September 30, 2016

Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/30/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 30th, 2016. There’s a wide range of topics this week that run the gamut from album sales to social networks to acquisitions to bankruptcy, so let’s get to it.

Adele gets her second Diamond album in the US. Her album 25 just went past the 10 million mark, making her only the third woman to do so. The other ones? You’ll never guess – Britney Spears and Celine Dion!

Drake makes history too. He’s the first artist with an album (Views) that reached 1 billion streams on Apple Music. Image what his totals are when you add the other streaming platforms in.

Spotify may be buying Soundcloud. The reasoning is that SC could make it easier for young artists to get on Spotify, but it seems like too much money (probably over $1 billion) for a service that has already peaked.

The music industry comes down hard on Youtube-mp3.org. It’s a website that allows people to rip the audio from YouTube videos into downloadable files. The site is based in Germany and makes money from advertising, but record labels all over the world have banded together to file a lawsuit to shut it down.

A bid for Twitter looks to be coming soon. The suitors for the social network are said to include Google and Salesforce.com, as well as other technology companies. Could this mean the eventual end of the platform?

Everyone’s angry at Facebook for overestimating video view time. The company’s been doing it for a couple of years, and taking advertisers to the cleaners in the meantime. Those figures always looked too good to be true.

Rdio’s bankruptcy is messy. Here’s what happens when a music streaming network goes belly-up. There’s a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth over money, which is no surprise.

Rolling Stone Magazine partially acquired by BandLab. Doesn’t make much sense on the surface, but Mark Mulligan’s always insightful blog sees the strategy in it, although he doesn’t think the pairing will last.

A Blockchain editor proves the technology won’t be savior of the music business. The tech behind Bitcoin defeats the purpose of how it works if it can be edited. Many companies have popped up recently with hopes of all music being coded with Blockchain, but none could gain industry traction. Their chances are much worse today.

Don’t look now, but Snapchat has some new hardware. The company is trying to go one-up on Google Glass with pair of sunglasses that can record short videos to upload to the platform. They look pretty cool, while Google Glass was just creepy.

Radio’s dying because it’s stuck in the past. It can’t seem to find a way to transition to mobile the way that the music and television industries have.

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

September 29, 2016

Study Says To Use Facebook Live If You Want To Reach Millennials

facebook live millennialsIf your audience is composed of millennials, then it’s time to start using Facebook Live, according to a new report by UBS. The company surveyed 2,000 U.S. consumers aged 13 and up on social media usage as well as video consumption and found that Facebook’s relatively new service is the go-to service for that age group, followed closely by YouTube and Snapchat Live Stories, according to an article in Investors Business Daily.

When it came to social platforms, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn  and Snapchat had the highest monthly average users, which continues to fly in the face of reports that Facebook is no longer popular with millennials. That said, Facebook’s popularity was boosted by its Instagram media-sharing service and WhatsApp messaging service, in addition to a pure Facebook presence.

69% of monthly Facebook users return daily, mostly because the platform is becoming much more than social interaction. Facebook is now a hub for news, events and content with a wide reach that the majority of people use in their daily lives, which differentiates it from all other social platforms.

Although Facebook Live is hugely popular to millennials, the company still is at a loss for how to monetize the content, much to the chagrin of content creators. The company has been testing a “buy button” on its News Feed posts for two years, which lets users purchase items without leaving the platform. “The majority of respondents who are Facebook users have not heard of the buy button (58%), while nearly half of Twitter users (45%) stated the same,” UBS said however.  Twitter and Pinterest have also been testing buy buttons.

Once again, when it comes to social media, it’s important to go where your audience is. If its the 13 to 24 age group, then it’s wise to be on Facebook Live. The idea is that, as of now, you’ll be using it as a promotional tool instead of expecting to make money from it.

Is The Music Supervisor Killing Songwriting?

music supervisor killing songwritingIn my experience there are two kinds of songwriters. One writes completely from the heart as an expression of art, while the second does it more as a business, writing whatever the situation calls for. Neither is more noble than the other, they’re just different, and both require a tremendous amount of skill and passion. That said, the balance between the “artist” versus the “professional” songwriter might have changed recently. Today there are more artists and bands that will do anything to have their songs exposed, even if it means making fundamental changes that might have been ignored a decade ago. That’s all thanks to the new role of the television and film music supervisor.

With more and more chances for exposure thanks to our new 500 channel universe, the music supervisor has in some ways become the new A&R man, discovering music that many record labels or publishers wouldn’t otherwise touch. If a song gets placed in a show or film, there may be a better chance of getting that label or publishing deal as a result, so many artists and songwriters are now going against their instincts in order to give the music supervisor a tailored version of their songs, which may be completely at odds with their own artistic integrity.

A great example of some of the comments given to an artist from a music supervisor can be seen in the following quotes from a great article by Patrick Duniven in the LA Weekly.

“Your song is really beautiful but it will never get placed because it’s too personal and limits where we can put it.”

“You shouldn’t use the word love in your songs because it will be difficult to place it.”

“Your songs stand out too much; try and write some stuff that blends into the background better.”

Now to be fair, music publishers who push songs to music sups, and the music supervisors themselves are just trying to do their jobs, but there was a time in the not too distant past where a comment like found above would more than likely draw a “F**k Off!” response rather than a mad dash to the studio to try to configure the song to notes, which is like trying to catch your tail while running in a circle anyway. Many artists play the same game with labels by following the latest trend, but they’re always behind as a result.

The sad part about all of this is that trying to catch a placement is so much less lucrative than it was even 5 years ago, with so many artists and bands now trying to get into the game for exactly the same reason. That’s driven the advances way down, as well as the placement’s worth, to a little better than nothing.

So artists, bands and songwriters, do your best to keep the integrity of your art. The next time a publisher or supervisor asks you to make a change, write another song instead. Keep the comments in mind, but don’t force yourself to go where it doesn’t feel right. You’re going to be a lot happier in the end, and your music will be better too.

September 27, 2016

Patreon CEO Jack Conte On Inner Circle Podcast Episode #128

patreon-ceo-jack-contePamplamoose showed the world just how powerful some DIY YouTube videos could be, garnering millions of views that eventually landed the duo some national television commercials. Jack Conte, half of the duo, built on that success to form Patreon, a way for creators to make a living from their work through subscription payments from their fans.

In this week’s Inner Circle Podcast, Jack talks about how Patreon got started and some of the surprising successes of the platform’s users.

On the intro I’ll take a look at how radio as we know it is dying right before our eyes, and a quick overview of Pro Tools 12.6 and some features that we should have had a long time ago (as many other workstations have had).

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

September 26, 2016

Apple Music At 17 Million Subscribers After 70 Exclusives

apple music exclusivesRecord labels hate giving exclusives to streaming services, but they appear to be working when it comes to signing up new paid subscribers. During Apple’s latest product rollout, CEO Tim Cook mentioned that Apple Music was now at 17 million subscribers thanks to over 70 exclusives with artist like Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean and Drake. The service now appears to be growing at just under a million per month.

While exclusives are great for the streaming networks, the rest of the music industry isn’t so sure of the benefits. For one thing, there’s a belief that they cause confusion in the marketplace. What happens is that a listener can readily find the new release from a hit artist on one streaming site, but then gets frustrated when she can’t find it on another. Many consumers apparently don’t care or pay attention to the “exclusive” factor, it seems.

For an artist, exclusives are a mixed bag. They make get a modest cash advance for the privilege, but the big carrot is the promotion that goes along with it, especially with Apple Music. That means not only online hype but traditional promotion on billboards, print and television as well.

A big problem that’s only just raising its head is retaliation from other streaming services over an exclusive. Katy Perry is said to have been deleted from all Spotify playlists and refused promotion over her exclusive with Apple Music, which caused her latest single to fall completely off the radar.

As a result, major labels are said to be putting a hold on the practice of offering exclusives from now on, choosing to take their chances with traditional label promotion instead.

Exclusives may become a thing of the past, but for about a year, they were the hottest thing in music industry and streaming music.

September 23, 2016

Music Industry News Roundup For The Week Of 9/23/16

Music Industry News Roundup Here’s the music industry news roundup from the week of Sept 23rd, 2016. Streaming in the news again, but what else is new. It at the heart of the music industry’s evolution right now

Will “flexible pricing” be in our streaming future? Don’t be surprised to see cheaper pricing tiers at all of the services, not that the barriers have been broken.

Universal and Sony are launching their own streaming service. It’s called NOW Music+, but if history tells us anything, these label collaborations never work out.

One of Spotify’s investors wants it to sell to Facebook. Not that Facebook wants it, but at least Spotify Daniel Ek and Facebook Mark Zuckerberg know each other.

Streaming revenue really grew in the first half of 2016. And this article says that Apple Music was responsible. Maybe so, but Spotify still has more than twice as many users.

Don’t look now, but iHeartRadio may launch it’s own streaming network. Seems like a death wish, since the company is so deep in debt. Could it be a Hail Mary play?

Tidal is in trouble because of subscriber churn. The minute an exclusive is over, the subscriber drops the service. Bad news for Jay-Z.

Does radio have to be live? Radio futurologist says no, and live can even be a hinderance to a station.

A third of all people under 25 now pay for music streaming. This according to the latest study from the IFPI. That’s up 40% over last year.

Frank Ocean is looking for a distribution deal. Apparently he’s a handful to work with, so even though he’s hot, negotiations are slow.

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

September 22, 2016

5 Tips To Get Music Bloggers To Write About Your Music

music bloggersIt used to be that just one good review in a magazine could sell loads of albums. Even a bad review could be really good for business if it was in a publication like Rolling Stone. That’s all changed since magazine reviews have become pretty irrelevant as the music world has moved online. Now its the music blogs like Pitchfork or Stereogum that can make the difference not so much in sales, but visibility to a new audience. Yes, music bloggers are important.

Sometimes those larger blogs are tough to break through, but the smaller bloggers still provide more of a one on one chance to state your case.

But how do you approach music bloggers in the first place? There really is a right and wrong way to do it, so here are 5 tips to get a blogger interested enough in what you’re doing to actually post about it.

1. Read the blog for a while to become familiar with the theme and feel. You can turn the blogger off completely by sending something cold without knowing the backstory of the blog.

2. Make some post comments without any overt marketing. Just try to move the conversation along on a few posts. The idea is for the blogger to recognize you as someone who contributes regularly and adds to the conversation.

3. Only after the blogger becomes familiar with you is it safe to reach out about what you’re doing. If you’re a regular reader and contributor, the blogger is much more likely to read a press release or take a listen to your music.

4. Sometimes asking a question about your project gets a response. While many bloggers are too busy to answer every email, many go out of their way to accommodate a regular reader and contributor. As a result, it’s perfectly okay to follow up after you’ve sent something to the blogger and there’s a good chance he’ll answer.

5. Never hard sell, just inform. Hard sell is a turnoff in general. Don’t do it. It’s okay to state the relevant information, but keep the superlatives like “Best band ever!” out of the equation.

If you want additional tips and tricks about promoting yourself or your music online, check out my Social Media Promotion for Musicians book. You can read excerpts at bobbyowsinski.com.

Yeah, People Still Buy Songs, Especially When They’re 69 Cents

69 cents itunesThere’s an experiment going on in Apple’s iTunes Store that not many are paying attention to, but it just might prolong the download side of the music business for a few more years. It’s true that streaming is all the rage, with subscription numbers increasing at a steady pace while the download business is falling like a rock. But not so fast – price is an issue here, just like with everything else.

As I illustrated in my article last week about the upcoming $5 streaming tiers for Pandora and Amazon, price is the way into a music consumer’s heart, and downloads are no different in that regard. As a prime example, few months ago iTunes launched a “Great 69 cents Songs” section, and while that hasn’t caused the music loving public to buy downloads in record numbers again, something else did happen that might be even more appealing to both artist and label. Yes, there were some additional sales, but what’s really interesting is that radio airplay and streams actually went up for songs in this discount section.

Hit songs are now usually priced at $1.29 on iTunes, which seems to be beyond the price resistance point for most consumers, so it’s no surprise that download sales are accelerating in the wrong direction. Even at $0.99, download numbers would continue to fall, but a 69 cents price point is appealing in that it’s almost approaching an impulse buy.

That said, the major record labels tend to only keep the songs in this section at this price for a short period of time and then return them to $1.29. Guess what? The sales then drop off.

There’s some additional strategy to placing a release in this section though, as it’s a way to keep a song on the charts when its popularity begins to wane, or to give it a boost if it’s bubbling just under the top tier of one of the various charts. [Read more on Forbes…]

 

September 20, 2016

Game Audio Composer Brian Schmidt On Episode #127 Of My Inner Circle Podcast

Brian SchmidtBrian Schmidt is a legend in game audio and he’s my guest on Episode #127 of my Inner Circle Podcast.

Both a composer and sound designer, Brian has worked on over 150 games, and he’s been the architect for the X-Box audio system and XACT gaming audio tool. Brian is also the founder of GameSoundCon, a conference exclusively for game audio professionals.

On the podcast, we discuss a variety of issues, like what’s trending in games, what are typical budgets, how large are the audio teams, how do you break into game audio, and what are the tools you need to know, among many other things.

On the intro I’ll discuss how the major record labels are moving to limit streaming exclusives, and some headphone freakout solutions.

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

September 19, 2016

Here Comes Twitter Video Complete With A Revenue Share

twitter-videoTwitter video is a relatively new element for the service, and it’s being generous in that it’s will to share what it makes from it with content creators. What’s more the company is even giving the lion’s share to the people that make the videos as well.

In an effort to boost a stagnant user base, Twitter is really going for with video, offering a full 70% of the ad revenue to the video creator. This beats YouTube by a lot, since the split there is 55% to the creator, and Facebook still hasn’t figured out how to monetize video views, leaving users with little monetary incentive to post other than a higher view rate on the platform.

Individual content creators can qualify for this new feature by signing up for its Amplify Publisher program, which to date has only been accessible to companies. Once they’re approved by the company (after a quick application process), they can check a box to elect to have pre-roll ads run against their video.

The company is also offering a new media library for creators with any sort of media, including videos, GIFs and images. This also enables tweet scheduling and planning, and provides more tools for managing multiple accounts. Content creators can now manage their videos — and the money they’re making from them — on the desktop as well as on mobile with the Twitter Engage app.

It’s worth noting that if you don’t already have a fan base on the network, Twitter video may not be worth paying attention to. As always, a good online plan of action is to become as accomplished as possible on a single platform before moving to another one. YouTube and Facebook both have a number of positives that go beyond monetization, so making money shouldn’t be the only reason for Twitter video to become a part of your social media strategy.
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