the money was good, but in the end Anohni feels that the company tempered her political style.

Is canned music on the way out? An organization in the UK is trying to ban elevator music, blaming it for noise pollution and world-wide hearing loss.

Michael Jackson topped the list of dead celebrity earners. That was mostly because of the sale of his publishing to Sony Music so this might be a one time only thing.

Will Emotional Radio save the medium? This new smart radio senses your mood via artificial intelligence and programs it accordingly.

Speaking of radio, BBC 1 is losing all its best DJs. It’s shaping up as a big problem as it’s affecting the ratings.

Streaming exclusives may be here to stay. Labels hate them and there’s evidence that they don’t actually boost an artist’s album, but the evidence says they’re not going way.

A new agreement opens the door to unofficial mixes on Spotify and Apple Music. The contract with Dubset sets the stage for more indie artists and more music that haven’t been able to get on the platforms before.

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

Don’t Be Fooled By Amazon Music Unlimited’s Price

amazon music unlimitedAmazon has finally launched it’s long awaited stand-alone streaming music service and it’s called Amazon Music Unlimited. On the surface it has a number of interesting features that differentiate it from the other major streaming services, but one has to wonder whether potential users will find them compelling enough to subscribe.

Perhaps the service’s biggest feature is price. If you’re already an Amazon Prime customer, Amazon Music Unlimited is available for just $7.99 per month or $79 per year, undercutting the norm of $9.99 per month charged by most other services. If you’re not a Prime customer however, you’ll still be charged the customary $9.99 per month.

If you happen to own an Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Amazon Tap device, the price is even lower at $3.99 per month, but music playback only works on that device. If you want to receive the full Amazon Music service on your phone, for instance, you’ll still need to pony up for the full Unlimited tier at either $7.99 monthly if you’re a Prime member, or $9.99 if you’re not.

On the surface this seems pretty interesting in that a lower price for streaming is what major industry consultants have been advising for years. Even back at the peak of the CD boom, the average music buyer never purchased $120 worth of music per year, as is the case now with a $9.99 per month streaming plan. Though there’s been a decent amount of streaming penetration at that price point, it’s still only 10% or less in some territories, according to industry pundit Mark Mulligan. Potential subscribers that might not ever buy at $9.99 are more likely to change their minds if that monthly threshold was lower.

That’s why Amazon Music Unlimited’s $7.99 per month price point looks so inviting. It’s a step in bringing that monthly fee more in line with the expectations of the greatest number of users.

The problem is that this price is really a mirage.

You have to be an Amazon Prime member in order to have access to the $7.99 price, and this is after you’ve already payed $99 for your Amazon Prime subscription for the year. And, as a Prime member, you already have Amazon’s Prime Music service available to you for free, so why would you want to pay the extra 8 bucks a month for something that you’ve already paid for?

To be fair, Amazon Music Unlimited is different from Prime Music in a number of ways. There are a lot more songs available (Amazon will only say its in the “tens of millions” as compared to Prime Music’s two million), there are curated playlists, behind-the-scenes artist commentaries, and a new app. Is that worth the extra money per month? It will be interesting to see just how many of the estimated 60 million Prime members say, “Yes it is!” [Read more on Forbes]

There’s A New Sound Recording Metadata Standard

RIN: Metadata StandardMany artists, bands and musicians don’t think much about metadata when creating a song but record labels take it very seriously. It’s a major way to be able to track a song to make sure that all the stakeholders get paid. That said, metadata isn’t standardized and is sometimes filled out incorrectly, defeating its purpose. That’s why the new Recording Information Notification (RIN) metadata standard rolled out by the Digital Data Exchange consortium (DDEX) is so important.

The Recording Information Notification (RIN) standard is an XML-based file format that makes it possible to describe all aspects of a recording session, from the participants to the instruments and equipment used to the time, location, length and other technical and creative elements of the recording. It’s designed to be implemented by digital audio workstation manufacturers and to be interoperable with all other DDEX standards as well.

DDEX also announced the release of an updated version of its Digital Sales Report (DSR) Flat File standard, which is designed to track sales and usage data in streaming-based platforms. DSR allows song streams to be reported in a form that allows music publishers and rights societies to allocate the correct royalties from each sale or use of a work to the appropriate rights holders and organizations, rather than use a percentage, algorithm or market share to determine the payout. The original DSR standard was developed in 2006 and was designed to track and report downloads. The latest version is more in tune with music consumption of today and the future.

A number of companies and organizations, including Apple Music and SECAM, have already endorsed the new releases.

This is potentially a big step in the right direction for getting everyone in the streaming pipeline paid both more fairly and in a more timely fashion. Of course, it depends upon all of the industry adopting it, but it’s a good strong start so far.


October 11, 2016

PR And Crowdfunding Expert Ariel Hyatt On Episode #130 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

ariel hyattAriel Hyatt was one of the first in the PR world to realize the value of social media, and her Cyber PR agency has been helping artists and bands with their online presence ever since.

Now Ariel breaks new ground with her latest book called Crowdstart, which provides a step-by-step breakdown of how to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign. Ariel’s my guest on this week’s podcast to talk about what she’s learned in the sometimes confusing world of crowdfunding.

On the intro we’ll look at the streaming wars and how Spotify and Apple Music own the majority of the market at the moment, and how many believe that the latest generation of audio plugins are “cheating” in that they may allow you to bypass years of experience during mixing.

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

1 2 3 16